A line in the sand
looking to the other side
with preservation as a comrade
and inner peace
as the victory cry
A line in the sand
looking to the other side
with preservation as a comrade
and inner peace
as the victory cry
exacting their pound of flesh
She became a softer version of herself
as though the artist had taken a cloth
and smoothed her pastel portrait Picasso edges
Until she was almost
As I grow older I realize my sense of guilt seems to be leaving me. Many of us may carry around this sense of guilt for a variety of reasons–maybe it was because of the way we raised, maybe it’s our inherit personality type to ‘do the right thing’–but whatever it may be, for me as a younger person–this lurking sense often seemed to be there around the corner.
For me it was usually intertwined with a sense of responsibility–toward a relationship of some sort, a job or maybe a project. If I had made a committment, then it couldn’t be broken, even if it was killing me in the meantime. So I would stay in a job I hated because I had bills to pay, kids to take care of–and yes, I even felt guilty because of the people there (some of whom I didn’t even like that much) would be put in a bad position if I left! It was nutty.
My stomach would grind, headaches would be daily occurences and life would just feel miserable. Maybe many of you understand how this goes? We just stay put within a marriage, partnership, friendship, career or whatever because this deep sense of guilt or whatever you want to call it–nags at us to do so.
When I would talk to my Mother, she would say: chase the guilt fairy away! Funny coming from a Jewish mother who is suppose to be constantly handing out the guilt. But she was usually reasonable and helpful. Nope, it was me, doing it to myself. Usually (not always mind you) we do these things to ourselves! Because if you think about it: is anyone really holding a gun to our heads making us stay? (Yes, sometimes in an abusive situation someone is–but that’s not what I’m taking about here).
But there comes a time–at least for me–when it seems we realize: hey, wait a minute, I don’t have to feel bad about this stuff anymore! And just like that a deep sense of peace washes over you and ahead you see: freedom! When we let go of the guilt, there’s freedom of choice and decision making to do whatever we need or want to do with our own lives. Because ulimately, this is the only person we owe anything to: ourselves! I’m not suggesting we should forget all our responsibilites, but we can make decisions about doing what’s best for ourselves at the same time!
Today I heard a term: Radiant Sovereign Self, I believe Margaret Fuller coined it. It’s so lovely and what I want to be. One can’t be this carrying around the burden of guilt. Another beautiful gift I got today was to hear a poem by Mary Oliver.
To me it was about freedom. I share it with you all.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.
Sometimes there are moments in life where if we stand too close to something they become distorted and ugly. The looking at them make them turn into something we do not recognize, maybe something that was once familiar to us. It’s like approaching a glittering thing and realizing it is the eye of the venomous spider lying in wait–that eye’s reflection meant to draw you in to its unexpected web.
These moments can change us, make us too into something different from who we were or wanted to be. Maybe they frightened us or saddened us when we discovered that the treasure or beauty we saw from a distance was instead only a drab landscape when standing on the edge of its topography. Then the widening sink-holes appear or the quick sand to gobble you beneath hungry earth.
From afar it’s hard to judge. But close up every blemish, hair follicle and true bit of ones convoluted character rears its ugly head when two circle one another like ritualistic beasts. It’s easy in the wide open prairie or dense forests to ‘know’ your fellow wanderer as they slip in and out behind branch and stone or up and down sandy dunes. It’s when caught in the close confines of a culvert and trapped unable to leave that one learns that friend may become foe.
Blurring ones eyes and keeping the world as an impressionist painting may be the easy way out. Taking the risk and standing face to face with another or hiking far enough into the horizon to break down beauty into minutiae may hold no gifts in the end.
Or, if by luck, the one looking back holds your soul–or the minutiae hides a gem, then maybe it was worth the risk.
I look for you
In the blazing burn
The heat hot melt of morning glory
Or buried burrowed deep down
In dark decay
All flush with blood
In dripping dreamlands
Down shattered streets
I look for you
Falling at the feet of it
Peering around each moment
Catching just a glimpse
And I will still
Look for you
Remember the good old show “Sesame Street”–and the one skit where they did “this thing is different from another” and you had to figure out what it was? It had a little jingle too to engage the kids, just like all the wonderful things on that show!
Well, I feel I have been that ‘different thing’ my whole life. For as long as I can recall, I’ve always been the odd kid out, the one that did everything against the grain. As a youth, this of course often frustrated (or angered) the adults in charge around me. As an adult it leaves me, at times, like the bright berry surrounded by the melding colors of those around me.
I’m not sure where this part of me comes from: maybe the lonely heart of an adoptee looking to be seen by those passing by. Or maybe this is just who I would have been anyway: the stray, wandering off from the pack to march to my own drum.
Having been a vegetarian, long before it was fashionable, I got looks from waitresses when I would question what was in the soup stock. And I brought bags to pack my groceries before Whole Foods gave you money for it–back then the baggers just got annoyed and huffed and puffed as though you were putting them out. Now I’m a hero!
For years I’ve embarrassed my kids with my ‘behaviors’, being too out there (I don’t see it as such)–maybe talking to strangers or how passionate I am. I just have never seemed to be able to melt into a crowd.
Belonging certainly has been something I have wanted: that symbiotic need where I would get out the desired sense of feeling a part, but I’ve never been willing to give up my identity.
Today, in this massively diverse world, belonging seems to create a strange new need. While I may have felt hurt or sadness, I never felt drawn to violence over people leaving me out. In fact, it either made me try harder to be kind–or made me tuck into myself more.
It never made me lose my sense of self, my ideals or values. Over the years, they have gotten stronger while my mouth has gotten softer in expressing them.
We should all be acknowledged for the special and beautiful person we are, whether or not we are different from the next person. This can be very hard in these tumultuous and changing times. But there is room for growth and two different types of people can understand one another given patience and remaining open.
So I still stand out in a crowd and am proud, not sad, that I’m unique. It would never suit me to follow the masses. Rather I want to be hanging on where I’m not supposed to, saying what I really feel and always being true to my heart.
Recently I was fortunate enough to reach another rung in the ladder of my life. One that has given me much puzzlement, anguish and lead me down many unsatisfying paths. It’s a part of my life I’ve spent searching for answers both internally and externally and has never seemed to turn out the way I had imagined.
But the other day, finally, after one final try–the epiphany came to me and I now know where I stand within myself and can breathe with ease. I no longer need to seek or to listen to anyone else’s advice, chiding or clichés about what I should be doing.
I received an email a week or so ago on my smart phone and I had no idea who had written it. Opening it cautiously, so as to not spam my computer (I did it on my phone), I found out it was from a man I had approached quite some time ago (well over a year) on match.com. At that point in my life, I was still hoping to date and maybe find a companion to meet for occasional things to do.
At that point in time, this person had already met someone and was polite enough to say that but I gave him my email in case anything changed in the future. Never in my wild imagination did I expect to hear from him again! One usually never does.
The relationship fell through for him, and since we had some things in common (mostly fire fighting things), he wrote me. I recalled him after he reminded me who he was and we exchanged some pleasant emails. Then some nice phone calls. He seemed a pretty decent guy so I decided to meet with him.
We did, in fact it was on Christmas day after the kids went their separate ways. We were fortunate enough to find a lone bar open! It was a nice afternoon exchanging pleasantries, sharing some food, laughs and stories. Yup, he was a sweet guy.
At the end of the visit, he asked where we would go from here. I was kind of stunned, because I really didn’t know. He had sort of fallen out of the sky at a time in my life where I had no interest in dating. But he seemed like a good person, so I left it at: let’s just see what happens.
A day or so passed and I found myself wrestling with it all! It was rather crazy. And then I woke up one morning soon after and realized in an instant, that no, I didn’t want to see him with the intention of dating him! It was like the fog of so many, many years suddenly cleared–just like that!
The only thing I could liken it to was loving to eat a certain food–you even craved it. So you ate it all the time. You made all sorts of dishes with this particular food, and was almost gluttonous about it.
And then one day you realized you were sick of it. You lost the taste for it, in fact it made you sick. The thought of it was too much, overload. So you decided to give it up for a long time. But it nags you that you have, because you used to love it so much–and people keep telling you that you should really try it again just in case you changed your mind. Once in a while you do try it, but you find it makes you feel bad when you do. And that’s when you realize you’d rather just hang onto the memories of when you loved it!
That’s where I’m at with relationships and men. I’ve been blessed really: three marriages, too many dates and short relationships to count. I’ve been there and done that so much that there’s really no need to go there again!
I’ve finally found me now. Underneath the layers of garbage that I’m slowly scraping away. The needy feeling I had to be with someone is gone. It’s so freeing! I’ve got three wonderful children and now I have myself. I’m still learning about that self. It may take a while. Honestly I don’t want anyone distracting me from that task.
There are some things in life that we can simply have too much of and then just grow tired because of overdosing. Relationships can be one of these things. But if we learn from them and don’t become bitter then there’s nothing wrong with flying solo. We must just realize who we are and what’s best for us and not let the outer world dictate our fate.