Simple Truths

Mind sets: we all draw a line in  our minds, a dividing point, a moral measure, for a variety of  issues: religion, romance, love, food, friends, work, relationships. The list goes on and on and how we stand on something can change like a puff of wind to a dandelion. We all have our own truths. We make our own rules, adjust accordingly and somehow, someway, sometimes because we have no choice, we find our way back. It isn’t always easy.

I met a woman at a party a week ago, Kate,  and her face is still sketched in my mind. Taut, tanned skin, blond, perfectly highlighted hair, her body upright and rigid, wearing a swimsuit with a long flowered wrap tied at her waist.  We were talking about graduations and I said that I will definitely cry when my son and daughter graduate. She said “I never would cry, never at a happy event, as long as I have all my loved ones around me.” Her comment took me by surprise. Her face was hard, still and emotionless; the words emphatic and cold. She swept her hand towards her extended family including her children, her sisters and her elderly parents.  It was as if she was wearing an emotional shield, made of armour, but tiny, invisible cracks were beginning to form.

I felt bad for her, for the innocence that one day will be lost. It’s as if there was a vulnerable and frightened five-year old girl inside her, covered up with layers and layers of an impenetrable facade. It won’t stay like this forever, I thought.  Her family will not always be in this perfect order. I felt sad because I know what it feels like when someone you love dearly, dies. Nothing is ever the same, it’s before and it’s after and nothing in-between. Your world changes forever at that moment, frozen in time.

I nodded my head in agreement with her bold statements but mostly, I wanted to somehow keep her safe, or prepare her though I knew I couldn’t.  I knew she was appreciating everything she had now but was in no way prepared for the future. I am NOT saying that you can ever be prepared but I knew, in my heart, that this particular woman, will become undone, so unable to cope. I hope I am wrong but I had that strange eery inner sense that I get sometimes, that 6th sense. I’m usually right. Let’s face it, we don’t know how WE will react when an unknown situation is strewn our way.

I have been that little girl, in some ways I still am.  I was the girl who grew up worried and anxious and afraid. I’m not entirely sure why, part nature, part nurture perhaps. Can you ever be prepared for a life that can change in a second’s time? Do we worry about everything because something is bound to happen? Why can’t I imagine the good, the great popping up like beautiful purple and yellow, blue and red wildflowers instead of focusing on the bad?

I try so hard, and have failed so many times, not to worry about the future. “Don’t meet problems half-way” an old, lesbian, Irish ex-nun friend once told me. She was absolutely right but sometimes my mind wanders, drifts to the “what if’s.”  I have to remind myself, like I am doing now, that we have no control over ourselves or our future.

Who would have predicted a massive oil spill in the one element, water, that I have always loved so dearly. My fantasy was to live near the beach somewhere, next to the turbulent, gentle, overpowering ocean with its moody green waters and it’s whipped foam topping, crashing relentlessly against the giant rocks. The dream seems gone now, because of the BP gas spill that threatens our waters and our animals, innocent animals.

Not worrying is a lesson I need to learn and relearn and I must be failing because it happens over and over again. Why can’t I learn it, I wonder?  Maybe it is just the way I am?  Maybe I was never reassured enough as a child? I have faith too and even with that, I sit up nights, anxious, with my head playing mind games, rolling tape like the old-fashioned movie cameras, reel to reel, over and over and over again.

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Riding The Rough Waves

Good things do happen to good people but sometimes you just have to wait.  I speak from experience, 2 years of physical and emotional hell, and learning old lessons in a new way. From a new outlook, and most importantly, from a new me.  I’m not the person I was 5 years ago, not even 3.  I’m a new person in an old body, and an older soul in the same body.  I am grateful for what I do have. What I don’t have, I probably don’t really need right now; and if I do need it and I don’t have it maybe there’s a reason. I just don’t know what the reason is…….yet.

There are  ALWAYS unfair twists and turns in people’s lives. I don’t have the answer to terrorists or 9/11 or a beautiful baby girl diagnosed with terminable cancer. I’ve learned, however, that we all pay a price in life, nobody goes unscathed. Of course a certain amount of self-indulgence is definitely acceptable.  Why me? Why him? Why us?  There just aren’t answers all the time and part of growing up is the willingness to accept horrible things and still go on. What choice do we have?  We need to learn to ride the waves,  the smooth rippling water and the fierce, crashing undercurrent. There is not one straw that breaks the camel’s back but many, many straws and we need to deal with them, one at a time and probably forever. It’s the way the universe works. Give to it and it will give back to you; maybe not now but sometime in the future.

No one is talking about easy. No one is talking about fun.  It’s your own approach to the world that makes a difference. So, give a little of yourself,  believe that good things will happen and put your energy out there. It may take a good enough amount of time but the last thing you want to do is give up. Play “The Smile Game’ when you feel the most miserable, cranky, depressed or disgusted, smile broadly (even when you don’t feel like it)  go out and see what happens. I KNOW you don’t want to do it, I didn’t either but try (please).  You’d be surprised. People really do react to what they see, we all do.Give a little of yourself to the world, to a child, to a charity and say hello to the universe and to the angels, smiling.

Life is short and it’s a game; sometimes it’s only a crap shoot, other times you have more control.  Believe in something, anything, your G-d, your Buddha, “The Sound of Music” the smell of new cars, Ben and Jerry’s,  Jimmy Choos or for me,  Merrell clogs  While you are on the this good earth, give of yourself, your love, your hope, your time, your gratitude, your patience.  As long as you take the steps to believe in yourself and give to others, you’re more than halfway there.  Welcome home.

for Roland who has helped me, even when the waves were really rough and for Doc who taught me that there were always more straws to break. I thank you.