Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some things Won't Be, Let Them Go

I was at my alma mater, staring at a tall coed when recognition hit me. She was a varsity athlete and had just been on the cover of a magazine during the school break. I sauntered off toward my class mulling over the reality that there were a few things I would not be in my life. Until that moment, I had unknowingly held onto a few myths-- that I was fashionable, inspiring, and bound for glory.  Clearly, I was prone to magical thinking.

With the recent Olympics, my daughter asked me, "Could I be in the Olympics too?" She thinks she is good at this and that. I felt an internal conflict. She enjoys the monkey bars, she does a nice forward roll, but is she Olympic gymnast material? She's not, but she could be if she were driven, flexible, stronger, and some things that she is not yet. She's more of a talker, but I know I dislike it if someone discourages me, and there is always the chance that the dark horse with the big heart will storm up the inside lane. I would not underestimate her heart.

Now that I'm more of a grown up, I tend not to be bedazzled by beautiful magazine covers. However, words that shimmer with the unsaid truths of my heart wow me, and, to a degree, make me envious of those who put on the page what I have only danced about.

At first, thanks to lack of exposure on my end, I was sure that no one was trying to say things I wanted to read. I started writing and trying to get out the haunting wisdom I longed to read.

I wasn't looking hard enough. Eventually, I stumbled across Mary Karr's book Lit (P. S.) with her gut wrenching duel with alcoholism, parenting, and poetry.  Then it was the Momastry Blogger Glennon who hit so precisely at what I wish I had written, but didn't, that I didn't want to read it anymore-- it took away my impulse to write. These writers have had some rough patches and take the gloves off to write about them with brilliant honesty.

With Cheryl Strayed's advice column written under the pseudonym of "Dear Sugar." I could turn my pen in now. This question, "WTF? WTF? WTF? I'm asking this question as it applies to everything every day" allowed Strayed to take the reader into a reality so haunting, so truthful, and so not right that you conclude that "WTF" should get some new goals worthy of life. The conclusion of Strayed's response, "Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it."

As my children were watching a recording of the William and Kate wedding and identifying uniforms, cars, and regiments, my daughter took a fancy to Kate's wedding dress. My father-in-law told her that at time the dress was a big secret because everyone wanted to copy it as soon as they could. This piqued her interest, "Why would they copy her dress?" she asked. I replied, "It's for people who can't imagine their own dress, their own ideas."

And so I filed the thought away that I should write anyway because it is my life, my truth. Even if there is not so much drama, it is the journey that is mine.

My husband departed for the airport, returning for his final months in Japan. The kids were off to school. The house was quiet. I half heartedly poked at the untouched closet, I turned on the computer, I turned off the computer. It seems freedom to set one's own agenda takes some getting used to doing.

I decided I would read the words that I don't really want to read and pledge to myself to keep writing anyway. Letting the fear of drying up be the driver of what is read seems like a bad idea. Fear drives too much in life. Suffering often comes from our fears. Fear is less about what we do and more about how we think. Its how we think that gets most of us in trouble.

An essay by Cheryl Strayed clung to me overnight. I'll share a part with you. If it touches you, read the book, Tiny Beautiful Things.

"Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there and you have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal."

We get so distracted with our suffering, we forget that we have options. Maybe you need a better question. Wallowing in the suffering won't get you out of the mud. Put energy into loving, running, or building. Focus on transcendence, wrong or right, you can only change yourself not the other. Some things won't be, let them go.

Abracadabra!