I knew this little girl a long time ago. I was her. Before anyone told her who she couldn’t be. Shouldn’t be. Before the doubt. Before the self-preservation tactics kicked in. The only “walls” that existed were made of plaster and and kept her safe. I suppose it doesn’t matter how I lost touch with her. Not really. Only that I have re-discovered this little girl’s essence is still in tact. Simplicity is sometimes as simple as we allow it to be. Life has had its challenges. Its blessings. And my heart can be as it was when I was three. More trusting. And fuller still.
Things are very seldom black and white. There are shades of grey everywhere. There are shadows where details stay hidden. Private. The way some details should be. Diane Arbus said, “A picture is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” I have always loved that quote. It emphasizes the beauty of mystery and the simple premise that less… is more. So much to learn.
I started back to the gym two weeks ago. I was told my excuse of “I just had a baby!” had run its course after 16 years. And while I have made a commendable attempt at getting there at least 5 times a week, my efforts once there have been lackluster on a couple of those occasions. I blamed my music. (I can be a blame-shifter). So, it’s time to change the playlist. Really. No point in committing to something and then doing it half-way. I looked at the titles afterward, some of them made me smile.
Mr. Jones/Counting Crows
Let the Drummer Kick/Citizen Cope
Dog Days Are Over/Florence and the Machine
Paradise City/Guns N’ Roses
Time Bomb/Dave Matthews
Dead Man’s Shoes/Virginmarys
Hard Sun/Eddie Vedder
and. so. on.
Now, I have no one to blame but myself on this treadmill.
I was driving this morning and a song came on the radio that made me think of a really happy time. A time when I felt full and rich and peaceful. And I began to think about how hard I tried to keep that status quo. All my life I have tried to first have those good times, the times in life when you feel safe and comfortable and peaceful, and then I fight to keep things there. And every time. Every time. They begin to go bad. Almost immediately. And I think it’s because I forget that life is a flow. And when it gets blocked, restricted or contained, it can’t continue. In the past I have been the one to build the very dam. And for life to breathe, to flow, it can eek through for a while but eventually has to burst through with force. Because life… will find a way. To live. Maybe this last crisis happened because the changes I was trying to make were still within the same confines. Still backed up behind the dam, and that’s how I’m going to see it. Try to see it. Dynamite was necessary to blow that dam to hell. So life could flow again. Granted, the explosion took some of my limbs, possibly some hearing, my fault for standing too close, but I think the vital stuff will heal. May even be renewed.
I’ve been considering my past a lot. Thinking I could decide what memories to keep and what ones to let go of… as if I have a choice. The truth is, they seem to come and go depending on certain triggers, and the only thing I can really “decide” is how I let them affect me and with how much power. The more negative memories I have been deliberately trying to learn from and let drop. But there have been some good ones lately that I have been spending a little more time in. For instance, I made it through my first spinning class yesterday. Yes. ouch. And as I was peddling away, sandwiched between my twenty-something, militarily trained niece and Central Ohio’s version of Lance Armstrong, I was feeling more than a little challenged. Then the music changed. And Shane MacGowan’s voice connected with a strong independent younger spirit called me at twenty-two. I finished the class. All 40 minutes. But only because the last fifteen or so were spent walking around the city of Dublin. I don’t think that’s living in the past really. Just, for a few minutes, in whatever small way, letting my past help me live now.
I found this picture today and it made me laugh. I laughed because that’s exactly how I feel these days. Part of me in one frame. Part in another. Part somewhere else entirely. Not completely anywhere. So, on a day like today, as I am seeing my life as some sort of collage full of random bits and pieces, this image struck me as amusing. And maybe… maybe, I should stop being so amused with myself and work on composition. Maybe.
“… I dream myself a million times around the world… “
more lyrics. They’re just lyrics. And I’m sure Dave Matthews didn’t have me in mind when he wrote them. But they seemed to fit. In two weeks, I’ll be making a move. And it feels like I asked, Mother-May-I please take two giant leaps forward, and she said, No, but you may take four thousand baby steps backward. The use of a childhood game in my metaphor was no accident, by the way. I am moving back to my hometown. Where I grew up. Or didn’t. The point is, I tried to avoid it and I heard myself saying out loud several times over the past few years, I did the best I could. But did I? Have I ever? People have told me it’s a step forward. It’s change and change is good. It’s just a transitional time. And I do try to see it that way. But in the middle of the night… when it’s me, alone with every memory of every bad choice I have ever made… about to pack up my life and leave it packed… it doesn’t feel … good. So, I close my eyes, and I dream myself a million times around the world. again.
Sometimes you find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be in. Exactly the opposite of what you’d be in. I found myself there a week ago. A simple matter really. and not worth revisiting… but at the time, it made my head spin. Literally. I removed myself from it and sat alone in this room. in a place I now lovingly refer to as the twilight zone. I was doing well at feeling sorry for myself and a bit self-righteous, when suddenly I saw nothing but this light through the window. It was clear. and black and white. and still. but alive. and until a fire started in a restaurant up the street, for those few minutes, the only thing that mattered. Maybe the only thing that should have ever mattered.
This coming weekend I am off to Chicago, one of my favorite cities in the world for so many reasons. As if I weren’t excited enough about the trip, I read tonight in my PDN, that both Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson both have exhibits there until November. Guess you know where to find me.