Sometimes I wake up and I think, “I don’t know who the fuck I am.”
That is what age and wisdom does to you. The more you discover yourself, the less you know who you are. The trick is to get comfortable with being off-kilter most of the fucking time, standing ready in the rocking shift of consciousness. You get to pick from “I am enlightened and tickled about it,” or “I am a nervous fucking wreck.” Some days you’ll swing from one to the other like a big ole meat pendulum, you with your smirking mouth and your weak ankles. But you have a strong back and your bowels work, so there’s that to make up for the other.
Back to this waking up business: You wake up every morning and there is a certain amount of magic and science you expect to be on your side. Most of us are lucky enough that it is a fair deal of the time.
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
Apparently I have gotten far too comfortable in my life, is what the universe is trying to tell me today, All You Folk.
I don’t know a lot of things. Wait, scratch that. Yes the fuck I do. I know a metric ton of stuff. One of the things I know is that I’m very self-aware (metaMetaMETA!), and I have a good grip on my strengths and weaknesses. Mostimes I am just as liable to tell you the ways in which I’m a sore fuckup as the ways in which I am strong and capable. I try not to make excuses for myself, especially if I’ve engaged in poor behavior. If I can be proud of the good things in my life, I can own the shabby ones, too. I try not to luxuriate in the one or self-flagellate with the other. These are all just things. There are happies and there are sads and graces and contemptuousnesses and all of the other point-counterpoint that life weaves through you. You enjoy the one, you motor through the other. You take a knee where it’s called for and you jump around like a fool where it’s appropriate (and, if you’re like me, sometimes where it’s not).
I like to be in the moment, to wring everything I can out of it. It’s simple, really.
Another thing I know is that your secrets are the very things that will kneecap you and make you worthless. The tighter you hug them to yourself, your burdens, the colder and heavier and more unrelenting they become. They will drag you down without compromise. Some people will tell you to keep your game face on, to always telegraph surety and success. They want you to believe right alongside them that you should never leave your neck exposed, even if it means sacrificing the act of turning your head, craning it for all it’s worth, to look at something amazing like a baby’s laughing mouth or a pretty, unselfconscious woman. You know, things worth exposing your soft meat for.
I can do stoic like nobody’s business. I learned from some of the best. I’m not convinced it’s the best way to live, though.
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
I have been sitting here all day fretting. I’m not supposed to tell you that. I was raised by a mother who took on as our family motto the phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” I see where she was going with that, and it was a well-intentioned route, one that encouraged us –my sister and me– to be proactive and not wallow and not have a sense of entitlement. She wanted it to be clear that we were to do our part in our destinies, whatever those may in fact be.
But you know, over the last couple of years I’ve been thinking, and those thinks tell me that “If it is to be, it is up to me” is just a titch arrogant, and inadvertently prideful. It implies that I can do it all on my lonesome….or worse, it implies that I should do it all on my lonesome. So my father actively drilled superiority into our heads while my mom passively did so, even as she touted the good virtue of humility in our hearts. That’s startling. (It also makes me think: “How many didn’t-mean-tos am I responsible for where my own bairns are concerned?” We are all so well-meaning, aren’t we?) If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I need a tribe. I’m not especially co-dependent, but I am hugely loving and tribesmen bring the lulz and sometimes buy the beer and they let you hug them. Most of them hug back. My tribe doesn’t need to be huge. It just needs to be mine.
I am a tough motherfucker. I can take a shot to the head, no sweat. Depending on who you are, I may taunt you for another (I’m off-kilter but I ain’t dumb) . I can take a verbal bludgeoning and laugh and shake it off later via elaborate voodoo rituals on your person
by knifing your tires
with a rowdy game of darts and your picture,
leaving it be. This is not to say that I don’t believe in being vulnerable, however. I do. I just need to correct myself in the error of thinking that I should have absolute control over where and when I’m vulnerable. I mean, I don’t advocate walking around being a slobbering mess, but what’s the harm of showing armor chinks? I’m sure as shit not afraid of someone seeing me beat my spear on my shield. Truth be told, I don’t even need a spear OR a shield: I have a fearsome haka, just ask anyone who’s seen it.
Hell, ask my husband. I love him the most fiercely of all, and he has seen my most brutal parts and all the weapons that I brandish outwardly, only to turn them inward on myself.
Now then, there is something that the guys with the no-vulnerability mindset and I agree on: Faking it until you make it; I believe in a certain degree of that for sure. I don’t believe in lying. I do believe in saying, “Fuck yeah I can do that,” partly for the other guy in the room, but partly for yourself, too. You gotta hear yourself say that you can do something. You gotta hear those words. Then something in you is beholden to step into them and make them fit, see? Something in you is challenged, awakened, teased out. I believe in challenges, because I’m big on adventure. If you’re not an adventurer, then that’s fine. You can, for instance, believe in challenges because you are a glutton for punishment. Hahaha. (no really)
(I love you. We will get to the end. You can take a pee break or whatever and come back.)
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
A friend tells me that the air conditioning in his house has broken again, almost as an aside in another conversation we are having. I know that when the air goes out he gets sick. I also know that his clients have been slow to pay. I pray for his air to work, both so that he can be well and so he doesn’t have to lay out any more money on that damn unit. He doesn’t know that I am praying. I pray for his wife, who must surely worry and fret over him when he is sick, even though she may not actively show him her worry so as not to cause him any strain. I know this dance; I am a wife.
I pray for life to be less mean for you.
I pray for the doctors to find out what’s going on in your physiological self so that it will stop being an albatross on your spiritual self.
I pray for you to find a job.
I pray that you don’t have to make the shitty choice between medication and shelter, between living and L!I!V!I!N!G!
I pray for those little shitbirds at school to stop bullying your sweet kid.
I pray for you even though you mock people like me, people who pray and believe that it works.
I pray for peace and understanding between you and your family, for them to accept and love, for you to forgive hurts, for unification and joy and laughter around a laden table.
I pray for you to stop being scared of the world, and for it in turn to reward and be good to you.
I pray for your beautiful son, locked in a different self, and for you, because the way you parent him is so big and so lovely and so perfect that you could never, ever fail.
I pray for you to stop believing that lying thing inside you that says you are not enough.
I pray for your trust, your openness, and your ability to receive those things from others in return.
I pray for understanding between us.
….and so on.
I’m pretty bad at asking God for things for myself. I used to be pretty bad at asking a few select people to pray for me, over me, but I’ve gotten better at that. There have been a handful of people praying for me and my family about a specific thing for about a week now.
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
Today I sat with myself, dragging myself from task to task until I just finally quit trying to focus on other things and sat frozen, petrified, unable to do anything but cry, even though I hate to cry and I believe that worry is unnecessary things like a) taxing and b) a flavor of abomination. Up and out, right? Crying is the emesis of the soul or some shit and today I just couldn’t quell the spiritual nausea and so I bawled like a tit on and off, using a corner of an old towel I’d torn up for rags as a kleenex.
That! Is how thrifty! And repurposeful! I have become! Behold my prowess! I will never ‘make my own toilet paper’, though. There are leaves and catalogs and corncobs left in the world, my Lord.
Then I reached out tentatively to some more people, willing myself to place in them the trust I know that they are worthy of, because they’ve never shown themselves to be full of anything other than integrity and goodwill. (some of them are full of beer, too: tribesmen)
I told them: There is a very strong chance that we may lose our house. I told them: I need every bit of Spirit you can muster my way. I told them: This is humiliating. This is infuriating. I am on the cusp, on the cusp, but there are still bricks to be shoved into place, and I’ve set enough of them that it makes no kind of sense to turn back. I told them: Maxim’s income has steadily declined. Worse, his morale has steadily declined as he’s had to slash away at the jobs of others. His nerves are taut and he has this stress tic where his jaw clenches and unclenches and I am furious at the state of this country for what it has done to the state of my husband, the state of many of its families. The pigs that stole away with all the lifeboats cannot so much as throw out the stray pair of arm floaties to the drowning masses they’ve helped to shipwreck.
Banks, you see, would rather a corpse be fished out of the drink than aid the able-bodied to survive and swim. They don’t hear you when you tell them, “Um. Ahem. I see rocks ahead,” and ask about preventative measures. They aren’t concerned with the fact that you have dwindled your modest but promising nest egg (YOU HAD NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SAVE BEFORE! IT WAS EXCITING TO SEE THOSE NUMBERS TICK GENTLY UPWARD!). They don’t give a shit that I love that studio up there, the one it took me so long to get. It doesn’t matter to the suits that my dining room is the heart of this house, and that so many amazing things have happened in there. They would just blink at me if I told them how this big ole ambly thing was a literal garbage dump when we found it and although it’s not the Taj Mahal yet, we do a little at a time as we can and everyone but everyone without fail remarks on the easy sense of peace they pick up on when they come into this place. I’m not the only one, you see, with a story like this. They probably don’t even hear the words anymore.
It’s only been a few days since I’ve known the full gravity of our situation and something in me is insistent that I cannot allow it to mow me under. If I keep it a secret, it will.
….and so now I’ve told you, too. I need rooting-for. I need LOUD, SPIRIT-FILLED, YODELING-TRIBE HOLLERING AND STOMPING ON MY BEHAAAAAALLLLF!
Freedom. I am speaking freedom over myself, whatever it turns out to look like. It may have different square footage or even be in a different town, another state altogether. It may be right here where I will bounce fat-cheeked grandbabes on my lap (“this is the way the farmer rides, hobbledy-hoy, hobbledy-hoy”) someday. Whatever. However. I’m asking for you to speak freedom over me, as well. I trust you. I trust you over there with your integrity and your goodwill and your hoping heart inside your rowdy chest.
::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::
In the last few weeks I have been communicating with someone in a deep and meaningful way. We’ve been pondering on the nature of our respective beliefs and how it’s hard sometimes to be what we are in a world that either misunderstands us or perceives us to be something that we are not; they do so based on a mess of ignorant zealots who act like they don’t know anydamnbetter. We have been awkward and vulnerable and funny with one another. We have been mortifyingly honest, broken, excited to be in the company of someone of the same ilk: “Hi. I’m the fuckup who is here to love you.”
I have never written a truer or more naked assessment of myself: “Hi. I am the fuckup who is here to love you.” See what happens?
Anyway, I shakingly asked for prayers. I got a message back saying, “well. it isn’t a coincidence that I was listening to this when I got your message:”
And no. No it wasn’t. Because that freedom paragraph up there? I’d written it a couple hours before I reached for a hand.
‘Only chain a man can stand / Is that chain of hand in hand /Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’