For a woman like me, thinking can sometimes be a dangerous thing. And what kind of woman is that, you ask?
A woman who frequently teeters on the precipice of Mt. Obsessive/Compulsive.
I do an awful lot of thinking. It keeps me up at night…and preoccupied during the day. I delve deeply and self-assess. Perhaps I don’t have the trained skill sets to actually self-diagnose, but I know what I feel. And I guess I’m just arrogant and conceited enough to think that what I have to say may benefit others. With that in mind, I don’t know if what I’m about to confess is strange or not, but it’s a true Laurie-ism that I’ve dealt with all of my life. I see the situational side of my life in prose; in text. My life unfolds in real-time, yet I deal with it as if I’m writing, then reading a book. I become disengaged while becoming personally involved. I doubt that makes any sense, but it’s what I do; how I deal with my life. It’s how I deal with me.
And true to my idiosyncratic coping skills, I’m dealing with me and my life on this Independence Day in this same odd book form and my ability to colorize my own sepia-toned history threatens to rival anything by Leon Uris. Case in point? This past weekend.
THE HILLS WERE ALIVE… WITH THE SOUND OF QUIET CONTEMPLATION
I just got back from the Texas Hill Country where my mother lives. She turned 81 years young last week and despite the what the calendar and her birth certificate indicates, she’s still physically and mentally spry. This is perhaps the result of living her life exactly like a whale. You see, if Cetaceans stop swimming, they drown…even in water. So she keeps moving and thinking and while slower than ever before (at 81 years, she understandably tires easily), this is how she chooses to live. I admire that about her.
I’ve kind of adopted that mindset, but I’m more concerned with mental and emotional stagnation and I’m battling that by walking. And lately I’ve been doing plenty of that. In this small Hill Country town, I found walking to be spiritual, something much-needed for a person whose mind can emotionally shape shift. I can go from guilt to shame in nothing flat.
But this pastoral setting remedy all that.
This is a small town, but it’s growing exponentially, namely because of White Flight from of San Antonio. And not just Anglos, necessarily. Even wealthy Hispanics are high-tailing it out of SA. They all come to escape the crowd, the hassle and the hustle and bustle of the city. This makes me laugh because San Antonio is a sleepy little hamlet compared to the teeming human ant farm that is Houston. But having walked the streets of this little town this past weekend, I began to understand why it has become a homesteading option.
It’s pretty, its pace is slower, there’s no traffic and everyone greets everyone on the street and speaking of streets, you can walk on these and not get accosted physically or verbally by crazed homeless folk, drug addicts, hustlers or just plain idiots. Not that crime doesn’t exist in this berg, but here, it’s more likely to be something along the lines of insider information or malfeasance in a high office. White collar/white dollar.
Anyway, I started my daily walks this weekend as soon at it got light outside. Mornings are cool up in the hills. No humidity, the air feels light, the pace is slower. For a city girl, this offers a peace and quiet, that while lovely, is almost deafening. But if you’re willing to listen beyond mere sounds, it gives the person in the midst of it, many wide open opportunities to hear and even feel things one can’t in the city. I heard the peal of different church bells, a rooster crow, the coos of Mourning Doves and from other birds that, with apologies to Audubon, I couldn’t name if I tried. Of the few runners and cyclists and other walkers who I passed, all said “good morning” first. I would nod and smile and respond in all kinds of ways so they’d think me a big city refugee as they were.
It was nice. Very nice.
I breathed deep, then opened up my mind and a million things all tinged with red, white and blue colors filled it. For one thing, my best friend Walter died four years ago this Fourth of July. I miss him very much and always will. He’d been HIV positive for years and was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS just nine days prior to his death. In addition to his illness, he was a tortured soul. I hated the fact that the peace he’d been seeking had to come as his life ended, but I always felt it was fitting for him to find it on Independence Day. He’s fine now. And I have to believe he’s free of the shackles that he helped others place around his heart.
I miss Walter. As I walked by groves of cedar trees, I wondered what he’d think of how I’ve lived my life in the four years since he’s been gone. I’ve made mistakes, dealt with a few triumphs…but, that’s life. Walter may not have always enjoyed it, but he knew what life was about and how it worked; that whole agony and the ecstasy thing.
Then, I got to thinking about those mistakes I’ve made and yes, most of them had penises. It’s no secret that I’ve made many mistakes in the relationship department. ButI think I’ve reached a turning point in that arena. I won’t bore you with details, but through the wonders of self-forgiveness, I’m enduring something of a personal paradigm shift these days. In other words, I’ve performed Lasik surgery on my spiritual Third Eye and this has given me amazing 20/20 wisdom.
Not to mention optimism and visions of cool metaphors and analogies.
So, as I walked, I decided that when I got back to Houston, I would share something with you.
What I’m about to say is hardly Earth shattering, but when I made the comparison in my head (you know, as I “scribed” my situation in the book that is my gray matter, in the library that is my head) I thought it was quite apt.
It’s about personal growth and how that process is very much like an airplane crash.
THE SEARCH FOR THE EMOTIONAL BLACK BOX
Whenever a plane goes down, its tragic and devastating and almost always leaves a body count in its wake. The National Transportation Safety Board investigates and will eventually find out what happened and why. It goes through a painstaking process…even piecing together a plane to reconstruct it as best it can. Whatever the problem is, it’s revealed and engineers intervene and improvements are made across the board.
And then a miraculous things happens…
Flying becomes safer.
We can do this, too. We have the very same power to investigate, to replicate and to remediate.
It’s about choices. Win/lose. Stay/go. Speak/Remain silent. Take a risk/Play it safe. It’s always about choices.
And it’s also about the redemption that comes from learning from your mistakes.
So, on this special day in which we celebrate Independence, I ask that you remember that we humans have been given four miraculous gifts in order to successfully trek this perilous existence called life. They are: self-awareness, an imagination, a conscious that allows us to weigh the odds, and of course, free will. These four things, at any one given time, act together to offer us the ultimate human freedoms–the power to choose, to respond or react as we see fit and lastly, to initiate change.
These are truly glorious things. Read them again….out loud this time and listen to every word and know that if you let it, freedom will ring. And when it does, I suggest you answer it.