In the middle of the day in the middle of the month I found myself with a bit of time to think - or read, as it were. So read, I did. I read the words of one not much younger than myself, bearing a striking physical resemblance to myself, and yet not myself at all.
A bit over 3 short years ago I began this little exercise in self-aggrandizement, the sharing of one’s thoughts and beliefs with an anonymous world as though they carry some peculiar significance lacking from the previous discourse: blogging. Well, while those views have done nothing to shed light on life at large, they have illuminated something very small and ineffably precious. They have shone a spotlight on a little girl and the angry woman in whose heart she lived. And reading them now, I had to stop what I was doing, reach in there and give her a big hug.
For nearly as many years as she had lived there, she had been scorned and shamed by her keeper and hidden from the eyes of the world. Not out of cruelty but out of fear - fear that should her fragility be exposed, her vulnerability known, she might render her keeper weak. But she was just a little girl, and she did nothing wrong, and she deserved to be loved, not shunned.
I hugged her again and with her in my now-stronger arms, embraced the knowledge that our scars do not make us weak; they make us human - flawed and beautiful and wiser for the experiences - however painful - we’ve had. The little girl inside me had a rough go of it and all those years of wishing her away and denying her existence only kept the wounds from healing. For just as physical wounds heal best when allowed to breathe, so too do emotional ones need air. We heal not by hiding but by opening ourselves up, with the full protection of our own unconditional love. And anyone who can’t embrace us scars and all isn’t someone for whose affection we should fight.
I’m not there yet, and I’ll keep going back and hugging that little girl until the wounds have fully scarred over, but I am healing. If this is the sort of growth that comes with growing older, I look forward to the years ahead.
Since I haven’t been doing any writing in here lately (at least not publicly), might as well cross-promote.
Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with an old friend. We hugged and laughed and talked about what had happened in our lives since last we spoke many moons ago. As I tried to explain the vague unsettledness I still bear from recently going through a bad breakup, I realized I lacked the right words to capture the sentiment. But he didn’t—
“Echoes,” he said.
“Echoes,” I repeated, nodding in affirmation. “Exactly.”
People come into our lives and change us - touch us, love us, hurt us in ways we never could’ve predicted (or maybe we could’ve, but the divide between heart and head guides many a decision). And even after those people are gone, echoes of them remain. Echoes of the feelings they engendered, the experiences they brought, the hopes and dreams they inspired. Echoes can resonate loudly enough to shake a soul to its core or whisper gently, raising momentary goosebumps like a passing breeze. Echoes can call out to us from anywhere, anything, anyone - hearing a familiar song, being in a once-shared place, seeing a reminiscent object. But echoes, as my friend pointed out, ultimately fade.
An echo doesn’t exist as an entity all it’s own - no, an echo is merely a dependent reflection, a response triggered wholly by another event. And the more distance between yourself and the event, the softer the echo. When you’re close, an echo can mimic its creator almost indistinguishably; when you’re far, you may hear so little as to be uncertain if you’re hearing anything at all. An echo is a shadow, a reverberation, a hollow, disembodied likeness of something that once was.
When an echo washes over you, listen to it - feel it move you, warm you, bring you to joy or anger or tears - but let it go. Remember that though the echo still exists, the person who created it is gone (probably for the better!) and what you’re grasping at is only shadow. And as surely as a child calling “hello!” into a cave will eventually hear nothing once her cries cease, so too will the echoes of relationships fade, slowly dissipating over space and time until all you hear are the sounds of your own happy memories.
seriously; the worst
I told you he was trouble!! First he screws up the photocopying and now this. WORST INTERN EVER.
it’s pretty much the worst intern ever.
Those pages are numbered 1, 6, 2, 17, 4, zebra
Small hope is there for perspicacity when dusk and dawn are nightly met by ever-open eyes. All consciousness as through a weary haze turns dream-like daily sights; resemblances of places unknown, unreal.
With a smile I rise to greet the streets of Manhattan—thinly veiled by a mist of my mind’s creation, each day reveals in them some new beauty, some strange calamity, always something. And though I miss my sleeping dreams, I cannot help but welcome the waking wonders made visible in their absence.
However, rationality, it seems, thrives on a well-rested mind; a focused mind. In tiredness rational thoughts falter, rational speech stumbles, and ultimately all utility gives way to incoherency. Ah, how heavy a burden is rationality—so evident in compromised alacrity.
But then again, watching potholes blur into bold artistic patterns made manifest only through eyes too tired to focus does add a certain bit of whimsy that I rather enjoy.
But oh, to be a sea otter— how marvelous, indeed. Flitting about the waves as from rock to reef he bounds, making a watery playground of such blue green wilderness as is his home. Unrivaled mirth tempered by wily sagacity, of no match to his warm, beguiling eyes is she walking clumsy-foot through lands long dry of fancy. No brute is he, though surely wild, equally meticulous in grooming and savoring feasts of fishy delicacy, alike.
And yet it is not the sea otter but his forlorn cousin after whom I have journeyed; the sea cow beckoned loudly and toward his wretched cries I came. What wisdom there is in following a sea cow, I know it not now and knew it not then, but follow, I did.
My heart remains forever, as always, firmly with the otter.
Somewhere there is a woman living in a refrigerator box. Her once-neatly manicured hands now carry the grit and grime peculiar to those in her situation. And though years of careful dentistry belie her current ragged smile, she bears it readily, unapologetically. If one should chance to catch her eye, what he would see might surprise even the worldliest of travelers, for despite her pitiful appearance, she is happy. An abject failure, a lonely blight marring the face of common experience, in her sad little hovel she sits, wholly lucid, and smiles and sings her gratitude for inner peace. In the comforting embrace of a bizarre self-love derived from contentment of character and identity, she seeks no greater purpose.
We are increasingly defined not by who we are but by what we do, a measure of achievement that largely ignores those accomplishments that contribute to psychic or karmic enrichment - being a good person - in favor of the economically and socially tangible. If true happiness lies within, shouldn’t we see a decrease in value of what lies without? But this isn’t the case at all; if anything, it seems that without the very basic tangible successes, all that good person stuff isn’t really good for anything. For myself, I have found that focusing on positive qualities and attributes that shape my identity and accomplishments of which I am proud - the supposed makings of internal happiness - are of little utility in securing the physiological and social components necessary for happy survival (summed up nicely in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), and without the stability of a job, the support of loving relationships, and the comfort of a home, being a good person doesn’t count for much, and certainly doesn’t bring happiness.
Maybe there really is a woman somewhere whose happiness is not tied to Maslow’s Hierarchy but I am not her, and try as I might, I cannot pry contentment from the grasp of unemployment. Until kindness, honesty, courage, humility, compassion, morality, generosity, understanding, acumen and ambition are valuable enough to ensure that I will never have to call a refrigerator box home, they will not be valuable enough to engender contentment.