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Monday, March 26, 2012

Truth vs Hysteria



Earlier this week I had a telephone conversation with a close friend about life and how it likes to slip the scary stuff in with the regular stuff—as if we wouldn’t notice. It’s much like the random red sock that finds its way in with the whites—turning the entire wash load pink. She’s a few years younger than me and still has son number three in the nest. Son number one got married last year and son number two left just last week for an out-of-state job. She’s also in the middle of a big transition with her business, which may cause a slow down in revenue for a season—or two.

We were discussing how so many of our friends had already paid their mortgages off, had chubby little nest eggs stored away, and were enjoying beefy health insurance plans, allowing them the luxury to complain about their twenty five dollar co-pays. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves—compare ourselves with “them,” but we do, and that morning we did.

Of course after we’d vented a bit I got us centered on the truth because she was too overwhelmed to remember what the truth really was—what with son number two flying the coop and her business in being transition, besides, we made an agreement years ago to always tell each other the truth—no matter how painful said truth might be, thus providing a spiritual slap in the face for each other and extinguishing the hysteria before it gets out of hand.

I felt like a bit of a hypocrite because earlier that day I’d been thinking along the very same lines. I fantasized about how nice it would be to have the security of a steady income, health insurance, and a tidy little sum to retire on. I began feeling sorry for myself because I didn't have those things, momentarily forgetting about all the blessings that I do have, and then the phone rang and it was my friend, who just happened to need me a smidgen more than I needed her that morning. Fortunately I was able to put on my game face and find my way back to the light—for the both of us.

I’m a big girl. I’ve made my choices in life: living in many U.S. hot spots (Hawaii, St. Croix USVI, and Florida), I’ve sold t-shirts to tanned tourists, served piƱa coladas to drunken tourists, and strung black pearls for rich tourists. I’ve watched whales splash off the Hawaiian shore on Christmas morning, had my Island home decimated by a cat 4 Hurricane, leaving me to pick family photos out of the trees.

In North Carolina I sold new Corvette’s to middle-aged teenagers, Cadillac’s to geriatric pimps, and BMW’s to runny-nosed Yuppies.

I’ve been a surrogate “mom” to scores of troubled teenaged girls, most of whose troubles stemmed from having screwed up parents, and I’ve life coached developmentally disabled adults, earning the high privilege of witnessing the sparkle in their eyes as they clocked in at their very first job, or proudly purchased an extra set of keys to their own apartments.

I’ve endured a shadowy childhood, and then wrote a novel inspired by that childhood, thus taking life’s ashes and creating a thing of beauty with them. I’ve been married for 33 years which at times has provided me with love and companionship, but there were other times when being married was a lot like trying to learn how to swim while handcuffed to a buffalo.

I’ve raised three wonderful children, been blessed with a healthy and brilliant granddaughter, and I still feel as young as I did when I was twenty. Okay, the bod needs the occasional spray of WD-40, but otherwise I’m still ready to roll!

I guess I’m saying all of this to say, that I made my choices during my life, choosing not to stick with the traditional paths, thus forfeiting the security that long-term paths often provide. I have nothing to feel bad about. I’m not missing out on a thing. For me this was the right road.

I’ve seen first hand how generous life can be and how reliable the truth is—no matter how far away I wander from cultural expectations. Simply knowing that I’m on the right path provides me with a certain security that no amount of health insurance or long-term employment could ever offer.

I’ve been prosperous and poor, had all the bells and whistles of the American Dream, and then left that dream behind in order to pursue an even bigger dream. Along this journey I’ve kept a careful step ahead of the one fear that has nipped at my heels all along—it’s not the fear of sickness or poverty, but the fear of leaving something important undone.

I will never have the chance to live this life over again, therefore I must continue to move forward, sometimes traveling far from the familiar, but in the end I will have the absolute satisfaction of knowing that I have been genuine—honoring my path, and trusting the mysterious unction within that drives me onward like a migrating bird.












48 comments:

janaki nagaraj said...

You have had a wonderful life. Now, I am comparing mine with yours. ;-)
Glad that you have 'lived' your life well.
Wonderful insightful post.

Widow_Lady302 said...

Sounds like you and I are sisters LOL I've always danced to my own beat, Leah, and while I don't have a lot of things because of it, I do have a pretty wicked awesome story ;-) Love your post, it is hard way of life we've lived but worth it!

Alfandi said...

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Well said. I'm in the same boat. Yes it would be nice to have a higher salary, and a robust retirement account, but investing in our own children and the children of others has brought intangible rewards. Not regrets.

~Debbie

Leah Griffith said...

Sweet Janaki, why is it we compare ourselves with others? LOL!! I have had a wonderful life and in some ways I feel as though my life is just starting. Onward and upward dear sister!

Leah Griffith said...

Lisa, I agree it's a hard way to live but it would be even harder—No! Impossible, to live any other way. I am finding more and more people living as we do. God bless us all;)

Leah Griffith said...

Alfandi...you put a big smile on my face. Thank you!

Leah Griffith said...

Debbie, you said it all with those two little words—no regrets.

sulekkha said...

Leah, You have really lived and not just talked about it...wow and good luck to you for many more adventures to come.

Jan said...

Being where I am is just where I want to be. Great post.

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Brilliant and wise, dear Leah. You have a wonderful life and you are reaching for your dreams with gusto. May God continue to lead you ever onward and upward and shower you with His blessings!

Cheryl said...

Hi Leah, It is easy to get caught up in the question of if we made the right choices and if we are in the place we should be. I think that it used to be a tad clearer in terms of you worked until you reached a certain age and then you got to retire. Now health care and cost of living makes that a dicey proposition. Still you and I have things in common. I have a good life and a good family, I have done a lot of intresting things. For me I don't know if my choices have been the best choices to reach my long time goals but I can't go back. I wish I was as confidant as you sound. Most days I think everything will be fine and I will live the rest of my life as happy as I currently am. Other days, the news and such put the worry in me that maybe my choices will kick me in the ass. Either way...I will find a way to live with it, accept it and find my way.

Jayne said...

My gosh, the starlings are amazing! Much like you, Leah. You are flying high--no amount of cushion inspires one to fly high--that comes from within no matter where we live, what we do, what kind of nest egg we have (or don't). I love this piece, Leah.

Go, go, go! You've got serious wings. ;)

Susan Deborah said...

Leah, that's a wholesome lovely life you had had till now. Sometimes when we compare, we feel so much is still to be but when we reflect, we know that we had it all. I liked this post as it gave me a message today and the message is: "Stut up Susan and move your ass."

Thanks Leah for this honest and candid post.

Joy always,
Susan

P. S: I am reminded of Charles Lamb's lines from his essay, New Year's Eve:
"I would scarce now have any of those untoward accidents and events of my life reversed. I would no more alter them than the incidents of some well-contrived novel."

Bec Owen said...

It's a healthy place to be and a healthy outlook to hold...content with where I am, and eager for more.

Lovely post Leah...go girl!!

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Jayne said it much better than I could have, so I must concur with her comment and just send my admiration for you and your life. It sounds like it is wondrous.

Leah Griffith said...

Sulekkha, when I was young I used to tally up all the bad things that had happened to me and wonder why. Now I see all of it as a part of the whole, I have the advantage of years and hindsight, and that in and of itself is a great teacher.
Thank you for your comment Ms. S.!!!

Leah Griffith said...

Jan, your one line is the goal of all mankind: "Being where I am is just where I want to be."
XOXO

Leah Griffith said...

Martha, brilliant wise and often a bit desperate, but always grateful and more or less on my way;) Sometimes you have to stand back and take a look at things in order to gain perspective. This was one of those posts for me.
Sending love!

Leah Griffith said...

Cheryl, my confidence isn't in the choices I've made as much as it's in the belief that all things work together for our good. You're absolutely right when you say that things have changes...jobs are different now. The health insurance and retirement plans are nearly a thing of the past. We must find a way to fend for ourselves.
We got this Cheryl! After all we've been through this mountain seems like a mere hill. LOL!!

Leah Griffith said...

Jayne, the starlings are stunning. The first time I saw this video it took my breath away.
We are like starlings, migrating, in sync with the infinite often in spite of ourselves. We're flying with wings we didn't know we had. Nest eggs may provide comfort but they don't provide wings or happiness, and happiness is found when one isn't looking for it—when we're busy doing what we love, that's when happiness discovers us.

I think we're due for a phone chat my dear. I miss you.

Leah Griffith said...

Susan, I would never have categorized my life as wholesome, at least not the early years. That's an interesting word. I looked it up and it means: "Suggestive of physical or moral health." So, now I can say yes, it's wholesome, and crazy, and scary, and beautiful, and busy, and ?. Yes especially ?. LOL!!!
I love the Lamb quote and I agree—I wouldn't change a thing from my past although I wouldn't want to have to relive certain events either;)

Leah Griffith said...

Bec, for me contentment comes and goes like the tides. When I'm busy creating I'm content, but when I get stale and lazy the discontent begins. So discontentment is a useful tool to move us forward. I count on it to keep me in check, although I try to ignore it at times when the next step is a scary one. LOL!

Leah Griffith said...

Karen, I guess it was and is wondrous. But I have a sneaky suspicion that that is how life is supposed to be. I'm sure your life is wondrous too and it's wondrous because you make it that way.

XOXO

Lynn Schneider said...

Wow, this was really beautiful. Very inspriring. I made the decision to leave one of those nice cushy corporate jobs because, you know what? I hated it and no amount of health insurance and salary security seems worth it when you aren't happy and can't pursue what you really want to do. We don't know what "red socks" are in our future, do we?

Jodi Chapman said...

I love the path that you are on - it's exactly the right one for you. I, too, have moments of feeling sorry for myself - missing health insurance, a nest egg, and financial security. But, like you, I made this bed, and I am almost always happy to lie in it. I have complete freedom. I choose what to do with my days. I am paying my way through life on my terms. And while I am working on creating more abundance - I am so grateful that this is the path that I chose. And I'm grateful that we're on this path together, sweet Leah. So grateful. Love to you, my friend.

Anne said...

Just found your blog and this post quite insightful. I guess we do have to remember to move as whatever life throws at us should be for our good, if we know how to handle it. You seem to have had a good life. Happy for you!

Leah Griffith said...

Lynn, I admire your bravery, certainly the road will rise up to meet you. That's the thing though...if you don't follow your dreams you wind up feeling incomplete and bored. Being afraid of your dreams is like being afraid of to walk, if you don't do it you'll never get any where.

Leah Griffith said...

Jodi, meeting up with people like you makes the journey easier to embrace. It inspires me to continue and to see that there are many out there like myself willing to give up comfort in order to dream.
I'm glad you're here with me Jodi.
XOXO

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Anne! Yes, it was and is a good life, although sometimes it seemed tougher than it needed to be. But all in all I get it, and I can see the lessons taught which strengthens me for future lessons...I hope. One can never be to sure of themselves though can they. ;)
Thank you for stopping and taking the time to comment!

Rachel Hoyt said...

HA! "...but there were other times when being married was a lot like trying to learn how to swim while handcuffed to a buffalo." So true. :) :) :)

Stephen Hayes said...

Hello:
I just found your blog thanks to The Blog Farm and I think you're a great writer. I loved learning about all of your accomplishments in your recent post, and I know I'll be back for more. I hope you'll visit me at Chubby Chatterbox. If you do, press the join button and I'll return the favor. I hope you have a great day.

Chubby Chatterbox

Lacey said...

I should not have read this while Mallory was at gymnastics...had me all.teary eyed. I just loved IT! Its awesome to have girlfriends to take turns being the slapper and cryer! The bumps in life strengthen you like calloused hands they mark your soul with memories of your journey.

Leah Griffith said...

Rachel, I love that line too and yes, it's totally true;)

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Chubby, thanks for the visit and comment. I'll be by to see what's shaking in your world!

Leah Griffith said...

Oh Lacey, I love how in sync we are. Yes, we all need a girlfriend to vent with although I love how you put it: "A slapper and a cryer!" LOL!! You're fabulous and I love that you're here. We're due for one of our sessions. Things are popping with the book!
Love!!!!!

Healing Morning said...

Oh my, what a rock solid topic! I had a wee moment of this last night, voicing very real and sincere frustration about a relationship that I am working hard to figure out. That brought up all those fears that are based on cultural expectations - will I ever get married? Will it happen before I'm too old to have children? Will I end up an alone and lonely elderly person with no family to turn to?

Those are valid fears, so I gave them their moment in the spotlight, then I shut those thoughts off. The reality is that I've never been one of those people who burned with the desire to be married, have kids, have the house w/ the white picket fence and live & die in the same town w/out experiencing any other place in the world. I've chosen my path, and it's been a different one from the "cultural norm". For the most part, that's been okay.

Do I still hope for marriage and children? Yes. Will I die if it doesn't happen? No. I'll be disappointed, but I'll be okay. It's the hysteria cycle that I work hard to avoid. Detachment - I find this state of mind to be more and more valuable, the older I get.

Great post, Leah!

- Dawnie

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Leah, I have found that the people who inspire me the most are those who, like you, march to their own drum beat. My life may not have been as colorful and interesting as yours seems to have been, but I have tried to be true to myself. I have been rich and poor, corporate worker and social worker, student and teacher simultaneously at 40 and now a wannabe writer. I'm blessed that thanks to my husband (who I married when I was 41 after being single despite our culture) I have financial security, but I certainly following own's passion over security.Thank you for being an inspiration to me, Leah. ♥

Leah Griffith said...

Corinne, we each have our own life history, mine is no more interesting than the next guys except it reads more like a rap sheet. LOL!! I've got no idea what it took for you to reach the destination of now...the bravery and sacrifices. We're all epic and amazing!

I'm so excited for you Corinne. You are following your passion and we are all benefitting from your love for words and your open heart. You inspire all of us. Oh, you are not a wanna be writer. You ARE a writer. Never forget that. Say it out loud: "I am a writer!" There! Feels good huh?
Love!
Leah

Kathy said...

Hi Leah!...What varying paths we all have...maybe a key, at least for me, is figuring out each of our paths, given our past experiences, strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. I try to live with the ideas of a modified quote from Maya Angelou..."In this moment, I'm doing the best I can with what I know now, and when I know better/differently, I'll do better"...whatever that "better" might be to each one of us.

Leah Griffith said...

Kathy, I love that quote. It always me to accept myself as I am. What a gift. Looking back I cringe at some of my choices, but all in all, mixed in with all the better choices, they have made me who I am. It's so wonderful to see you my dear!

Stephen Hayes said...

Oops! I'll blame it on a "senior moment!" Ha! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Leah Griffith said...

Stephen, unfortunately I'm way to familiar with senior moments. Thanks!

melissa said...

This is one of the best reads I've had this day. I've been contemplating on the same thing with my parents at the start of this year. Most reflections centered on fear ~ of the future. Questions on stability also arose, settling down and having a job I could count on.

Reading your life, it seems that you've gone through a lot yourself. Your experiences are enriching and inspiring. But what I admire most about you is your faithfulness to life. It just keeps getting better ~ with the choices that you make.The road isn't always clear but you just keep on moving forward.

This is absolutely inspiring Leah. Thanks for sharing.

Tameka said...

What an amazingly honest post. Funny, I was purging some books and recently came across a diary that I kept when I was in my early 20's. As I was reading, I felt like a lot of the things I was complaining about were still mainstays in my life now and I did get a little down. I shook if off though because I am far and away from that young girl I was then. I had to remind myself of the journey and not get to stuck on certain aspects. Your post was also another reminder for me that I desperately needed. Thanks Leah, for always living your life raw and what an amazing life it is! :-)

http://lyricfire.typepad.com/lyric-fire/2012/04/lyric-fire-napowrimo-2012-day-eight-of-30-poems-in-30-days-manna-moonbeams.html

Leah Griffith said...

Dawnie, detachment is a powerful tool as long as you don't lock things up and throw away the key. Sometimes we need to re-attach.

Your path has brought so many blessings to so many people. I believe the same for you as I do for myself, that is that things are just as they should be at the time.

I try to rest in what is now while simultaneously moving forward towards my dreams.
Sending big hugs!

Leah Griffith said...

Melissa, sometimes I feel as though life simply happens to me, but in the middle of the happening I still have choices to make: how will I respond to the events etc. I believe that deep within our hearts we know what direction to move in and what to do with our lives.
I've done many things in life that went against what I felt called to, but necessity dictated that I do them. Regardless, the road has always led me in the direction of the light.
Thank you for your heartfelt post Melissa.

Leah Griffith said...

Tameka, I hope you kept that diary. I have journals going all the way back to the 80's and some of the themes are still the same. I think there are some truths that we need constant reminders of. These truths are often linked to security and self-worth.
No matter how old I get I still need to be reminded to not fear and love myself. Funny huh?
Thanks for your sweet post this morning Tameka. I always love it when I find you here.

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