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 piña 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.
Posted by Leah Griffith at 6:12 AM