"I may be grumpy,
but I like you."
The Suns and Moons of the Grumpiest Girl in the Room.
Regret scares the shit out of me.
Whatever It Takes
Buddha left a road map,
Jesus left a road map,
Krishna left a road map,
Rand McNally left a road map.
But you still have to travel the road yourself.
–Stephen Levine, from his book Who Dies?
There are times when I'm talking and I become aware of my throat, this weary feeling there, and I can hardly wait to shut up. This never happens when I'm talking about anything blithe or hopeful, only when I'm nearly choking on a gloom sandwich. For months I have had this desire to go off somewhere by myself for as long as it takes to gather together a clear picture of who I am. My great wish is to know and accept myself. It's a daily process. It is from the point of acceptance that I can begin to extend my other great wishes outward. You have to start at home before you can change the world. I'm getting closer to self acceptance, and I didn't even need to take a train.
I celebrated my 40th birthday. Arriving there wasn't nearly as terrifying as I'd imagined. In fact, it wasn't scary at all. What I encountered on that day was myself, feeling as youthful as I had felt the day I turned twenty. I didn't transmute into a hideous, fanged monster. My skin didn't crack open to reveal some hag in waiting. Most important, my life didn't end. I thought it would end in the way of possibilities and in the way of hope.
The anxiety-driven crescendo surrounding this birthday, and the subsequent realization that there was actually nothing to fear, remind me of a favourite book from my childhood: The Monster at the End of This Book. This is going to be a spoiler for those of you who haven't spent the necessary two minutes to read through the Little Golden Book of that title, so look away if you've got it on your list of reading for this year. Grover is pretty sure there's a monster at the end of the book, so on each page he begs you dearly not to turn to the next page. He builds contraptions to prevent the turning of pages, but you seem to be there to challenge him, thereby making a mess of his handiwork. When you and Grover finally reach the end of the book, Grover finds himself: "I, lovable, furry old Grover am the Monster at the end of this book."
And I found that I was the Monster as well.
A funny thing happened. Instead of the death of hope, the brick wall I'd been facing opened to a horizon. I'm not afraid of any other age. I've reached the age whose materialization I feared, and I lived to write this paragraph. When I was younger, I'd imagine where I would be in my life when I turned forty. I saw a vastly different picture than the one I awoke to on the morning of my birthday. I had mountains of plans that never saw fruition. But doesn't everyone? And in retrospect, I can see that those things—all of the circumstances I believed would fulfill me—wouldn't have brought me happiness. I finally get it, after years of saying it. You can say something and comprehend it intellectually and still not get it. But I get it now. There isn't a single thing outside myself that could ever make me complete.
I understand that I am where I belong, for reasons I am cognizant of and for those I am not. The trick is to remember that I know this, because I do my share of forgetting it. Most of the time my life seems so small to me. Especially the last decade, where I see a stretch of years, each looking and feeling remarkably the same. Maybe I wouldn't have ended up with illness had I thought better thoughts, challenged my beliefs, made wiser choices, and listened to intuition. Or maybe I would have become ill either way. I may never know. What I do know is this is where I am after all of it, and there is nothing I can do to change where I've been. I have never tried to conceal where I've been. I'm proud of that. I have no shiny facade; I stand naked, making my confessions. I can't imagine bullshitting my way through life, any more than I can imagine apologizing for sharing my heart.
I'm grateful for all those boulders in the road. The ones I cursed and damned. The ones that woke me up.
I've been going through a huge transition for a quite some time. Those aren't easy. And while writing in this journal is meaningful to me and something I intend to continue doing (more often), I haven't managed to regularly update in ages. Everything in my heart and my head has been spinning too quickly to catch any one thing and examine it long enough to write about it. And the jumbled assemblage of it all felt too personal somehow to share. Transition can make you want to spend enormous amounts of time alone, keeping everything to yourself while you make sense of it. The realization back in January that what I've been going through is due to transition has been helpful beyond description. It illuminated the dark parts of the road.
Speaking of keeping everything to yourself, Melina has been on the prowl again. Melina is the young woman who I discovered was stealing my words and pictures from this website back in early 2007, and passing them off as her own on her myspace profile and blog. I guess asking isn't enough. But really, you can't ask a person to have integrity. How do you reach a person's heart whose intention is to rip you off? I see the pictures and read the words she's stolen from me. I imagine she is concerned with what others think of her. I figure if this were untrue, she wouldn't bother trying to impress people with writings she didn't actually write. She thanks people when they compliment her on what I've written. Such a strange concept. I can't imagine deriving pleasure or satisfaction in a situation like that.
Every time you steal from me, Melina, you steal from yourself. You steal the time you could have spent writing something from your own heart. You steal the opportunity to get to know yourself through your own introspection. You sell yourself short. And not only do you steal from yourself and from me, you steal from your friends who seek to get to know you better through the words in your emails to them and in your blog, the words they are trusting to be yours. You deceive them in this way. What if they knew? The trouble with deception is that it creates a gap between you and the people you've duped.
I am asking you once again to stop taking what doesn't belong to you. I hope you will respect my wishes. I hope you get to a place where you can enjoy and appreciate what you read and see on the internet, without feeling the need to toss any of it into your looting sack while hiding behind your false sense of anonymity. I am a kindhearted person, but I don't like to be pushed. I'm smarter and far craftier than you, Miss R., and there are actions I could and will take if you don't mind your manners.
Regarding the photo at the top, when you're forty, it's OK to remove your clothing in your own backyard and take pictures of your denuded shadow. Mountains of things are OK to do once you've reached this particular age. It's somewhat glorious. You make the rules as you go, and you just get more and more liberal with them. And I'm only in my first month. Imagine the possibilities.
Thanks for reading.
Read My Mind