Nothing is random or arbitrary. I continue in having to relearn that lesson. I understand it intellectually, but that’s not enough, I need the reminders which come to me through repeat experiences.
Lately, there have been occasions when I want to hold back on the writing here. I want to keep to myself some of the epiphanies of this journey. I realize, that’s probably a good thing because it’s a reminder that I don’t know as much as I think I know. This road I’m on continues to unfold in unfamiliar ways and the less I know the more authentic I get to be here.
I’m having such a moment now, tempted to omit the traipses of my mind. I’m ignoring the temptation.
I look at the style of this blog, the content, the theme and then, naturally— as I have done too many times to count throughout nine years of blogging — I look at numerous other blogs on the web and I can’t help but compare. And I say, What are you doing? Why do you continue with this? Where do you imagine it ends? And I confess, I don’t know. What I do know is, I’ve already tried to be like everyone else and I know exactly how that turned out. I hated myself for being so full of fear all the time, feeling like I was failing to live up to the “others.” I hated pretending. I hated being a phony. I hated my constant obsession over perceptions of rejection for being different. And all those feelings of hate filled me with so much resentment I was choking on it.
So this? This is what I came up with? A seemingly pathetic reveal into the mind of a desperado wanna be writer? Umm …. yeah.
Ok, back up. Correction. I am not a wanna be, I am a writer. The voices, you just never know when the mischief will pounce. They name-call and they disparage. I’m on it.
As for nothing being random or arbitrary …
I’ve been thinking about old me, twenty-something year old Maria. The thinking has manifested through nostalgic reminiscing about old friends. It began with thoughts about the job I left last summer, thinking about how I could have spent years at a place where I was so uncomfortable I rarely ever felt relaxed enough to be myself. And I wondered, how did that happen and why did I endure the discomfort for so long? The next question- Was I ever comfortable in ANY workplace? Yes, I was. What was different? I was younger, I had less fear, I was full with hope and I believed in the goodness of people. Was that belief reliable? Yes, I think so. I attracted like-minded people into my life. How can that occur in a workplace? I chose. I chose to work in that particular environment, among people who desired to do work they believed in.
Next, I thought about the relationships I formed at my second job after college (26 years ago!) and I thought about people who I had wondered about on occasions throughout my life, people who I had lost touch with, but whose names I still remembered and my heart filled with yearning. There had been a number of beautiful people who I let slip from my life simply because I changed states. Why did we lose touch? Because my life became so overwhelming it began falling apart; because I was drinking heavily and often battling feelings of self-pity. Because I was lost. I hid under the cloak of addiction for so long, by the time I got sober I discovered I had lost track of who I used to be, left only with remnants of my original self.
What was I like, twenty-something year old me? I trusted people more. I loved them easily. Sure, there had been some scoundrels, but they were few compared to the numerous sincere and open-hearted people I met and got to know. I even recalled one summer weekend when all of the co-workers from an office unit came to my apartment for a barbecue. The apartment had a balcony with a grill and everyone brought a dish. There must have been at least eight or nine of us socializing in 500 square feet of space. That was definitely the younger, more carefree version of old me. In no job since that time have I had more than one co-worker at a time come to my home, and it’s been over ten years since my home life met my work life.
Where did you go, younger me? Are you still with me?
Yes, I am.
I want you back.
I never left.
I was reacting to the world. As I got older, weighed down with more responsibilities — parenting, housewife-ing, working — as the geography changed a few times, as I readjusted to new environments and culture, I saw the suspicion which effusive behavior tended to inspire. Too much proffering of trust earned all the deceit it deserved. Unless I was standing in the midst of church goers, gratuitous smiling, random kind acts and love offerings were just plain weird as modes of operating. And even among church goers, suspicious eyebrows might raise in response to unchecked, non-rationed floods of such demonstrations. All the starry-eyed, we are the world, kumbayah nonsense in the older, more frumpy grownup world, there seemed no place for it.
Among black people I wasn’t angry enough or woke enough or radical enough in my thinking. Among white people I was too ingratiating or not ingratiating enough or too stern looking or too loud. The rules kept changing and since all I knew how to do well was pretend, I felt like a puppet on strings being jerked around by a world of fickle puppeteers. I felt forced into hiding because I could never learn soon enough what the world needed me to be in time to suit a situation.
And now here I am, at this place, writing it all down. Why? Because at last I am coming into a season where I care less about what the world thinks and more about what I think. It’s time to reconnect with the girl who I was, time to merge with the twenty-something year old version of me that I stuffed into a closet. Now why the hell should I decide to let her out now, in middle-age of all places? I don’t know, I just think it’s time.
College- Freshman Year- Summer, 1984
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. — E. E. Cummings
The child inside of you knows how to take things as they come, how to deal most effectively and happily with everything and everyone it encounters on this planet. If you can recapture that childlike essence of your being, you can stay ‘forever young at heart.’ –Wayne Dyer
You know what I remember about young Maria? She loved to laugh and she loved making others around her laugh with her. Oh yeah, sure she enjoyed raising a little hell sometimes too, but that’s what made her fun.