…Somewhere I heard that life is a test
I been through the worst but I still give my best
God made my mold different from the rest
Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed (this is my world)
Stand up now and face the sun
Won’t hide my tail or turn and run
It’s time to do what must be done
Be a king when kingdom comes
Well you can tell everybody
Yeah you can tell everybody
Go ahead and tell everybody
I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man
I got all the answers to your questions
I’ll be the teacher you can be the lesson
I’ll be the preacher you be the confession
I’ll be the quick relief to all your stressin’ (this is my world)
It’s a thin line between love and hate
Is you really real or is you really fake
I’m a soldier standing on my feet
No surrender and I won’t retreat (this is my world)
excerpted by Aloe Blacc’s “The Man.”
“People show themselves not by what they say but by what they do.”
~Jane Green, Tempting Fate.
Words would not come, my anger and frustration spiraling in my head. The high res images of the past two weeks are indelibly etched, digitally, on my hard drive to remind me of the good. They are placed sequentially in folders. Filed away. Maybe there will be a day when I can look at them without resentment and regret.
Because right now, all I remember is the bad. Five and a half hours erased 365 days of good. The adage rings true.
Aloe Blacc’s song is on repeat on my car stereo. Originally it was just background noise as I shuttled my sons from one place to another. But the other day, in heavy traffic, I finally listened to the words. It is always music that brings me out of my reverie; the bold words from above bringing me back. It is not works that define me. It is the fighting spirit that has sustained me throughout my life in dealing with its disappointments.
Funny how life has a way of making things clear.
I had just been pondering how to help my sons, and their peers, deal with disappointment for the first time in their lives. As an adult I have been dealt life’s blows in burying both of my parents, the only child, at a young age. Life can be unfair. Words do not console. It is time that eventually dulls the ache.
I sat through my middle son’s promotion in the rear of the crowded room. Unlike the rest of the parental population; preening and proud of their children’s accomplishments, I looked up at decorations and seethed. I have grappled with my life’s balance in serving between family, work and school. It has been precarious. The bitter taste of disappointment rose like bile in the back of my throat. This moment of enjoyment was stolen from me. The answer to how my time should be allocated became crystal clear.
When mistakes and bad things happen, you learn the true qualities of a person. At the vigil of one of the girls shot at UCSB; the parents advocated peace; not hate. Surely they hurt, grieve and seethe in anger. But they also dug deep and realized that in order to move on; they must also forgive.
I am a person of works; willingly volunteering my time to help. I do not wish for recognition, nor special favors. I advocate for what is fair and just. But words always get muddled and misconstrued in the finger pointing, yelling. My words remained unspoken, filtered as I watched the dominoes fall around me. But the truth I sought was found. Amidst the chaos, I stood for my moral compass which still points north; uncompromising. I was grateful to get confirmation. Hostile words and apologies mean nothing. I can forgive. But I will not forget. Actions. They speak louder than words.
I have stood on the crossroads of intersecting paths this past year. But I am stepping out. Exploring new trails.
My arms are wide open as I embrace the changing winds. I mend my sails and navigate through uncharted seas to explore. I envision myself at the bow looking at the vast horizon. So many opportunities await. I clear my mind as I break new ground in my garden of life.
“Once you learn to settle the mind, you can settle anywhere and begin to cultivate the scenery.”
~ Karen Maezen Miller, Paradise in Plain Sight.
We, as humans, always seek. We seek greener pastures, shinier objects, larger things. It is only when we lose something we have possessed that we realize its value. I look at the time stolen from my children in my deeds. I used to covet things but now the only thing I truly covet; is time. I can wish to turn-back-the-clock or project into the future. But all we really have is right now. How we choose to live the life we love is to learn to love the life we currently live.
It’s easy to be blind-sighted by the flaws, the bad, the ugly. It is my own perspective that needs to change. Instead of looking at my cracked kitchen tile and wishing for wood floors I need to appreciate the things I love about my home. The lay-out; the large amount of storage. The echoing barks of our dog as our children chase him around our house. My home; nor yard will ever grace the covers of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. But what defines it are the people, and the time spent amongst its four walls. It is family and friends that transform the walls of our house into a loving home.
My sons are stepping out onto new paths; one entering high school, the other, junior high. It was these boys who buoyed me; reminding me of why I am here. The hubs and I have laid the stepping stones for our children to land their footfalls; laying the foundation. Their strides are sure as they, too, embrace change; embarking on the new chapters in their lives. It is they who sing Aloe Blacc’s song loud and clear. They who ask me to keep it on repeat on the car stereo.
At the end of this rollercoaster week I reunited with my childhood girlfriends from the small coastal town we all called home. The three of us have been friends since aged nine and surprisingly, all migrated south to the metropolis in which we all currently reside. Sadly, the last time we had seen one another was five years ago at our friend’s mother’s funeral.
This time we celebrated at a sports themed baby shower; a first for this friend whose family had taken me camping as a young girl. Over Memorial Day weekend we were supposed to return to this same place to camp. My other dear friend is my eldest son’s godmother and her 11 y/o daughter joined in the festivities. Tears of joy coursed down our surprised pregnant friend’s face. It had been five years too long.
I was reminded of where I came from with these girls who have walked parallel paths. It was with them that I could appreciate who I have become. These two women have journeyed with me through my life’s milestones: 6th and 8th grade promotions, high school graduation, college and beyond, four funerals (both my preggo friend’s parents as well as my own), my wedding. Through the miles and years we have ties that bind.
It is these relationships that I am grateful for; the flowers in my garden. The stepping stones, my family, always keep me upright and balanced. But it is the friends who continue to grow alongside; that bring added depth and beauty. As I step out, my mind is settling. I continue to cultivate the scenery.