“Gold (Gold). Always believe in your soul. You’ve got the power to know. You’re indestructible. Always believing.” ~ Spandau Ballet
- The biting words hung in the air. I chose to ignore them, attributing my lack of response to limited sleep.
- They reverberated on social media; packing the intended rally and punch.
- They were whispered in ears with a smile; nastily uttered to shock and bully.
- They were plastered on stop signs and walls, shouting to the neighborhood.
The utterances swirled about me and I stood still, trying to make sense of them all to which I concluded; there is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes the words forcefully emerge trying to find a way to vent and be heard; in inappropriate ways. I wanted to fume and shout, to argue and defend. To erase them and start over to make slates clean. How does communication go so wrong; all misunderstood? The phone calls, private conversations and texts blew up my mobile. Whom do we talk to? To whom should we email? How can justice to any of this be served?
Amidst a cacophany of sound and people I finally found peace and solitude to process. It is currently where I reside as I hibernate and consider all of these things. I wish to mediate, to explain, to articulate the right words to make things right. But those words do not come. When vengeance and a desire to make someone account for a wrong overtakes all; there is nothing left. The negative clouds everything and anything good and worthy gets pushed aside to win; to be right. It gets tiring to tell others to turn the other cheek.
I battled these questions which usurped too much of my mental time; round-and-round. As I commuted to work I acknowledged the wave from the truck driver; the one I had allowed in front of me to merge into heavy traffic. With the simple gesture and smile I was taken out of my reverie; the eye-to-eye exchange through rolled up windows enough to penetrate. I waved back with alacrity, cranked up my stereo and laughed out loud. I could finally see the snow on the top of the mountain vista scene spread before me, the varying colors of the trees that lined the avenue as I headed north. I remembered the simple one word text from my girlfriend who was hospitalized for 176 days. I had re-read the text to check the sender’s name, to be sure I had read it correctly. Home! She had finally returned home. I grinned wider.
I had needed to engage back into reality; to the people who live and breathe alongside.
It’s easy to be a cheerleader for someone else; to encourage others to do their best and yell from the stands. My voice was hoarse as I yelled from the top of a college stadium; my exuberance at the conclusion of a busy fall competitive band season. I flitted from group-to-group to socialize, held hands with parents as awards were being presented, offered physical help where it was needed and hugs to encourage weary chaperones. I wanted our kids to feel proud of their accomplishments, whatever place they earned, to know that persistence and hard work pays off not by trophies; but in character traits learned, in friends gained and in appreciation of what a common goal could create; community.
The unexpected phone call was a much needed respite; a surprise after traveling 250 miles as I stood in the high school parking lot. She had known we had subsisted for the past two weeks on take-out and adrenaline; our schedule full. I squealed in delight as she relayed the message. She was delivering a home cooked meal just because. I whooped a little cheer by myself.
When I finally found my son and asked him his thoughts, he hadn’t really worried about titles and trophies. He knew he would win, whether first or last, and was grateful it was over. He’d made memories that would long outlive the medals around his neck and had discovered his love for music composition; something noted by his piano teacher at aged seven. He experienced that diverse backgrounds and people could work together to create something poignant and beautiful. And he discovered that he could sleep through almost anything, to the annoyance of his three other roommates and chaperone, as his alarm awakened everyone but himself.
Winning isn’t everything. Principles, morals, religion and being right isn’t what life is about in the end. It is all about relationships. Most times there isn’t a clearly defined boundary or line that is right. What matters is that we try our best to do the right thing; even if the outcome isn’t what we want. When I let that expectation go, I could find resolution to my queries. I could once again empathize, to gain perspective and hear the other side.
Turning the other cheek isn’t a sign of defeat but a sign of character; knowing who we are and standing by it with resolve.
It is harder to let the negativity go to work things through but in doing so, we gain so much more. We accept that life is give and take and that there are some battles which we cannot win. We can cut through the detritus; focusing on things and people that build us up; not tear us down. I do not base my worth on others’ approval; the most likes, the big home, fashionable wardrobe, or the smartest children. I feel most loved and accepted when I have relationships based on mutual respect and integrity; those who will always stand up and try to do the right thing and accept who I am, faults and all.
It’s hard to embrace the inner cheerleader, to self-encourage and motivate to seek the good in all things. It’s easy to focus on the negative; to fixate on being the savior and feeling the glory of making all things right. I’ve been out of practice for way too long; getting distracted by things that don’t matter. But no longer. I am finding my way back and digging deep. My pom poms are getting dusted off and I rest my sore throat. But wait! I don’t need to yell loud, type sentences, whisper words or create signs.
On Thanksgiving I could sit with family and let these things go; adapting an attitude full of gratitude. I was grateful for the clarity to move forward; to get unstuck in a place I’ve circled for so long. That my eldest son is mature enough to see my transparency and to speak his own words to set me straight. For the unconditional love of my “boys” who endlessly hear me rant and serve as a reminder to keep it real. The middle son filled our home with Christmas music as I mumbled my bah humbug and gritted my teeth; to bring the joys of music into my heart on his alto saxophone. The youngest is our biggest cheerleader; the outspoken one who says things just as he sees them with infectious laughter. And to every extrovert should lie an equal introvert; the mate that balances me like no other.
No longer do I stand in lines for “the best deal” or squander dollars purchasing the hot ticket item to make this holiday memorable for my sons. Instead, I embrace the lengthening dark days and cold, the layers of clothing no longer weighing me down but bringing me warmth. I yearn for the advent ahead; quietly waiting and listening for the sounds of the season that only Christmas brings with carols, band concerts and gatherings with family and friends. I look forward to full stomachs, hearty drinks and family memories that remind us why we are here and where we belong.
I recite the Serenity Prayer above as I cut the negative ropes of the parachute that weighed me down. Actions speak louder than words as I embrace my inner cheerleader. Just do it.