Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She Used to Be Mine

"What does not kill me makes me stronger." So says Nietzsche. And Kelly Clarkson. And countless others. 

I don't know quite how I feel about that. The jury is still out.
What does not kill us makes us...something. Survivors, at least. 

Does it leave us unchanged? Certainly not. Stronger? Better? Sometimes. 
And sometimes sadder. And weaker. And emptier. 

But always different. Altered. Transformed. Never quite the same. 

All of us are changed every day by what we experience ourselves; by what we see others experience. It is impossible to get through this life without change. Without adjusting...adapting.

Sometimes change is good. It can mean growth and metamorphosis. Sometimes change is less positive: dark and confusing.
Almost never is change easy, though. 

And sometimes we long for the person we used to be. A person we remember. But is no longer who we are.

There are things about my old self that I miss. I have thought a lot about it lately. A friend sent me this song a few weeks ago and it perfectly sums up how I have been feeling.

I miss her. That girl who used to be mine. She had fortitude, and hope. Bravery, and determination. Strength. Steadiness. Tenacity. She looked forward with anticipation. Expected the future to bring good things.

She was confident. And proud. And believed in her ability to conquer the world. One day at a time. She could take a hit. And she always got back up.

She is not me. And maybe she's still in there somewhere. Maybe she's gathering strength. Maybe she's the phoenix waiting to rise from the ashes. Maybe.

Or maybe she's gone. Replaced by someone older, perhaps wiser. Or perhaps just tired and a little bit defeated. 

One thing is for sure. I do miss her. And maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get to meet her again. 

The fact that someone wrote these lyrics. And a friend who is struggling with her own difficulties thought of me when she heard me courage to keep going. To try to reclaim what I can. And to make the best of what remains.

Because I know that, even without the girl that I knew, I am still not alone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What if...

I won't lie. I am sad. And worried. Worried that hate and divisiveness are ruining our society, our nation. I am sad that intolerance is being ignored, accepted and-worst of all-embraced.

I am sad because I feel small. And helpless against forces so much stronger, larger and more widespread than my tiny sphere of influence. The momentum alone of these powerful forces makes them feel immutable. Unstoppable. 

I am weak. I cannot fight against them alone and hope to emerge victorious. My voice is tiny. Insignificant amidst a cacophony of fear and hate. My reach is inadequate. My ideas: modest. Uncultivated.

But I cannot live in fear. I refuse to live in antipathy. And I can't help but wonder what could be possible. What if.

What if we could be as critical with our own thoughts and beliefs as we are with those of others?

What if we could admit that biases and prejudices and discrimination exist? And seek to collapse the institutions that perpetrate them. But first to examine ourselves: our own thoughts and behaviors. And to break down our own misconceptions.

What if we had the difficult conversations that need to be had? About equality. And privilege. And wealth. And opportunities. 

What if we did it without getting defensive? Without blaming. Without evading accountability. With only a desire to mend and repair.

What if instead of building walls we built bridges? Of understanding. Of acceptance. Of cooperation. Of genuine unselfish concern.

What if we truly felt responsible for taking care of the people around us? All people. 

What if we showed them respect and validation and understanding?

What if we accepted that people have not lived our lives? Had our experiences. And we seek to understand them instead of insulting them based on our own limited observations.

What if each of in capacity and authority...irrelevant in the general scheme of things...what if we sought to make the world a better place? 

Not the whole world. It's too overwhelming to think of. 
Too tremendous a task to fathom.

No. Not the whole world. Just ours. The tiny one we inhabit. The few people we come in contact with. The limited circle we interact with.

What if we make the changes in ourselves that we want to see around us?

What if we loved? What if we cared?

Can we change the world? I don't know.

But what if we can.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Daughter Dearest

21 years ago today, everything changed for me. A beautiful, enchanting creature came into my life and I suddenly became responsible for someone other than myself.

I was only 21 at the time. I had no idea what I was doing. I still don't. 

I do know that there has been nothing more difficult, magnificent, complex, agonizing, rewarding, daunting or awe-inspiring than these years.

I know that I became the person I am through trying to navigate the often tumultuous, sometimes placid, always challenging waters of parenthood.

Half a lifetime ago, I became a person who learned to:

* Be a safe place at a time when I never felt more vulnerable

* Hold back my own choked sobs while desperately trying to soothe another  

* Put the needs of someone else so far ahead, that hers became mine

* Feign knowledge. And patience. And strength.

* Calm fears with a serenity I seldom felt

* Feel every heartache, every victory, every anguish of someone else more keenly than I felt my own

* Long for the right words to say, but make due with all the wrong ones

* Know that giving up was never an option, even when it's all I wanted to do

And because of it all my life is richer. Fuller. More miraculous and amazing than I ever imagined was possible.

I got someone who loves me for my insufficiencies, my weaknesses, my failings. Who believes in me as much as I believe in her.

Happy birthday, Fantasia. Happy birthday to the girl who changed my world. 

No gift I could offer could compare to what you have given to me.