reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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#MeToo

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 5.10.57 PM i believe in inherent goodness.  the inherent goodness of each and every person.  born in beauty, walking in beauty.  i blame my sweet momma.  she looked this way at every single person who crossed her path.
          but then, there’s the rest.  predisposed psychological genetics.  environment.  social prejudices.  bigotry.  elitism.  lack of empathy.  the inability to walk in another’s shoes.  the lack of wanting to try to walk in another’s shoes.  some kind of warped misinformed yet embraced caste system.  jealousy.  bitterness.  the web of ‘ugly’ has many faces.  and people twist.  and that inherent goodness seems to go underground.  we wonder if there is, indeed, any goodness left.  we are confronted with this question over and over again it seems, especially these days.
          we had a discussion about goodness recently.  it became heated.  the dog left the room and retreated to the bathroom.  we were intense.  too intense.  arguing for the same point, we came from two different directions, two different backgrounds.  but we were heading, actually, in the same direction.
          each of us carries our gift of inherent goodness.  we choose each and every day whether we access it or not. my momma’s adherence to the adage, “i shall pass through this world but once.  any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.  let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” often rings in my ears.  we all make decisions each day; some steeped in good, some not so much.
          as we approached the holidays and the end of the year, we were deeply diving into cleaning out.  seems right at the end of the year.  old boxes of random items that had accumulated in the years lived in this home, vestiges of life before, of life growing up, of goodnesses shown and received.  we had so much fun as we cleaned; i’d show d pictures or mementos from places or people or the children, every one of them an opportunity for a story.  some carried aha moments, some elicited sighs of where-does-the-time-go, some made me laugh or teary, some stopped me in my tracks.
          i came across things from way-earlier-life, the time i had spent growing up on long island.  my seagull collection, plastic seagulls suspended on wires attached to rocks or shells or pieces of cork, a 70s thing for sure.  my horse collection, which was, in my mind, massive, but when i unpacked it was more like 15 horse statues and ribbons from showing in horse shows, drawings i had painstakingly drawn, books i pored over and over and studied at a much younger age.  a doll collection with hand sewn or hand crocheted outfits made lovingly by my grandmother ‘mama dear’s’ hands.  books and notebooks and old calendars.  trinkets and rocks and feathers.  cards and letters i saved for decades.  artwork by the girl and the boy.  little notes they wrote to me.  an old electric typewriter and a case of 45rpm records we played the night we found them.
          and then there are the reminders from a time i don’t talk about so much.  a time when i became a #MeToo.  it takes my breath away to think of that 19 year old girl.  me – an idealistic, innocent, youngest-by-far child who looked at the world through poetic eyes and trusting-colored glasses.  my heart breaks now for this young woman who found her way through a terrifying -and life-changing- time pretty much alone, seeking little help for an act that drove to her core and was more than difficult to voice in a late 1970s judicial system.  because, you know, not everyone is good.  not everyone holds their inherent goodness ahead of their selfish, controlling, violent behaviors.  back then, counseling, and even prosecuting, was rare.  i didn’t experience either one.  the help of counseling nor the satisfaction of prosecuting this person who took away my belief and trust in goodness.  for a time, fear coursed through me.  my view of others became jaded and distrusting.  i sought refuge in varying ways, but never really explained why to myself or others.  i didn’t understand what caused this man to behave as he had, nor did i understand that it wasn’t mine to understand.  what i do know, is that i grew.
          and now, as our world opens their listening hearts to women and girls everywhere, i am grateful.  grateful for their collective voices and the deserved help extended to them. grateful that even in giving individual voice, they are moving through the processing of it, the reason for being a #MeToo becoming smaller than #MeToo survival.
          i was once told wise words from a friend when i was grieving my momma’s death.  joan said, “the only way to get to the other side is through it.”
          as i sort through all the pieces of life i have carried in boxes, in bins, in photographs, in my heart and soul, through all these years, i realize again that these words are so true.  in so many situations, so many life arenas. the only way to get to the other side is through it.  and then, you can find inherent goodness again.

 

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the faces of my life.

IMG_1991“…in the nighttime of your fear…” the lyrics of this hymn jump out at me. how many times have i been awake in the nighttime…wrapping my arms around fear of some sort. how many times have i been awake in the daytime with ‘the nighttime of my fear’? being awake with fear makes every muscle aware, every hair stand on end, every emotion close to the surface. and the fear doesn’t have to be physical…sometimes it is fear of the unknown, fear of change (no! really?), fear of differences that set you apart. any way you slice it, fear becomes visceral and, as carol used to always say, you can taste the adrenaline. in these moments, there are voices i pine for, people i want to be near, reassurances for which i yearn. how many times have i told david i wish i could just talk to my sweet momma. how many times have i asked my dad aloud – hoping for a sticky note to float down from heaven – for his words of wisdom. i’ve asked my brother wayne for car and fixing stuff advice; i’ve asked my friend richie for a tad bit of his sense of humor in a tense moment. the list of people on the other side extends out, in ever-larger concentric circles, as i realize how much i miss their words of wisdom. the faces of my life. and then, often in an awakening moment of grief, i realize that there is indeed wisdom and reassurance all around me.

the ukulele band rehearsals are at our house in the summer. most often outside on sometimes-warm-sometimes-cool summer nights on the patio, last night was inside with impending storms in the area. i had broken my little baby toe earlier in the day and was limping around a bit (and maybe whining also.) betsi and jay offered advice, carol and helen grimaced with me, remembering breakages of their own, david jokingly spoke of designing steel-toed flip-flops. a posse of people making my little toe feel better. there were conversations about dietary/lifestyle changes, inexpensive backyard solutions, growing herbs, new albums out, nitrate-free bacon, up north… really, anything you might want some solid talk-talk about was possible. the faces of my life. “…we are pilgrims on a journey, we are travelers on the road.   we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load…”

in conversation with susan or linda or jen or heidi, we talk about loss of a parent or we talk about children growing up and away or we talk about where we are in life…they have been there when i’ve cried…they have shared tears with me. they have laughed with me till it hurt. powerful moments of empathy. with david, the sharing of raw emotion, the frustrations and the bliss of being “too close”, the tears and the laughter are full spectrum. the faces of my life. “…i will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh i’ll laugh with you…”

we were standing on the opposite side of a stream from where we needed to be. three times while we were in the mountains this was where i found myself.  (well, metaphorically, i suppose that would be countless times, but who’s talking in metaphors?) the first time, david crossed over, using stones and a wayward log that had fallen. even now, my feet tingle thinking about it. he quietly told me that i could do it and reached out his hand to me so that I could grasp it as soon as i was within reach. his eyes, unwaveringly gentle and reassuring, convinced me to work with the fear i felt and move forward. “…i will hold my hand out to you..” IMG_2744one of the other times becky, david and kirsten (the girl) had already crossed the stream. it wasn’t a huge chasm, but it was enough to make me think about going the “other way”. and yet, it was their faces on the other side that helped the nugget of fear i felt go away.   the faces of my life.

” …i will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through…” our time on this beautiful earth is forever and fleeting. both. this journey is filled with design of the universe and gorgeous wisdom and warm reassurance. the faces of our lives. on this side and on the other side. they will hold us in ‘the nighttime of our fear’. they will hold us in the moment.  we are never alone.

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