There’s this guy who stands outside at parent walk-up at my son’s school. I do not know him. Every day when I walk up, he stares at me. I don’t mean lingering glance, I mean full-on staring at me like a I was prancing down the sidewalk with a singing kangaroo hanging out of my purse. And he does it every. single. day.
It happened last year, too. Never a “hello” from this guy or a smile or even a weak, “you look so familiar.” Nope. He just looks at me without blinking for an inordinately long amount of time. My kids have asked me who he is. I don’t have any idea, except that he is a grown man with apparent respect and boundary issues.
Now….normally I’m not a confrontational person. My father calls me “peace keeper”. I prefer to avoid arguments when possible. I try to model problem solving behaviors to my kids. I’m not violent. But this guy, this guy is stepping over a line and I think it’s because I am female and I am small and to this man, small female equals powerless. Voiceless.
It makes me angry. It makes me wish I was some secret super-ninja so I could just reach out and snap his arm in half and leave him in a heap by his truck.
The funny thing about my size is that – as I said to my friend today – I am not small on the inside. I am mighty, lionhearted, and full of righteous indignation. You will not make repeated attempts to humiliate me or back me into a corner and not receive commensurate response.
So one day, as I was walking towards my son, this man was walking the opposite direction (towards me), his gaze fixed on my face the entire time. I had had enough. I stopped, right in front of him, took off my sunglasses, and asked him loudly if he had a problem. Yep. Gangster style. Threw out my arms and said “do you have a problem?”
Actually now that I think about it, it was much more Jennifer Love Hewitt screaming, “What do you want from me?!?” than anything else.
The guy… a bit unsettled by my Moms in da Hood behavior… stopped, looked at the ground, muttered something, and then made a beeline for his vehicle. Since then, each afternoon at walk-up, he makes a concerted effort to look anywhere else but at me. There have been a handful of afternoons that I stare directly at his face, daring him to look at me. He doesn’t.
Victory? Maybe. Maybe he’s not a bad guy. Maybe he thinks I’m a bitch (I don’t care.) I think plenty of men don’t know how scary/creepy/intimidating they can be. Maybe he was clueless. Maybe he’s just rude. I don’t know.
What I do know – or hope – is that thanks to our brief exchange he won’t choose to look at a woman like she’s on the damn dinner menu just because she’s small, or attractive, or defenseless against it. He knows now that despite appearances, she might call him on his disgusting behavior. A lion may live within her.
I used to think that love was a wildfire. A hot, passionate, all-engulfing blaze, sometimes fleeting and often times destructive. The kind of fire that consumes and takes everything for itself. That exciting, fervid heat that tears through the dry brush of the heart, bringing destruction to all it touches and with it, a chance to start over from nothing. A white-hot bolt of lightning illuminating the whole sky. Electric. A summer night’s kiss on the hood of the car that is so conductively charged, the engine might spontaneously turn over from the contact.
You think you might not survive it. You’re not even sure you want to.
Now that I have more years – and in theory a measure of wisdom – under my belt, I still think that love is fire.
It’s the orange-blue embers that smolder in a deep stone fireplace in the heart of a woodland cabin. Quiet, save for the occasional crackle and pop of the logs it slowly, methodically devours. The kind of fire that gives itself to warm others, lights up the dark, soothes the world-weary bones that have been out in the cold too long. It is the smoke billowing from a tall red brick chimney, signaling a safe place – a refuge from the elements. The fire that though it may sleep for a night, is certain to resume its work in the morning radiating heat and lighting the darkness. Dependable. A gentle hand on the small of my back, reassuring me that we’re in this together.
Still hot, still potentially destructive, but a comfort to everyone who feels it.
You know it’ll always be there, no matter what you do or where you go, and there’s no satisfaction in the world greater than that.
I never understood the phrase “what kind of fool do you take me for?” As a child it was strange to think there might be a variety of ways one could be a fool. Now I know there are innumerable ways, incomprehensibly vast are the possibilities.
A young fool, an old fool, a stubborn fool, a blind fool, an optimistic fool, a lovesick fool… You get the idea. I suppose it should be a comfort to us that we all will embody at least one of these fool archetypes in our lifetimes.
It isn’t. In fact, my ego bristles at the thought. The mere implication that I’ve been had sends me reeling. Yet, I rush in. I take people at their word. I believe love always wins. I’m a textbook fool.
Maybe it’s not that I mind being foolish. Maybe I just don’t like having it pointed out to me. There’s the rub. It’s embarrassing to have egg on your face and worse to have to clean it up yourself because the loud accusing voices have gone eerily silent.
Fools are hopeful, generous, and sometimes make stupid choices – but I always think they have great intentions. I want to open myself up and expose my intentions. Then I wouldn’t be called a fool. I’d be called a humanitarian. Maybe if I was understood I’d be better loved.
I don’t want you to feel guilty. You couldn’t have prevented this. Bleeding things are my weakness and your soul is made of my own. You were a gift from the moon herself, one I could not accept. But you promised. I have loved you before I knew who you were, before I even met me…
I cut myself open to show you
That I hurt, too
My soul dripped out
Onto your hands
And we danced…
The beginning was different. You were not like the others, then you slowly recovered and I reluctantly discovered… it wasn’t real. It never was, it could not be. It’s ok. I understand. Many have sought my radiating light. Your morning star. Temporary. Like a storm that rolls in after a week of beautiful sunshine, I knew this would come. Expected. I hoped I was wrong, hoped I could believe my dreams, hoped there was a place for us. You promised.
In the end I will be hollow
Drained from loving
All I see in that place
Is your face
I have learned to keep my distance. I will learn to shut my mouth, not let it out. Do not be seen. They don’t like that. Vulnerable. Be strong instead. Amuse them, but never reveal yourself. Do not speak of love or sadness or longing. Albatross. A lesson. A gift. …but he promised.
There is no heart in me
It sits, unbeating, next to you
Whatever you do
Throw it away
I want you to know you are different. You are everything. You are the resplendent beach house I could never really afford. I will miss you in the way one misses a beautiful thing that was not theirs to keep. I’ll hide the photographs on my bookshelf. I’ll whisper your name in my sleep. I’ll hear your voice in crowded rooms and echoes of your laughter in other universes not yet imagined. I promise.
Although well known and oft-repeated, that’s actually a misquote. Thoreau wrote, in Walden, that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Here is the full quote, in context:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
Thoreau was talking about the void we all feel and the common impulse most humans feel to try and fill it with material things. Walden is a journal of sorts, detailing his time in the woods and away from modern society, searching for inner peace and finding himself and new perspective there.
A friend and I were discussing this “quiet desperation” quote last night, as we discussed our respective marriages and marriage in general. Our conversation focused on the complacency that occurs after years of seeing the ins and outs and annoying habits of another human being’s existence. I think it’s so common for husbands and wives to leave the runway together, aimed for the stars and the experience of a lifetime, only to land early on a makeshift dirt runway in a place just outside Settle Town, USA.
Is that obnoxious? Maybe so, but you get what I’m saying. If most new brides and grooms begin the marriage with the best of intentions – which I believe is the case – how do so many of us end up in a ditch somewhere, disoriented and disheartened at what our lives have become?
I’m not even talking about 10 years in, guys. I myself have been married for 9 years, but the trouble started brewing quite a while ago and I don’t think we’re unique in that. I talk to so many men and women – friends, colleagues, acquaintances – who are at most, content in their marriages and at worst, extremely unhappy and in some cases, depressed. Most of them are not seeking divorce. They just want to live their best lives and they want to do it with a willing partner who shares their interests and passions.
[Side note: For some reason, whenever I hear the term “quiet desperation” in my head the Queensryche song “Silent Lucidity” starts playing. Interestingly, the song is about lucid dreaming, which is being able to consciously control what happens in your dreams. So in a way, it’s related. ]
The “quiet desperation” quote came up discussing marriage because my friend and I were connecting on some shared issues. The others I’ve spoken with relate to the same issues and experiences, too. Even though all these people are having this same experience, none of them (none of us) are really talking about it. It’s a secret struggle. There is so much irony in something so commonplace and universal being something we hold inside and keep to ourselves and work to camouflage on social media.
Let’s don’t lead lives of quiet desperation any longer. Let’s start talking to each other, and communicating with our spouses, and stepping outside the confines of the rules of marriage if that’s what it takes. The only time that exists is the present, and it’s crap to waste it wondering if we are loved, wondering if we had married someone else, would we be vacationing in Mykonos right now instead of stuck at home washing dishes for an ungrateful partner. That’s not life. That’s not what life is for!
So how to we get back in the air? How to do get out of Settle Town and back en route to our dreams and wildest fantasies (hopefully together with our chosen partners)? Honesty! Speaking our truth! I think we all have to learn to be uncomfortable for a moment in order to be blissfully happy for a lifetime.
Believing we are alone is what fosters our desperation. In truth, nothing is singular and everything is shared. We are all connected. We are all pieces of the same consciousness having several different (but oddly similar) human experiences. As Thoreau said, we would be wise not to do desperate things. We would be wise to realize that we are not alone, and the future is what we make it.
I’m rambling, so I’ll leave it there. Namaste and happy Monday! XOXO
“…the future is beautiful, alright? Look out the window. It’s sunny every day here. It’s like manifest destiny. Don’t tell me we didn’t make it. We made it! We are here. And everything that is past is prologue to this. All of the shit that didn’t kill us is only… you know, all that shit. You’re gonna get over it.” – Rob (Ron Livingston), Swingers
I’ve been thinking a lot about destiny. What it is, what it means, how it works.
Every day when I pull a tarot card or cards for the day, I journal them. Sometimes at night I just play with the cards, trying to get a feel for them and for reading. Last night I pulled some cards not to journal, but because I wanted an answer about something.
One of the cards that popped out was the Wheel of Fortune card (from the Wild Unknown Deck). It’s a gorgeous card, messy and colorful and full of meaning. At the top, a crescent moon and stars. The man picture of the card resembles a Native American medicine wheel that’s been made from yarn and twigs. A colorless sun shines beneath the wheel. An owl sits perches atop the highest twig branch.
The meaning of this card is heavy. As a 10 card it represents completion – the end of a cycle. The Wheel itself represents change rolling in, sometimes good and sometimes uncomfortable, but always necessary. I see this card as a positive one, as change brings growth and growth leads us to our highest good. In the guidebook, it says the Wheel of Fortune is the card of Destiny.
Long after I’d pulled the cards and studied them, I kept thinking about the concept of Destiny. Is it something that happens, or something that just is? Does it happen to us or for us? Do we all face our destiny, do we create our destiny, do we have the power to change our destiny (because free will is obviously a thing).
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the truth of the wheel is much simpler than that. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my journal and a pen, and scribbled:
“What if it’s less about finding destiny or destiny happening to us? What if I AM destiny?”
Boom. Lightning moment for me. What if I – what if we all – have much more power than we believe, or were told, or have ever imagined possible, over our future and how our lives play out?
Maybe destiny is something that, on the path to spiritual enlightenment, we begin to meld with? To have the thing, we must BE the thing, right? To have joy, we must be joy. To have love, we must first be love. This is how we match vibration and allow things to become true in our lives.
So… what if to activate a certain destiny, to realize our fate, all we have to do is become it? Similar to a choose your own adventure novel, where one path leads to page 24 and another leads to page 116 and we get to decide our own ending. What if that’s been the point all along? Through shadow work, meditation, visualization, inspired action, learning, teaching, growing, loving, laughing, experiencing, and believing before we see, we both sketch out or own future – which is fluid and in motion, like the Wheel – and then step into it?