(The below post was written 12/16/08)
Ok, it's been over a month since I posted anything.
I was going to write about the guys I met standing in line to vote on election day, one of whom remembered me and later sent me free symphony tickets. Or I could write about how my friendships seem to be coming under attack lately, one by one, like some force in the Universe is making me take a closer look at them, putting them on like last year's school clothes asking, "do these still fit?" Darned right they fit! I'm not throwing anyone away. I could write about how I've been told by my boss that his boss does not promote so even though I've replaced a guy with a higher title than mine and who made more money than me, and even though I'm doing an admittedly better job than him, for now I get no raise and no title - maybe in a few years after the guy retires. Or I could write about the recent trauma I experienced when, frustrated with my fluctuating pants sizes, I went to an alternative dcotor recommended to me by a friend and was sent home to collect my own stool samples. Eww. And NO.
I'm not going to write about any of that. It's almost New Years. Time to do some housekeeping and wipe the slate clean. Time to set some new goals. I have always loved making New Year's resolutions. I am one of the few people who actually keeps them, or rather I was until I became more open.
I started this blog in 2004, a year after my sister's death. She had lived her life wide open and exposed for everyone to see. We were exact opposites. She had taken all the sunlight, all the air. I was happy to be the shade, the cloudy, rainy restful day. She was all poetry and I was all prose. It was not until she was gone that I started to realize why I had needed her. It's because some ideas, like plants, need exposure to air and sunlight, and to the thoughts of others in order to grow. If I was going to finish growing up I was going to have to do for myself what she had been doing for both of us - open myself up and expose myself to others. This blog was my attempt. It's been successful. After years of practice I now make friends with ease, real friendships not just superficial ones. When perfect strangers tell me they're going to call back or email me, they actually do. When they say they're going to send me symphony tickets, a few weeks later not one pair but two arive in the mail. (I still owe my new friend a "thank you" card.)
Now comes the second part of this lesson: keeping some things to myself. As I've let the world in I've experienced what I've always suspected (and I mean always - since infancy, it seems): a loss of resolve. Something about people knowing what we want, seeing us struggle in front of everyone, erodes our ability to do it. Is it that their disbelief and doubt act as an anti-creative force? How often are other people's beliefs an even greater influence than our desire for ourselves? If enough people believe something about us then whatever it is they are believing is as good as done.
Nevermind "The Secret". That's not what this is about. I don't know anything about that lady's book. I own it, but I can not bring myself to read it. I am just talking about relationships with other people and how they affect us. We need people. And I've learned to let myself do that. But we also need to keep a part of ourselves away from everyone - like seeds that need to be kept in dark, moist soil before the little shoots peek through the ground and expose themselves to sunlight. But what parts? When? And for how long?
I recently finished reading "The Shack" which was recommended to me by my friend, the mom of the Texas Trio. I started out thinking it was too simplistic, too juvenile. But out of respect for her I pressed on and by the time I was halfway through it I was hooked. The book is about relationships - God's relationship with us and our relationship with others. Turns out, according to this author that's all God really wants. When I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee my Sunday school teacher said that the second of the two Greatest Commandments, "Love your neighbor as yourself" was about what he called "the Law of Hospitality". Take care of other people. Be in relationships with other people. Love one another. Making others feel truly welcome. It's all the same thing. There is no higher power.
It seems that all of my life, long before I moved to Chattanooga, long before reading "The Shack", back when I was still a small child, all I wanted was to achieve enough success to take care of my family and to welcome others into my home. Last year I was finally there. Seems to me there's nothing left to want.