The morning started with a solid barricade of mountains rising up in my mind, leaving me, “cabined, cribbed, confined . . . ” I fought to maintain space, maybe even peace, but alas, something triggers something. “Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect” (Shakespeare). I drag myself from one room to another, desperate for an escape, but not seeing possibility. Whether cause stemmed from the bigotry of Washington GOP to unify a white-only America, the endless stream of gray clouds covering my state, or the disconcerting stream of #metoo people crying out their abusers, regardless, my mood hit rock bottom. I drown in despair despite the fact I avoided his new lies and the “fake news” disclaimer we have come to know as a presidential retort; and even though I applaud the bravery of the women who are calling out their truth, as a survivor, I am grabbed backwards into my own stolen childhood, circling around in panic attacks and emotional shattering each time I hear their abuse stories. Victimhood is a badge no one asks for, yet one finds near impossible to shed. So yes, even with the no-listening-to-the-news weekend rule, following this dystopian-metaphor converging on a convoluted new world, the walls close in around me. I think too much about the future. Breath in, breath out. I must move. With cleats strapped onto my hiking boots I get myself outside and onto the nearest mountain trail.
Do you remember when you first discovered Ram Dass’s 1970’s iconic Be Here Now? When you cracked open that journey? I do… only a teen unsteady on which way was up but I dove in all the same.
Those years revolved round myself. Being here now meant more time with an emphasis on present enjoyment. Chasing the next high until reality drifted out of view. Being present was pure frenzy. What may have started as new-age spirituality for others morphed onto immediacy for me and my crew, and even though there was the notion that we, this new generation, care beyond ourselves, to include all the souls inhabiting this one earth, the real focus was on one’s small private world, frequently spinning out of control, fast, then faster. From my vantage, Ram Dass ignited a wave of self-professed hedonists, of which I was yet another faithful fan, who heralded in reckless totality. By the time I reached my early twenties, the party had consumed too many around me; I was lucky to crawl out of the glitter alive. Continue reading
All the thanks in the world for tuning in every week,
for letting me know when my writing touches you,
for reaching out when it’s so easy not to.
I so so so appreciate each and every one of you!
Church was like my foot. It was always there and my mother made sure we were properly scrubbed up for the event. Nothing prevented our going. Even when my father announced that until the Catholics returned to Latin he would not attend mass, we did. Even when the entire hour became an uncomfortable ritual of handshakes and peace kisses, we went.
As much as mistakes are heralded and lauded in each commencement speech from Harvard to Stanford, they seldom feel that way while you are free-falling out of control. Like when you lose your home. Or job. Or mother. Or marriage. Or health. The sensation of spinning is never a welcome sensation. Instead, we flail about trying to latch on to anything to prevent the inevitable broken bones we receive on impact; desperate to cling to every hope, false or otherwise, that eases us down.
But the truth is, as you lay for some time in the dust, you realize, you must rise again. You simply must. And eventually we do. We don our finest and face the disaster head on. Probably not at first, but if we survive the catastrophe, or for some, multiple catastrophes, we simply must stand. Personally, I am buoyed by Vince Lambardi’s words, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” I guess you could say this has been my motto, and one that keeps me looking up and out, smiling, as I get my feet under me once again.
Last week while still in Louisville I had the good fortune to hear Richard Blanco retell his story: from immigrant to inaugural poet for Obama in 2013. The story he shared is fabulous, filled with colorful elaboration, detailing his parents’ bold move from Cuba to Miami, recalling his fascinating childhood to his own journey as a poet. He moved his audience to tears and laughter, from the nostalgia of the past to the shared hope for the future. His story touched us all as pieces of it became our own. How he was picked by the White House is a mystery, even to him, but once we all heard his voice ring out over the capital on that cold January day, that no longer mattered. Richard Blanco is all of us.