A little more about who I am

I wrote this while I was snuggling my sleeping baby and I had my cell phone with me. He wasn’t sleeping without my heartbeat, so instead of feeling trapped I did some cathartic swipe authorship!

1:20 PM

There’s this wild place in my heart filled with the geography of my childhood. If you had asked me when I was a teenager, I would’ve told you that my life had been pretty good up to then. Now that I look back, I realize how raw, unsafe, and downright scary it had been at times. People in my family used to say, “You’re going to turn out alright, after all!” And other such things. To imply that I was reasonably well-adjusted despite my circumstances.

Somebody recently quipped that I must be so generous because I grew up so spoiled and wealthy. What really surprised me is that it came from one of the few adults who was actually there! And it was like that. We had money and then we were going to the food bank. One day mom drove a brand new maxima and the next she drove a wood paneled station wagon we nicknamed Bertha. Bertha smelled like burning oil and rotting vinyl.

Then we moved to a very fancy double wide trailer parked in a very good school district… By Illinois standards. And my father sent a limo to the trailer park to take my brother and I to the airport to go to Hawaii. It really was a weird juxtaposition.

There are a lot of people still in my life who have started to realize that I’m not making things up. I’ve had a wild time. I’m a product of that.

Here’s the thing I’m always impressed by: How little of that history stuck to me. How much my own brand of wildness is my own creation. How it informs my behavior and current circumstances almost wholly.

It would be easy to point to my happiness as a “fake it till you make it” or some other disingenuous life philosophy. After all, I’m only committed to fully enjoying my life – not proving whether I’m being successful or right at it. That makes it easy for outsiders looking in to think or say hilarious things to me. Things like, “Calm down, this situation doesn’t call for this much enthusiasm!” And, “Wow! You can find the ‘silver lining’ for anything!” Whatever that means.

Here it is: I am completely self centered and singularly focused. My overarching commitment is to fully enjoy my life. Now think this through, because it ends up benefiting everyone I contact. It’s personal growth and learning to the max. I’m always finding genius new ways to enjoy life. Everyone around me willing to play gets some love. I have a fountain of joy overflowing in my soul.

I get upset when people I care about start playing and then find their limit, their capacity for this experience, so quickly. It could be as simple as my attempt to acknowledge their greatness. Like attracts like. Dimming your own greatness or rejecting my recognition has a backlash. If you can’t see what I see, you can’t recognize it in anyone else, either. You’re smaller for it. Your experience of living shrinks. I’m not going to squeeze down to fit in that tiny box. Relationship hazard!

I like to think my greatness and living my life just the way I like shines a bright possibility for joy to the people around me. That kind of love feeds on itself. Sometimes I get echoes back. This always gives me goosebumps: A friend of a friend repeating back something I find myself saying often… Such as, “I’m a tender bean!” Or “Takes one to know one!” Or “I’m not sorry!”

It started when I was very small. I don’t know how old, maybe a toddler? Definitely before preschool. I’d wake up early and stare at things and meditate. I used to love peering out the window at trees and cars and watch the sky and birds and squirrels. Just being there in the world. It’s freeing, when you’re so little, to be present and realize all the things you can do. Sometimes as a kid, I would think adults don’t take what kids are doing seriously enough. I’m working hard to learn and grow. Play time is a lot of work. These puzzles aren’t simple. Learning to read is a huge accomplishment. Swimming is fun, and it also wears me out in the best way! I always need a snack and a nap afterward. Being a kid might be harder than being an adult. Imagine my surprise when I found out that adults don’t come home from their jobs with homework. They go to work, come home, get paid, that’s it! You don’t have work on top of work. And the better you do in school, the better you’re compensated for that work later. Wow! Easy. Nobody told me I could make millions golfing, though. Bunch of adults held out on me, harrumph.

What I want to tell you about is my Monet Water Lilies phase. I was 11 when it started. I’d walk down to the lake we lived near, walk around it or down the nearby hill, find trails or horse paths. I’d walk across little foot bridges over marshes filled with water lilies. Sun streaming down, filtered through green, leafy trees. Fresh pine nearby. Twisted old apple trees. The smell of wet things, bright shiny green frogs, the sense of everything around me vibrating with power. So much happy, peaceful life. I’d walk or ride my bike. I’d go as far as my legs could carry me. I’d call my mom if I had a quarter. Make sure she knew I was okay, or was coming to get me on her way home from work. Or find out i had to walk home. The best was when I’d wander to a friend’s house. Get off the bus after school, drop off my backpack, grab a snack and out the door. Off on a walkabout. Go swim in the lake or the river. Dry off while I walked. Find one of the bridges to walk over. Stop in the sunshine and breath it in. Think about how Claude Monet never had it so good. He always had to try to capture that moment with paint. All I had to do was relax.

I did this over and over for four years. Almost every day.

These moments defined the size and shape of my soul. My soul is a work of art.

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