Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Classroom

I hated school. I wasn't an academic. There wasn't a lack of ability, I just think I was the kind of kid who learned things differently. I seemed to always run into those teachers who thought the way I learned was wrong. Why didn't I understand long division in my primary school days? Why couldn't I grasp physics in my highschool career? Let me be honest with you...it's because I didn't care. I still don't care. The math that makes sense to me today, as an adult, is the math that's applicable to my life...to my job, the rest is swirling down the drain of my frustrated schoolgirl days.

But if I was to think about the things I did learn in school...I would tell you that Life has been my most valuable teacher. When Life stands at the front of the class, and requires an assignment from me, I know it is often just as frustrating and lengthy as trying to learn the periodic table in grade 11.

I know Life requires things of me that I don't want to do. I know Life holds me accountable, and grades my contribution. I know Life doesn't allow me to skip anything...it all must be learned. And when I am being that smart ass at the back of the class, acting like I know it all, and not paying attention...that is when Life detains me. That is when Life pushes back, and makes me aware of the consequences of my actions. And in a twisted way...Life can hold a grudge...it can be that teacher who will find you down the road, and remind you that you are where you are, because you made costly decisions way back when.

I had some great teachers, who reflect back how I hope Life to be taught. They gave when they didn't have to...they explained what they understood on the repeat button..knowing that the answer evaded me. They were patient, and considerate...firm, but clear on what their expectations were. They knew I could do better...and they told me so.

I hope I can look at my Life teacher, and be acutely aware of the person she hopes to shape me into being. I know that help will always be available, if I am humble enough to ask for it. I know I will never be without that which I need...because even Life has a boss...and that boss controls my income, my health and my destiny...right down to my final breath...at which point, I will graduate into a place where the value of my lessons learned, and my contribution will be weighed.

So maybe I did learn things in school. I don't remember much about the academics..but I do remember the hopes I had for Life...many of which, Life has brought to fruition. I know I learned how to stand up for what I believe...and for those who can't do it for themselves. I did that for 2 reasons...partially because I knew it was right in my heart...and maybe moreso because I detest the illusion of popularity.

So Life..I am glad I don't have to learn about you in a classroom. I am glad you teach me how I learn. I am glad you are patient with me...because you know sometimes I think I know better. I am glad you have taught me lessons with humour and have allowed people to walk alongside me, and show me how to do it right.

Life..I am glad you're in front of me...I'm up for the challenge. But please....if you want to teach me another math lesson, could it come by way of winning the lottery?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gold Rush

Have you ever noticed priceless artifacts considered most valuable in this world, are things marked with fragility? Priceless art is one unexpected spark, or a merciless flood away from being lost forever...Faberge eggs would shatter with a brief slip of the fingers...Ming vases would topple to a marble floor, and be reduced to shards...regrettably, ceasing to exist, if they weren't preserved and protected.

Or would they? Something interesting about how the Japanese look at damage...they carefully examine those things that seem irrepairable to the average person...and choose a new identity for the item.

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful". ~Barbara Bloom

The loss of something valuable to you is always a catalyst for emotion. It can bring to the surface uncontrollable feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and grief. The losing changes how you foolishly expected your life would end up...if you actually believed you were the one to control the compass. The loss leaves you with choice...even when it's the last thing you want to face.

It can be as trivial as the black sunglasses I lost...I didn't replace them for weeks, knowing in my heart I would somehow find them. They have never turned up...and I have replaced them. It can be the unspeakable, unbearable, gut wrenching grief of losing a kindred soul you're doing life with...the canyon is vast, no replacement is possible. The value dangling on the pricetag of that relationship reads, "IRREPLACEABLE".

It's astonishing...absolutely confounding to me, the sparkling, white hot rush of gold that has filled the edges of my grief since February 13th, when my sidekick Michael went home, in the warmth and glowing sunlight of dawn. The gash in my heart...the near fatal wound to my soul, has been infiltrated with the most mindblowing, brilliant, priceless gifts. Beauty has arrived to repair the broken...that which remains has it's own special trademark of magic.

Someone said to me early on in this grief journey, that I would be amazed at the gifts grief can bring. I was much too numb and bewildered in that moment, to absorb the statement. The loss is inexplicable..I thought. Rather, I still think it even now, at this very moment. How can anything ever be right again? How can I possibly do life without him? This isn't what we planned...this isn't how it's supposed to be.

But then...as I chose to make small moves towards connection...to those he knew and loved...the strangest thing happened. There he was. He was in our midst, all over again. He was in the brave laughter and actions of his friends...he was echoed in the mischievious giggles of his sweet nephews. He is in his amazingly insightful sister...right down to her crazy driving, and love of adventure and ice cream. He is in his Mother...and her authentic journey to figure this life out...to understand, and be understood. He is in his Father..right down to the afternoons watching Nascar and the devotion to the Detroit Redwings.

And he is in me...he is around me...and he is with me, all the time. His laughter echoes in my mind...his insight challenges me still, to be a better person...just one day, one encounter at a time. Those glistening gifts he gave to me, filled the fractures I was trying to mend on my own, and I am blessed to have called him my friend. Losing him has resulted in a goldrush if you will...a flood that doesn't damage the treasure, but fills it to perfection, maximising it's beauty, strength and value.

So, I am branded..I am trademarked...I am forever changed..I am a friend of MB.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Okay That

Sometimes I feel like I am trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle together, in order to allow life to unfold as it's expected. I know the edges are often assembled first, in order to create a border...a boundary of the internal contents.

The older I get, the more I realise...I have been trying to assemble this puzzle with Monopoly money...perhaps the tweezers from Operation...pie triangles from Trivial Pursuit.

Who knew? Life isn't a puzzle...there aren't boundaries, and there isn't a blueprint or a roadmap. Pieces don't need to be placed delicately with tweezers..they can be jammed in, pushed, twisted...manipulated..even turned over. The money doesn't make the puzzle any easier to complete. The pie pieces from Trivial Pursuit appear to be irrelevant.

So in my game, these are some of the rules...

It's OK That:

*I love deeply, completely, and eternally...and sometimes, frivilously, recklessly, and spontaneously.
*I will always follow my heart...even to my detriment sometimes.
*Music moves me to my core, and consumes me entirely at times.
*I have a crazy, sick, twisted sense of humour..and find it hard to tame at times..and when I find someone who understands it, I feel like a child all over again.
*I'm never going to be conventional...and that makes some people uncomfortable...but as long as I work at being authentic, I am fulfilling my destiny.
*I love shock value...like, I LOVE it.
*Being me is sometimes exhausting...and I wish I had someone to take on the world with.
*I love big hair..secretly...I want big ass country music hair.
*I love animals too much...so much that I don't want to have them..because I know I will have to be without them one day, and it's just too sad.
*I hold secrets to the grave...because they are between me, and one other person.
*I still cry for my childhood best friend, who has been gone longer than she was ever here.
*I hate mornings..a lot.
*I'd drive anywhere..for anything, as long as the company was good. So call me, and ask me to meet you for the worlds best: ice cream, coffee, cheese pizza, chocolate cake..conversation...I am so there.
*I am restless.
*I eat peanut butter out of the jar.
*I'm honouring the grief of losing my Michael everyday...but have no regrets about who we were, and how we ended things...it was all said while he was here.
*I say "I love you" to everyone...because I would rather come up feeling awkward, than regretful.

A glimpse. Some insight. A flash. All of those things have created a miniscule visual of who I am. My life puzzle is in the garbage, I am not doing anything delicately with the Operation tweezers... Monopoly money isn't my purpose or goal...

And the pie, well...let me tell you something about pie...if you tell me you know the location of the worlds greatest slice..you might persuade me to get in my Jeep at 2am, and come and experience it with you....why? Because the pursuit may be trivial to some...but it's one of my favorite parts of playing this wild game called Life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The House

Comparing my life to a house? It might look like this:

When I became old enough, I knew it was time to set off into the mystery and promise of my adult life. I knew I had to set up a house.

Upon moving in, I found myself overwhelmed with the weight of my life. I had bulky, heavy boxes of the past...things that I wanted to store in the dark, musty attic and forget about, but instead, dumped in the front hallway, obstructing the door. I had the clutter of the present, shoved haphazzardly into cupboards and kitchen drawers, causing me to feel like those things of importance, that need to be attended to today...are just beyond grasp in the unattainable... and not readily available or easily retrievable. And finally...those bright velvet, jewelled little boxes...full of gleaming hopes and soul defining dreams...for some reason, these were the belongings I decided to stow away in the darkness of the rooftop rafters.

I chose to look at the walls as a burden to paint, instead of a canvas to be created. I often knew that I would sleep much more peacefully, if I would just climb the stairs...but was sometimes too lazy to move upwards to find relief. The couch was ok...but it wasn't where I was meant to sleep.

And those boxes..in the front hallway, that inhibited my easy access to the life outside of the house? I chose to step over them...day after day...and to be reminded of their contents with every glance, to be hurt all over again by the broken things inside when I would catch a sharp corner with a bare knee, or a baby toe. I chose to let them obscure the direct path of possibility, just on the other side of the door. Only I could open the door from the inside, to allow myself a formal introduction to a world that I can wrap my arms around, and identify as my own unique place.

The clean up began one morning...my house was well lived in by now, and nothing shocked me, until a storm blew open that front door. A violent, unforgiving gust blew through my home...and upturned the familiar. The boxes at the front door were obliterated, and the contents were spilled and strewn. The cupboards and closets were blown open..and the chaos of the present was tossed about into random corners and doorways.

As I threw up my hands in disbelief....I felt a strange release of my identity. Those things that had stood in my way, were exposed and identified for what they were... the useless, fatally damaged debris of a life freckled with sadness and misfortune. Those possessions of the present, that should have been put away properly from the start, would now require a place in my home where they work FOR me, not in opposition.

And just as the sweeping was almost complete...the remnants and rubble placed outside the door...the items of the present finding their new lot in my world, a shockingly beautiful thing happened.

Another surge of wind whipped around my house...and took the roof clear off. As I stood in confounded disbelief, and bewildering frustration, I saw things begin to fall. I saw those bright velvet, jewelled little boxes... as they fell in a circle around me. They did not break or shatter, or lose their precious contents...but they did reveal to me, that which I had long forgotten about in the dusty, ignored attic up above. They landed with lids open, and treasure exposed...and I realised this: my gleaming hopes, and soul defining dreams are always surrounding me...above, in front of and behind me, and are infinitely more accessible if I keep my house in order, and let the irrepairable, broken things stay where they happen... outside my front door.