Archive for October 12th, 2009

Telling the Truth

I want to begin this entry with an acknowledgment of gratitude to you, my readers, the witnesses and observers of this journey, for your humbling interest and support. A few of you have posted comments here on the blog, and many others have emailed me privately, offering a variety of feedback, kind words, and encouragement.  While I realize this sampling of the population is thus far skewed toward those who already have favorable attachments to me, I nevertheless feel sincerely surprised, and humbled, by the responses.  While I am generally considered an extrovert, I am not particularly known for exhibitionism, and to expose one’s jugular to world at large has indeed felt pretty risky.  The words I’ve written here could easily (and may yet) subject me to a torrent of flaming mockery.  But as I began writing, those were the words that came out, and this was where I needed to begin.

As I drove through eastern Tennessee (and sat in traffic caused by a car-fire in Knoxville), I enjoyed a longish phone conversation with a friend there, whom I’ll call John.  John is in his early sixties, and we met singing together over this past summer, where we found we shared a dear mutual friend.  As John was literally in the midst of moving house the day I passed through his stomping grounds, we were unable to connect for lodging or even a meal.  But he offered to be of service should I run into any snags here in the nine-hour state of Tennessee (which was most reassuring – see last blog post), and we did get to spend some time visiting over the phone.  I bring up John because my first night on the road, he read this blog, and his response to me was (and I nearly quote) “Calm down, girl!  You need to be more upbeat!  You’re smart, you’re a looker, good things are coming to you – you just need a more upbeat outlook.”

My immediate thought was, if those attributes got you “good things” in life, I should have it all together by 45, shouldn’t I?  (I still don’t have the answer to that question, by the way, although I have enjoyed many wonderful things in my life.  But they haven’t added up to clarity just yet.)  As I reflected on it more, I realized a few things.  First, I realized that my upbeat mood, which was fairly well-sustained over the last year, turned on a dime the day in mid-August I started having frightening physical symptoms that I’d never experienced before.  I became terrified one night by my body misbehaving, and that put me under some very dark clouds from which it’s been challenging to emerge.  Second, it is a truism but nonetheless a fact, that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have squat.  I know there are countless people who rise above severe, permanent, and debilitating health conditions.  But I would wager that every one of those people went through a period of fear and struggle when first faced with the limitations imposed on their lives.

My last thought in response to John’s words took me longer to sort out, and led me to this particular entry.  It was the response to his comment that I should be “more upbeat.”  I’ve thought about this aplenty as I’ve been writing these pieces, even before John said anything.  These writings have been awfully serious for a person who loves to laugh and talk nonsense as much as I do.  But (ever the Libra) I am as serious as I am silly, and am undertaking a serious exploration here.  There will undoubtedly be comedy along the way, because that is how (my) life works.  But as I thought about John’s admonition, I realized that “downbeat” or not, and born out of a rough patch of my life or not, these words have been entirely true.  Even if it means risking humiliating myself, if I am searchingly honest, I have nothing real to lose by exposing my underbelly.  And if I am to really, really rip the lid off my life, push through whatever keeps holding me back, I must begin by telling the truth.

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