One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things. - Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
Oh hai. I'm in disguise today so that I can talk to you in secret without any of it being traced back to me. Are you ready? Excellent. Let's go.
I read a book once with the title "What Would You Do If You Had No Fear", and wrote rather facetiously in my diary that I would become a psychopath. They're the only ones without any. Me, I'm riddled with the stuff. Big fat scaredy cat, melodramatic worrier of epically grand proportions, lily-livered chicken heart. There are a myriad things that will set off my deep and extensive cowardice, including, but not limited to: potential physical harm; people who shout; people who are in any way cross with anything that might be vaguely related to anything I may have done or been even an unwitting party to doing; telephones; large gatherings; small gatherings; large bugs; small bugs but not spiders which aren't really bugs anyway; geese, who are clearly Satan's minions; failing; succeeding; being mediocre; disturbing pretty much anyone, ever; dead animals; heights; ridicule; boring things. Okay, I'm not scared of boring things, I just put that in there in the hopes no-one will subject me to any. That would be nice.
I know what the author means, but it's the wrong question. I will always, always, be afraid. You will be too, though probably not of geese and telephones. I'm not at all afraid of blood and gore and any and all medical emergencies if that helps to restore your faith in my sanity, though perhaps it may do the opposite? Anyway. Moving on. The right question goes something more like this: what is more important to you than your fear?
Me, it's my kids. I'd like to say it's courage and honour and impeccable personal integrity, or some such variation on the theme, but truthfully, any spark of grit or bravery I may possess comes almost entirely out of not wanting to let my kids down. I do let them down, a lot (chicken heart etc.), but there are also times I act a little braver, a little kinder, a little more (not very much) connected to the world than I might otherwise be because it's better for them that I do. Even more difficult, and even more important, I try, slowly, imperfectly, to challenge myself to grow into the kind of person I want them to think I am. The loyal, truth-telling kind, the kind whose actions are closely related to their words, the kind who never gives up on themselves, the kind who keeps getting up and walking on every time circumstances trip them up and make them face plant into the mud. I kind of wrote a bit about it here when I wrote about love. Love is, at its core, life's great Yes and Amen.
So when I think about my current state of overwhelming tireds, ennui, discouragement, I think of my children. What would I want for them to do if they were faced with the same problem, how do I want to model what that might look like for them?
Oh, I would want them to be bold. Bold, bold, bold. I would want them to forgive those who cannot love them; to hold tight to those who can; to forgive their own past mistakes and all the inevitable future ones; I would want them to ruthlessly cull the insidious tentacles of other people's opinions, beliefs and ideals wherever they are cutting the oxygen off from their own; I would want them to be kind in their manners and firm in their boundaries; and I would want them to dig, and keep digging, inside the fertile soil of their many joys and sorrows until they find the small handful of things that they value most. And then I would want them to keep faith with those values. Even when, especially when, it feels like no-one else cares. I would want to them make a covenant with their own selves that they will never, never, ever, sacrifice the integrity of their own souls in order to please the will of someone else's. I would also want them to ask for help and take naps when they need it. And wear clean underwear.
(Not true. I am quite un-motherly-like on the subject of anybody's undies).
I can tell you the values I hold most dear. I've spent years thinking about it and refining the list down to these three things: beauty, wisdom, and acceptance. We might all have slightly different meanings attached to those very big words, and it doesn't matter. I know what I mean when I use them and I know how I want to organise my life around them. Now I just need to have the kahunas to make it so. I'm pretty sure there's an available pair hidden away around here somewhere.
I'll stick with blogging, and I'll stick with blogging right here - as I wrote in an email today, wherever I go, there I'll be, so I may as well - but it'll be more about what I value and less about chasing those pretty falling stars. One day in the hopefully very distant future I want my children to read over all the years of entries I made and notice the difference from this one forward, and how it more closely resembled the mother they knew, loved, and were infuriated by. Perhaps they might even remember how much braver and bolder and sure of who I was I seemed to be from about the same time. That I learned to give less of a damn so I could give more of a damn.
Or perhaps they'll just wonder why the hell I stayed so irrationally obsessed over the evil intent of geese. I swear, those things, they want to destroy every last one of us.