Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wide Load

It’s an off-kilter crown kind of day. I just cannot decide if I am in my manic state or my depressive state. I alternate, you know, between the two. Sometimes life is wonderful, I love everyone, and I literally feel as if I am truly walking on sunshine. I mean, I’m not clinically manic. I don’t spend shitloads of money and have wildly inappropriate sexual relations with people I don’t even know, but I have my good days. Then come the days where I’ve given up hope, I have no idea where I am headed with my life, and I honestly could not tell you what the point of my existence has been. I’m not quite sure right now where I stand. I’m not ready to close all the blinds and withdraw into myself and yet, I’m feeling a bit lost, out of sorts, not quite my chipper self.

I’m thinking my expectations may be set too high. For some, it’s ok just to exist, just to live out one’s time, just to show up in order to check off being there much as the prisoner tallies up the days on the cold stone prison wall. The problem is I’m not a just-showing-up kind of gal. That’s just not me. Sometimes I wish it were. Then, I think, I would be ecstatic every day having far surpassed my standards. Then, I think, life would be good and not quite as confusing as I make it out to be. Just showing up is easy. Striving to carry the heavy load, to do that which others dare not, to go above and beyond what is expected—THAT is not so easy, THAT is excitement at its best, THAT is a life lived, THAT is something for which to pat oneself on the back.

An example. And pardon if I seem to digress, but stay with me.

I am sitting on my front porch working on an essay, feet up, iced tea at hand, and cool breeze on my face. Various neighbor activity keeps me mildly, and may I say pleasantly, distracted. The young family next door is assembling the home’s first basketball goal, a breath of life to a house that has stood too long silent of the wonderful sound of children’s Smurfy little voices. A mom and daughter walk by with a Doodle-something on a leash. Cars pass, much too fast for my liking, but I absolutely refuse to be one of those old women who shouts at them from the curb to slow their asses down. Secretly, though, I am wishing someone would be that old woman as they are definitely going to hurt someone or something. Then comes zipping along an elderly fellow on a moped. He is scrawny, but in a muscular, fit kind of way. He, I know this from my two-second observation as he passes my yard, eats lots of lettuce and walks a mile every morning. He gets plenty of sleep and has a family who loves him. He, in turn, loves them and loves life and meets his buddies in the coffee shop every morning just to gab and shoot the breeze and nurture these life-long relationships.

Now let’s go to a different day.

I am teaching downtown today because it is Friday and that is where I teach on Fridays. As I cross through a major intersection, I turn my head to check for traffic. I catch a glimpse of a woman a tad older than myself on yet another moped. Gutsy, I think as I pass, to drive one of those things in the middle of afternoon traffic. But the visual that stuck with me was of her, not of the vehicle. It was as if she, herself, were the vehicle with two tiny wheels protruding from the underside of her body. She, and again I know this from that tiny glimpse I sneaked at the light, she watches evening soaps, eats an insane amount of potato chips, has never stepped foot in a gym, had a free week once but failed to use it. She makes and delivers baskets for church members who are in the hospital, in the nursing home, in the poorhouse. Her children never come to visit, and she is certain to share this information with anyone who will listen. She has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes. She’s dieting, always, but really, never.

The moped in the first story is just showing up. Any moped could do that job. I don’t want to be that moped. I want to be the one in the second story. I want to be the one that looks at the job in front of her and says, Holy shit! I have no idea how we’re going to make this work, but hey, let’s do it. I want to take on the biggest challenge I can find and then fly down that road as if it ain’t no thang, just buzzing along and shouting, Look at me world. Look at me go!

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