Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Peace and Love

Day 8: You’re allowed one day to forget to do a kindness or to decide if you’re finished with the challenge altogether

What’s on your mind?

Given that I’m writing at home tonight, no juicy gossip. What I DO have is a snoring Golden Retriever and a Maltipoo on one side of me and wine and chocolate on the other. I’d say that’s a good trade for last night’s bearded Russian guy and venti soy chai.

I had coffee with a friend today. Well. Actually I had a Diet Coke in a coffee shop. I’m a little latte’d out at this point in the challenge. This particular friend is also a writer. We meet once a week to exchange ideas, brainstorm, encourage, inspire, and to scope out the scene for potential material. She shares her daily calorie count. I share my NaNo word count. She talks characters and plot. I talk flagging self-esteem and personal epiphanies. We curse husbands, blast budgets, and pinky swear that we are starting the diet right this second. In the end we usually each leave with some gem we can use toward our craft.

This is what I got today:

Just because I CAN do something, that I am GOOD at that something, does not mean that I HAVE to do it if it brings me no joy. I should focus, instead, on that thing that I CAN do, that thing that I am GOOD at, that brings me absolute pleasure, that energizes me, that leaves me saying fun, let’s do that again! As a writer and as a person I have a dark, heavy side. I also have a shallow, flippant side. I can do both. But mostly I enjoy being silly, being light. I get a kick out of fun and fluff.

The dark heavy side stems from my past. It’s part of my growing up years, part of my lived experience, has the potential to educate, to make people think, but it never really was who I am. Sure it’s there, but it’s not me. I’m more Beetlejuice--laughing, loving, and living my life, getting silly and crazy when I take the notion and encouraging others to do the same. I am definitely not, have never been, Winona Ryder’s Lydia, draped in black and packed with teenage angst.

The way I look at it is I can move, motivate, encourage, inspire a lot easier in girdle and push-up than I can in ball and chains.

I’ve written on my past. I’ve written on poverty and hunger and complete destruction of the soul. I have had strangers walk up to me, strangers send me thank you notes complimenting me on my writing and thanking me for sharing my thoughts. Your words are powerful, they say. I am glad to have that impact on them. But these words are draining. These words are emotionally exhausting. When I sit to pen an essay on my past, I cry and I sob and I hate anybody who passes through my mind at that time. I finish the piece feeling as though I have submitted myself to an incredibly intense therapy session, feeling as though I have travelled through time back to that place and am reliving it as I speak. I close my computer, and I go sit with my chocolate and tissues.

I’ve also written entire essays on underwear. At least the reader believes the essay is on underwear. Really it is on that particular reader’s inner beauty or unique specialness or some life lesson or another. I stay shallow and light and fun and free. The words flow and bounce and are a bit risqué for this middle-aged married mom of four. I love it! I crack some jokes. I fake left, but go right. I imagine myself lifting the reader out of a humdrum day, out of a slump, out of a feed-the-dog-unload-the-dishwasher-switch-the-laundry kind of routine. I thrive on making words fly in a flippant sort of way. I get a kick out of faking the reader out thinking the essay is about bras with a bit of blingage when really it is about self-esteem and self-worth and the ability to believe in yourself when you may have already given up hope.

I leave these essays with a smile and a laugh and breathing deeper than when I began. I feel as if I have just ended my favorite yoga routine complete with Navasana boat pose and full side plank. Namaste.

Maybe it’s wrong to show people my skivvies. I’ve struggled a bit with this. After all, I’m supposed to be an academic, supposed to focus on the heavy, the staid, the researched, the stick-up-my-ass dry and dull. I’m much more a fan of flitting about the stage in feathers and boa, smiling on all and tossing out a bit of pixie dust for good measure. I would love nothing more than to sit everyone down together in a giant happy circle, passing out daisies, suggesting that we all just be nice and be friends and love each other and love ourselves and take every single good thing that is inside of us and throw it out at the world in order that that world might be a more wonderful place in which to live. Oh. Yes. I would like this.

Is a Dickenson or Poe any more worthy than the latest Harlequin release? If a work can lift me out of my ordinary, can make me think or feel or smile or escape my rut of a routine isn’t that worthy? Isn’t that piece serving others in some way? Isn’t it helping others to feel better about themselves and might they not then take that good feeling out to family and friends? Might they not have a better outlook on their lives and appreciate more the people with whom they share those lives? It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy versus a bit of stereotypical Ellen comedy. Sometimes, yes, I’m in the mood for heavy. Throw me a little Kate and help me to see exactly why she was one shrew in particular need of taming. Other times, I just want to feel lighter. I just want to be lifted into a place of joy and fun and, in the words of that famous warthog, meerkat duo, hakuna matata. Sometimes I don’t want to think. I just want to be entertained. Well. In the words of Gypsy Rose Lee, let me entertain you. Only not like that.

Not that I’ll never go dark. I am a Gemini, after all. I’m the queen of change. But whatever I do in my life, I must be happy. I must enjoy it. And as much as I love you, I don’t have time to please only you. I would love to give you words that make you smile, that make you want to dance, that make your heart sing, but mostly I need to give you words that make me smile, that make me want to dance, that make my heart sing.

Hakuna matata, my friend. Namaste.

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