“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
http://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/

Eat, Pray, Love, for Tomorrow We Die

Why does losing ourselves in the service of others help us find our true selves?

I don’t know. I’m with the view of the world: that our true self can be found Eat, Pray, Love style in a soul search involving a year off for pleasure, meditation, and sex (I think).

A glaring problem I’ve noticed with that approach is that I can’t get a $200K grant from my publishing company to pursue this idea. My husband (our current bread-winner) only fronted me his salary, and my children can’t even grant me two minutes off.

Another problem many people don’t seem aware of is: you may find yourself, but who is that and do you really want to be stuck with her?

Before anyone attacks me, please listen.

I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book I mentioned. I could relate to her dissatisfaction, her depression (GREAT chapter, by the way), and addictions to needing someone.
The end, and follow-up reading about her, were what bothered me. Concerned me. Gave doubt to this approach.

I read some of the social media posts she’d made since. They were the same issues she supposedly admitted to and embraced and addressed a third of the way into the book. Back again to old habits.

I watch others and envy them. I’m not naturally sweet or optimistic. I worry that this is my core person; and, believe me, she’s not one you want to be stuck in long hours with -if she could get those hours.

I live in a community of people that are very service-oriented. Like any good thing, we can do a few things that should be better compensated from following this mentality.
However, maybe service is the better philosophy.

Just me in my corner gets nothing done except permanently imprinting the carpet.

In service, I’ve formed a human chain to move a truckload of sod to a rooftop garden. I pruned my great-aunt’s backyard roses with my cousins. I made meals that helped someone who couldn’t cook. I benefited far more from my neighbor’s social company than I know she did from me, by asking her to a weekly lunch after her husband passed away.

In this selfish world, the gullible serve. Helpful people get screwed out of their money. People accepting handouts often use them misappropriately.
The concluding lesson? Think of yourself, find yourself, pamper yourself. Teach the rising generation to give in to selfishness. Then, wonder at the results.

I keep thinking my true self is the person I’m stuck with. “You learn behaviors and follow those synaptic connections because it’s easier,” my counselor said. She thinks I may be negative, but I can change

I hope she is right, because not changing is slowly killing me.

Maybe I need to come out of myself to find the better me. We’re told our true self may be something divine, and it’s a valid idea that we need to connect to our family to uncover that heritage in all of us.

Whether we connect with something divine, recall our ancestry, or improve through true self-healing with a therapist; we still need to step out of ourselves.

I will not become different squatting forever in my carpet spot, lamenting my personal defects. I certainly will not feel loved.

Sleep Tight, III

“Mom, Sam said I need to get you.”

I screamed and turned, then calmed at the surprised, corporeal face of my son. It was only my son. My muddy, messy son who looked about ready to cry. I breathed in deeply, turning off the faucet of the claw foot bathtub. The water had barely cleared anyway.

“Sorry, Jonny,” I said, turning, standing, walking over to him. He pulled away from me slightly. “What?” I asked.

“Don’t do that!” He responded, affronted. Of course.

I wiped a sweating arm across my kerchiefed forehead. I thought to wash the cleaner from my hands, then remembered the current state of the house’s water supply. Maybe my dear old grandpa would spring for an actual plumber. I considered, then thought my chances would increase significantly if I contacted the city, instead.

I looked out the bubbling glass behind broken boards at the end of the darkly musted hallway. I could just make out a clump of roofs and roads a few miles away. The local town, I amended; maybe even local neighborhood.

A creaking sound came from my bedroom; a groan responded from the hall. “What’s that?” Jonny asked me, grabbing at my jeans with his mud-encrusted hand.

“It’s just an old house,” I calmly told him, my thudding heart, and the goosebumps on my arms and neck. I added, in attempted lightheartedness, “Old houses do a lot of settling, especially in the wind.”

“But, it’s not windy,” Jonny told me, looking up to study my face.

“Let’s go outside,” I said, starting forward despite his continued grip on my leg. I couldn’t push him along till I washed my hands. Maybe the pump in the yard would be sufficient.

In this fashion, I swish-clumped my way down the hall to the top of the staircase. The sound echoed in the empty house, disturbing dust motes from their determined slumber. All I needed was a ball and chain to complete the old horror movie trope. A structural piece somewhere, maybe in the parlor, complained noisily. I hadn’t heard anything from the main floor before then, but maybe I’d been preoccupied with my sanitizing attempts.

Jonny was certainly occupying enough at the moment. Thank goodness, or else I would have noticed the additions to our reflections in the mottled mirror immediately, in passing.

Instead, my brief glance memory of the anomaly stored itself snugly into my subconscious, ready to suggest itself at a more appropriate time. Like, bedtime.

Jonny and I stumbled together down the solidly creaking stairs, following various dust-drawn outlines of shoes and bare feet. We limped together past the parlor entry, intent on the front door to outside. The parlor door swung slightly in my peripheral vision, but Jonny tripped slightly just as it happened.

The movement therefore joined my mirror memory, to be enjoyed later as well.

For now, I could see that Jonny was right in that Sam needed me. We had made it out together, his grip still certain on my dirtied jeans. We had clumped down the old wooden stairs and down to the old well.

Sam was lying on the ground just beside the pump, cradling a leg. Their younger brother stood sentry at Sam’s shoulder, crying nearly as much as Sam should have been.

It was no wonder, I told myself that evening, that I hadn’t noticed a few things in the house at the time.

I had carefully piled three filthy children into the old sedan my grandfather was also “letting” us borrow, and found out the neighborhood really did qualify as a town. It had a doctor’s office. Edensville also had a restaurant of sorts.

We hadn’t gotten back to the house until dusk. I would have put Sam on …something downstairs, if my nerves had settled, and if a suitable something existed. Instead, twilight found me straining to lift him up the winding staircase to the bedrooms as his brothers clung as closely as possible.

Just after dark found us chancing the murky bathroom water for brushing and hand-washing. It hadn’t looked so red in the dim glow of our camping lantern. Everyone piled into beds -into blankets on the beds- exactly as dirty as we’d been since after lunchtime.

And that was when my disloyal brain remembered.

After curling up safely in my old blankets and assuring myself that bedbugs biting was just a cute saying, after telling the boys I’d swept away all cobwebs so spiders wouldn’t want to be in their room, and after exhaustion finally conquered imagined fears -then, my dear brain remembered.

As darkness truly settled in and the house settled noisily down, it remembered that swinging door this windless afternoon, and that extra face behind my son’s on the stairway landing looking-glass.

Recurring Story: Fourteen

Wil walked among her chattering, self-absorbed peers in a protective bubble of her own thoughts and attentions. She held the second note against her heart with her books and notebook. She walked in as straight but casual a line as she could to the lunchroom.

Though she worried about the person behind the spying eyes at the door from earlier, Wil had to eat. She often wasn’t full from what they ate at home, and school lunch was a reduced cost besides.

As such, Wil found herself looking through clear sneeze guards at options that resembled edible items a few minutes later. She selected the Chicken Fried Steaklike Meat and Potatoes with Vegetable meal, snagging a roll and a bowl of previously-canned fruit.

Wil relayed her account number to the bored lunch lady sitting at the computer, then carefully spied around to find an unoccupied table. She checked around to ensure no one was paying her attention, either, and saw nothing suspicious. Hopefully, whoever had seen her in the courtyard was long gone.

Since the lunch period was nearly over, Wil was able to find a vacated blue table near a wall. She carefully set her food on it, retrieved some utensils, then came back and sat herself down on the matching blue bench. She casually pulled out the folded note she’d saved from under the brick, then picked up her roll and took a bite.

Wil began unfolding the paper, separating the little edge tatters that had interlocked a bit. She felt the excitement in her chest flutter like a hyperactive butterfly. She wondered what she’d find.

Immediately, Wil saw that this paper also was not written in regular English. This was turning into a regular treasure hunt!

Although excited to crack another code, Wil also felt annoyance. Who was leaving these notes? For what purpose? Spies would have assigned a mission at this point. Fairies would surely get right to the point and not leave a person hanging on clues.

Wil looked over the symbols on this new cypher as she ate her way through the chicken fried substance and its accompanying instant potatoes. The “letters” were lines, dots, and some lines with dots. They were confusing enough to distract her from the lack of taste as she chewed.

Wil wondered if her keyboarding teacher next period would give them extra time at the end of class, so that she could do some searching. Looking over the lines and dots and line dots, Wil felt out of her element.

Once again, the interminable bell sound resounded in the halls. It was a depressing death knell tone in the lunchroom where Wil and slow eaters still sat.

Wil finished her fruit, some of the vegetable-shaped side dish, then shoved her roll in her shirt pocket to finish once she was done chewing the rest.

Would she solve this message? What would it say? Where would she go? Would she ever know who was writing them?

Meop Rorrim

noisserpxe yoc sti ,ecaf ruoy ees I
.nwo ym ot sdrawkcab yltcaxE
;keehc a nrut uoy ,worb a esiar uoY
.ecnad gnimim ym ni wollof I

I see your face, its coy expression
Exactly backwards to my own.
You raise a brow, you turn a cheek;
I follow in my miming dance.

gnivruc depahssim rieht ,srae ruoy ees I
yrtemmys neve gnitpmettA
gnilggig ;gnivom ,gnilggiw ecitcarp uoY
.dnuos a tuohtiw gnola hgual I

I see your ears, their misshaped curving
Attempting even symmetry.
You practice wiggling, moving; giggling.
I laugh along without a sound.

ni sdia ti kniht uoy ;lwocs uoy ees I
.neddih eb tonnac tahw gnidiH
,uoy ees em ees seye gniborp ruoy hguohT
.lla ruoy stcelfer weiv eye-ssalg yM

I see you scowl; you think it aids in
Hiding what cannot be hidden.
Though your probing eyes see me see you,
My glass-eye view reflects your all.

Prismatic Personality

Crayons

An individual’s personality is a multi-faceted diamond, and the friends she collects throughout life reflect a color within the prism -till she has a crayon box full of a wonderful variety.

My forest green sits near awesome orange in my mind, but they would have trouble with that arrangement in real life. Still, they would both rally to my aid if I were in need.

Also, I often envy my more flamboyant fluorescent friends, or even my dependable earth tones. I need to remind myself that I am simply my own shade in their collection, and can be content with what my solemn color adds to their life collages.

Inspector Mère

“Now let me get this straight,” Inspector Mère drawled, as she extracted a pencil and notepad from an inside pocket. “You say you were nowhere near the accused at the time?”

She peered down at the small man, her left ear raising as her left eyebrow lifted in a questioning expression. She pursed her lips and waited.

“Well, no, I didn’t say I wasn’t by him. I said he came up to me when I was working, and then he shoved me down and said I took his Lego piece.” Imploring eyes raised to Mère’s face, innocence emanating from the diminutive body.

“Hmmm,” Mère supplied. She made a note. “So, you were near the accused, yet you did nothing to provoke him?” The question wrote itself across her features yet again.

The accuser paused to consider. “Ye-e-e-es,” he slowly replied.

“Mmm-hmm,” the inspector noted aloud, as her pencil noted her observations on her pad. Scratch, scratch, scratch, it said.

“Thank you for your testimony. You may be dismissed,” she finally instructed, to excuse the fidgeting youth. He stopped kicking his own toes and ran out of the room.

“Next, please,” she announced to the door he had exited through. Another young man came in, adjusting his clothes and face.

“And, what testimony can you provide?” Inspector Mère inquired. On her paper, she wrote Accused, and underlined it. Then she stuck the end of the pencil barely between her lips and studied his face intently.

“I was playing downstairs and saw that he,” the accused paused, to point toward the open door, “That he had messed up my sets again. I came upstairs to talk to him, and he smiled at me and wouldn’t show me what was in his pocket.” He took a deep breath, then continued with, “And he stuck his tongue out at me.”

“I did not!” Piped a voice from the hall.

“Did so!” Retorted the youth in front of her.

“That’s enough,” Mère loudly stated, across their continued volley of accusations. An uncomfortable cease-fire silence fell. She looked at the accused, closely. He seemed to be intently working on a neutral facial expression.

“So, your statement reads that you attempted conversation with your accuser, that he refused to show you evidence, and that he mocked you.” The inspector looked at his face as she read and wrote, ensuring that all information was correct and met his approval.

He considered, then nodded.

“Accuser, please return. It is time for my report and judgment,” Mère called.

The first young man sidled back inside the room, evidently from a waiting place just outside the doorway. He walked forward hopefully, confidently. He stopped and stood near the other youth, just beyond his arm’s reach.

“I have listened to both accounts of the incident, and have made my decision,” Inspector Mère began. “Since descriptions varied, I have no choice but to assume error with each.”

The boys began complaining immediately; but she held up a hand, and a stern face. The noise eventually quieted; mutinous expressions waited for her to continue.

“Eric,” Mère addressed the accuser, “You were innocently working, then were physically assaulted by the accused.” She studied young Eric, who appeared slightly confused. “You were not doing anything, and Tom pushed you,” she translated, tapping the pencil against the open notepad. Eric’s face cleared and he nodded. Tom’s face clouded.

“Tom,” Mère turned to the accused, “You uncovered evidence of property damage, sought restitution, and were denied.” She studied her notes, then added, “And were insulted with a rude facial gesture.” Raising her gaze past the paper to meet Tom’s gaze, she was met with his somewhat suspicious nod.

“Therefore, Eric, you are instructed to turn out your pockets.” Inspector Mère said abruptly to the first boy. Surprised into action, he reached into the pockets of his jeans. Making an unreadable expression; he withdrew a blue rubber band, gum wrapper, half a plastic army man, two pennies, a smooth garden pebble, and two red Lego bricks attached by a blue hinge piece.

“That’s mine!” Exploded from Tom, who shot a hand out to take the Legos immediately. Mère was forced to intercede, stepping forward between them and retrieving the pieces herself.

“The evidence speaks, Eric,” she told Eric reprovingly. Lacking the sense to appear guilty, Eric pouted a glare in response.

“Now, Tom,” Mère said to the other, depositing three Legos into his hand, “You are required, by law, to make verbal restitution for injuring a family member.” She looked expectantly at Tom, waiting. Behind her back, Eric imitated her countenance, including the same raised eyebrows.

It was Eric’s turn to glower. He gladly did so, till he caught Inspector Mère’s eye. He looked down. “Sorry,” he mumbled to his hands.

Mère studied one child, then the other. “Both parties may be excused, on the condition that each promises to adhere to family guidelines of behavior,” she instructed to each disgruntled face. Quietly, tensely, the boys broke away and returned to their previous tasks.

Inspector Mère sighed, closed the notepad, and pocketed it with her pencil.

“Case closed,” she declared.