Sunday, January 28, 2018

Epiphany about Jealousy

1950 Pontiac Chieftain De Luxe Sedan Coupe
From Wikipedia

What’s happened since I first posted about epiphanies is that I keep remembering others that have changed the course of my thinking or my life. Here’s an important one I’d like to share with you.

It took place during the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I’d had a best friend—let’s call her Julie—since second grade when I first enrolled at St. Mary’s High School in Independence, Missouri. She and I had giggled our way through years of schooling. We’d shared our secrets and done our share of gossiping.

However, during sophomore year, Julie became good friends with another classmate. We’ll call her Gloria. A brilliant student, she could she be both witty and sardonic and made Julie laugh a lot. Her birthday was in February, and when she turned sixteen that year, her father bought her a used Pontiac.

Soon she and Julie began to get in that car after school let out and zoom away to adventure—roaming the stores around the uptown Square, driving in the countryside, visiting the ice cream parlor where Harry Truman had worked as a young man.

I felt left out. Actually, I felt as if my friend of many years had deserted me.

That summer, I worked with the two of them at a local Montgomery Ward’s order fulfillment store. Between the arrival of customers, the two of them talked about their adventures and laughed a lot. I felt even more left out. Actually I thought, What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t Julie like me anymore? Why am I not enough?

Jealousy seeped through me.

When the two of them invited me to get into the car for a drive around town, I turned them down. “I have to catch the bus home,” I’d say and turn away.

Gloria would offer to drive me home, but imprisoned in my resentment, I always declined. Julie’s response to my recalcitrance was simply, “It’s your choice.” Then she’d get in Gloria’s car; they’d pull away from the curb, leaving me behind. I clutched desertion to my heart, nurturing it.

Late one summer afternoon, I sat moping by the creek that meandered through our farm on its way to the Missouri River. I felt sorry for myself. Friendless.  A loser. I lacked whatever would make Julie happy.

Suddenly and irrevocably came the epiphany. The realization: If I wanted to keep Julie’s friendship, I had to appear content with the status quo. I had to welcome Gloria into our lives. I had to seek out and appreciate what Julie found so intriguing about her.

I knew I was deeply jealous, and I did not think I could become non-jealous. But I realized that I didn’t have to show that jealousy. That I didn’t have to act on it. I’d been offered friendship by Gloria and I’d dismissed it. Shoved it away. Ungraciously.

So while the sun began its descent and the creek burbled and the hoot owls welcomed the night, I resolved to become friends with Gloria and to embrace a new friendship with Julie. A friendship that included Gloria.

I resolved to walk with the pain within me that I wasn’t enough for my friend. She needed more friends than just me. It was a hard awakening to what friendship really means. To inclusiveness. To generosity of spirit.

For the next two years of high school, Gloria and Julie and myself were inseparable. Moreover, we welcomed a fourth person—Carole—to our group. That epiphany helped me, forever after, to deal with any jealous feelings I discovered within myself. It brought me peace, and that’s what I wish you.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

My Epiphany about Routine

The Saint Croix Boom Site in Minnesota. (Wikipedia)

This morning, I woke with a smile. In a dream, I was riding a bicycle in Stillwater, Minnesota. I pedaled down the town’s quiet streets, out into the grassy hills of the countryside, over the train tracks, and back home along the road by the St. Croix River.

Waking, I remembered with great delight those days when I was in my late thirties and early forties. I’d get up each morning, dress in jeans and sweatshirt or shorts and T-shirt, wheel my bicycle from the garage, and take off to complete a five-to-ten-mile ride. Once home, I’d eat, shower, dress, and drive to work.

I did that every day for several years until an accident landed me in the hospital for four days with a shoulder broken in three places. Ten weeks of therapy followed.

In the accident, the bike became a twisted tangle. Moreover, a day later, a fellow bicycler, threatened by a dog, fell, banging his head against the curb. He died instantly. The ruined bike plus fear led to my giving up bicycling. For many years afterward, I walked three to five miles a day until the vertigo, dizziness, migraines, and imbalance of Meniere’s entered my life.

Now we come to the nub of this posting: a report on how I’m doing in establishing a routine this year. I posted about that just two weeks ago. Within days I’d mostly lost my devised schedule because of Meniere’s and an Arctic blast that plummeted our temperatures into the minus-zero range. Sleet fell. Then snow covered the ice, so walking became dangerous.

Besides that, Meniere’s brought with it several days of imbalance when I felt off kilter. I walked like a drunken heron, swaying from side to side. The words on the computer screen blurred, tilted, became italic, and then Roman. All in all, an Alice-in-Wonderland sort of experience.

Thus, in the past two weeks, I’ve seldom walked, done no yoga, read only a few blog postings, worked a little on my convent memoir Prayer Wasn’t Enough, and felt somewhat defeated by my inability to “make” my body perform at my command.

Then epiphany: This past Thursday I woke with a light heart. Lying in a window’s width of sunlight, I realized that the day offered me its own possibilities if only I’d embrace them. I accepted the truth that in the past three years of ill-health I’d begun to dwell on what I wasn’t able to do. I’d been grieving for the Dee Ready who rode that bike, walked those miles, was ready for every new adventure.

With clarity last Thursday morning, I realized that even though I wasn’t what I once was, I was someone new. I tell you that today I’m ready to explore who Dee Ready is at 81—82 in April! What can she accomplish? What meaning can she find in her life? What can she do to make life better for others?

I have wanted to write my Morning Pages, take a walk, follow the yoga DVD, complete the first draft of my Bronze-Age-Greece novel, read your blogs. All that gives me satisfaction.

But with resolution I now simply want to “go with the flow” of the day and be grateful for what it offers me—health or weariness, writing or resting, being creative or simply being in the moment. I want to embrace what is and let go of what was.

In the past two weeks, have you suddenly realized something that you now treasure? Something that gives life more savor? If so, I am happy for you, as I am for myself. Peace.