A few nights ago, I happened to catch the moon rise at two-thirty in the morning. Marbled and orange, it hugged the horizon, its color borrowed from Earth’s own essence. I could call it fortuitous that I happened to see it, but in truth, I was up then, grasping at a trail of thoughts, hoping to capture them on my cell phone before they drifted back into the ether. It’s the writer’s curse. The minute your mind relaxes, the ideas burble up and flow out.
It was also late one night when I had another “ah-ha” moment, when I realized the swirl of chatter about the Roaring 20s was contemporary, a reference to the decade rolling over before our eyes, and anticipation of the new decade just ahead. Sometimes, when we are too focused on the minutiae, we don’t see the point right in front of us. We are blind to what really matters.
Ideas which come to me at night could be called unconscious thought, but I think the better label is hindsight.
And because of my love of words and for the search for deeper meaning; i.e; “feeding the famished,” I tend to become entangled in the wrappings of metaphor.
In so doing, I often avoid writing about the truth in some of its ugliest terms.
With the help of hindsight’s 2020, I am forcing myself to look back over the past years.
It has to begin with the year 2019 because it’s been incredibly difficult, likely the worst year I’ve ever had.
I have been buoyed up by the strength of a fellow author who wrote of her losses this year to write the truth of my life as it stands today, even if it hurts to share it.
Back in April, I lost a position with an organization that I’ve dedicated myself to for over 25 years. Although it was a volunteer position, the intent and method with which the company and its board treated me nearly ripped out my soul, leaving me with a raw question of whether humanity had fallen off course in its quest for self-aggrandizement.
And then, in September, my darling daughter Isabel succumbed to her bipolar demons, falling down the rabbit hole chasing after them. Currently homeless, she is as unreachable as was Odysseus on his journey. Like Alice, she has likely “stumble[d] into a bizarre and disoriented alternate reality.” My greatest wish is that someday Isabel resurfaces in our lives. Confused, perhaps, but generally intact, ready to pursue a path of healing.
2019 has been bordered by grief, for what was lost, for what might have been. In that, I’ve experienced a sort of bereavement, torn against my will from an organization I loved and cared about. And lightyears worse has been the grieving process for my daughter. The aspirations shattered by her diagnosis and its subsequent unraveling are equal to the ether of my thoughts when I cannot harness them.
Fortunately, my collie Mopsy has been able to show me that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Mopsy, who is going on 11, has the tenacious drive and determination of the runt she is. Wiry and fiesty, and in spite of her birth order, she is the Alpha of our pack. Mopsy can make her sister Flopsy cower by a steady look in the eye. She can also entice Flopsy out of her comfortably plump lethargy. With a low growl followed by a well-calculated heel nip, the aging dogs become a blur of fangs, claws, and ruffling fur as they chase each other round and round the kitchen, down the hall, and back again.
Where Mopsy excels, though, is innovative thought.
She has a yen for Kleenex, the more used, the better. Since I know this and — when I remember — place tissues out of reach, Mopsy has taken to knocking over the toilet paper stand in our guest bathroom and pulling the (clean) rolls off the chrome arm. After yanking off a couple, she settles in for a nice chew.
It gives me hope that Mopsy, who’s creeping up on 77 years this March, has found a new path to make her life more pleasant. For Mopsy, that means it’s easier to get what she wants.
She is helping me see how I can take what’s important to me — writing and the people who matter to me — and use that to find clarity.
In that vein of seeking clarity and a meaning to life, I’ve always encouraged my daughter Isabel to search for ladybugs, at least five a day. Ladybugs are a metaphor for randomness that can be viewed positively.
I hope she is putting our ladybug system to good use, wherever she may be.
But I’ve also realized I need to search for my own ladybugs. They are the harbingers of hindsight. Here are my first steps:
🐞 I can only control my actions.
🐞 I’m going to stop shouldering the blame for the actions of others. They are who they are; their actions are theirs to claim.
🐞 The best action is reaction, and I am in control of that.
🐞 If I drain myself, I will have nothing left to give anyone.
🐞 It’s essential to focus less on giving to others who don’t want what I can give them, and more on time spent searching for the universal story, one that crystalizes who I am. Who we are.
I’m not sad to see 2019 go. Some years are like that. I am anticipating the Roaring ’20s with great curiosity and some trepidation. Everything in life has its inherent challenges.
I’m not saying there will be less of me that gives, that the nurturing of others will end. But like Mopsy, I plan to live stronger and stop hiding the truth of myself behind what I think people will accept, behind words I hope won’t make people cringe.
Life is an unknowable journey, but it’s better to take it, than not. And while pursuing life, it’s okay to give some of it back to yourself.