Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Missing the Bat

Gospel singer and songwriter Gloria Gaither tells a story of her son Benji when he was young. He was four, I think, and they were having a party at the park. Benji was playing ball with his grandpa, and as Gloria walked toward her son, she saw him furiously throw down his plastic bat and scream, "You're missing my bat, Grandpa!" That's how the whole day went for Benji, she said. Nothing went right for him. Finally the day was over, and as she watched her exhausted son sleep, she thought about how we aren't very different from Benji. We stand there
with our needs out and scream at the world, "You're missing our needs!"

Bear with me. Every path leads to a destination.

It's been a long, hard year for me so far. Health difficulties, job anxiety, and money problems have occupied my time and mind. And this time around, writing hasn't stepped in to save me. Used to be, I could count on my myriad fantasy worlds to divert me, to fill my imagination so full that darkness couldn't even creep in around the edges. But I'm empty now. Just me in a huge echoing place that stretches to the dark horizons. Creepy.

Can't really blame writing for this. Writing has always been dependent on my ego. No, seriously, it is. Somewhere there is -- or was -- a voice inside me that said I could write as good as anyone else if I tried and worked at it. I don't know where that voice has gone. I can't hear it anymore. I think it tired of the responsibility. And without that certainty, that stubborn knowledge that I could do whatever I started out to do come hell or high water, I'm stalled.

I doubt now. I doubt everything now.

It could be I'm just tired. I don't get enough sleep. I don't seem able to get enough sleep. Or maybe it's only depression, the black dog, sapping my energy, stealing my willpower, pushing my face into the mud.

I wish I could get angry. I wish I had something to push against. A defeatable evil that I could righteously hurl myself against. I told my friend Gail today that I go around in a state of exhausted outrage.

I should be angry about health care, medical bills, dangerous additives in our food, the sorry stage of our justice system, and the fact that 32,000 people -- most of them children -- starve to death each day. I should be furious because capitalism has become another name for unbridled greed and because our elected officials whom we elected to protect our interests take bribes, gifts, trips, stocks, bonds, donations, and more from lobbyists who would sacrifice their mothers on the altar of their special interests.

Instead, I'm tired. I don't want to watch the news. Can't listen to NPR or FOX anymore. If I could retreat from the world, I would. I'd shut my door, take up my tent, go to the mountains, ship to a deserted island, and never return. The thing is, wherever I go, I'll still be taking me along.

***

It's the next day. I've read this back over, wondering if the whole point is simply a long drawn-out boring whine: "Life isn't treating me right. No one loves me. Poor, pitiful me." Whine, whine, whine. Whining isn't attractive in children and is downright annoying in adults.
I didn't sleep well last night. A flare of the IBD. Woohoo. In all the uncertainty in my life, I can always count on my stomach to punish me. I'm just not sure what I'm being punished for.
Somewhere inside me ... sometimes I feel that there is something inside me that wants out. It's fighting for freedom. It's trying to claw its way into the light. It's tearing away vast chucks of me, and I'm bleeding everywhere. Whatever it is, it's frantic. It's gasping for breath. It wants to leap into the sky, but it's held back, wings crippled, head forced down. But it's fighting for that glimpse of blue, that vastness which lies beyond what we're allowed to see.

Does this make any sense?

I've toyed with deleting the whole post. I've done that many times before: Wrote things I thought were too revealing so I delete or save for my private journal. It seems pointless to share a struggle with people who have their own burdens to bear. Why should they divert resources from their battles to aid me in mine?

We're funny creatures, though. Peculiar creatures. Halfway between the angels and the apes. Tangled in the webs of our problems, trashing around, occasionally throwing out a hand to pull ourselves up or to catch another before he or she falls into the depths. Lord only knows why we do it, why we sacrifice ourselves for others. It's in our nature -- the angel in us.

***

It's the next evening now. I haven't made up my mind to post this or not. Of course, if you're reading it, then you know the answer. If you're not reading it, only I know there was ever any question about posting it.

The thing about drifting is you're still going some place. Maybe slowly. Maybe too slowly to be defined as movement by anyone watching. Maybe too slowly to be felt even by you, but you're going somewhere. Every path leads to a destination.

Ah, but the rub is, the crux of the matter, the core of your personal life apple is this: Where you end up, can you live with it? Can you survive it? Is it where you wanted to go? If you had known where your path would lead, would you have followed it?

The easy thing is to not decide. To drift. To pretend drifting isn't a decision. To abdicate your responsibility for your life. But in the end, you will have to live with your decision to not decide. Every decision leads to a destination, that's more correct.

And life is happening whether or not we are ready for it or not. I'm glad to know you and to have you along with me on this journey. And someday we will rise to see light dawning across the indigo sky.

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