The world will conspire against you. Don’t get me wrong. This conspiracy is neither good nor evil, just collections of events that hit you harder together than they ever could on their own. The driver who cuts you off in traffic isn’t evil, usually, just incompetent or careless and you get the “benefit” of their behavior. Whether the world cares about you or not, the world will, at times, give you a package deal that feels like a conspiracy, but, as often as not, it’s a conspiracy of good, not evil. If you’re me — thankfully, you’re not — you’ll notice the bad more than the good. Yesterday, I saw the good.
Last night, a friend invited me to a show where his band were performing. I showed up early and another friend gave me a single card promoting her own show later in the month. On the front, was a card with all the showtime info. On the back was an ordinary playing card which she used to give a kind of reading about what it means, coincidentally exactly the kind of thing that defines my life: a kind of treasure inside me that I’ve protected or held too closely and is now escaping. To use a different metaphor, I’ve been a caterpillar for much of my life and, for no other reason than instinct, I recently made my cocoon. Soon, my treasure, my butterfly me, will emerge. That simple card felt like validation. I know … it’s probably no more real than astrology, but it felt real and, honestly, that’s what matters.
This show had a variety of performers including one woman I’d never met who recognized me from the one time 8 months ago when I’d spent a few hours at an outdoor art fair. That’s not really the point, but it got my attention. She told a story of a trip she’d taken to Spain after her life fell apart in a way almost exactly like mine had. She hiked several hundred miles, along with myriads of other people, passing by, at one point, a plain cross on top of a hill where hikers are to leave a stone from home and all their cares at the base. For her, it marked a turning point where long-unknown peace came over her. I’m not in Spain, nor will I take that kind of trip … unless it’s cycling in the Chilean Andes … OK, not even that. I am on a metaphorically similar journey and what I’m missing is that stone-leaving moment. At least I thought I was.
The day before yesterday, I’d actually had my turning point where, my employer deposited a paycheck of exactly $0.00 when I’d expected something with a few more digits. Seeing that $0.00 scared me, reminding me of a really bad thing from the past, but I immediately called, worked through a chain of people and solved it, no more than 20 minutes after the flawed paycheck was posted. Before, I would have hidden fearfully, thinking and over-thinking all the disasters, real and imaginary, that were about to happen. This time, I just fixed it and then, once fixed, just broke down for 20-30 minutes. You see, I didn’t break until after instantly facing and fixing this really big bad thing. That’s my moment. That’s where I’m sure of my turnaround.
Sure, I’d seen other signs, such as a friend whose been a priceless treasure during this awful period said that I, the king of pathetic, had just taught her how to be a good friend. She’s right. I know it. I’m not sure exactly why/how, but I believe it. What I do know is that, just by being me, even a wounded-but-recovering version of me, my best still showed through without me having to spend any effort. That feels miraculous, but, really, it is just the basic ordinary truth. I believe in myself, a little bit, and I have proof that I deserve it.
On the drive home I stopped at the grocery store, because it was there and that was as good an excuse as I needed to stock up on my various food addictions (not “addictions” just “frequent companions”). While strolling past the ice cream, an attractive woman I’d never seen before, complimented me on my hair. Did she just say, “Nice hair”? She did not. She said that, unlike many men with long hair, I obviously took care of it and tried to make it look good. It’s not true (I just use shampoo once a day, a brush once a day, and my hands every two-three minutes), but it made me smile … and smile … and smile some more.
A week ago, I was a frozen rose, hints of a beautiful past, struck down by sub-zero weather. But now, spring is coming …