One of the best things I did as a parent was ask my children: Who do you want to be? When they had a problem with one of their siblings, when they wanted to quit, when they had been hurt, I asked them to shift the focus to the end of the issue and decide what outcome they could live with so they would know where to put their efforts. Though I was not always consistent about asking them this question, when I did they usually wanted a restored heart, a fulfilled goal, a healed relationship. Getting to those places became easier once they understood they had a place to aim which wasn’t only connected to the problem or hurt directly in front of them.
Recently, I needed to ask myself the same question. I don’t like looking in a mental, emotional, or spiritual mirror any more than I like looking in a physical mirror. Still, not enjoying it and not needing it are two entirely different things so…stand in front of the mirror I must as I ask: Who do you want to be?
Returning my gaze is a woman dominated by anger and disappointment. When not “performing” at work, my brow is almost always furrowed. My shoulders droop. My hands tense. And, my lips twist into a question mark or frown. A pained, sad expression dominates my countenance even when I prefer to be joyful. I do not understand how or when this woman arrived in my body but I do not like her and I want to show her the door.
Though anger and sadness are not evil in and of themselves, when left to fester they can cause harm and even become dangerous. A couple different conversations–in person and via private message–have made me realize the anger and sadness I feel has not found a healthy release. I may be able to justify my recent blogs and Facebook rants aimed at Republicans or the Church over political and social justice issues. Yet, being right and being heard are not the same thing. If my anger is the first, or only part of what I have to say that readers see or understand my reason for writing has failed and even done more damage then good.
Who I want to be–a passionate, creative, discerning, and healthy individual–and what I want to accomplish–fight for equality, encourage the down trodden, and advocate for justice–are not served if my anger over shadows the truth, my frustration blurs the problem, and my judgment fails to point toward revelation and redemption. Yes, I am angered by corruption, cruelty, and unfettered greed. I am frustrated by intentional ignorance, the power of fear, and the exploitation of peoples’ need. These problems cause me to want to shake my fists in the air and rage at the powers that be. But to what end? Despair? In truth, I have been able to do nothing to change our current political climate. My own cynicism is growing. I feel as though I am sinking into a bitter, helpless void. It is not a comfortable space. SO…
I have decided to a break from politics, and if I can ween myself from the addiction, from Facebook altogether. I need to engage in some kind of productive activity. I need to create a clear head space so I can wrestle with the how part of the who do I want to be question. I currently have seven books sitting on my desk and bed stand that I have intended to read for quite some time. I have a half a dozen art projects started but have not taken the time I need to complete them. I have been distracted by the end of the world as I knew it (not to be overly dramatic about what’s been bombarding my thoughts these days).
The truth is my world, and my perceptions of the world beyond my little corner of it, has shifted. And, I need to figure out how to function within its new parameters. I’ve lived more than half my life but that doesn’t mean I should spend the next portion of it focused on dying. At approximately my age my grandmother “wished” she had learned to play the violin. Twenty years later she told me if she had only started playing when she had told herself she was “too old” she would have had twenty years of playing, twenty years of enjoyment doing something she had always wanted to do. Twenty years from now I do not want to have that kind of regret.
I am not going to promise that I will be back. I know only that, 1). it is time to look in the mirror and wrestle with my reflection. And 2). I want to be intentional about the path I decide to walk.