ON THE SHORE OF MY SUNSET…And I Will Fish
I’ve been through a crazy time lately. So much so that I’ve been questioning myself and what I have become. I developed into something that I am not. Many of us think that it’s natural to change. But often, there are circumstances that force us to become something unnatural unto ourselves. We become something else; something outside of ourselves. We live exterior to ourselves doing and thinking things abnormal to us, and responding in unhealthy ways to stimuli and events. Responding in ways that we never would have before. This bothers us, but we do nothing and these situations and things eat us alive, turning us dark inside, yet we stand peering into ourselves and do nothing – just like some of us did when we witnessed the class bully picking on the smart kid, the fat kid, the pimple-faced kid, or the ethnic kid. It was wrong, and inconceivably so, but still we did not hold out a hand to our hurt, sad classmate who was a really good person. We become bullies unto ourselves. Yes. Our own private bully.
Often this is caused by stressful and traumatic events. Sometimes they are those moments that cause us to recite overused terms such as “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Do you really believe that in all cases? This is a line of crap we feed ourselves to hide how we really feel, or how we’ve changed in a bad way. I believe we change, and may become stronger, but sometimes in the wrong way. I have had such changes take place with me these last few years.
I feel like I am living a life outside of who I am meant to be…who I am. I am not the person I used to be… Or am I? I like that other person. I want her back. Yes, things have occurred over the last few years that have caused me to change forever and there are pieces of myself lost to time. Some changes are good and many are bad. It’s the bad ones I need to turn away from and shuck off like corn husks. We all do. These bad things…our tempers, lack of patience, aching stomach. These are terrible things. I don’t believe they are us. Not me, anyway.
These negative changes in me and the pain that accompanies them can be overcome. I know this. Perhaps the things that caused these changes cannot be modified themselves or undone, but I can change my response to them, and learn to live with them. And I am fighting tooth and nail to do that. Some might consider that conforming, giving up, or giving in. In reality, I am learning to mold them into something I can live with, or that can serve me on a more positive note.
For instance: Those that know me best know I do not like the area where I live now. I’ve been stuck here for several years. I hate it and that feeling causes such violent emotions inside me that I can become a screaming maniac. I have felt like I’m trapped in a burning house; like it’s eating me alive. But is it? No. This place is not doing that. It can’t. It has no mind to think for itself. It has no hands to grasp me intent on holding me back. What is really going on is that my reaction to the fact I cannot escape – at this time – is what’s burning me up. I am trapped and cannot go away due to various factors – too many to mention and some that cannot be changed until their time is ended. Therefore, instead of allowing my loathing of this situation to kill me, I shall conjure a pool of water and jump in. I will drink a glass of thirst-quenching water, and I will make the fire burn for me, not against me. Even though I do this with reservation, I must be patient. From past experiences I have gained the knowledge that patience cures many woes. Patience will help me to integrate what I really want and how I want to live with this place I dislike so much.
I have been carrying this grudge for several years, pounding my fists against what I thought was an unseen force trying to destroy me and who I am. Forcing me to fail at many things. And when I dropped to the floor in what I assumed to be defeat, I realized it’s not possible. I stopped and saw that I cannot fight what does not exist. I have never been truly defeated by anything. I’m not about to be taken down by something that does not exist. Well, it does not exist anywhere but in my own mind and although I have discovered I’ve been allowing my own mind to cause me discomfort, that’s coming swiftly to an end. I shall not be held prisoner by me. I shall charm my dark and dreary prison into becoming my garden paradise.
I have searched for ways it can serve me and how I can enjoy it, instead of looking at all the ways I can allow it to destroy me via my own emotions. How I react to this area and view it causes me harm, not the place itself.
In January, I watched the movie “The Bucket List” for the first time. And I think I saw it from a point of view that many others did. However, I could not shake off the feeling it left me with. I couldn’t. It made me think: what the hell have I been doing all these years? I’ve had mostly a good life. Not great, but good. I’ve never been able to take European trips…or even go to Hawaii…but outside of that it’s been okay. I’ve had some life-shattering moments where I had to pick up the pieces of my life. These things started very early for me. I was abused by my godmother, a sexual assault victim, there was a very short time I liked a little too much booze, I smoked for a few years, my Dad was not very understanding, I was bullied and picked on as a kid sometimes (until I put an end to it myself!), I was laid off from jobs, filed bankruptcy, lost people I loved. I was cheated on, misunderstood, used and not to mention there’s a few people out there who dislike me very much because I can spot a jackass a mile away.
Oh, there are those awesome good times too. Way more than the bad. Well, maybe I just hold them dearer so it seems like there are more good times although that may not be true. There was that one time I had a great lunch with coworkers and a moment happened that I cannot forget. There were spiritual times that I still can’t get over. I had some very good friends pass in and out of my life and although many left me disappointed or scarred, I miss most of them. They taught me a lot. I have laughed and loved and glowed. And there was my Ganymede… My Ganymede who went to the Rainbow Bridge breaking my heart to pieces. But she was my familiar…I loved her most.
I also love my religion and I enjoy being spiritual – another thing I thought this place I live in took from me. But I, myself, am what stole my spirituality. For those of you who do not know, I am not a Christian, I am a polytheistic Pagan. I honor the divine feminine and I am polytheistic. I have never hidden this and if a someone doesn’t know this, they just haven’t spotted it yet. I have also been out of the “broom closet” since 1998 – meaning I am a Witch as well. While many people may stop reading right here…I urge you to continue. I can’t explain any of these things here. That is not what this blog is about, however, I take my beliefs very seriously. My religion, my spirituality is just as important to me as my readers’ is to them. I am a peaceful practitioner and love my deity(ies) with all my heart. The One True God is all gods… The A-sexual All is one. I respect yours as mine. This is how I live.
Yet at some point, I lost it. Yes, this is not the first time that I have lost my religion – there’s that one time in Arkansas (that’s a memoir moment), but this is the only time I returned to it. I allowed the darkness that had colored my emotions, thoughts, and reactions to come and swoop down on all that was good and bright in my life. I believe when a person shuts out their god or their divine or whatever it is they believe in, they have definitely arrived at the darkest place. But I am seeking the light, the spiritual, again. I shall dance the May Pole of my life eternally.
What all this reflecting boiled down to however is that overall at 44, I am going, WTF! Where has all my time gone? After all I’ve been through this last 3 years with my mental health turning in circles, my bad luck and numerous things that just seemed to go bad for no reason… I just knew something was rotten in Chicagoland and within me. I just had a feeling that I could change things. My latest devastation proved to me that maybe things weren’t all that bad before – you know, like the last year and the year before. At the start of 2014 I entered a new cycle and I had a terribly rough start with the year of the Horse. I wanted to roll over and die. I thought, hell, my life is half over, isn’t it? I pictured myself starting the ascent to my sunset to ride it away. Is it really almost over? I mean, I’m 44 and my father lived to 73, my maternal grandmother to 73, and my maternal grandfather died in his 60s. My paternal grandparents, I have little knowledge of and I am not sure of the ages of their deaths but I believe my paternal grandmother lived into her 70s. My mother is still alive and strong at 78 and is still going even after her terrible illness this past January – which shook up the family. I know what I was thinking: is this the beginning of the end? And of course, my mother is the last and weakening thread that holds me and my siblings together. Once the Fates cut her Thread, her kids may shed each other off like the skin of a snake. I don’t know, at this point, what I’ll do when my mother dies. And die she will. It happens to all of us.
Well, then I lost Ganymede. Some of my friends know how much I loved…love…my cat. She came to me in October 1999. I adopted her from the Waco Animal Shelter via PetSmart. I was looking for a dog the day I found her. I named her for a moon of Jupiter and later discovered that Ganymede was a Trojan prince in Greek mythology who was swept up to Mt. Olympus by Zeus to be his Cup-bearer. Huh. Anyway, Ganymede was more than my pet. She became my child; my daughter. My life. She was my Familiar. She spent all those years with me. She traveled with me. Put up with my mood swings. And maybe a time or two I was not nice to her. But she was always there for me, listened to me, comforting me when I was at my sickest. Then, her time came to pass from this world. 14+ years with me and poof!…she was gone. Just a dream to me now. I thought I’d have a nervous breakdown. I was so distraught I contemplated killing myself. I mean really killing myself for the first time ever. I was so grieved and lonely I thought the only answer was to go where she went. To go back Home.
Ganymede was my baby. I even avoided dates with one guy because I thought he wouldn’t like my Ganymede. I built my world around my cat. If I was gone 12 hours, I’d rush home to her because I knew she had been alone all day. I know it’s stupid to some of you, but she was my family. My soul friend. I would’ve died trying to save her from something awful.
I paid to put her to sleep in a comforting place that I didn’t feel was frightening. I talked to and petted her until her heart stopped beating. Then I took her little body to a crematory close to my house that specializes in pets so that I could have her back the same day. If I had had enough money, I would’ve buried her or interred her ashes. But now she sits in a special place in my bedroom in a canister awaiting the Spring sun that will soften the earth so that I can bury or sprinkle her ashes in a special place that is hallowed ground.
Boy, the first 2 – 3 months of 2014 came and went swiftly and left disaster in its wake. After Mom’s illness and the beginning of Ganymede’s end in January, and just before Ganymede’s death in February, a good neighbor friend of ours died suddenly in his sleep from a major heart attack. I cannot grasp it. It’s been some time since his passing, yet, I still can’t believe it. For a long time I waited for him to come out of the house, waving and telling me it was all a sick joke.
Well, here’s the point, between my dislike of my living situation and the fact I’ve been trying to leave from here for years and can’t, The Bucket List, all the traumatic events that took place, and this monotonous weather we all endured this winter in the Midwest that made things seem way worse than they may have actually been, I have found wisdom.
Sitting on the couch watching a talk show, I was enlightened. The host asked the guest how she felt about her age (mid-40’s). The guest responded with that she liked her age and how growing old(er) is a privilege. Bam! It hit me. I thought about all the people who died when I young. One friend when we were only 16. I think about people who never lived to celebrate 40. What have I been thinking? Living and growing older really is a privilege! Jesus Christ! Yes, there are so many people out there my age or younger suffering from terrible disease. Or were just killed out of the blue. And many of them did nothing wrong. Lived good lives and took care of themselves. And wham. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, a drunk or texting driver. It’s all over in a flash. Our lives become someone else’s dream.
I should not be dwelling on soaring away with the sunset. I should not be lamenting because I am not 30. I should be admiring my sunset as it comes closer. I will not go away sad. Oh no. I will not spend the next half or even 3rd of my life dwelling on the past, living with regret. (That is if I even live through the full 3rd!make through the entire last half!) will stand on the shore of my sunset and fish god damn it. I will fish for The Bucket List. One I can accomplish. I’ll make a list of dreams. I will make a to-do list that I can get done.
I might have 25 yrs left. Maybe 35. Maybe only 1 or 2. But I will fish. Fish for life experiences that I can smile about when I jump on my setting sun and ride it. And I will ride. Even with my last breath, I am sure my final conscious thought will come out of my mouth in some sarcastic tone and I might die with my middle finger raised to all the assholes I’ve ever encountered, but I will die with a smile remembering all those damned fish, the ones I caught and the ones that got away. After all, it’s the experience of the actually fishing that counts.
*If you have not read “Letter To Ganymede”, a poem (so to speak) I wrote in her memory, please check it out after you finish reading this blog. https://wandasparyla.com/2014/02/27/letter-to-ganymede/