Originally posted on Ronda’s former blog, Modern Day Gypsy, on December 5, 2016
It’s amazing to me how our memories work. A scent, a word, a song, a touch… can all bring a past memory to the forefront as if it were happening today. As the past and present merge as one through our memories, we can recollect feelings and sensations as if they were happening at this very moment. When I stumbled upon this poem, #2 in my “Life in My 20s” series, which I guess was written sometime in 2002 or 2003, I remembered the experience that prompted me to write it as if it were yesterday.
I was sitting with my friend Andrea at work, and she was going through a tough time with a guy she had been seeing. If I recall, they had broken up, or he wasn’t sure what he wanted. Either way, she was in pain as she fought to hold back her tears, and at that moment, I felt her pain, too, as the tears welled up in my eyes for her. It was a very clear moment of empathy for me. I’m not sure if I felt her pain as if it were mine, or I felt her pain because I knew what pain felt like in her circumstance, but it was pain that we shared.
And as I sat there and we shared that moment, it was raw, and it was real, and it was vulnerable. In recent months, I have thought back to that moment with her, as I’ve been working through the walls that currently block my ability to be vulnerable in certain situations. The more than 10 years that have passed since I sat with Andrea and wrote the passage below have been filled with my own pain, hurt, and suffering–from lost relationships, hardships, and chronic illness–that somewhere along the way opened the door to shame and my “hiding.” This latter reaction has suffocated me a little bit with each passing day, and so this past year has been a huge “come to Jesus” for me to be ok with being uncomfortable in vulnerable situations once again. I work and long for the moments when I can truly be present with another individual in the deepest of our sorrows and heights of our joy – to be able to look at another human being and really see them.
Andrea is a beautiful soul and has been an amazing friend throughout the years. I’m grateful that I have this memory to go back to, and I’m grateful that she trusted me enough to be vulnerable with me. It’s these moments – that at the time might seem so insignificant – that are the thread that sews reason into our existence; moments of compassion, love, and true connection, for which we live. It’s these moments with which I want to fill the rest of my life.
Vulnerability opens us up to the possibility of true connection and belonging. To experience the true joys of this life, we also need to be able to go to the deep sorrows of our heart and feel that sorrow–not forever, but for just enough time to allow it to cleanse us and pass for the moment. And sometimes, we need that friend who doesn’t try to “fix” us, but will sit beside and simply say, “it’s going to be OK.”
“Life in My 20s”
#2: Pretty Girl… Writing on the Wall
Pretty girl, your mind’s a mess,
but temporarily I do assess.
You’re very smart and very sweet;
your heart so tender with every beat.
So take a minute, and look around;
block it out, and hear the sound.
Listen carefully, I do beg you;
for what you’ll hear is simple and true.
You’ll hear your heart, and then your mind;
these two together, powerfully combined.
Listen quietly, and carefully, too,
and most importantly, believe in you.
As you listen, and the answers aren’t clear;
rest easily; do not fear.
For with the answers that are most unclear,
we can grow the most with every year.
And if all the answers you could see,
how boring now life would be.
And yes, at times, at this crazy pace,
we want to fold as we suffocate.
But unlike others who lose the race,
those like us will set the pace.
So laugh too loud. Dream too much.
And know it’s OK to be in a funk.
Don’t walk a straight line, and when you get the chance,
love and love again, and always choose to dance.
Hope for the best, try and try again.
Prepare for the worst. Know when to say when.
Now take a step back. Breathe in deep.
Go ahead. Take time to weep.
Be careful to not create your own war;
and most importantly, know who you are
Because we’re most important in our lives,
for without us, we do not survive.
So every day, when you wake,
know to learn from your own mistakes.
And in turn, for your own sake,
the mistakes I’ve made, try not to make.
Now move forward as you believe in the past;
but don’t long for it, or even look back.
For it is beautiful as life unfolds,
and our own stories are gently told.
A constant reminder in life is that “it is what it is.”
The writing’s (often) on the wall, we just need to read it.