"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear jesse ... Peek

3/27 - Peek

Dear Jesse -

In addition to jealousy, anger, and shame, I think that doubt ranks up there as one of the most intrusive feelings. It takes over like Georgia kudzu. It is overwhelming, and has the power to shatter confidence like a mirror, sending you back to start. It makes you stand back, cower and cringe, “what if?” You feel invisible, intimidated, vulnerable, and you search your mind for safety, tiptoeing around what may be your rabbit hole; your unorthodox path to your answer to “who am I?” Certainly the path to safety has soft, green grass, blue skies, health insurance and a 401 K plan attached to it, but if a walk in the park is not all you are searching for in this lifetime, and if there is something else that you feel you are to contribute to mankind, then the tiptoe will leave you ungratified.

The most interesting things are found at the end of a lonely road. As long as you hold onto your vision, you wont be afraid of the dark. You wont even need a flashlight; your passion will illuminate the path like moonlight, just wear good shoes to avoid overturned ankles.

I have made some very rash decisions in my almost three-decade existence, so I completely understand my mother’s worry when I announce that “I am not going back to teaching. No way. It is not for me. I want to write. Teaching is a career, and I want writing to be my career. I love it, and I want to mix business with pleasure. The world of education is too confining for me.” My mother just looks at the safety aspect of it;
“Ana . . . how can I put this. You’ve got issues! Teaching is such a great package! Health care. You’ve got prescriptions, and psychiatrists ...how are you going to afford health coverage?”

“Mom,” I said, “I’ll work, and I’ll work a lot. I’m not concerned with status; I will sling hash, throw beer across a counter for tips, mow lawns ...whatever it takes to allow me to create. I won’t be happy doing anything else. I’m humble, mom. I’ll be using my brain to tap into my soul. Don’t worry.”

She looked at me, half-smiling, wanting to believe in me, but strangled by the “D” word. “Okay,” she grinned. Turned on her heel, and marched upstairs to get ready for work.

I have always felt so conflicted with my parents; I feel guilty because they work so hard (there’s the unfounded ‘g’ word, again). Not that I don’t show some muscle, but I feel like I don’t work hard enough for their standards. I want them to enjoy the fruits of their labors, and travel like your parents, and spend more time with their friends and their grandchildren, … not as baby sitters. I want to give back to them; I feel like I owe them something for being such a burden all of these years, but I guess that is the risk that they took by having me. Who knew what was dancing in the sky in the early morning of June 4, 1973? My soul recipe is definitely a challenging cocktail of ingredients, and the stars were definitely tipsy that day.

Oh well, I’ll work with my dizzy assets, will give back to the universe, and contribute something to the other whirling souls who may need to know that they are not alone, or to a quiet soul who may need some comic relief.

But I cannot contribute if I take the safe route; there is too much to learn without a flashlight. I guarantee that if you look up the biography of anyone who has contributed something fantastic to our world, you would find that she/he didn’t take the cushy path to get there. There were sacrifices made, risks taken, and lots of doubt thrown in her/his general direction, perhaps even negativity and turned up noses.

We certainly are a judgmental breed, aren’t we? I guess that it is much safer to criticize others, than to unzip ourselves and see what is inside. Take Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. Buddha for instance. Apparently he was born into royalty around 566 BC, and a seer predicted that he would either become a great king, or he would save humanity. His father, in fear that his son would not follow his route, raised Siddhartha in a wealthy, hedonistic palace in order to protect his son from any human suffering. Siddhartha, however, saw four sights: a sick man, a poor man, a beggar, and a corpse. Those visions filled him sorrow and passion, and in turn he dedicated himself to finding a way to end human suffering, by leaving his lavish existence, including a wife and family. Through his suffering and yogic meditation, and spiritual discovery, Siddhartha became Buddha (The Awakened One), Buddhism happened.

Jimi Hendrix; guitar innovator. Thirty plus years later, “Electric Ladyland” still blows my mind. He blazed a musical trail, braiding crazy talent, psychedelic experimentation, and spiritual hysteria into a sound that has been attempted, but never emulated. He changed the face of music with sheer passion, long before “video killed the radio star.” And he started out playing R&B with Little Richard and The Isley Brothers and felt confined by one genre of music. See, he gave it all up, took a risk, moved to NYC, and played the club circuit. He knocked people over with his originality, and the rest is history.

I cannot forget about the great, passionate female writers who were forced to mask their work under male names; women weren’t worthy of education, or being acknowledged. I remember learning in a Feminist Literature Class that among the brave women who broke the mold, the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily had to publish a book of poems under the pseudonyms of Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell in 1846.

They have inspired me to tell the caterpillar who I am.
Love, Ana

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