“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” – Pema Chödrön, author of “When Things Fall Apart”
A Low Point
I’m not going to lie; the last few years have been challenging. An old friend and I used to call the down cycles of life “A Low Point”. Looking back, we would say, when things were going great, “well, that was a low point” and then laugh hysterically, relieved we weren’t there again at that moment.
These past few years have felt like “a low point” for me. It started with my Dad becoming ill in 2016. I took a couple of weeks off to help him get situated and lost my well-paying job of almost ten years in the process. Then in 2017, he died and my mother developed late-stage Alzheimers which required me to drop any hopes of going back to my full-time career, instead of seeking lower-paying part-time work so I could continue to support her and my family. Then my reliable old “hooptie” Jeep of twenty-five years decided not to work. It’s still sitting on the street, waiting for me to fix her. Okay, so now I’m relying on my feet and public transportation.
But I still have my $2500 computer which is high-powered and only five years old, right? I can still make money from home online, correct? Nope. The numbers on the keyboard short circuit first. Then I accidentally scratch the retina screen. A tiny scratch. A month later, like a creature from the black lagoon, the scratch turns black and spreads until only a small window of the screen remains. No matter, I’ll continue working with it until I can afford to spend another $2500 which is not any time soon. I continue to play this game until another month later I wake up and the computer is displaying the blue screen of death.
The final straw was a couple of months ago when I was kicked out of an elite club after almost 20 years of which I was supposed to be a lifetime voting member. It was the last tie I had to my former creative career as an artist. Ironically, it was precipitated by the me-too movement; the organization’s leaders were ousted and the company used the opportunity to change the rules of the last sixty years, making it harder for local artists to qualify for membership.
Every open door in my life seemed to be closing. Luckily, I have been here before and have learned, when the doors close to looking in a new direction because something else (hopefully better) is on the way.
When Things Go Right
Despite this, I know I’m blessed. and I will tell you how blessed I am: I have a family. I still have good friends. I’m not homeless on the street. There are people who help me every single day and whom I help in return. There are more things going right in my life than are going wrong. Yes, my credit score is in the toilet and I owe a significant amount of money but that’s been going on since my Stage 4 cancer diagnosis at age 30. Living costs money and I’m worth living for.
I continue to travel once a month to the Bay Area to help out with my mother. My family helps me in return. I have clients I help which help pay the rest of my bills. I live by the beach and under rent control. I can fix my car or sell it. I can move or I can stay. I’m headhunted daily so I can go back to work or not. And I found a smaller, less fancy computer to replace the one that died for a fraction of the cost. As we speak, my aromatherapy diffuser is going full blast. Guess what? I have a diffuser and essential oils. How cool is that? It’s a holiday weekend and I don’t have to work because guess what? My immediate bills are paid. In other words, I have OPTIONS.
I just left my mother and she was singing and smiling. She’s still debilitated but otherwise healthy. When I tucked her into bed the last night I was there, she asked me “Where is your Daddy?” I lied and told her he was on a trip but he would come back soon. She smiled and said, “Oh I’m glad. He’s a good guy.”
Yes, he is. And I’m blessed to have had both of them in my life. Some things are still going right.
Happy Labor Day. Namaste.