Moving Forward

Life is funny, isn’t it? The changes keep on coming. Just when you get used to one thing, another comes along and suddenly what you counted on being there is gone forever.

Andy Rooney
Steve Jobs
All My Children

For better or worse, I had to get used to changes at an early age. My parents divorce, my sister’s exit for college, my mother’s illness and early death, my father’s death… it was intense, but I learned young not to get too hung up on things staying the same.

HOWEVER… what consistency allows us to have is structure. Structure is like a big lovely wall that we can lean on. That wall allows our ever changing selves to be able to remember who we are, or who we were, and feel comfort in the familiarity of that wall, even as we continue to change. We can project ourselves upon it and compare who we are to who we once were. Like a good parent, it serves an important purpose.

Too much change, as I can attest to personally, can make a person really have to struggle to grow. Afraid there will be no one or nothing to catch them when they fall, they get stuck. Frozen in a mess of indecision and anxiety, the littlest change can make a person panic.

So what do we do? We remember. We look back and think about who we once were when… and that is a comfort. It helps us sort through the shifting times to find the core of who we really are now. Remembering is a beautiful thing in that way. It’s like a treasure hunt and the treasure is the truth.

So who were you when you used to watch AMC? Why did it mean so much to you then? What about it being gone feels like a betrayal or a loss? What does that loss remind you of in your own life?

I was a young girl looking for home. I wanted all the comforts of family and babies and rituals but I felt like I wasn’t allowed to have that in my “real” life. In my “real” life I was only supposed to work for a living. I was supposed to take care of my mother. Before that I took care of my father. That’s how they trained me- to be “there” for them.

But underneath the young girl who was a caretaker, there was me. The artist, the writer, the shy girl who liked animals and wore glasses and loved horses and nature. Who saw people with families that loved each other, who celebrated rituals together as something devoutly to be wished for.

Being on “All My Children,” as pathetic as it may sound, gave me some little touch of that world, but it wasn’t enough for me to only have the fantasy. I had to go out and make it happen in my real life. I had to show people that I was an actor who had trained hard to play many roles. That’s why I went to “As the World Turns,” and did movies and plays and went to art school and university and tried out different relationships… I was seeking to find myself. Seeking to find my “home” within and without.

If Steve Jobs left us with any great legacy, I think it wasn’t simply a world of technology, although clearly that would be enough. It was his passion for living his truth. For trying to be as authentic to his inner voice as he could possibly be in his lifetime.

When we are authentic to ourselves, sometimes we piss people off because it’s not who “they” want us to be. We have to strive to have courage to be ourselves anyway. Besides, as Steve Jobs pointed out, death is the one thing we ALL have in common.

As the poet Mary Oliver (and my dear friend Davyne) likes to say, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

Here’s another way of thinking about it… where do you feel the most BEAUTIFUL? The most like the best self you can be? I feel that way in New Orleans…

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One thought on “Moving Forward

  1. just read your post about who you are and who you were…very very good and very insightful. And where you feel at home being New Orleans. I live in Gulfport, MS only 70 miles away from NO. IN what we now call Katrina Land. I don’t know if you ever traveled over to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but when you get a chance please do. And notice that we lost all of our history on the coast. The antique beautiful homes, all gone and nothing but steps attached to barren land one after the other. We had 7 feet of water in our home, I ended up in the attic with my 3 dogs while my 2 sons and husband floated in the house in the water trying to at least keep some things from floating out. We then lived in a camper for 1 1/2 years in our driveway..So So So sad. So you see, you can never fully know who you are because as we say here on the coast, wait 5 minutes and it will change.
    Hugs, Smiles and Sunshine to you every day,
    Eleanor Johnson

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