I’ve been writing in fear, guys.
The Photo a Day Challenge helped. I could write about happy faces in frying pans and display sweet pics my kid took of clouds and not tread near to the hell breaking loose around the world. Unintentionally, I dealt with fear of speaking up by looking down.
It involved sticking my head in the sand when it comes to the Denver Broncos’ offseason woes or the perennial quandary my Colorado Rockies put their fans in by sucking but not sucking enough to justify giving in on a season and trading off all your tradable players.
I bottled up thoughts and reactions to pertinent things in the universe, such as shootings and coups and attacks on the innocent and a contentious election season brewing.
I’m glad, because the thoughts weren’t ready then. A lot of things weren’t ready then. So I simply dealt with the moment. It involved being okay with far-off doctor’s appointments and unanswered questions and persistent health problems.
It involves late nights and early mornings and schedule-cramming and responsibility-shirking. It includes falling asleep many times before I hit publish. It means I’ve let this life get full and the approach to keep my head down and handle it one thing at a time works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Events, huge and mundane, shape us
It reminds me that my arms ache and my skin itches and Gabi needs brakes and a headlight. My laptop has seen its better days, and my $20 Android often gives me $10 worth of smartphone.
It means I’ve kicked Coke Zero but haven’t really because I didn’t feel alive today until I had one.A tall, cold, beautiful one.
Think of one event that changed your life. You kick cancer’s ass or you win money on the radio or you get custody or your citizenship, and your timeline takes a dramatic turn, dramatic as your divorce or parents’ death or the day you set eyes on the love of your life.
It could be as slow as vowing to get more sleep or it could be something as quick as joining a protest because of recent news, but it will all alter your trajectory.
It’s also in smaller moments, an extra glass of wine or yellow light run rather than stopped for or that day you bought your frozen pizza at Target instead of Food Lion and you not only occupied a different space in time but you also left a void where you might have been.
Who knows how that simple choice altered your existence, or someone else’s?
It could be as slow as vowing to get more sleep or it could be something as quick as joining a protest because of recent news, but it will all alter your trajectory. You might write a congressman or write a blog post or just write in your journal, but the day, it alters you.
Where we wedge our trajectories
At times it feels as if no matter where your trajectory heads, your tract means nothing in the grand scheme. Only, it does. In these divisive times, we can wedge ours among the angry hordes or we can tune truly into it and follow it, whether it runs red, blue, or purple.
Because all the things that happen, the grandiose, which includes but isn’t limited to diet and death, well, they leave huge tracks. They’re incredible, like the close call you had on your bike as a kid, a concussion or diagnosis that turned your life on its ear.
Puzzle pieces fit together all around us, including the guy at the next table and the family behind you in traffic.
Also incredible are those times you begin to see puzzle pieces fitting together, pieces that were nothing but pain or impossible to understand, and now they’re fitting together to make something.
And just think that this happens all around us, to the guy at the next table and the family behind you in traffic. We have so much in common. I loved this tweet last week:
I can’t pretend I know what it’s like to be a cop. Or to be black. Or to be Muslim. I can just try to be a good person. This is all I have.
— SuperSardonicTart™ (@SardonicTart) July 10, 2016
Common life binds us all
I walked out of Food Lion last weekend, after a week of tons of car time with Grace, discussing everything from pop-singer crushes to terrorism in France. The sky above me sunk with ominous intent. “Man, look at that!” I said to no one in particular.
A guy walking past said something about the sky getting ready to let loose.
I’d just talked about chocolate and candy bars with peanuts and also vegetables with a cashier and a mom and a short guy who works for the power company. He wanted the forecast of storms and hail to be false. It’d been a helluva week he’d just recovered from.
It’s not the mean streets of Chicago or in the midst of turmoil in Baton Rouge, but it’s people in America living in harmony.
This is boring stuff, right?
Everyday, mundane. Thing is, in all this, one person was white, another black, and one of them in law enforcement. No, it’s not the mean streets of Chicago or in the midst of turmoil in Baton Rouge, but it’s people in America living in harmony.
It’s the common elements of our lives – candy preferences, weather watching, that mattered most.Or at all.
It just took some time
I wish I could have drummed up the wisdom I wanted when my littlest girl started conversations this week. I wish I hadn’t been afraid to speak my mind when people I love so far right and so far left spoke theirs and left me squarely in the middle.
Actually, I’m glad I’d been afraid to speak out.
I’m glad I had time to think more, to feel more, to examine myself more. I’m a middle-aged dad in a profession that won’t make me rich. I’ve dark skin and a crappy car. I’ve been pulled over and asked to step out of my car.
A girlfriend broke up with me after her brother told on her for dating a ‘beaner.’ That’s over and done.
I’ve also watched officers descend on a building when they didn’t know what to expect from inside, after I’d called about a break-in.
I lived in a Colorado town where opportunity didn’t feel abundant for Hispanics. A girl broke up with me after her brother told on her for dating a ‘beaner.’ I got a job at a newspaper doing a job I wasn’t trained for in the name of diversity.
All that? Over and done.
These experiences, and so many others, tons that had nothing to do with my social status or skin color or lack of height, comprise me. The good. SO much good. Friends who never lost faith. Family that stuck by my side. Strangers who made a difference.
I’m here, now. In a crazy, mixed-up world, it would seem. Or is it crazy and mixed up for all time, and this is just where we are today?
What I’ll do. What we should do.
I don’t have the answers. I will be good to you, though, even, maybe, if you’re not good to me. I will, until my dying day, talk with and answer questions for my beautiful girls and help them forge their own way into the world. Can they fix things?
Can we find the commonalities and go from there?
I see, when I look one way and then the next, a whole lot in common you might not see right now.
I’m here, in the middle, y’all. I see you all the way in the red and all the way in the blue, and I see hurt and I see love. I see, when I look one way and then the next, a whole lot in common you might not see right now.
You’ll have to take your own path, even if more pain and hurt lies ahead. It’s a treacherous path filled with ways you’re still losing and causing pain in addition to enduring it. It’s an enlightening path, filled with answers and lessons if you’re willing to see.
There’s kindness going around. Churches with signs for $1 car washes – but then giving the dollar to the car owner after the wash. Belk dishing out gift cards for no reason. Smiles and waves, people letting other people in during a traffic jam.
These don’t get headlines. These do build the basis of harmony. You never know how your kindness will come into play for someone who needs it more than you realize. It feels like small potatoes ways to solve a big-potato problem. But they are ways.
I might still be afraid, but I’m no longer afraid to write.
Come sit here in the middle for a while, if you want. I’ll even share the frozen pizza.