Third Life – Manifesto
Why not try for the long shots? There is nothing to lose. Realize what an enviable position that is. Nothing to lose is the best opportunity. You can take any chance you could possibly want to. There’s no one to answer to but yourself. The worst thing that can happen is someone won’t reply.
So few people have these type of chances… Opportunities. From an early age we get trapped… hemmed in… on a path… on a schedule… before we know who we are or what we really want from our life. Slaves to industry and commerce… SUV’s… big TV’s… stuff stuff stuff. Not many people get a chance to start over; to wipe the slate clean. Sure, it can be scary starting from the bottom… especially when you think you should be so much further head. But sometimes dead ends are what you need to point you in the right direction. At least that way you know where you’re coming from and what you hope to find.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself and your life. It’s a natural drive we all have, but sometimes our head gets in the way of our hearts. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear gets us nowhere. Being afraid to try does not result in happiness. Hesitation makes us weak. Reach out to the instincts that you have, the feelings in your heart that you don’t question. If you feel you’re destined for something better, don’t fight it, embrace it. But don’t sit idly by.
What’s the best that you can arrive at? What is it that you want? A job? A career? A big salary? A modest means and a happy home? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? What do you hope you can do for people and for yourself? DO you want to learn something new each day or do you want to do the same thing over and over, knowing that your task is done and done well? You have to ask yourself these things. Think back on your life and think of things that have made you feel this way. Or, alternately, haven’t. Sometimes starting with the things you don’t want is easier than defining the things you do. It’s unfortunate but true.
It doesn’t matter what you ‘feel like’ you should have… What matters is what you truly want. For example, do you envy people with smiling children because you want smiling children for yourself, or because you just feel like you should… because that’s what people do… that’s how people show progress and stability. Is it the symbolism or the true yearning? Never feel obligated to live your life like everyone else. Life isn’t a kit of parts. It doesn’t make you magically happy when you have what the person next to you has. And chances are, the people that look so happy, really aren’t. It’s easier to fake being happy than deal with the truth and the pain in your heart. I’d rather be around someone who is miserable but honest, any day of the week.
Maybe the sky isn’t the limit, but we must resist the tendency to sell ourselves short. To play it safe out of fear and panic. To convince ourselves that the known evil is better than the unknown trap possibly lurking around the bend.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
I try to go in to life and new situations assuming that I can do something until proven otherwise. I can learn. I want to learn. I might not know how to do something…yet. But the knowledge will come. It’s no harder to assume that you can do something than it is to assume that you can’t.
Maybe sometimes the learning curve doesn’t align with the demand, but the knowledge will come. It always does. Sometimes you have to dust yourself off… it’s a rare thing to be perfect. And who would want to be? Insecurity is your worst enemy. The fear of looking foolish, of failing, of falling flat on your face. Of stepping on the ice and falling right through. There are lumps and bumps and bruises to be taken to be sure. Trials and tribulations exist for a reason… and everyone goes through them, despite the glossy facades they put on.
Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy. Do not count yourself out before you even try. Do not judge yourself as a lesser person, just so you can beat someone else to the punch. Hurting yourself before someone else can hurt you gets you nowhere. Likewise, hurting someone else before they can hurt you does not make you better than them.
Maybe we don’t all have the divine calling we felt in our youth… or maybe they aren’t meant to culminate the way we imagined and planned. But if you feel it in your heart, it’s there, and it’s real. Hiding it… ignoring it… avoiding it… it doesn’t work. Fighting your own nature only causes conflict and pain. Learning to harness our gifts is a lifelong process. Sometimes there are sparks of insight, moments of clear and perfect intuition. Sometimes the skies are cloudy and gray for a long, long time… but they never stay that way. hold on to the sparks, and the flickers and the beams of light. Keep them close and keep them true.
And with that… my well has run dry…
To the State Cop who has been lingering near my house: They’re just planting beds, I swear.
Third Life – In the Kitchen.
The back-lit glow of the tender oregano leaves on my kitchen windowsill catch my eye this morning. As much as I fancy myself a green thumb, I’m surprised that this plant has lasted all season. Every now and then when I’m cooking I grab a few sprigs and toss them in to the daily special, just because I can. It is a picture of both form and function, sitting attractively in in its vintage, green McCoy planter that I scored at a garage sale for a whopping twenty five cents… and then allowed to subsequently fall victim to an over curious puppy who loves to topple over my plant stands.
In recent months I’ve become quite adept at the art of super gluing. I’m sure that will come in handy if I ever have children as well. I try to push out the thoughts of using it to glue their mouths shut or their hands together, though it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Maybe it’s best I stick to pets.
The weather has turned chill and I find myself quickly seeking solace in comfort food. I love to cook. I love to share. Cooking for one can be sad at best, but I’ve adapted. Right now the smell of garden fresh rosemary and thyme are wafting through my kitchen as my first real attempt at beef stew simmers away quietly on a stove that is a mere year younger than me.
I braved the wet chill outside to harvest the last of the edible items from my garden for this endeavor. A hand full of onions, some sprigs of rosemary and thyme and I was on my way. If I get another nice day, I need to turn the garden over for next year. If there is a next year. Either way, it’s best to be prepared. Unlike the rest of my family, I do not have a rototiller or a plow or a tractor. I have a shovel and my hands.
My garden is not big but it is more than adequate for my needs. Each spring, when the sun first shines, I head out with gloves on, shovel in hand donning a sweatshirt that quickly becomes a tank top once the blood gets pumping. I turn it once. I turn it twice. I turn it three times. The next chance I get, I hoe it, rake it, whatever seems best at the time. And then I turn it again.
A little time getting dirty is very Zen to me. Send me out in the middle of a patch of dirt and I’m a happy girl. If I’m sweaty, smudged with earth and covered in bits of organic material I consider it a happily successful day. It’s more productive than going to a gym and a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy.
I do not like being trapped in suburbia. I’ve tried it. Large tracts of builder homes where a family farm once sat, makes me want to cry. It’s hard to fight your heritage sometimes. I come from a line born of the earth. Living life inside an artificially controlled environment, under the glare of fluorescent lights, does not soothe my soul. Put some sunshine on my shoulders and some grass under my feet and you’ll see the shoulders relax and a smile bubble forth in no time.
Any given day I spend about ninety percent of my time at home in the kitchen. I never go in the living room. I rarely sit at the dining room table. Kitchen and bedroom are the only two rooms I occupy on a consistent basis. I like it here. It’s warm, it’s well lit, and it’s full of food.
Every party I’ve ever had has eventually ended up in the kitchen, no matter how small the kitchen was. Eventually I came to the conclusion that a much better use for the living room furniture would be to move it to the kitchen when it was time to entertain. This idea, while initially met with more than a few quirked eyebrows, was a stunning success. My dream kitchen has room for at least a love seat, if not a sofa in it. My dream living room, I could care less about.
I suppose there should be a chair or two in there, just to keep up appearances.
Third Life – Compression.
This life, while well intended, was a matter of necessity and a good bit of dumb luck. My marriage ended badly, as most marriages that end are prone to do. In a classic case of when it rains it pours, this put me in a difficult position at work during a rocky economic time. I tried and tried to make the best of the situation, but as soon as I was almost done jumping through the hoops to get my life back on track, I was downsized. Before I know it I’m joining the growing throngs of thirty-somethings retreating to the safety of their parents basement to regroup in a time of distress. This arrangement never works well for any of the parties involved, as people who have had to live back under their parents wing all well know.
After a brief sentence in the basement of my youth, I took on the daunting task of making the old family homestead once again habitable. Trying to breathe life into a house that was never particularly nice or well constructed ended in futility but succeeded as a stop gap.
I have a million different things on my mind right now. I can’t focus. I did not get the job. I do not have to move in four weeks or less. I still have to give my kitchen a makeover and now my family is fulling embracing my new significant other. Some days I swear I slipped into a bizarro life when I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I tend to do that. Often the brain works quicker than the fingers or mouth will compensate for. As a result, most days I only get to express every third thing that actually comes to mind. It’s just easier that way. I find people who aren’t used to my… energy… tend to glaze over and reward me with nothing short of the feeling of beating my head against a brick wall. I’ve taken the time to communicate with you, the least you can do is smile and pretend to listen. It’s the pop quiz at the end that always gets them…
Sometimes I’m evil like that.
I had expected this month to turn out much differently. Yes, I’m only five days in, but it’s amazing what a difference a day can make.
My first honest attempt to leave this town behind has been thwarted. This was not pleasant news. The job market is thin at best for my industry and missing out on an honest opportunity is daunting at best. I guess my shock and awe at not only being called once, but being called back a second time should have been a good indicator. Always listen to your gut. Always.
In many ways, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. The acquisition of that job would have meant a month full of frenzy and a winter full of angst. A quick temporary move up to my home town with enough clothes to last me and my pets riding shot gun while simultaneously trying to wrap up the home improvements at my actual home several hours away, list it on the market and wait for it to sell as I start the renovations on an old house I just couldn’t help but get myself in to. Which is not habitable, of course.
I’m sensing a pattern.
Indeed, I was mentally steeling myself for life once again on the open road, mid winter, through the heart and soul of the snow ridden hill country. I was organizing my closet in the slow hours at work, debating what things would be of critical nature to take for the new job and wondering if they had a dress code that would force me to go shopping. Again.
I hate shopping.
Third Life – Liquid Lunch.
I pull off my mirrored sunglasses and pink Harley jacket and sit down at the bar for lunch. It’s only Tuesday but I need a break.
The effeminate bartender in front of me stomps his foot and declares across the bar, “I hate women!” Looking over just a second too late at his new patron.
“Oh, sorry…” he smiles sheepishly.
“It’s o.k., I hate women too.” I flash him a grin and a wink and order my beer.
I shouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Though ‘this’ isn’t really a bad place to be. It’s the two year anniversary of the split from my husband and honestly, I don’t need solace or even a shoulder to sniffle on. This makes me smile.
I take a glance around the bar and wonder why everyone in this town has to look like my ex mother in law. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me looking over my shoulder for the past two years. In truth it was mostly unfounded, but old habits die hard. Every trip out in public starts with a scan of the crowd. Every venture in to the mall veers me far away from her favorite stores and the family’s known haunts. And I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I absolutely have to. It really doesn’t inconvenience me much, and at this point it’s become a matter of habit. Most days I hardly even notice.
I’ve never seen her. And nowadays I’m not quite sure what I would do if I did. Visions of hair pulling and assault charges danced in my head for the longest time; initiated from either side of the fence. Some days I wake up and hear her being quoted on the local radio. Yeah, that’s a lovely start to the day. She practically runs this town, and I do my best to live under radar.
I take a deep breath and remind myself that all of that unpleasantness was twenty four months and thirty five pounds ago. A bold cropped haircut, some new clothes, and a revived inner confidence that has brought the sparkle back to my smile and I’ve practically put myself into witness protection right before my very eyes.
It was unintentional, I swear. Mostly.
I’ve carved out a nice little life for myself really, despite the odds. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. Other times I probably give myself too much. I practically have the American dream. A nice house, built in the twenties, with built ins and beveled glass as far as the eye can see. A spunky, not so little, lab pup waiting at home for me that likes to keep me on my toes by chasing her down for my favorite shoes. Or socks. Or deodorant. My two cats, who at this point have become my longest standing adult relationship, lurk on the radiator boxes at the window sills waiting to watch movies with me or get a belly rub if I feel so generous. When I walk into the kitchen they twist themselves around my ankles and pretend it’s an option for me to walk away.
There’s even a nice little vegetable garden in the back yard that out produces anything I could possibly eat by myself without turning orange from tomato overload. On the weekends I mow my lawn, do my laundry and head to the local butcher shop for a little bit of meat and a lot of gossip. What more could a girl ask for?
And what am I thinking as I sit here? I. Want. Out.