Rumi said- You are not a single drop in the ocean, but the entire ocean in a single drop.
I am learning to reconnect with myself. I have been distant, absent, far away for seemingly a long time- perhaps for as long as a year. I’m still working in spurts on a Bob Marley painting that I cannot seem to finish. I have ideas often about books I’d like to write, or projects I’d like to start, and they go nowhere, just as quickly as they came. Sometimes my thoughts race, feelings of paranoia or hopelessness overcome my mind, and my body suffers, too. My once daily yoga practice has fallen by the wayside. I’m lucky if I even meditate or practice deep breaths once a week. This in turn depresses me, because I feel weak. I feel jaded. I feel tired.
I feel like a liberal woman living in rural Alabama.
I love Alabama, though. I love the muggy air, the old barns, the magnificent sunsets, the slang. I love the wildlife, the rivers, the caves, the neighbors, the churches, the constant reminders that I do possess something inside me that is somehow beyond me. Something infinite, something majestic, something I forever long for. I always hope for the best, but for whatever reason, I can only seem to regularly focus on the worst.
Maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s current events, maybe it’s pollution in our rivers, or unfair wages, or mute personalities surrounding me, or fear.
Why do I blame myself?
I used to feel funny, helpful, and like a light. Adults typically liked me because I was genuinely me, and excelled in academics and athletics and art. I would raise my hand when I knew the answer, and I usually did. I volunteered at the library, and church, and school. I was well rounded, but different. Rarely afraid or timid, I typically expressed myself in different ways. Hairstyles, clothing, poetry, piercings- I tried to be who I wanted to be. I tried what I wanted to try. I’ve always known I was different, but I’ve always known that about every single person, too. I just never understood why people cut others down to make themselves feel- what they thought was- better.
Growing up, and even as a child, I gravitated towards the most interesting people, and guarded myself from the popular crowd as I would observe their judgmental or condescending behaviors towards others. Typically, I was just friendly or hyper-active, trying to make those around me laugh or feel good, but I never sacrificed my personality to make anyone happy. No, I exposed my personality to try to make everyone happy.
But with the commercials we see each day of the picture perfect families or seemingly idealistic situations, we begin fooling ourselves that this is what I should want. Maybe social media has created this new need of belonging to the most appealing or trendy group? We as human beings are social creatures, which is no secret. But when did we feel the need to sacrifice our true selves to please normal people who “fit in” to those pearly gates guarding a Utopian society? I’m a risk taker, damnit. I love that about myself. I don’t want to be trendy. I want to be free. And yes, I’ll say a cuss word every other sentence if I want to do so in expressing myself.
I live in rural Alabama and have almost all of my life. I appreciate every aspect of it because along with everything else, this state has shaped the person I truly am. I am a free spirited woman who has convictions, stories, jokes, advice, wisdom, pain, regret, and yes, even depression at times. I saw Dave Chappelle perform stand-up at the Alabama Theater on April 20th, witnessed the Dalai Lama speak to a crowd of people who wanted to listen and people who travelled the same tour just to protest, and with my own ears, heard Bernie Sanders speak in a park in Birmingham on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I love being 31 and having a 12-year-old daughter who I am immensely proud of and who never ceases to amaze me. I love that I have allowed myself to make countless mistakes and overcome my battles. I love that people judge me and in turn, I love them back with a smile and an offer to help.
Love your neighbors- especially the ones who don’t look like you.