Oy. I have one of those minds- always, always going. Not by choice, just a case of wiring. I don’t fight it anymore, I don’t really fight too much against any of my wiring anymore. Call it the wisdom of old age. Just don’t call it that to my face.
I wake up in the middle of the night in mid-thought. I’m always asking the questions below the question. I’m distracted watching a show because I’m wondering about the back story. My mind is just always going, like a cat’s steady purring, below the surface. And I don’t hate it. I’m curious about other kinds; my husband can just sit and rest his mind. Nothing in his hands, nothing in front of him. Just staring off into space, resting. I’m fascinated by this….and find it a bit horrifying too, to be honest. But that’s his wiring, so it too is fine.
What am I always thinking about? I’m realizing lately that I’m mostly considering relationships. People. How they work, how they work together, what it’s like to be them, where that might lead, what’s it all about, Alfie? I’ve always been fascinated by people. Even as a child, I’d people watch for hours. Stare, really, let’s be honest. I had no idea it was wrong, or weird. But it is, I see that now. I can recall a handful of incidents, some as old as junior high, when people I’d been staring at would finally fly at me in anger, screaming something along the lines of “go away, freak.” Yeah, that’s weird, I know. I guess at that point I just went underground, learned to keep it hidden. Because I didn’t stop. Gonna take more than a little playground humiliation to shut this weirdness down.
I’ve always had the odd ability to “get” people, to see beneath the surface to some of what drove them. And let me quickly say that it was not an infallible gift. I made plenty of mistakes in my own relationships. Strangely though, it wasn’t usually because I misread people, but more often than not it was because I ignored what I knew. Especially if they made me laugh. Oh baby, if you could make me laugh, I’d throw ALL insight and wisdom out the window fast. My Achilles heel, fo sho. Explains some of the insanity of my 20s. And oh yes, my 40s and 50s, who am I kidding?
You’d hope that this insight would make me a kinder person, a gentle person who made room for the weaknesses and wounds of others. I don’t know that that was always the case. I think in my younger years I was as merciless as the rest, as selfish in my orientation as everyone else. I just didn’t recognize it as such, even when I became a more spiritual person. At that point I may have learned to disguise my own ego, hidden it from myself and others. But of course periodically it would show itself, standing up in crowded rooms to announce its magnificence to all, whispering its malignant presence in dark nights of the soul. I’m sure my closest friends saw it, but their own kindness allowed them to overlook it.
We’re all on the journey, making our way down the road with whatever light we’ve discovered along the way. Maybe they just didn’t call me on my stuff. I have a strong personality, and I know that sometimes “protects” me from truth-tellers, unfortunately. I would LOVE to have someone tell me the truth about myself as they saw it, someone who really knew me and loved me enough. But that is a forgotten art in our culture, an undervalued gift. Don’t you always wonder about that kind of thing? It’s like hearing your own voice on tape; you’re shocked at the sound of it, while others maliciously testify to its authenticity. I wonder if the same is true with our personalities. See, this is what I’m talking about, the overthinking, the constant wondering…..
If you’re close to me, you know I’ve been fighting the aging process tooth and nail. Well, not always. I really didn’t even notice for the first 60. But I admit, rounding the corner into this decade was a shocker of the highest, blackest magnitude. Like, an earthquake whose tremors would not STOP. I think my overreaction had a lot to do with other things happening in my life at that point, but I gotta admit: I handled it as poorly as anyone I’ve ever seen. Or heard of. Or imagined. I mean, I carried ON, y’all, ain’t gonna lie. I yelled at people at parties, I fought with innocent young southern men who called me ma’am, I cried actual tears about my growing insignificance. For a few years. As other pains began to recede, or mellow a bit, this one did also. I recently saw a picture of myself on Facebook where for the first time, in my ego-driven mind anyway, haha, I looked like an old lady. I literally gasped out loud, like some sort of aging southern belle, involuntarily. Then I laughed at myself for gasping, and figured, oh, whatever. Now THAT is an improvement, baby. That is growth.
Which brings me back around to my original topic. My aging seems to have softened my insights as much as it has my poor body. Much less cruel. I’m still overthinking, I’m still always watching and wondering. But the things I see are far more beautiful, and yes, I mean, beauty-full. I see the same things but they are now covered with grace…deeper understanding of the human condition…kindness. No room for judgment, for condemnation. I’m way too flawed myself. We all are, and I’m seeing the deep and profound beauty of that. Every day brings news of human goodness and splendor. Yes, I overthink but if I didn’t maybe I wouldn’t notice the beauty of my new friend who fights valiantly against the sorrow and grief of her divorce. She writes her way through her pain, and her words, each of them, are a volley of hope flung against the darkness. She will one day help others making their way down this bitter road. This I KNOW. She already helps me each day as I see her strength, her willful bravery, each word written a testimony of courage.
Or maybe if I wasn’t so captivated by humans I wouldn’t recognize the sheer bliss of hearing from my nephew. We’ve never been close so it took a lot of guts to reach out to me and tell me that he’d recently been given a CD of my son’s music, and of how much he’s enjoying it. He’s a very talented young person, just beginning to dig deeply into his own great giftedness, so it meant a great deal to me to hear him speak of seeing the same in Zack. We live a thousand miles apart and yet we’re both learning to draw and paint, we’re both excited about music and life, and discovering this fact was a deeply meaningful highlight of my week, a gift I recognize that is about SO much more than the music. Yes, I overthink, but it brings me so much incredible joy….and life….and meaning.
So yeah. I’ll lose sleep to my overactive brain. I’ll miss details of the movie as I try to imagine the story behind the scene. But I’ll see the beauty before me and drink deeply, and gratefully, at its well. Sleeping will come soon enough.