Who am I now?

What do I want next?

These are questions asked by Sally G. at her altar today, questions I ask myself regularly – questions I have asked myself for a long, long time. These are the questions at the top of the list of questions that enkindled 365 Altars.

What do I know, not What degrees do I have, but What do I know?

Who am I now – not who have I been, but who am I now?

What can I contribute, and not just in terms of money?

How does this longing look dressed in words?

Where do I go from here?

What does the culmination of all the things I’ve done look like?

and the ever popular: What is the purpose/Why am I here, anyway?

I look for clues in my childhood – what did I like that got shoved aside in the mad rush to adulthood? What did I want to do with my life when my life was the only thing that mattered, the only thing I was responsible for?

Inspired by Sally G, I place on my altar today a recording of the first record I purchased with my own money. I moved into the basement apartment that my daddy’s daddy declined to inhabit, and I took the record player that was replaced by a fancy new console entertainment center. On any given day, I’d put this 45 rpm record on the turntable, lower the diamond stylus onto the vinyl, and skate around and around and around the unfinished basement just outside my door, feeling completely free, completely in charge of my own destiny, completely sated. Anything was possible. I was capable, on the ready, and darn near invincible. It was enough just to be me.

It’s how I feel now only in the dark thirty hours on the occasional day.

It’s how I long to feel again on any given moment of any given day (minus the roller skating part, mind you).

As I skated, I knew with my entire being that this song was written for and about me. It’s still necessary to escape occasionally to go downtown and get lost in the crowd, to see brightly lit organized spaces filled with colorful goods that promise to make my life perfect (whatever that is). But I no longer want to leave home to dance. It’s no longer comforting, reassuring, or convincing, this notion that I can crawl through some escape hatch and leave all my troubles and worries behind. I am tired of being encouraged to live for the future.

I don’t want to have to leave myself to be myself.

So maybe I’m a wee bit further along on my quest to self definition, to self determination. And while the lyrics don’t hold what they once did for me, the music still beckons me to get up and dance right here, right now. (Which is good ’cause I’ve vowed to move more this year – preferring the word “move” eversomuchmore than “exercise.”)

And with lingering questions that outnumber answers, I leave you with Petula Clark singing the first record I bought with my own money: Downtown . . .

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365 Altars: honoring our deepest sumptuous selves. 4/365