i continue to remember and explore and plan and imagine and sometimes I stomp my feet or swat the air with a loud “Pfffft.” Other times I weep and wail, my body wracking from the release and recognition and realization. Angela and I talk about what we want engraved on our tombstones and simultaneously decide we do not want our legacy to be “She helped a lot of people.”
That shocks both of us. We’re Good Girls From The South. We know better than to say such a thing. We know we were bred to help others. We know there’s no higher calling, no better way to spend a life. We know we ought to be ashamed. We know we just told The Truth.
I wonder who I might have been and how might life might have been different had I thumbed my cute little nose to all the things I’m not supposed to do:
Care who gets the credit
Talk about my self
Talk about others
Get too big for my britches
Draw attention to myself
Start an argument
Continue an argument
Carry a grudge
Wrestle with pigs
Cry over spilt milk
Fly over the cuckoo’s nest
Take up too much space
Take more than my fair share
Make too much of it
Be any trouble
I wonder if it’s too late for nose-thumbing.
It feels so good, I wonder why I haven’t done it before.
I wonder if I’m done enough nose-thumbing for now.
This is one time it probably doesn’t matter if I told the truth or not. I start to explain what I mean, even though I’m not really sure. Maybe some explanation – any explanation – will lessen the impact of my words.
I wonder who or what will smite me for saying I don’t want to help people.
There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology,the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.
Help us walk through this. Help us come through.
It is the first great prayer.
Maybe it’s not that I no longer want to help people, maybe it’s that I don’t want to devote my life to helping other people and when I do set aside some of my life to give to others, I will help them in a different way because maybe – just maybe – the way I’ve been helping hasn’t really been helping at all.
Maybe I need to help myself first. Maybe that is the best – perhaps the only – way to help anybody anyway.