Long time no see!
I am sitting here wondering how to write this as my freshly baked blueberry muffins cool and their sweet perfume permeates the air. I could start at the beginning but I think I will begin at the end. This morning.
I decided to go to church today. Something inside me told me I should go and I knew just the place. I have moved since the last time I went to church back home and even then it had been years since the last time I went but it was the first thought in my head when I woke up.
I pass this church every day. Huge steeple with post-modern design. All shades of turquoise and blues, purples and greens shine in the stained glass windows that line each side of the large brown building. I have always been intrigued by it and so I decided to go today.
The church was new and nice. Very modern but the people were incredible. It was such a diverse congregation. No face looked the same. Some were black, white, latino, spanish, asian, african, indian. It was beautiful. Race wasn’t the only thing that was impressive. There was someone from every walk of life. People with piercings and tattoos joined hands with people in suit and tie. I was in awe of it.
I come from a Lutheran background where everything is somewhat contained and dry but here, people listened to songs I had never heard of played by a full band and raised their hands in rejoice. They held their heads low as they mouthed the words to the songs. I cracked a smile and felt at home. We were all there for the same thing. Well, I was there for something a bit more as well.
There is a point when they had three couples who help the church come up to the stage. They would help you with prayer. If you had something so burdensome that you needed help carrying it, you could go up and they would help you pray.
First, a woman goes to the couple on the right side of the stage. Then, another to the left. There was a couple in the middle who were standing, waiting.
I gathered my thoughts and straightened my long black tie as I walked the seemingly mile long walk up to the stage. The couple were African and the man puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “What can we help you pray for?”
I swallowed hard and said, “I need help getting over my grandma’s death.”
TWO WEEKS EARLIER
I help my mother maintain by letting her vent to me. She tells me how my grandmother’s death has affected her and I listen. I felt I had to be strong for my mother because that’s what she needed. I found myself seemingly happy. I didn’t feel badly at the time.
I wrote “Our Glue” and it felt great because it was about me remembering a special person. I thought I had moved on.
I felt anxious and I began working out a lot and throwing myself into my work. I would do school work and go to my internship and it began to consume me. I would take out the frustration in the gym. Lifting weights and doing cardio.
I began using the punching bag. I would listen to music while I did so. I remember the first time I noticed my anger was as I was hitting the punching bag. I zoned out and when I came to, I realized I had been punching it so hard the bag was bouncing up and down; swinging like a pendulum. I stepped back in surprise.
I think that’s when I noticed it but it got worse. I was always angry. At nothing. Just constantly mad. I know for a fact that I have the coolest followers ever and I feel like you guys know me well enough and have read enough of my stuff to know that I am not an angry person. (Okay maybe young Chris but remember, the whole teen angst thing? <See “The Times They Are A Changin'” for more info on that!>)
It was like a snake coiled around me, emotionally speaking. It stifled me. Constrained me. Silenced me. I was at my own angers mercy but I never took it out on others. Instead I pushed it away, thinking it would leave. It didn’t. It seethed.
ONE WEEK LATER
People make jokes and I feign laughter. It hurts to smile through a clenched jaw. I was less than me. A shell. Vacant.
I was listening to extremely angry music. It wasn’t cathartic like I thought; it exacerbated my anger.
I was in class. Social Psychology. We had an assignment and we had to ask someone close to us a series of questions about happiness. I coughed out a harsh, gritty laugh to myself when she told us that. It didn’t even sound like me.
I began talking with “Mike” about everything and it got me thinking about why I was so angry. I remember the first thing I asked him was “How do you define happiness?”
Overall, Mike was pretty happy but he never really defined happiness for him but he did say that he knew it was something that makes you “Smiley”. Something that causes that physiological reaction.
It got me to reevaluate myself and why Chris was less than.
I decided to spend Friday being with friends. Mike and myself went out to dinner then came back to the apartment and played Twisted Metal. We laughed, REALLY laughed.
Saturday, I decided to go fishing. Mike had to go to work and I hadn’t been fishing in years. So, I went and got my license and set out for a lake about 45 minutes away.
It was a beautiful day. I mean I hadn’t seen a day like that in so long. I felt refreshed and open. I smiled as the sun warmed my skin. I even listened to country music! A rare find!
I had never been to this particular lake and I hiked down to an area where it was pretty open on the shore.
This was just to the right of where I started fishing. I thought that it was a great place. A large piece of wood was positioned where it would be a great seat. I hiked up the bank more until I started noticing I was getting shorter. I looked down and I was sinking. I had forgotten we were in a drought. The water receded and I was walking on the mud and clay bottom of the shore where water used to be. I stopped immediately and began a gallop slash hop style run. I made it to somewhat solid ground. I had about five pounds of mud caked on to my shoes so I scraped them off. I walked to another area, a bit more clear.
It was beautiful! The wind was present but not overbearing. I opened my tackle box and put my fishing pole together. The small parts of fishing is what I enjoy. Stringing on the hook, weight and bobbers. Casting it out to the place where you just saw bubbles rise to the surface. The smell of the water and the sound of the water reaching shore. I love it.
I was there on the shore, casting the line out and bringing it back in. I was slowly sinking, once again, so I kept moving a bit but I didn’t mind at all. The sun was my friend and the water was my love and I was caught in between them for two hours.
I started getting hungry and all the beef jerky I had was gone (Hey, don’t judge. Beef Jerky should be a food group all its own!)
So, I packed up my gear and began to leave. I saw a small family on the right throwing rocks in the water and I wanted to feel like an ultimate bada$$ fisherman by walking with my pole and gear up a four foot embankment.
I had forgotten to re-wipe my feet before I started up the steep cliff-like embankment. So, I stepped up and as I leaned forward I slammed into the side of the embankment dropping everything. I got up quickly trying to retain some dignity I lost in the fall. Though my limp took that last little bit away.
-Side story: My mother used to take me on drives after school and she would pretend to be lost. She would have me try to find my way back to the apartment. It was a fun game but it was her way of making sure I knew my way around. So, I was the little navigator. By the time I was sixteen I had my hometown mentally mapped out. It was also a great way to spend time with my mom, I realize that now and cherish the memories. back to the story!-
So, I am at a fork in the road, literally. To the left is the 45 minute drive home and the right is unknown. The day was so incredible already and it was still beautiful out; so, I got lost.
I drove through some field where I found the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. The drought had sunken another lake I found and it created a small island in the middle of this lake.
I want to take my camera out there sometime before the freeze hits.
I found a campsite and saw some amazing stuff there and had to take pictures. Here are a few.
I left there and lamented because I thought I had seen all there was. Then, I REALLY got lost. I laughed the whole time. I enjoyed how unsure of any direction I was going. The freedom of knowing nothing made me giddy. I stuck my head out of my sun roof as I cruised down the road listening to Luke Bryant and others. I stopped at a point when the sun was about to set and saw this field. Goldenrod and Elms were pervasive and beauty was bountiful. I thought about what my mother used to say. About how getting lost is a part of being found. You can’t find anything if you don’t lose anything.
Here is the wooded area I called home for a while:
I finally left as the sun set and I did find my way home rather quickly, to my lament. We had a cookout at the apartment with a couple of friends and saw “LOOPER”. I was so happy that night when I ate cold steak and went to sleep.
I woke up and I knew that my anger was gone. But why? I realized it then and then clarified it in when I sat in that pew. I was mad because my family tucked my grandmother away for her last years. I was angry because she died from a disease where she couldn’t recognize my face, only my voice. I was angry because I couldn’t be.. I couldn’t show my sadness of my own volition. In that moment, I knew what I had to pray for and I needed help.
They pull me in closer still. I hear them praying for me together and I hang my head. I hear their prayers but I say my own. I pray that it works. I pray for forgiveness. Not from God but from myself. I prayed that I would let myself let go. I asked them to pray to God for me to get over my grandmother. I prayed to myself to forgive me.
This was a long blog but I’m not sorry. I know a lot of what I write is my id, ego and superego battling but this post has more heft and lift than any I have written and it helped me think.
I was mixing up the batter for my muffins and Mike asked me, mockingly, “What’s YOUR definition of happy?”
I smiled. For the first time in a long time I think I know what my definition of happy is because I know what the absence of it felt like.
A great woman once said “You can’t find something you never lost”
Happiness: n,v,pn,adj,adv etc:1) A fundamental right to enjoying life without the little things getting in the way. 2)Being in the moment and understanding it is fleeting. 3) The emotion that somehow usurps all others and leaves you being “Smiley”
Happiness Lost….Happiness Found.
Thanks for being there for me when I wasn’t, Gang! Your kind words were heard! I owe you more than you know!
(If you want, let me know what your definition of Happiness is! (with a capital H))