Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Silence and Gratitude

I've done it again. . . gone over a month without saying much. . . silence is a dear friend to me but I seem to lose track of time so easily these days.

Some of you may know that I spent part of June and July on jury duty here. First on a trial jury for an eminent domain case and then, as luck would have it, my number was called to fill an absence on our county grand jury for two months immediately following that.

It was, in our small rural county, a breeze and simply a joy to serve on the grand jury. There was only one case where the members of the grand jury had any disagreement at all. And that was simply on a lesser, unimportant charge.

But I have to say that 8 consecutive weeks of listening to the stories of people who just can't get their life together, who seem to have no idea that there is another way to live and who, often, repeat the same mistakes countless times over within the lives they live. . . well, it all starts to wear on a person.

It drove me to a bout of silence and solitude in it's aftermath.

And from that comes a wealth of gratitude.

As one of my great aunts used to say repeatedly, "There, by the grace of God, go I"

I grew up with a brother, much older, who made just about every bad choice you can make when it comes to life. And while some families seem to breed a consistent pattern of such behavior, I am happy to say that he was the exception to the rule in ours. And all that I saw him go through was like a guide book of what not to do. . . how not to live.

But there is one event in my young adult life that I believe was very instrumental to my not turning out like that or ever stepping down those pathways at all.

When I was 19, out of school, a little lost myself. . . a friend of mine at a club (where I was underage) one night asked out of the blue, "Hey, do you want to go to Europe?"

She was trying to get some distance from a suffocating girlfriend/relationship and just wanted to get far away for a few weeks.Europe seemed far enough. . .

I, with little thought, said "Sure, why not."

That trip and all of it's twists and turns was a life changer for me in how I perceived the world around me. Suzy, who I always thought was such a strong person, had trouble with the currencies, the languages, the constant need to be on our guard and make decisions and meet trains, get rooms etc etc. And I, who had no idea I could, stepped up to fill in when she was unable, and vice versa. . .  we were perfect travel companions and I leanred so much about my own abilities and areas that needed improvement.

We spent an all-nighter in Piccadilly Circus in London when we could not get a train out due to not having British pounds after banking hours. We considered, but rejected, an offer from a young couple to stay and work in their pub in the Lake District, and then our proposed "day trip" to Paris that ended up being a 4 day love affair with all things French.

There was the little Riviera village of Menton where I was solicited by a little old grocery store owner as a date for her granddaughter and, again, offered a job. ( I spoke French fairly well then)

The overnight mail train to Scotland and stepping out, pre dawn in Edinburgh, just in time to see the sun arriving over the mythic Arthur's Seat. . .

The list goes on. And while I neglect to mention them there were plenty of moody moments and discouragements too. . .

But the truth is, all these years later, I can look to that journey as the time I came to realize there were no limits to where I could go or what I could do. I returned to the US but could have easily stayed in France, Britain, Scotland, Switzerland, Belgium. . . somehow, just knowing I could, was enough.

And I can say in retrospect that I never looked at life the same again. . . suddenly the world was wide open and while I had little desire to roam the world in a drifting way, I knew that I was not limited to one thing, one place, one situation, for any amount of  time.

I grew to believe that I could create any world I wished as well, no matter where I was.

This is turning out to be true creatively too. I do not feel stuck to any one thing or "life" with my creativity. If I want to try to succeed at something new, I will. And, without a doubt, I have created the ability to make a living by not only doing what I love and being true to who I was in childhood, but by adapting and shifting when necessary to keep things moving forward. 

A little compromise, a little stubbornness, a little solitude . . .  and a lot of faith.

So yes, there is much gratitude for what I avoided by allowing myself to open to possibilities. Years later I learned that this country I live in is big enough to provide a wealth of scenery, lifestyle and opportunity if one is willing to get up and go. . .

In the end, I have chosen simplicity. Small town, rural county, more cows than people. . . the internet makes this possible, opening new opportunities to just about anyone. . .

That'sit really. . . not so much a story as a meandering of thought.

With a healthy does of gratitude for everything in my world.

For any of YOU if you took the time to read this.

Autumn is hanging so close on the horizon.
My season of choice
And as always
I will emerge
And be grateful. . .