That which you manifest is before you.
– Garth Stein, “The Art of Racing in the Rain”
My mother used to talk a lot about things that she wants to do, but has never done. If I had a dollar for every time she said “I’m gonna…” well, let’s just say I’d live in a castle. A pretty one in the Scottish highlands. She doesn’t say it so much anymore. In some ways she’s given up.
2011 was a breakthrough year for me in terms of learning a valuable lesson. I learned that when I give people advice about what I think they should be doing with their lives, I should turn the lens on myself instead. That’s really how it is, we criticize when we are stuck or unhappy. It can be subtle, or it comes out in a sea of tears.
I had several of my animals get sick and die this year, and it was very emotionally draining on me. I lost my dear cockatiel, Beetlejuice, to old age and liver disease. Then I lost five budgies to what my vet and I think was either food poisoning or a bad case of genetics (budgerigars are now prone to shorter lives because of avian breeders breeding them for looks instead of health). Then my dog was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor that he had to have removed for a hefty sum; it’s hard to see a gorgeous Greyhound all wacked out on pain meds and then he won’t look you in the eye for days. The level of tumor was so small, I half-wondered if it could have been dealt with in another, less invasive way. They always say that they don’t know what causes these tumors, but strangely I have an idea of what causes all tumors.
These are the tumors that lie beneath the surface that you cannot see. They sit on the top of your stomach, and they keep you from standing up. These tumors make everyone sick. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: “I’m going to hold on to something someone ‘did to me’ many years ago.” Or, the famous “I’m going to make myself busy with everything else that doesn’t matter, because I’m afraid of getting down to my real work.” When Tori Amos sung that there are so many dreams on the shelf, she was singing to us all.
I now believe that your attitude and your inability to move forward makes you stagnate in a sea of dead birds. And their disease pollutes the lake and becomes your drinking water. Because you’re comfortable remaining sick. Because you think that if you get happy or get well, something will blindside you. But I have news for you…something always will. But you should try to get happy and well anyway, because you can’t race in the rain if you aren’t present, you’ll crash. I kind of thought that my state of mind was causing all of this stress and unhappy circumstances to come to me, and maybe in some ways it did. Whether you do the needful with a heavy heart or a hopeful one can affect the choices you make, and affect the outcomes.
I struggled to keep going with my nature blog because I was so afraid of not saying the perfect thing every time. I was so constrained and my mind was tormented. I was limiting myself. I can’t say I have it all figured out, though I wish every time I had an epiphany that I did. Instead, I’m just happy that I wrote this, and now I’m going outside to look at the stars and kick the leaves around.