Saturday, October 8, 2011

Letting the Sunshine In

One of my biggest fears, I admit, is spending the working part of my life in a 9 to 5 cubicle, a rote sort of drudgery that might grind the joy in my soul to dust.  Of course, this is obscenely unfair, a phobia generated out of early television shows, ignorance and my own well-nourished determination.

            My father led a large architectural firm and traveled for business and pleasure around the world, my mother always by his side spreading peace and love in her own gentle and unique way. Yet my experience of him in my formative years was going to and from the train each day.  Most nights, he sat quietly at the table, not to be disturbed, in contemplation of each peanut mixed with gin and tonic, too tired to say much to any of the rest of us.  Knowing no better for barely ever seeing the inside of his office, I came to dread routine as much as the nights he swept aside the placemat after dinner to pay the monthly bills.

            Even at a prestigious college (that he paid cash for me to attend) that trained us for the successful commute into the city from well-to-do neighborhoods, I contracted a disease of irrational dislike so intense I failed to understand the forest of life for all the trees of monthly tickets. My one interview in a New York City high rise office, finding plenty of cubicles full of friendly people with real smiles and genuine hearts, ended nevertheless in polite acknowledgement that such a life was better left to my classmates.  They all embarked on their own commutes to success while I remained rigidly in refusal to join the club.

            Every attempt to work for someone else has been short-lived. I have been continually nudged by circumstances and opportunities to choose my own entrepreneurial path instead of the security that my name on a payroll with benefits might provide. Each chance to reconsider and take the proffered hand has been met with resistance that makes us both know that I am not truly interested.
            Instead, I have always harbored romantic dreams of inventing characters and writing fictional tales around them that would inspire others and bring me happiness, meanwhile in reality scrambling day in and day out to make ends meet between a hammer and nails.  My obstinate fear of the mundane poisoned two marriages with the bottled up frustration and sits me down today in contemplation from my basement apartment on the wrong side of the tracks.
            Love and fear, as always, are at the heart of the matter.
            In his tired face, I could not see the love and devotion my father practiced every day, the variety, stimulation, challenges and successes he met with between the train rides in and back out.  I was afraid I might end up with my own head in my hands after dinner and children tip-toeing around me, another generation taught to be seen and afraid to laugh too loudly.

            This morning I lie awake at dawn, thinking of the many tasks screaming for attention, the bills piled up, the pantry emptied out, the child home from college (on scholarship and her own hard work) who will not come to visit, my family at a wedding from which, because of my relentless drama, I was un-invited.
            On the bright side, those dreams of writing tales are coming true to life.  Instead of invented, however, they are about myself, laundry boldly placed online to describe the battle between love and fear that we all face in different ways, the struggle to find happiness, satisfaction and contentment even in the places once regarded as so frightening.  In my own story, I hope, comes inspiration to others.
            In fact, I realize, this very leap daily from bed to sofa, pen scribbling dreamy thoughts into words and computer networking before teeth are even brushed, is no less of a commute than any seat on the stop-and-go train.  No matter the chafe and bristle and the search for other forests, we still look upon that single tree and compare everything we do, for better or worse, to the mothers and fathers who brought us into the world.

            Worse than my fear of being swallowed up by the ladder of larger and larger corporate cubicles, I am afraid of my father's disapproval.  In turn, ironically, his sadness and frustration seems to stem from the observation that I am more disappointed and ashamed of myself than from any judgment on his part.
            Fear is a powerful force that creates comfort in disguise.  We embrace addictions like drugs, sex and compulsive work, self-medicating to protect our hearts in obdurate and self-sabotaging beliefs that in brief happiness we can find a lifetime of meaning.  Thinking too hard, but not heartfully enough, we can settle into patterns that ultimately create nothing of value at all.
            My mother and father worked together as an incredibly supportive couple, a love story that lasted more than sixty years.  They provided each of us with a childhood of vibrancy and love enough to give us the very best start in life.  The very fear that I might not do so well for me and mine gave that possibility breath, raised and nurtured the chaos and delivered me to this cluttered apartment and place of humble contemplation.

            When the New Age philosophers advertise that we create our own realities, I (as one human being) am a perfect example.  A life lived in fear produces more fear.  If we live to avoid one vision, we might succeed in the avoidance, but we also fail to live the alternative.  We settle for the mundane, the cubicle with no pictures thumb-tacked to the fabric.
            I have been blessed with glimpses and full showers of love.  I feel it more evident today and am receiving regular substantiation of how much it has always been within my reach. 
            Learning to live with heart, through intuition and faith, and less with fear so well disguised, fortune begins to shine as brightly as the sun rises outside my window.  Awakening in joy, the beams of gratitude shine forth, a reflection from within of all the love so lustrous without and in spite of fear.
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