Elephant Lore

We learn. And as life, and time and more lessons happen, we sometimes forget things we learned. However, they are not lost, because somewhere along the way we are reminded of these truths.

I experienced this recently. In an unlikely conversation with my boss, I was reminded of a story – and its wisdom – that I had learned long ago.

Someone once asked a sculptor, “How do you carve an elephant?” The artist replied, “You chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.”

In that moment, I realized that was what I have been  attempting to do. I am chipping away at everything in my life that does not look like the life I want.  Without clear articulation, however, I haven’t been aware of the progress that I have made.

Chip away. Not clear out with one giant swoosh and be done with it. Chipping requires small movements, steady, precise and most of all, consistent.

Clearing out my accumulated clutter – one piece at a time. I don’t have to have the emotional energy to allow it all to go at once.  One drawer, one closet. Just one piece at a time.

Losing weight – one change at a time. One pound at at time.

Publishing my writing – one hour at a time spent writing, or fifteen minutes even. One story at a time submitted. Even if I sent out 100 in one week, they are still sent one at a time.

Life Changes –  This is perhaps the hardest of all. One change leads my mind to another and then further and like a good book, they link and bind together into one giant picture of the Life I Want To Have.

And it’s overwhelming. And frightening. And is enough to make one run screaming for the hills.

Elephants. Think elephants.

Because anything is doable when I am only looking at the option right in front of me now. Does it look like the life I want? No? Chip it away. True, it will lead me to another decision to be made. And I can chip it away right then, or not. I can reflect and consider and chip it away when I am ready.

And little by little…The Life I Want To Have.

Remember the Elephant.

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Following the rules

I don’t like snobs.

That’s why it has upset me so much to realize that I have become one.

Somewhere along the way, I have internalized a sense of decorum that I consider acceptable.  And I am discovering that I don’t have a great deal of patience with a breach of that decorum.

A sense of style, or a joie de vrie, I can accept.  That doesn’t matter.  It enriches our lives to experience the things that make us unique.

It’s the disregard for the way that things should be done, that makes me crazy.   And it is frightening how very much it does so.

Believe me, the fashion police would take me in.  I am not a style maven.  But I form an immediate opinion of the woman in public with her underwear showing and dressed twenty years too young.  And the man with more jewelry than any two woman glaringly obvious in the way-too-many-buttons-undone opening of his shirt, you don’t want to know what I attribute to him (or the lack thereof).

I still don’t wear white shoes after Labor Day.  Bra straps are not an accessory.  And as cute as the Junior department clothes are, they belong on Juniors.

So what to do about the snobbery?  And am I missing out on wonderful people with generous, loving hearts because I deem them someone less than who I wish to know?

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I am a writer (sort of).

I am a writer.

Pardon me while I try this out a bit.  I am a writer.  I am a writer.  I am a writer.  I AM a writer.

Why is that so very difficult to say in public?  I spent some time yesterday in the company of writers.  Some published.  Some, like me, hoping to be published.  And even a few that don’t care if they ever are published.

One of the published authors was asking everyone “What do you do?” and “Are you a writer?”

The answers were varied, especially to the latter question.  But they had one thing in common – a tentative, self-deprecating tone.  “I want to be.”  “I am trying.”  Or the ever popular, “Sort of.”

My day job is one of a manager.  Am I the best manager in the world – heck, even the state? Probably not.  But I am good at what I do (most days).  Some days I suffer from “Manager’s block” when I can’t seem to focus my thoughts and the lines of communication with my team or my direct boss seem clogged with debris.

But even on those days, I am still a manager.  Still the Manager of my department.

Is my writing any less?  Does a day without sitting at the keyboard change who I fundamentally am? Thankfully, it doesn’t.

I am a writer.

There will be days that I am able to corral my thoughts on paper in fluent prose.  There will be days that I struggle.  But the yearning in my heart and in my soul doesn’t change.  For better or for worse, for published or forever striving for publication – I am a writer.

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A long time ago, I had very concrete ideas about where my life was going to go.

Boy, was I wrong.

I wonder now, if this is good or bad.  Was my original plan one that I should have followed?  Or has my life been richer by “winging it”?

And why do I care?  It isn’t as if I can rewind and do it over.  So why do those thoughts creep in, late at night when all is quiet, and whisper softly, what if? What if?

And why, do they then whisper, what next? What next?

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I stand on the edge of a cliff.

Funny thing about cliffs.  They appear frequently in life.  Usually, our practical natures take hold and we step back and walk along the path around and down the mountainside.  And although we have made it to the bottom, the life we find is not always the life we saw when we stood on the edge and looked out over the horizon.

Most of us think of cliffs and we think of people who have fallen.  We think of their bodies, broken and lifeless on the rocks below.  And we step back from the edge and follow the path…….

I have no desire to come to a disasterous end. 

But once, I want to dive from the cliff.  I want to leap in faith out into the unknown, feel the rush of the wind and of my heart and the joy of being free.  And when I reach the water below – and cut the water in perfect form in my mind’s eye – it will be the life that I saw from the top.  It will be the life that I meant to have.

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Mom has me on a diet.  I’m a dog.  Dogs don’t diet.

I have my ways of getting even.  No, I won’t pee on the floor.  I have my dignity, you know.

Actually, I learned a long time ago that I am tall enough and strong enough to get into Mom’s clothes hamper.  And it’s easy to pull out her underwear.

Early morning is the best time to move.  She stumbles down the stairs and opens the door to the back yard.  I can take my prize and smuggle it into the back yard and she never knows.  After a few days, I can have a collection of her panties in the backyard!

I haven’t figured out what embarrasses her the most.  The fact that her panties are laying all over the yard for the neighbors to see, or that they aren’t sexy like the models in those women’s magazines she reads.

Shhhh!  She’s getting up!  Time to get to busy.

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Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy

Yesterday, I went to see an orthopedic doctor about my shoulder.  It has been bothering me and beginning to make it difficult to perform simple, everyday tasks.

X-rays, range of motion torture, and he tells me that I have bone spurs.  That doesn’t even sound good.  But, he tells me with a smile, a shot of cortisone will help.  He hands me a gown, and tells me he will return shortly.

I warned him that I was not fond of needles.  He told me no one is, but don’t worry, this won’t hurt.  True to his word, I barely felt the needle.

What  I did feel, was a hot, cramping agony being shot into my shoulder.  “Damn!”, I exclaimed and was immediately chagrined at my outburst.  “Don’t move, don’t move” was his only reply.

This isn’t so bad, I can do this, relax my arm, relax my arm….I kept up the mantra in my head.  Until the mantra was replaced by the sound of rushing wind in my ears and the hot flush that I know precedes…..

I passed out.

I was dreaming of – well, I am not sure – when I opened my eyes to find this gorgeous man staring down in my eyes.  He was asking all the doctor type questions about my well being but all I could think was “what is this guy doing in my bedroom?”

When the fog lifted and I realized it was my doctor and tormentor, I was then humiliated at the thought I had fallen asleep – I was dreaming, remember – and that they were waking me so that they could leave for the day.

It was only when he told me that the young lady on the other side of the table would stay with me until I felt like moving that I realized the truth of the moment.  I had not fallen asleep.  I had passed out cold.

For the next few minutes I considered the humiliation factor involved in the various scenarios – strange man in bedroom with no recollection of how he got there, falling asleep on doctor’s table for the afternoon, or the simple loss of conciousness from the thought of the shot.

I guess I got off easy.  Just call me a wimp.

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Making a Fool

At a recent informal talent show, one of the contestants performed an off-key, off tempo rendition of “Margaritaville”.  The audience clapped and cheered and laughed more than a little bit.

He still performed his second act.  He danced with enthusiasm and abandon.  He copied moves that are never seen on a real dance floor.

I watched.  I watched with a heavy heart and a giggle.  How could he subject himself to the laughter?  How could he put himself in this position?  Even as I feared for his well-being, I found myself amused at his antics.

When at last the performance had ended, and he sat fanning himself and gulping water, he smiled as the audience cheered.

That’s when it hit me.  He only heard the cheers.  He did something that he loved to do.  He never heard their laughter.  He enjoyed the performance and he only heard the cheers.

I was the fool.  I am the fool.

All the times that I have held back, not wanting to be foolish.  Not wanting to make myself look less dignified than the persona I try to present to the world.  And I accomplished that for the most part.

But at what price?

I have missed the joy of dancing with abandon, of singing from the place deep in my heart just so I could be ….. what? Boring?  Predictable? Dependable?

I have missed part of my life.

Watch closely.  It will begin in tiny moments.  Life is full of joy and passion.  I am going to find mine.

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My day began like a lake

            Smooth like glass

I didn’t know you would

skip small stones

across the surface

little ripples

radiating outward

until you heaved a rock

into my center

waves rolling out to my ends

and back again

into, over, each other

I didn’t know

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