Have been very busy over the past week, and because I have been, I find myself tripping on myself, covering ground that has already been covered, being startled by an awareness that I could have done something in a different manner, thereby producing a different, perhaps better outcome. Flashes of hindsight that reveal a gaffe, or several, always about five minutes too late to call back words said, or actions taken. In the rush to get through the present moment, I trip myself up, and end up on my butt, wondering how I got there, or here.
But, never fear, we seem to have a built in aspect of the psyche that loves nothing better than to show us that reality. A voice inside our heads, that is all too swift to step in, when we stop rushing every moment, to say, “Ah, hmm, do you know what that sounded like, looked like? Let me tell you, show you, so you can learn something, maybe.”
I would love to be able to write here, that good old Elizabeth can now step in and tell you that will not happen if you take the time to get quiet and write on a regular basis. Obviously, good old Elizabeth has been tripping over herself a bit lately and just can’t say that. She’d like to say, however, that writing in, and keeping a journal, does help in decreasing that experience, but it just can’t wipe it out altogether. We are all imperfect human beings, so it happens.
I had a friend once, a long time ago, who had a real hero worship thing going on for Oprah. She watched her religiously and discussed the wise and wonderful things, the woman said or did. One day, Oprah came to our small city, and it was announced that she would be in such and such a place to talk to fans for about an hour, maybe more.
Of course, my friend called me and demanded that we go. We did. Now, this particular friend was a very loquacious individual and had absolutely no fear of presenting her opinions, or any particular point of view. And truth be told, she did it well, and often with a sense of humor that made a sometimes opposing opinion palatable. I always admired her for that.
So, was very curious to see what she would say to her idol. We went, as I’ve said, and stood waiting around in a huge crowd for some time. I liked Oprah, but don’t do well in crowds or in having to stand for long periods of time, because of a severe back condition. But, hey, I was there for my friend’s sake, so it was all part of her moment and I’d be okay later.
Oprah finally appeared and I turned to nudge my friend, only to realize she was no longer next to me. I watched silently, as she moved through the crowd like a robot, or someone in a trance, hand already held out in expectation. When her hero finally stepped up and shook her hand, my friend just stood there, wooden, with her mouth slightly agape, frozen in place by her admiration. Oprah, probably accustomed to this sort of response, lightly touched my friend’s hand, then simply moved on to the next individual standing in line.
I’m sorry to admit it, but I had a hard time not breaking out in laughter. My friend, a commanding individual at best, reduced to star-struck dumbness was something I had never expected to see, and was glad that it was I who would be driving us home that evening. But, the lesson hit home and stuck.
In later years, when I met some of the poets I had studied and really learned to respect, I spoke to them. They might easily be my heroes, but they were still human beings, like the rest of us. I had to force myself, because I am a somewhat shy creature. I know, that sounds ridiculous under the circumstances, but it is true. I can and do speak easily, and very well on paper. Paper and pen, to me, are a safe place I constructed long ago, and can get more than a bit comfortable in. Too comfortable at times, remember I call myself a quasi-hermit and for good reasons.
And it is at that point where I find myself, colliding with myself, sometimes doing a double flip and ending square on my butt, anyway. Several times, in this past week, I’ve caught sight of my old friend, standing opened mouth in front of her Hero. And, in the rush of the moment, have rushed to not find myself doing the same, but just the opposite. Filling the spaces with words, not thinking of the recipient of those words and their possibly varied affects.
Not that the words were false, or even untrue. They definitely were not. But, they might have been better placed, and might have used a sense of stillness and calmness to better affect. Admiration and respect are one thing, gushing is another. And you can bet my inner voice kicked into high gear, the first moment I was stilled enough to hear what she had to say.
In the constant search to find the balance we seek, because we are imperfect creatures, we often trip over our own feet. And yes, that might cause a feeling of embarrassment and that can sting. But, that embarrassment is only a feeling, a barometer that tells us that we are not finished yet, haven’t quite found that balancing point we seek.
I told someone this week, after doing one of those double flips, that I might have to tape my mouth shut, tie my hands behind my back (need them to type all of these words), and just remove myself from the arena altogether. That’s an old response that never worked very well, obviously. I don’t want to be my old friend, frozen out of participation, but I don’t want to be a gusher either. But, at least now I know those two opposing points, and with some luck and lots of practice, I can find my way to that balancing point, without tripping over myself too often. Wish me luck.