Confessions of a southern tart

Posted on September 25, 2009

In my life, I always set three goals: to be honest, to have courage and to be free.

Sometimes, I wonder if one can always can live present in all three, or if they rise and fall in one like the tide. Maybe I am only deluding myself, using that as an excuse for not ever feeling that I have mastered the art of living present in those attributes.

I figure that all other things in life, success, achievement, contentment, et al depend upon them. I’ve known some, but I’ve also experienced moments in the dark of night when I was lost and did not feel any of them – I felt trapped, frightened and a sham. No matter how many times I try to climb back out of the abyss, it’s so disheartening to reach the mountaintop and find out that the climb has just begun.

I know that life is not supposed to be easy or simple, although I know that some have mastered it well enough to be free and easy and live simply. Somehow, that eludes me. I’ve been told that I over-think or over-complicate some things. Perhaps I do. I try to ‘see’ what is there and ‘hear’ what gets said – I do this because I want to understand, to really understand everything. I don’t want to free fall through life without comprehending the space around me on my trip.

I want to understand because I don’t want to feel confused or be consumed with a stilted opinion of life that clings to old notions taught in childhood without leaving room for the changes that happen every day in the world. I want to love life and the world, and not judge it and be revolted by it.

Once, I put everything about my life into neat little compartments. That way each had it’s place and I made a practice of not letting any two of them be opened at the same time – sort of like a Pandora’s box of secrets. Why did the right hand need to know what the left one was doing, after all? That elminated confusion and it also got complicated because I had to always be checking and rechecking my precious little boxes. It was a habit that served me well for a long time.

In an effort to abandon that practice which eventually becomes way too hard to keep up and is really dishonest in itself, I started writing. That was my way of opening the boxes and throwing away the lids – no more stuffing anything back down, no more hiding, no more secrets, no more walls. That was tough, I’ll admit. It made me step back and look at each and somehow, accept things about myself and make peace with them.

Without even realizing it, I think I stumbled again. I fell back into a habit of classifying, categorizing and segregating. . . here we go again. Before, I was dancing as fast as I could and still could not keep up – what made me think I could do that again? As the saying goes, though – “Old habits die hard. “

Unless you count the sin of omission, I am honest. I won’t lie about anything to anyone for anything. But, I still haven’t mastered the omitting, the leaving out of what I wanted hidden. That’s not honest and I know it.

I’m not sure how much courage I really have. I remember once getting an award that touted my “courage ” and feeling so small and so unworthy because ’twas not my own courage. I had only ‘borrowed’ it, been imbued with the courage of those who so many thought of as ‘less than’. Their courage to just make it through another day bouyed me up and made me at least feel brave enough to do what I had to do each day. Now, I’m not so sure of myself – if I have any courage at all, it’s the that when in the midst of fear, I find a way to whistle in the dark and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But, I want to be fearless – to have the courage to operate absent of fear and I wonder now if I shall ever reach that goal.

I know I’m not free. I was once – so free that nothing could touch me or shackle me or hold me down and out in any way. That was before I got lost. I thought just finding my way out of there would set me free – that if I could escape from one thing, that would guarantee my freedom. Wrong again. Sometimes, we build the walls of our own prisons and we make them high and wide. That must be in an effort to protect ourselves, I suppose. There’s no way to do that. I learned that and then somewhere along the line, I guess I forgot. Walls are for keeping people out and for keeping people in and neither spell freedom. Freedom is no more walls at all.

I look back at my greedy little hands grabbing at one or all of these things that I want so badly and realize that you cannot just reach out and grab a handful of any of them, much less all of them. You can only hope to live in their presence – to strive for them in your life. I know that life is a journey and not a destination and so I suppose that’s okay, but one day, I still hope to live with all three present in my life.

Meanwhile, I suppose I’ll have to do what one always does when one stumbles and falls down – just pick myself up and start over again. Well, there’s no dignity in falling – that’s for sure, but if anything comforts me, its that I can and I will get up again and I won’t lose sight of what I want, nor will I abandon the dream because once, if only for a brief while, I caught a glimpse of what life was like with all three and that sliver of light is imprinted not only in my mind, but in my heart.

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2 responses to “Confessions of a southern tart”

  1. Smooth read. Not sure about the title.

    A lot of themes here that are reflected in many artists’ work.
    The concept of being ‘free’ for any writer is bound to stir up internal conflict.  I’ve often played with the subject; e.g. in "Living in a cubicle". Here’s the link: http://www.writersharbor.org/work_view.php?work=26

    I’m not sure if there even is a ‘peace’ or a ‘freedom’ available.
    For my money, we are caught up in a dynamic, where little is static or unchangeable, and where certainly there is very little peace.
    I’m inclined to look at it a little differently perhaps; I accept the streams of warring consciousness as the status quo. I don’t ever expect the torrent to stop foaming, or the windmill to stop spinning.
    However, I do practice ‘detachment’. One way I do that is by writing, and quietly mocking the whole world, self important humanity, and myself especially.
    My sense, reading your story, which I find well written, is that perhaps you seek the un-findable, and thirst for the un-drinkable.
    Ride that bus. It may rattle, bang and bump along, but it’s still going places all the time. And, as you admit, many of those places you’ve not yet seen…  

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