Monday, December 30, 2013

Love For Sale

Lately, I’ve watched this world continue to spin with and without my consent to do so, and left me often feeling insignificant, powerless, yet a part of it all just the same.  What does it mean?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched consumerism lead the hordes into merriment and indulgences, as people attempted to buy each other’s affections. I remember my own marches, my own quests into that vain ritual. I understood it and didn’t view it as an evil thing.  I wasn’t jealous or angry at its practice going on around me, because if I had the means I would have more than likely been a happy participant of the madness.  But situations in life have forced me to the side lines and put me in a position to see a different aspect of things.

Over the years, I’ve worked so damned hard to fit in, but continued to find I’m a squared peg trying to fit in a round hole.  But, aren’t we all?  My whole life, everything I thought I believed, everything I worked hard to gain, everything I held dear, trusted or expected has been shaken.  I’ve been tested and found wanting.

On Christmas day, I watched the movie the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and oh how it stirred those smoldering embers within me. I watched my journey on the screen in front of me – as I watched Walter transform from the state of existing to really living. 

The most poignant scene for me was the one with the helicopter.  As it was about to take off, Walter found himself too afraid to move; indecisive.  For me, his fear wasn’t about the pilot being drunk or the approaching storm, but of letting go of all the things that made him safe, all the responsibility that weighed him down and put him onto the spinning wheel, going and going and going but never getting anywhere.  He gave up who he was to be what was needed, and in the process lost his identity, his dreams.  Here he was at 43 in a strange place, staring danger in the face, yet too afraid until the woman of his dreams, his imagination, showed up in his imagination and started playing him a tune on the guitar– encouraging him to take the jump, to leap into his life despite the danger - to live or die trying.

I almost couldn’t hold back the tears, because this is where I’m at in my life.  The leap for me wasn’t leaving my marriage, moving into a strange place and finding myself alone.  It was discovering that it was okay to be that way, to not be needed, to not have to put my life on hold anymore to take care of someone else.  I’ve always took care of others - my handicapped parents, my brothers, my children, my husband, my church, my job, my community – but I failed to take care of me. 

I learned that all that care I gave to others never guaranteed love and care in return for me. Looking around me and seeing the absence proves to me that you can give, and give, and give… and not receive.  Much like how we rush out to buy those gifts to make those important to us happy, to show them how much we love them, but in reality we’re trying to ‘buy’ their love and appreciation for us, in exchange for them to love us in return.  We don’t think we attach those sentiments to our gifts, but we do, and we feel it when it’s not returned to us.  Love for sale.

This year, for the first time, because I expected nothing in either what I gave or received, I became truly appreciative of not only what I received, but for what I gave, because I gave with no expectations. How do I know this? Because I was very surprised when I received the love and appreciation I’ve fought so hard to get all these years, in return.  These are the hardest gift for me to receive from anyone – love and appreciation. 

I didn’t give fancy gifts, I had none to give. I didn’t receive any fancy gifts, but what little I got came from the heart and was given FOR me, not to me.  They were simple things I enjoyed and brought me pleasure and laughter.  And those gifts, though invisible to the eye, came wrapped with love and appreciation.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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