My sweet and thoughtful boyfriend/life partner bought Wayne Dyer’s memoir, I Can See Clearly Now, which I started reading last night. I’d heard that Dyer had been homeless at some point in his life, which inspired me and gave me hope for my own life. I don’t know if it’s an American thing or a human thing, but many of us like a good underdog story. We like to hear about someone who’d been so down on his luck that he’d been homeless at one point, and was able to not only come out of it but get his PhD and publish dozens of books and inspire thousands or even millions of people.
But what about the rest of us average Joes and Janes who never became homeless but also probably won’t get our PhD’s and most likely will not inspire millions of people through beautifully-written books? Are our lives any less significant or meaningful? I don’t think so. When I think of the people who’ve made an impact on my life, even in small ways—sometimes especially in small ways—I can see that I made changes for the better in my life, causing a ripple effect that has flowed out to others. How many times has a stranger’s encouraging smile or a friend’s kind words brightened my day? Even the sadness and shame I’ve experienced, like the last time I talked to Pedro, taught me a lesson in patience. Pedro, who I didn’t know that well, showed by example how to live a more joyous life. He cheered people up. When customers came into the store, he danced along the aisles, made jokes, and did whatever he could to help people find the products they needed. I’m the kind of person who’d think, No, we don’t sell that, and you’re just going to have to get over it. If you want to go to the non-organic grocery store, or buy it on Amazon, then that’s fine with me. But not Pedro. He would spend time with people, show them he really cared. Their wants mattered. And it’s not just Pedro. I have learned more about patience, tolerance, and compassion from my current co-workers than any other company I’ve worked. I could go on, but I want to focus on something else I’ve noticed so far in Dyer’s memoir.
So far I’m only in the beginning of the book, but Dyer knew as a child that he was different, that he had a gift for inspiring others. Even as a 12-year-old he understood that he chose his feelings, and didn’t allow others to manipulate or guilt-trip him. His father was an alcoholic who left his mother, and she couldn’t afford to take care of him and his brothers, so they grew up in various foster homes until she remarried and got her children back–however, the stepfather was abusive and alcoholic. Yet Dyer remained optimistic. It takes a special kind of person to remain optimistic in the face of such adversity, but he shows that it’s possible.
This should inspire me, but it doesn’t. Instead, I keep wondering: What about those of us who didn’t feel optimistic as children, who didn’t know we had any special gifts, who couldn’t wait to grow up so we could be in control of our lives, only to grow up and learn that we are never in control of our lives, that sometimes shit happens, and it doesn’t always make sense? What about those of us who can’t wait to grow up, thinking, I’m getting the hell out of this town and I’m going to make it big. I’m going to do something with my life. What about those of us who have no clue what lesson in life we’re supposed to learn here on earth, in this lifetime, even if the answers are staring us right in the face, and we think, It can’t be that.
Yesterday, on the drive from Maryland to my mother’s house in North Carolina I got upset about something and started crying, and at that moment, a car turned into my lane, with a bumper sticker that read, “It will be okay.”
It sounded like something Mom would say, that she has said before. How many people have a bumper sticker that reads, “It will be okay”? I read the bumper sticker and stopped crying, and I thought, “Mom?”
About five different white feathers at different times floated into my windshield on my way from my house to Mom’s. Did I ever see so many feathers before? Floating onto my windshield?
Mom’s birthday is Monday, and I drove to North Carolina to spend time with my stepfather and sister for the weekend. My sister cleaned the sheets in Mom’s room for me to stay there, as my sister has many times since Mom passed, and as Mom had done when I visited her. Usually I stayed in the guest room, but sometimes Mom would have me stay in her room while she slept in the guest room. It was weird staying in Mom’s room last night. Waking up in the middle of the night while listening to the sound of the wind blowing the leaves outside… it was eerie.
My sister suggested I look through Mom’s things and take mementos I want to keep, as she has found comfort in looking at Mom’s things since Mom passed two months ago. I wasn’t really prepared for it, and didn’t think I’d want to look through her things. Deciding what to keep feels overwhelming. I want several of her things to remember her by, but don’t want a lot of extra stuff. I live in a small room that’s already overcrowded, and plan to live in always small spaces without too many things. Things are just that, and I don’t want to get too attached to them. At the same time, I want a few meaningful items. But I’m afraid I’ll take things that get broken or lost in my many moves, in the groundless, nomadic lifestyle I live.
I keep waiting for signs, hoping for signs, asking for signs: Tell me you’re there. Offer some guidance. Am I on the right path? What should I do? Is this really it?
It will be okay.
Wayne Dyer had his path, Pedro had his, my mom had hers, and I have mine. You have yours. They’re all different, but none less significant than the other.
It will be okay.
My other sister had a dream a few weeks after Mom died, and in the dream my sister asked her, “Mom, why did you have to leave?” And Mom just smiled and she said, “It will be okay.”