Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Well! That didn't last long.

All that was needed was a phone call from someone who might generate a need to fill, and the fear dropped away as fast as mercury! Two days back in town and it feels just as it did before the trip to Eden; right and homelike. Camelot now feels more than mere miles away -- off on some other planet, maybe. Wonderful to experience for brief periods but now pretty surreal in the plain light of day ... .

Maybe it will take time to absorb and accept. Maybe I'm just not ready for that much wonderful-ness.

First came the steadying call from Melita, "...will you speak a few inspirational words at my fiftieth birthday party on January 15th?" "Sure." Then noticed the reminder on the refrigerator door, "...here are your tickets for the reserved section at the Martin Luther King celebratory concert on Sunday, January 16th. We're so happy that you've agreed to be one of our honored guests." Now that I've lived long enough to have literally become Black History, there are expectations to be fulfilled and honors to receive and enjoy. This is a very different world. Richmond is a part of that. For whatever it's worth, so is my racial background and culture. This is where the rewards of black life bring a visceral response from deep inside me. My entire life and the choices I've made have been colored by experiences that shaped me and my vision of the world.

The occasional views I got for extended periods of time showed me another way. Lived "outside" for the ten years of my marriage to Bill, and it was heady and exciting. But there's a richness in black culture that nurtures my soul and when I move away from that too far, I get disoriented. Unsteady. Lost. And in the looking back from outside, I tend to see this (black) world as marred, less, violent, confused, hopeless, -- because I'm seeing through the borrowed lens of "outsiders". I don't think I'll live long enough to bring all that together into any kind of coherent system that will hold my life steady.

Maybe, in that instant when I made the turn off Highway 128 to the vastness of the ocean and that oh so different world, my lens was turned to "outsider" and the contrasts of white/black urban/rustic life stood bare and harshly at odds. I couldn't shift realities quickly enough to ward off the shock. Makes sense to me. The feeling of safeness that I experienced there may be as illusory as the feeling of danger that walks with me through the dark streets of West County. I don't know. I do know that basking in the warmth of that feeling of security and caring sharpened the terror level to reflect that which is now being imposed from the world as beamed from the media hourly. Maybe it was just too much to absorb in a single weekend.

Living one's life on a bridge is precarious. I learned long ago that it would be necessary to choose sides in order to find peace. I thought I'd left the bridge long ago; that I'd chosen. Actually I've made that choice several times, each time for different reasons. Each time I've returned "home."

There is always pain in the choosing. It always leaves people I love behind -- on either side. It appears that we must cross that bridge alone, invariably as exceptions to the rule.

Perhaps that was really the fear that I've been running from. Fear that I can never bring my whole self to either side -- but must make impossible compromises for the sake of those whom that life effects.

Getting lost in "the work" has always served me well. Maybe it will again.

But for now ... I'll just hold steady until a pathway clears. Maybe when I'm rooted again in meaningful work I'll find the pattern for movement ahead. For the moment I'll stay the course.

But for today, at least, fear and the acceptance of the idea that I am fearful are under equal control. Allowing myself to acknowledge the level of terror I've often lived with is a threat to my sanity. Staying sane in an insane world was always the challenge. It still is.

Perhaps when there is enough reciprocal caring, the way reveals itself and "the world" property alters its course to fit. (And what kind of an insane statement is that?)

Could it be that simple?

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