I’ve been wearing a Ganesh around my neck for about a month and a half now. A long gold chain with a small, round pendant, and the image of an elephant head atop a body.
Ganesh is the remover of obstacles and lord of good fortune and success.
After this last year, I’ve learned to take help wherever (and however) I can get it.
The chain of the necklace is quite long, so the image of Ganesh sits rather far down my blouse, close to my heart.
Last year, when I was really in the thick of things, I ran into a friend from school who’d had a similarly bad year, one year before. I remember her saying that just after the 2nd and 3rd sucker punch came, when she thought she was done, the fourth and fifth caught her unaware.
My fourth and fifth followed just weeks later.
I made so many mistakes.
God, if I could do last year again, I’d do it all so differently.
But, of course, I wouldn’t know to do it differently, without having done it so disastrously in the first place. And so, it had to happen just as it did.
Two leases left early. Two moves in the span of five months. One job left for another. That one morning, at the start of July, when I walked into my local police precinct and filed a harassment claim (which is so much of the reason I no longer invite blog comments). And the roommate from hell who took one look at the seventeen bed bug bites littering my chest, said nothing, and then months later accused me of making it all up. When asked why our friendship would never recover, a very dear friend of mine would perfectly say, Because she’s a bed-bug-truther.
So much has changed since this time last year. And so much--so much--is better than it was. But life is a moving target. Which means, very often, decisions we make to move us closer to something, have a way of moving us further away. Until, of course, we realize, there is no such thing as further away. There is only, more information.
We were speaking about a very particular frustration and a very particular hurt when Tom said, You know, I think maybe it’s worth saying something, and I said, That’s ridiculous. Pause. That’s totally absurd. Pause. I could not possibly do that.
Because, well, fear.
And he looked at me, very calmly, and a said, But who are you? Who do you want to be?
It’s one of the very best things he’s ever asked me. Who are you?
What do you believe, by another name.
Because the answer to that question has a lovely way of lighting up a path before us.
We should all be so lucky as to have someone ask us that.
But Tom also knew, because Tom is good this way, that the person on the other end of that frustration was worth saying something to. And not everyone is. But when the person is worth it, a little bit of honesty can be a revolutionary thing. Even if that’s all it is. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere.
Things don’t have to be perfect to begin. Or to try. But we have to be willing to risk failure and heartbreak and a whole lotta mess if we want the good things on the other side of fear.
I’m being vague. Even more so than usual. I know. I apologize.
The thing is, what I want to say--what I want to remember when all this is said and done--is that that question of who-are-you, that is a ballast onto which to hold. Particularly in choppy waters. Particularly when the ground shifts beneath our feet. Or the who whole damn rug gets yanked out from under us.
Who are you? That’s the landmark. The north star. The point.
Are you the person who says I screwed up, I made a mistake? Who asks for help? Who risks looking like a fool? Who says thank you and your welcome and I’m sorry. Or stands at the edge of the cliff and says fuck-it-I’ve-got-to-try? Who gives voice to the things that feel terrifying in their truth and importance? Who makes the phone call or writes the email or offers kindness even after it feels too late?
Because it’s almost never too late.
Who are you?
That was the takeaway of this last year (even more so than navigating New York City real estate law or cutting my closet in half or learning to fight like an actual grown-up).
Who are you? Which is also, who do you want to be? And who do you want to love?
Life is good, isn’t it? Hard and confusing and often frustrating, but what delicious questions it asks us to unfold.