Friday, August 5, 2011

Born to Live, Born to Die:Reflections on Life, Death, Change and Camp

I remember a therapy session I once had when I was sixteen.  I was worried my life wouldn't have meaning.  The therapist replied with a simple question:  What do you think meaning is?  To which I replied "To live and to die".  Of course this answer was the workings of a depressed teen and at the time it didn't have much meeting.  Flash forward 10 years and I'm sitting in a different office with a different woman complaining about the same thing, to which she replied "If you died tomorrow, would you say your life had meaning".  This time I could smile and say yes.

Sometimes I can't believe I'm the same girl in that office with the cut marks I couldn't follow through on and the suicide note in my pocket that I never really intended to use.  I did those things because I sought sympathy from others hoping that affection would give me the meaning I craved.  Well I lost a lot of friends and respect that way, but I've changed.  I hope for redemption, but will settle for less.  I'm zen with that.

What I'm about to write isn't a hello or good-bye. It isn't for sympathy or pity.  It isn't to make me feel superior or justified. At the core it is just reflection, my thoughts recorded.

It is also an introduction to the new me. Because I have acted foolish to gain sympathy.  Maybe it was because I've always been naturally emotional.  Or maybe it was the pressing feeling coming from inside my chest that alcohol gave me the courage to release. There are some things and details I've never shared with anyone.  I'll be careful when and to whom I share those things with, but I hope someday it will happen.

The new me has  so much more confidence.  While I still have personal insecurities I've come to embrace the beautiful things about me.  My smile, my eyes.  And I like my boobs. Those will stay as is.

There remains my core, who I am and what I've become and what I have learned.

I sleep with my blankie.  Always have and probably always will.
I listen to Justin Bieber and read Twilight without much shame.
I've encountered the malevolent  power of abuse.
I've seen beautiful people ruined and taken away by drugs and depression.  That could have easily been me.
I've learned that all actions have consequences.
I've been in the presence of intense love.  I've seen it burn hot, fade or be wiped clean far too early.
I've had people leave me long before they should have.
I once looked into the eyes of a child and was rendered speechless my the innocent and unjust suffering that looked back at me.  I made it my mission to make sure he never felt that way again.  After 3 years of silence one day he said my name and my world forever changed.  I left that school feeling complete.  He died years later from complications related to a seizure he had.  So yes, there have been times that I have wished prayer were comforting to me again.
I have had and currently have a handful of irreplaceable friends.  I've also had some not so good friends, but they only make me appreciate the ones that have stayed by my side even more.
I can be overly caring and accommodating to the point of being a pushover just to make sure someone is happy.
When I was 18 I wanted to go to NYU and pursue a career in creative writing.  I thought getting an SLHS degree at the University of Minnesota would be more practical.  I now work  in the mortgage industry and actually kind of like it.
I have always found more beauty in the written word than in nature, but have been brought to tears by the magnificence of the starry sky one summer night at 7000 County Road 15 with some of my best friends.
These are just some of the things that make me who I am. There are countless memories that have made me who I am but those are reserved for my memoir.

Then there is Camp Quest.

When I picked up a pamphlet for Camp Quest in 2007 I felt like throwing in the towel.  I was ready to resign to my current unsure fate.  Then I met these kids and my life changed forever.  It has kept me going, given me the strength to repair relationships and better myself.  I have met people I'm pretty sure I couldn't live without today.  They should know who they are by now.  I have never had a child of my own, but now I feel I have 50 of them.  I'd like to think I have helped make a difference in their lives, help make they know that they do have someone to lean on, just as they and some of the other adults have taught me.

I'm writing all this because I find it therapeutic. But also because our time here is limited.  I could die in minutes, hours, days, months years or decades. That isn't my decision.  What is my decision is how I want people to know me.  So whether I die tomorrow or in 70 years I can only hope that these words will imprint the legacy I wish to leave behind.  Though I can be emo and moody I'm  also so much more than that.

We were born to live and born to die.  What we do in between defines us.  I chose do do something with the path I'm on, because in the words of Robert Frost " I have promises to keep.  And miles to go before I sleep".

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