Isn’t it interesting that we all grow up expecting to be somebody? I often long for the days I spent climbing avocado trees barefoot, running through the crabgrass whilst my long hair grazed my back, and sitting cross-legged while I stared doe-eyed up at the humming TV. I lived life completely unbothered. For the most part, I did what made me happy, and unfortunately one of those things was looking out for the little guy.
I don’t believe this was a learned trait. It has always been as much a part of my essence as my happy demeanor. I make that comparison because that's how my mom described me as a baby, and at that time I lacked all cognitive qualities required to make a decision to behave that way-I just was who I was.
As time rolled on, my eye for outcasts was proving to be the death of me. My peripherals would catch the suffering and I was mesmerized. Somehow I was absorbing all their feelings of abandonment, fear, and exclusion and I could not turn a blind eye. I was transfixed by their lonesomeness so I made all pariahs a friend of mine. I knew the insurmountable power that was kindness, and the miracles that were sure to follow. One kind encounter could instantly thaw the most hardened. It is as if one’s prolonged pain turned their ever-flowing sand to stone, ready to soften at the first sign of water. For years this gift is what I treasured most about myself until I began noticing an awful pattern: the bullied know how to harm, they have first-hand experience.
I spent the next phase of my life wrestling internally. I had this superpower I could not turn off, nor give into. Bless my shaky hands as I took shears to my soul in order to cut out the problem areas. But as many chunks of my spirit I would gather, I could not slash the blade through. Who was I without this trait? When God was casting me in this life he seemed to have written my character description in stone. I see everyone else living liberally, but how could I ever be free if my core talent was simultaneously a target to dodge?
When I was young I was bursting with potential. Back then I thought I had compassion in my tool belt when in reality I was wearing it as a straight jacket. These experiences prompted me to wonder if as much as we should bridle our passions, it is in our best interest to do the same to our gifts?
How would people describe me now? It is the only thing I truly fear to ask aloud. I feel like such a failure inside, my only lifeboat is that maybe no one is paying attention anymore and I’m finally free of an audience out here at sea. I say failure and not something more colorful because you can only fail if you try, and that's all I’ve done. I have succumbed to ailments such as barking up wrong trees, trading cows for beans, and making deals with down on their luck devils. I tried a lot, and that's how I know I’ve failed.
If people were to color me now, what colors would they use? I don’t even know if I could create a correct answer key. I have had to lean into the ever-changing wind for so long I don’t know if I have any absolutes in me.
I wanted to be good, I wanted to matter. I wanted to save and protect those who tend to shatter. I wanted to stay vibrant, and expressive, and share. To be exuberant, and joyous, and rare. To learn and grow, and shine the light on those who live in shade. I’ve lost touch with all that.
I feel as if that girl died. I want to mourn, I want to cry, but all I do now is retrace my steps. When my soul needs revival, I make sure to run in the grass with my hair swaying back and forth across my bareback. She’s still in there. Although silenced by time, lost and confused, sometimes she remembers how to shine.