Artemisia-Glenelg Townline - Grey County, Ontario, Canada - thetemenosjournal.com

On The Way Back To The Yellow Bricks

Spring won’t be rushed, it will come when it comes, and winter still holds on with it’s icy fingers, keeping the air crisp and breezy, and with spring will bring the time when D3 leaves town.

I do look forward to bicycle rides on a hot summer day and meeting new people, once he leaves for good, which will happen I guess now in mid-May. I will be ok, I’ve folded that too into the narrative, and see the possibilities my loneliness will bring me. It won’t be easy at first, but it will force me out of my shell, has to, out of the in-between, and help me to find that metaphoric elixir once and for all.

I told him last night he was “The Fool”, the 0 card of the Tarot, the beginning. With nothing but a stick and the clothes on his back, sure of himself as he sets off on a new journey, this time back home to Sudbury, back home.

He agreed, and got my meaning right away, and so folded that nugget into his own story, of how this eviction will reset the narrative, take him home, after 40 years away.

Soon, very soon now, no more D3 right around the corner. No after work drinks, no evenings of history and beer, as John Prine spins out another tale on the turntable for us, with Sof curled up in a ball on the chair between us.

CONTENTS OF THE CLASSIC HEROES JOURNEY (Joseph Campbell)

* Ordinary World. where the Hero’s exists before his present story, oblivious …
* Call To Adventure. …
* Refusal Of The Call. …
* Meeting The Mentor. …
* Crossing The Threshold. …
* Tests, Allies, Enemies. …
* Approach To The Inmost Cave. …
* Ordeal. …
* Reward. …
* The road back home. …
* Resurrection. …
* Return with the elixir. …

What I used to want, the partner, the love, the hazy dreams I’d dragged along with me since my divorce, was hogwash, and actually not my dream at all, as it turns out. Too ordinary. Perhaps a bonus, but not a necessity for happiness, actually more a hindrance.

As the story changed, the way I saw myself, the choices, and the places, all part and parcel, and all if not maybe fated, certainly though reality, I chose it, and how I respond to the results is up to me.

That’s the lesson. Free will.

A psychotherapist’s job is to work with patients to rewrite their stories in a more positive way. Through editing and reinterpreting his story with his therapist, the patient may come to realize that he is in control of his life and that some meaning can be gleaned from his hardships. A review of the scientific literature finds that this form of therapy is as effective as antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy. [ Ideas.Ted.com :: the two kinds of stories ]

We are free to choose, free to stay, to go, to respond angrily, with regret, with sorrow, alone, wallowing in our mistakes and missed opportunities. We can smile on a gray day, and laugh at bad jokes, and be grumpy all day, or cheery and annoying, so much so that people want to avoid you and your cheerful, smiley self. Even be all that even before noon… em…if you are going through menopause that is, otherwise I think they give you medication and shut you in a room with a stranger who asks you lots of questions.

Now, some time back I learned that you can get a first-class ticket, ride coach, or maybe choose to hitch a ride in an empty train car, just really depends on what price your willing to pay for the things you want, beyond what you need.

I’ve looked back and have seen the various narratives left dangling behind as I have rambled through the grand mess of life. Pieces kept, left aside, others forgot, all working towards this one story I’ve sculpted together from the pieces I’ve kept close to me. Crafting I guess my redemptive mythology.

And I’m not completely “arrived” yet. In fact, I imagine I won’t till I die, until such time the story is not complete, and no more “in the meantime“.

I have a friend who when she tells the story of her daughters birth it goes like this…” oh, my first apartment in the village, right there at the heart of it, on my own and fancy-free. And then I got pregnant and well then began those years with ‘Bob’, and all his drinking, and all the co-dependant claptrap he brought along, and am still working out from underneath“…or something along those lines.

So I asked her once, what was going on with you when she was born? Who were your friends? How did you end up pregnant?

Well, then she says that all her friends at the time were snorting and partying and that she would have probably nosed dived right into all that more deeply.

See, it is how she first relates her story that is wrong, not what she is, or who she has become.

In fact, as she said afterwards, her daughter probably saved her from a life as some junkie alcoholic, or dead, at the very least worn hard and put away wet.

And so I suggested she change the story, change where she puts her energies, change how she arranges her words.

Examine what you are, and how you got here, and what things shaped your path?

What forced you to stop, what forced you to start again? Whatever it is, or whatever thing, person, idea, passion, or otherwise that has created the person you are today, spin it.

Be blessed with it, see the gift of now, who you are, the things you have, and not all on the things you do not, the things you didn’t do, the horrible things you did do, and those bitter regrets, fold them differently, look at them differently.

I have very few regrets, and not because I’ve lived an exemplary life, but despite the shite I am thankful for all the stories those experiences gave me, the places I’ve been, the moments I captured with my camera, and the people I met, even those who robbed me blind and lied like a rug, such as Tim.

The article says of these stories…

Redemption and contamination stories are just two kinds of tales we spin. McAdams has found that beyond stories of redemption, people who believe their lives are meaningful tend to tell stories defined by growth, communion and agency. These stories allow individuals to craft a positive identity: they are in control of their lives, they are loved, they are progressing through life and whatever obstacles they have encountered have been redeemed by good outcomes. [ IBID ]

The story that friend tells contaminates her narrative. Oh, and the other thing is that she trots this story out always in response to my story when I say how thankful I am of living here, in the village, with the dog, at the heart of it. Sure, maybe poorer then I would have liked, but close enough to see it for what it is, as a success.

Thing is, I know that I wouldn’t even be here if not for all the shite, and the fact it reset my direction, pushed me off the direct course to bog-standard life I was on.

Now though, I was hurtling off somewhere new and strange, and a little dangerous. Wading through the lies, the addictions, and Tim’s final death. Afterwards, with the strange grief, the confusion, and the loneliness that came from a confused despair, and then to solitude, and contentment.

Somehow getting more from less, which still to me seems a strange truth.

And all the stories, and creating this blog, and all that and a bag of chips. Well, for good or ill, and here I am, home again these last 5 years, after 14 away.

That friend, she contaminates her story. I don’t. I sprinkle mine with fairy dust and a healthy dose of blessings found in the shrubbery, because of mistakes, heading off into the brambles, into the predator’s den, and back again.

I could just concentrate now on all the stuff I lost, the place I would be if I had never met him, the security, the good job, the road well-travelled, the friends I had, and I could see that other way, a piece of me desired it.

The opposite of a redemptive story is what McAdams calls a “contamination story,” in which people interpret their lives as going from good to bad. [ IBID ]

At the heart of me though is not one of the well-trodden ways, and that way would have killed me, sitting in some office chair in the Heartland that has no heart Mississauga, listening to some buyer, seller, retailer or another sort, thinking only of profits and useful loses. Wearing a suit of armour and a pretty smile, with vultures circling overhead hunting the rats that hid in the empty grasslands that surrounded that concrete and glass edifice of capitalism, reflecting back at me an unrelenting sun, as I gazed out the window awaiting my final release at the end of the day. And back to the place I had in the sky that overlooked the sprawling anthill of people scrunched up along the lakeshore, just the same as me, seeking out their own life within bigger or larger accommodations, living their own story, wondering if there could be more.

Living instead in a world that would eventually drown out every piece of my soul left that came to the clarion call of the wild, that got lost in the burbs, but never in the woods, camera in hand, eyes open for metaphor and simile to help me to define the world around me. All that part would have eventually grown weak, maybe even died, typing out one order after another, email after email, and rarely getting my fingernails dirty, and every day another piece would die and fall away, decayed.

Yellow Brick Houses - London, Ontario, Canada - thetemenosjournal.com

“The city of London has the most concentration of these yellow brick homes. Like the Painted Ladies of San Francisco, these two-story, charming, pale yellow brick, Victorian-style homes trimmed in elaborate, yet sultry cream, wooden detail and characterized by the dramatic front arched stained glass windows dazzle admirers from far and wide.” see: http://www.ontariotable.com/follow-the-yellow-brick-road/

Today, instead, I have my pirate smile as I bicycle to work, feeling the breeze push me along home after a long day, and I do not rush, what is for me will not pass me by, and I have faith in that.

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2 thoughts on “On The Way Back To The Yellow Bricks

  1. Great post Paula,

    yes, free will is the most important thing we have. People like to prescribe their life to fate.But in fact it is not the fate.It is choice, good or bad,but it is choice !

    Liked by 1 person

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