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random observations, thoughts on life, humorous stories....from the studio while I paint.
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Posted 08/17/2010 at 05:09 AM by superkat
Updated 08/17/2010 at 08:35 AM by superkat

It's one of my goals, write down as much of my life's journeys as possible. Because one day I'll be gone, and so will they. I remember that shortly after my father died (way too young), I longed for his stories about WWII. I wished I had sat a little longer, talked a little less and listened a little closer....because where some of the stories remained in my memory...the very essence of what made them so extremely important to me....the storyteller....was gone. I personally don't care any longer whether others choose to believe what I write or is not my intention to impress or even to is to document. In reality, I can not control what others perceive, or what they choose to do with their perceptions, but I can, in the moment of writing, feel deeply in the midst of what might be lost forever should I not put thought to print.

Keeping that in mind....i sent in a video to the TV show "Survivor" back in 2001. I filmed myself in a tiger bathing suit and my Moluccan Cockatoo, Peaches taking a shower together while she sang, "How Much is that Doggie in the Window." They actually responded. The phone call I got from the network was one regarding the nature of my heart condition...and, at the time (I believe that certain restrictions have been lifted since then), my artificial aortic valve kept me from being one of the 39 survivors. I think even today, that may keep me from being a part of that since I am taking quite a bit of coumadin, blood thinner, to keep my valve working correctly. Regardless, it was disappointing that I did not get to participate. Hindsight being 20/20, it was probably wise that I DID NOT. I had just come off of seven years of chemotherapy and was told I hadn't much time left. (Which was one of the reasons for auditioning...figured, why the heck not?) However, I never let the disappointment get to me. After all, I tried....which is more than most average people will do in circumstances that are outside their own little comfort zone.

Today, I looked up the definition of "survivor".
Here ya go: [B] "a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks."[/B]. And as I pondered that definition, I realized that ALL of us are survivors. For I am almost positive that every single living thing on this planet has gone through opposition, hardship or a setback. True? It is impossible to distinguish, AT FACE VALUE, who is the "ultimate survivor". Something else comes into play with that, as well, and that is falling into the abyss of judging others. For instance, I am quite certain that, unless you yourself have gone through chemotherapy, you would not begin to understand its affects on the human body. Just as I would not understand something equally as tragic as perhaps losing a limb...or your own child. There are levels of loss and suffering. We all handle it differently. It is unique to human beings that we are able to discern, show compassion and be empathetic to one and other. It is a gift I believe God gave to our species for us to use...not to put away until it suits our own personal needs.

During chemo, I was more tired than I'd ever been. We used to call it "the wash". It's like a cloud passing over the sun, and suddenly you're out. You don't know how you'll answer the door or even get up to the bathroom. But you also find that you're stronger than you've ever been. You're clear. Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception. Previously, it had taken me weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience. Now it's instantaneous. And believe me, good or bad, I NEVER take anything for granted. It does, however, put quite a spin on your level of tolerance for others who complain of a toothache, for example.

Recently, I had yet another opportunity to do a little more self examination. I firmly believe that taking the time to do that for yourself should be as automatic as breathing. Because, truly, we get so caught up in life sometimes...perhaps so overwhelmed that we don't care, or so full of ourselves that we don't bother, that we fail to recognize the importance of "regrouping". Basically, I started copping an attitude of entitlement. And I absolutely HATE that in anyone else, so when it rears its ugly head in my own person...i tend to snuff it out before it becomes a fire of consumption. Even though I have been standing at the edge of life on many occasions, some instances at my own hand, I cannot diminish another person's right to feel deeply about whatever circumstances they are surviving. I will not, however, allow their misfortunes to supercede my own. Ideally, given the wonder of human beings, we should be able to help each other without fear of repercussions. It's been one of my biggest attributes and one of my failings, that my heart is as big as the ocean, and that out of my heart's desire, I will help others to the point of denying myself. It puts me in a precarious position at times, as I leave myself wide open for all kinds of turnabout relationships that have been known to leave scars. It does allow comparison, which is good. I can clearly see where my energies have been accepted, utilized and have produced progress or happiness or support or, at the very least, the concept that "you are not alone". I also can see where I have wasted my time with opportunists and those who, no matter what, can never fully travel beyond their own misfortunes. Yet, I can still find comfort in two simple words, "I tried."

You hear that alot. So much so, that it becomes like the song on the radio that they play too much. We tune it out. I'd like to reintroduce you to the words, "I tried." And think about the underlying meaning of them. It means to make an effort to do or accomplish something. It is an ACTIVE sentence, almost a plea for recognition. For those of us who tune out this phrase, we are missing out on one of the most important parts of survival...and that is TRYING. Without actively trying we deny ourselves the very essence of courage, and courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” To those of us who get up in the morning with a goal, a dream, a positive notion or thought...I say, "CONGRATULATIONS!", for just by doing that, just for staying in touch with what is good and just made the world a better place.

I've learned that some people don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown. And sometimes, what they have in their own lives isn't even enough...they go looking for it elsewhere and that is something I have vowed never to do again. Because if Dorothy said, "...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." then we should not have to venture anywhere else for the opposite either. I have, and will continue to steer clear of negativity and negative people. Because the spirit of negativity is a black abyss that will consume you and rob you of the spirit you need to be courageous in today's world. And without courage, you cannot try...and without cannot survive.

C.S. Lewis...another of my favorite authors, said this, [I]“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”[/I]

And to the friends that have continued to be consistent in my life, I say, "thank you". For making me a survivor.

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