Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thirty-seven.

Photo Credit: Morgue File by Marcia Umland


Today's post is a response to the GBE2 prompt "If I Had My Life to Live Over".

Today I turn thirty-seven. For 13,515 consecutive days I have breathed the air of Planet Earth, tasted her salty hurts and sweet amusements. For 444 months, I have been constructing myself out of bits of leftover scrap metal and lint, cracker fragments and moldy cheese. As today I look back on the years and take stock of who I am I have this to say: Meh.

If I had my life to do over, I would follow a unicorn into the woods, grab hold of its mane and climb on before I stopped believing in unicorns. I would not come out of the woods. I'd still be there now.

I'd learn more about Jesus. He used to get into my senses like the smell of an unfamiliar food. I didn't like the way he looked at me. Now that I am thirty-seven, I keep meeting people who are friends with Jesus and they invoke him in a way that makes me wish I knew him better. Just as a friend.

If I had things to do over, I would realize that I was going to need to actively teach my sons any number of things I hoped they might pick up intuitively, such as manners, love of literature and history. I would start teaching them right away, realizing that as much of their education was going to fall to me as to their teachers and that it would be my job to make sure that they kept on loving to learn. I'd sprinkle education into the oatmeal–finely ground, hide it under their pillows, tuck it into their shoes. I would not feel reticent and apologetic. I would be a warrior for their minds.

I would spend more time gardening and less time reading about gardening. I would let myself do things and fail. I would let plants die. Fear costs more than plants. Stagnation is more expensive than failure.

I would realize that all of us live a gospel. Our lives are an unfolding testament to the particular and idiosyncratic truth that we have been shaped to make. Sometimes, the gospel of my life leaves me in the corner of a silent room, frustrated and lonely, leaving scratch marks up against walls of words that won't relent. Sometimes walls soften and through them emerge kinfolk, who through their very peculiarity are all the more my friends. For every time I am heard and understood I must pay with an agony of misconstrued intentions. But I would know this and accept it solemnly and absolutely, as one enters the priesthood of one's own values, forsaking the easy lust of the herd. In not fighting this, I might save myself years of pain paid unnecessarily and stupidly.

If I had my life to live over, I would take more solace in shared commitment and less in righteousness. I would buy back wasted months chained to a rack of surety and anger and slip soundlessly into the laughing garden of beloved community.

If I had my life to live over, I would live it in the comment section of Faith in Ambiguity.

43 comments:

  1. Amazingly beautiful, Tara. Happy Birthday.

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    1. Thanks, Jenn. It is a happy birthday, too. :)I hope yours will be Friday.

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  2. ahhhhhhhh i LOVED reading this...ahhhhhhhhhhh still breathing it in

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    1. Thank you so much. It was awkward in the writing. I'm glad it gelled in the reading.

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  3. Happy birthday, Tara. Of all your beautiful writings, this is far and away my favorite. I got absolutely lost in your words and your dreams. I understand all of it and I share small parts. I would never erase one moment of my own past because all of it made me, me. I even remember a short time when my faith was challenged and I thought I had walked away from God. I may have. He never walked away from me. When I turned to seek Him again, He was waiting right there with open arms. I would not have known that if I hadn't turned my back.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us in each and every post. ♥

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    1. Thanks, Jo. I so appreciate your sharing and your thoughts. Personally, I never have felt that God has turned his back on me. I have really just felt that I have imposed a notion onto the vast concept of God that was too small to work for me–namely that God was a sort of person directing my specific life. I don't feel like God is that small anymore, so I call myself an atheist, but since I do have some sense of a higher power, I am a funny kind of atheist, too.

      I have to come to recognize that I really admire the teachings of Christ. I can admire them as someone who doesn't accept him as my savior and I can even try to follow them. I have, really, all my life, but I haven't related those values to Christ. Since I do actively share those values with Christ-loving people, I now see it as a point of commonality, even if they are living them for entirely different reasons.

      I hope that is neither offensive nor too confusing to be useful. I fear that somehow it might be both. Mostly, I am just moved by the myriad reasons that people are motivated to love and to act in kindness and I want to wrap myself up in them like a blanket every day.

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  4. Absolutely beautiful.You seem to have put in words, I did not know how to express:)I can keep on reading this.Happy birthday:)

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes and I think the image really helps with the sense of poetry. ;) Butterflies always help.

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  6. Hauntingly beautiful..Happy Birthday!

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  7. Happy birthday, Tara! I think in some ways, you have followed that unicorn into the woods. Your view of the world and your way of writing about it are magical.

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    1. It's funny, TL. I have to admit that sometimes while I am writing I get you in my head and all my writing sounds clunky and big-footed to me by contrast to what I imagine you might write. Mine is too explicit, too predictable. I am touched to hear that it feels like a unicorn to other people. To me, it's like a broken down old mare with swayback that I'm gonna ride one more damn time. But you often have reminded me that because I'M sick of the inside of my own head won't necessarily mean others will be. :) Glad I continue to trust you.

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    2. You and your writing are nowhere near clunky and big-footed. Well, you might be, I have no idea. ;-) Your writing is that unicorn, Tara. Keep following it.

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    3. *agreeing with the wisest of the wise ladies*

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  8. Happy Birthday, M'lady. This was am essay that could only be written by a "gifted writer". Well done and thank you!

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    1. And how can I answer that but, "Awwwww, shucks!" (blushes and hides)

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  9. Happy Birthday, Tara! Beautiful words from a beautiful person.

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    1. Beauty abounds in this whole lovely little blogging community. It's like a little Eden to me right now. I'm so privileged to be able to reflect some of it back at you.

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  10. A very happy thirty-something birthday to you. I've often wondered what I might do if I had a chance to do it all again. Who knows what might be different. I am thankful for where and who I am, and who I read.

    Along those lines, take a look at a friend of mine's post about Sliding Doors: http://www.afreshchapter.com/sliding-doors.html

    Mostly, though, have a fabulous birthday. I hope Mike and the boys treat you like we all would if we could be in the same room together (except minus the BLURTing. Aw, heck, especially with the BLURTing!)

    Hugs!!

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    1. Thanks for sharing that post. How beautiful and thought-provoking. I had a quiet, lovely birthday (but it would have been altogether better with the blurting.) :)

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  11. I stumbled upon your husband's blog yesterday, and have not been able to stop reading yours or his! I love reading the posts and the comments. Everyone is so kind! You have created a community that feels safe and welcoming. So I know you don't know me, but happy birthday!... and according to your picture...how does it feel to be 30 something and look 20 something??

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    1. Thanks for coming by and saying hello! I am glad you found us. We are lucky in that we happened into a very sweet, safe little corner of the Blogosphere. I hope you'll stick around. There are lots of fabulous bloggers about these parts to check out.

      I have to laugh...I might enjoy looking younger more if people didn't keep assuming I had my almost-fifteen year-old when I was a teenager. :)

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  12. Happy birthday! You have a wonderful gift for words and I'm so glad you share it with us.

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    1. Thanks, KAT! I am glad you guys let me learn to write with you. You all are like lab rats for my writing and I am often surprised what works well for you all, this being an example. Mostly, I am just giddy that anyone wants to read my scribbles.

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  13. Tara, that was an incredible piece of writing. I am always amazed by your ability to take words and craft an experience. I love you!

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    1. Thanks, hon. And if you had any idea how ADD the whole process of writing this was, you would laugh out loud.

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  14. Wow, this is poetic. There seems to be music in your words, a soft haunting melody. Re-reading it

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    1. That is a compliment I will savor. I normally assume only I re-read my stuff, checking obsessively for errors. To be re-read, that is heady stuff.

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    2. I re-read you all the time.

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  15. Happy birthday! I enjoy reading your posts. Your writing is amazing. I read and commented on your husbands post the other night. His post touched me and it really was an example for everyone to remember and try to live the same way.

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    1. Thanks, Winnie. Mike and I tend to write with a certain amount of synchronicity because our marriage is sort of based on our shared love of big ideas and our common values. It touches me that you liked his post so much.

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  16. Happy birthday Tara! I'm 30 today, how neat that we share a birthday. Loved this post.

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    1. Happy birthday!!! And WOW! You are really young. I am even more in awe of you now than I was before.

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  17. Happy birthday, Tara. A very beautiful and moving piece of writing. Thank you for inspiring me today.

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    1. You're very welcome. It is a rare privilege to inspire with one's own odd thoughts. :)

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  18. Happy Birthday! This was simply lovely. It's up to us to feel less angry. Doing something about it is the hard part. Take care!

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  19. Happy birthday, Tara who I don't know at all! :)

    There is a particular sort of blog I love. It's well written with turns of phrase that jolt you in your socks. It's usually written by someone who has a bent towards the mystical in life. If that person is a member of a church, then they really, really have to be a particular kind of person to get me over that hurdle, because not only when I was a Christian did I reject any form of institutionalised Christianity after struggling over that issue for years, but then I seem to have gone and rejected Christianity as well (even though Jesus still feels as real to me as he ever did, but I have more questions now, not less). So because I'm coming from that space, for me to feel comfortable must say something about YOU. I'm SO glad to have found your blog through NaBloPoMo:)

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  20. happy belated birthday, tara. i, too, would take back all the unnecessary anger...

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  21. Happy birthday! I am not late, am I? Of course I am. It's my thing. Show up hours, days, weeks after the party, with a kitten under one arm, and a cake under the other. Who can be mad at a woman who brought a cake and a cat?

    If I could do it all over again, I would stop looking behind me all the time. It's so easy to crash into things that way.

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