In this exclusive group I'm a three plus year member of, every meeting is started with "The Serenity Prayer". Even if you're not a member of the club, I would be willing to bet you've heard it.
"God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Interestingly enough, it works.
But of course, now I know...
I've been to too many of these meetings. I know I have and I can tell you why. Prior to three years ago, I would not have given a second thought to posting my thoughts on maniacal elves and how to spot them. But the reality is, that I have been to three plus years of those little gatherings, drank gallons of really weak coffee and met a broad cross-section, from every imaginable walk of life, profession and many different geographical locations and backgrounds and my gosh we're freaking everywhere! But back to my point, all of these "steps" toward a better life, hearing them over and over again well, even with a hard head like mine, something was bound to sink in, and it didn't even require trephining.
It's not that anyone said anything critical about my post - in fact, I received quite a few literary "high-fives" from friends who know...ummm, the object of my disaffection. I received several "congratulations, well done!" upon learning I had left the premises.
It was fun reading e-mails from friends offering tales from their own experiences with their own "elves behaving badly", similar to my own. Some of the stories involved incidents far worse than what I wrote of or experienced, and a few were much more amusing, but I couldn't shake the fact that my "public venting" failed to offer me the satisfaction and release I wanted so much to savor and feel - the sweet taste of revenge, the glory of having, "the final word", completely eluded me. Mostly, the whole affair made me wince - both the living it and maybe even more the reading about it.
I had another one of those "Wow, I could have had a V-8" moments, only it felt more like a self-inflicted, well-deserved blow to the head. Nothing compares with slapping your own wrist, or chastising your own obstinate self for a low-brow exposition. Very low brow...
Shame on me and darn those stupid meetings! They make it NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to carry-on in a less than stellar manner and get away with it. Couple those meetings with the way I was actually raised and, well, there's no way around it - you couldn't find anything dysfunctional in my parents if you were using the most high-powered lens of a finely-tuned, enormously accurate microscope. My parents could make Ward and June Cleaver look suspicious and downright sketchy and I've watched enough of those reruns to understand that is no easy task. Ugh...it's so annoying. Clearly, I have to work very very hard to be subversive and roadblocks are tossed in my way at every single turn.
It's not easy being the me formerly known as my former self...
But it's also those very same cliches, repeated stories, more cliches, parables, not to mention the warm gooey homemade memories of my childhood that remind me that life in these past three plus years feels so much better than the years that preceded 12 January 2004. Bad elfen behavior notwithstanding, things have been so much better since the transformation a guy named Bill often referred to as a "spiritual awakening". Not perfect, mind you - how boring would that be? But definitely better.
So, I guess it's no real concession to excise the inflammatory post that I posted a few days ago - the one that dealt with bad elfen magic. Nothing I wrote would in any way change someone elses' actions or deeds or remove any character defects, particularly my own, and the last thing I want to do is to appear on the very same miserably low level as my "talking point". I do well to keep my own behavior in check and so I'd probably be better served looking after that rather than policing anyone else, even if that someone else is a rat. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Not that I tried THAT hard. It's an anonymous rat, after all. I didn't name rat names! :-)
Progress...not perfection. Look it up. Google it. Go ahead.
I received a phone call today from a very close friend in France who gave me his considered and always valuable opinion on my recent "career" developments. He shared with me that he thought it was a positive change and he seemed pretty pleased, as have a lot of people I respect. My phone call with this gentleman, who has literally been my writing mentor through the years, (no easy task, huh Michel?), was presciently timed and I respect his feelings, his thoughts and his advice not to mention his uncanny ability to be on target.
Michel made me think about the terror of my ways and my Mom, while innocently making coffee this morning, made me reconsider the terror in my words. She wasn't exactly trying to make a point, which is generally when she makes the most pointed ones. I'm sure both Mom and Michel were telepathically conspiring to change my wicked wordy ways which is just like them - ever since they had that whole bean stringing experience back in Pembroke Pines, they've been a formidable team. Similar minds separated only by an ocean.
And again, they boast an inarguable track record for being write...I mean, right, though I would probably still try and argue that point.
The truth is that I would probably never have walked away from that "dead-end going nowhere fast" position, at least not until I won the lottery, because of my favorite co-worker, clients and also, well, the health and dental benefits were certainly handy. As they say in that club I keep frequenting, this was probably a brilliant example of "God doing for me what I couldn't do for myself". Even though it's true, imagine me rolling my eyes, but smiling...definitely smiling.
Now, that flaming exercise in exposition that I ignited certainly wasn't for naught. It was good to get it out and a much more positive way to handle the pent-up, damn-bursting irritation and annoyance than, say, do something self-destructive which, I'm happy to report, was never ever a remote thought. An elf will never drive me to drink - not even a really mean, nasty one. My friend and counselor Jimi was quite right in directing me to blog my heart out, to release the poison. It's not healthy to keep that stuff in! Really! It's just that in hindsight, which generally contains much more clarity than foresight, I would save my diatribe by clicking on the "save as draft" tab rather than the "publish" button. By saving it as a draft, I can revisit it when I want to, and marvel at the amazing way I captured my subject matter! But I save myself the alloted "self-disrespect" that accompanies any public bashing, literary or otherwise.
In my last post, I spoke of this lingering cloud of dismal disparity that I still felt, even though I was no longer in the employ of an unpleasant person. Now I know why. Whatever negativity he may have spread, didn't justify my adding to it in any way, shape or form. I wasn't suddenly granted some celestial permission to be mean, hateful or unkind. I knew none of this was "eye for an eye" stuff but gosh it's so tantalizingly tempting to "act out" - but "acting out", after the initial blush, doesn't have a very pleasing aftertaste. In fact, it tastes even more bitter than the initial pill than nearly makes one choke in the first place.
I thought about it a lot this afternoon. I revisited all of the facets in my life that are in place and co-exist to make it the blessing that it truly is, and I realized that all of those facets, just like any precious stone or prism you can think of, reflect light, not darkness. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that when you "blog darkness" there's no satisfaction to be found there, either. Trust me on this.
And finally, when I (literally and metaphorically) slapped my forehead late this afternoon, just as the sun was sinking, bathing my office in the most lovely warm tones of peach, yellow and mauve and every other color that any late winter sinking sun can disperse, my eyes fell on a book near my desk. Out of NOWHERE (but "nowhere" is always somewhere, right?) I finally realized why there was no satisfaction to be found in what I wrote. I was approaching the whole thing the wrong way and using the most improper device imaginable. The harshest words available couldn't possibly do what needed to be done in order to put things in their proper order and strike the balance I so desperately needed.
I found it on page 63 of "The World According to Mister Rogers" and it's "da bomb". And there it was - the perfect way to resolve this personal conflict - and I'm really grateful for that because I'm beyond bored with all of this festering, investigation, reexamination and self-analysis.
Fred Rogers gave credit to one of his "wise" teachers, Dr. William F. Orr, for this, and so I would suppose he'd expect me to do the same.
"There is only one thing evil cannot stand and that is forgiveness.".
Who knew? Well, I knew that - I'd read it about a hundred times before, but I didn't know any elves at the time so it didn't really click. Today, it clicked; no, actually, today it clacked, which is much more pronounced than a mere click...in a way that was undeniable, and so I won't even try to deny that it didn't and forget about ignoring it! You must never ignore anything that goes to the trouble to clack.
I already feel better and I haven't yet clicked on "publish", but I will and when I do, I already know that this post won't result in any of the tension that my posts of the past few days have. Now I can see I was only pouring gasoline on a flaming fire and that's not the way to extinguish anything with the potential to consume and destroy. Believe me, I really need to engage in a few "esteemible" things.
Sometimes, the hardest things we know we should do, are the very actions that will ultimately allow us to feel the best. At least, that's what that small, tiny voice deep inside of me is whispering...but it sounds so credible and so utterly convincing, that I have to believe it's worth the listen.
This is me...listening.
Tomorrow, this will be me...e-mailing my resume and cover-letter to Glen in NYC. Thank you, Glen.