“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” – Rumi
What I’m about to tell you is from my own perspective as a child and hence is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or people is impossible because this is from my unique view of the world as I try to make sense of all the moving parts that brought me here today, typing these lines.
I feel it all started with a rabbit. Nope. I’m not talking about the white rabbit that Alice saw. However, much like that furry creature which leaped down a deep dark hole to a world of wonder, so did this porcelain likeness of an unidentified rodent that I interpret as a rabbit with communist leanings. If you look at the photo, the red cap is a give-away.
A communist for sure.
If you look carefully, you can find its faults. The eyes aren’t looking in the same direction, perhaps has a touch of lazy-eye. The colurs run out of their borders in certain places indicating it’s coloured by the hand of an amateur or perhaps a child. As for whatever it’s holding, it’s not clear whether it’s a blue blanket or perhaps was meant to be a vest but wasn’t thought of very well. The ribbon on its neck appears to be an afterthought as shaped badly and unevenly around its neck.
Despite all its faults, it got someone’s attention and was bought and brought all the way from the US to Turkey. This family heirloom has been with us for nearly forty years, having survived at least one attempt to destroy it. If you look carefully, you can see that its ears were glued on.
And it is cute. It has an expression of openness, innocence and honesty.
I guess what made this seemingly innocent porcelain creature one of high-level toxicity rivaling the fall-out from Chernobyl were expectations. There were unarticulated hopes for dad to bring God-knows-what. I guess God-knows-what was not this odd creature.
Judgment, Rejection and Separation
I too experienced many disappointments. In fact, my life seems to have been built on disappointment after disappointment. Nothing ever turned out the way I expected. How did I go from a straight-A student always delivering what I said I would, to someone who kept getting fired from job after job?
Simple. I was fearful and desperate when I got those jobs to express my expectations upfront. These were not government jobs where everything was captured in writing, communicated, all salaries and salary increases predetermined.
The nature of these jobs changed on a daily basis like the wind changes direction. I wasn’t sensitive enough to know where the wind was blowing. I had a fixed mindset and would rather bury my head in work then communicate with the business owners of these tiny businesses to know how their priorities had shifted since the last hour we spoke.
The more I failed to grasp the world of my employers, the small business owners, the more I labeled them things like “psycho”, “senile”, “incompetent”, “lazy” and “off with the faeries”. The truth is, whatever I thought of my employer was actually a reflection of what I was at the time. I was or appeared to be senile because I expected systems and processes like in the Government from a newly established businesses or those going through massive changes in its business model.
I also had unrealistic expectations for my writing abilities. I wanted to publish a book before sitting down and writing one. The truth is, no matter who you are, or how talented you think you are, you have to do the grunt work. You have to show up day in and day out and try to understand what’s going on around you.
Every time you judge anything or anyone as inadequate, know that it’s pointing at your unrealistic expectations and lack of understanding of yourself. This is a good opportunity to start a conversation with yourself by asking “what was my role in ending up in this situation or with this weird gift I didn’t want?”.
Gratitude, Acceptance and Wholeness
I too received a disappointing present.
Well, over the years, I received many presents. Sadly, many I judged to be disappointing.
You see, this will be my eighth Christmas with my Australian family and every year I feel overwhelmed by the boxes of things I bring home. I wonder how I’m going to integrate all that was given to me into our lives so that those who thought of me to buy me presents will feel good and valued.
At the beginning of last year, I made a conscious effort to write stories about what each gift brought to my life that year. There was the LÓccitane Terre de Lumiere perfume with its honeyed lavender and vanilla notes that gave me strength at a time of need (getting fired from yet another job), a thermos that a local homeless man treasured and a colouring plate that taught me the value of just getting it done. Forget perfection, it told me, as my paint kept crossing the borders, just finish your work. When I finished it, I couldn’t see its faults, just a vibrant plate.
But the best gift I received in 2018, the one that propelled me forward in my efforts to commit to a life of writing was the $500 mum gave me. With that money, I felt the confidence to go ahead and pay for The Story Seminar taught by Robert McKee. My determination to attend the course made our Vienna, Virginia family reunion possible. I offer her boundless gratitude for that kind gesture. May she receive this story in the spirit intended.
Everything’s A Gift
Life is a gift. Our health is a gift. Every moment, every breath, every sunrise, every sunset, every moonrise and moonset, these are the stuff of life.
We are all creative beings and have projects within us that only we can bring to life. When these projects are ignored, they start taking over our lives in the form of dissatisfaction, a feeling of being out-of-sync with the universe or getting fired from jobs, failed relationships horrible presents others give us that we’re tempted to smash on their heads.
Remember how Neo felt in the beginning of the Matrix trilogy?
That’s exactly where I was before I took the plunge and committed myself to write anything and everything every day.
“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
– Robert Mckee
Over to you…
What are some presents you received over the years that made no sense to you?
When you look back on them, do you see what they brought to your life?
What did these bizarre, unexplained mysteries teach you about yourself?
If you’d like to tell me, I’d love to find out about it. E-mail me Eda@WritePublishGrow.com