I have known many people who have been forced to take a path less traveled through betrayal, illness, loss, or injury. When I saw their lives being derailed I felt a strong
empathetic reaction and tried to provide any support I could. However, there is no lesson better learned than the one you experience first hand. And this is where I was taught the most profound and painful lesson of my life. I was fortunate or unfortunate enough, depending on your opinion, to experience a drastic unexpected turn that shook the foundation of my life. How did I get here? I took a very mundane trip on a hotel elevator one beautiful sunny day that ended with me in a coma with a traumatic brain and spine injury and my family being told to make necessary arrangements because this may not end well for me. As you may suspect since you are reading these words, the worst did not happen, I survived. The path since that time has been both heartbreaking and heartwarming. The heartwarming moments were the friends and family that mobilized to help me and my family through my rehabilitation and recovery. The heartbreaking moments are the debilitating pain I have suffered from since the accident, the loss of pleasurable pastimes and the drastic change in my career trajectory. I owned my own company, I was a runner and ran several times a week with a group of marvelous women who had become more than running buddies they were my emotional support system. I was a lover of food, my guilty addiction was binge-watching the food network. I own a BMW motorcycle and loved to go for rides with my brother and friends. Not only did I suffer brain trauma but I also suffered spine trauma that has required two surgeries to repair the damage. I have not been able to run since the accident, I have been told by the medical experts I should not ride a motorcycle again, according to the doctors I cannot afford another head injury. I have completely lost my sense of smell which has affected the flavors I experience. So the foods and drinks I enjoyed before do not hold the same pleasure now. I sold my company, my recovery demanded my focus and required an abrupt career path change.
These adjustments due to my unexpected turn, while regrettable, are trivial when all is said and done. But the adjustment I did not anticipate is the shifting sands of my support system. Two friends that were my stalwarts through this whole event both relocated out-of-state. Their sudden absence was difficult for me and my family. That coupled with the more subtle shifting sands of friends connected to specific pastimes and activities I can no longer participate in has been disorienting and disquieting. As a result, I have come to understand the inherent voluntary nature of friendship that makes it subject to life’s whims and unexpected turns. This path was unforeseen and has required me to release expectations of myself and others, which admittedly is a work in process. I have friends who have put me up on a tenuous pedestal as an inspiration and I have friends who have chastised me for infractions of judgment. Both are uncomfortable realities of my new path. Change is generally distressing for all, those riding out the storm as well as the onlookers. My ask for you dear reader – be gentle with yourself and others embroiled in change. There are many people traveling unexpected paths and they no longer fit in the box they have been dutifully building for themselves. Therefore to view or deduce them from your own constructed framework or ethos will prove frustrating for all.
I refer to us “unexpected path pilgrims” as phoenixes. A phoenix attains new life by arising from the ashes of its forebearer. There are many of us out there, for those who love the phoenixes in your life, understand the phoenix no longer has their rigid framework, it was obliterated. There is a blessing in that glorious cacophony as well as turmoil. So relating to your phoenix with your own rigid framework will be disappointing. You can both grow from this experience and peek outside your own cage and search for connections in unlikely places not previously explored. If you are only drawn to people who see and experience the world as you do, and one of those conformists suddenly takes you out of your comfortable allegory, it’s scary. Your phoenix may no longer fit in the story you have created. I encourage you to explore a new narrative. I have always loved mosaics, the beautiful randomness of divergent colors, shapes, sizes, and flow that come together to paint a beautiful image is a wonderful example that a change in path or perspective can lead you to an unexpected and powerful result.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading ~ Gautama Buddha
I am great at starting things, in fact many of my friends and family have asked me to help them with business plans, project plans, house plans anything related to planning or start-up. I have a great passion for the genesis of almost anything.
It truly is hardwired within me. And it is not just projects, it’s true with people too. When I meet someone I am always interested in how they got to be where they are; philosophically, spiritually, geographically, any of the ally’s. There are people who are passionate to tell their story and I should always be paired with them because I am passionate about hearing their story. There are members of our family that are sick and tired of hearing the same old stories from aunts and uncles, I honestly never tire of it. I can’t explain why I just love to hear how they started out, their beginnings.
Contrary to my provenance loving side, I have come to understand through much self introspection, suffering, tears and sleeplessness nights, that I struggle with completion. I am not even sure what completion really means because to me everything is always a process, each moment a new beginning. However, if I am chained to the idea that I am in a repeating cycle and there is no genesis occurring, no new beginning, no new discovery I feel the need to, well honestly, get the hell out of there, so to speak.
So that brings me to the issue that sparked this stream of consciousness, the book I am writing. In the beginning my keyboard was smoking; I could not type the words as fast as my mind was “speaking” them. Eventually, the keyboard sat there forsaken and each time I approached it I looked like a member of a chain gang being forced to break rock with a sledgehammer.
My book is about the process I went through during a series of personal losses most profoundly the death of my father. Several people referred to that period of my life as the “shitstorm”. However, what I have come to realize is the parts of the book where I focused on everyone else; my dad, my uncle, my brother, those were the easiest to write. However, the remaining chapters actually go right to the intent, the purpose of my book, how I navigated these turbulent waters and came out of it albeit cut up, bruised and knocked around but stronger. The back story to me is very important, obviously, but now that I have to get to the essence of the story I am struggling. Why? I guess because now it’s about me, just a woman and her thoughts, as they say.
Please don’t misunderstand I am not this holier than thou person, I can be as self-serving as the next gal, just ask my husband! It’s really about looking outside, it is so much easier than looking inside. That’s why gossip is so engaging let’s talk about everybody else’s faults, but please let’s not talk about mine. It’s interesting I just went through a relationship where it absolutely drove me crazy, I perceived this person as disconnected from their own spirit. Let me make this clear, this is my perception, my reality, nothing more. However, I realize the discomfort I felt in that relationship is because the behavior I perceived is that which I was most uncomfortable with myself.
When I type those words, the words that describe the real feelings and breakthroughs I experienced as I emerged from the shitstorm, I am fully exposed. I have been there before, during the darkest days of the shitstorm I was fully exposed, I felt stripped naked and exposed to the world. The level of vulnerability was so heightened I can actually feel my toes tingling right now, as if I am on the edge of a 100-story building looking down. So I have to put myself back in that very tender place to complete this book. It’s one thing to wander in there unaware, it’s another to trudge back fully aware. As the saying goes I am pulling up my big girl pants, I am going in! There is work to be done and I will complete this book.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. ~ Buddha