Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 24, 2004
A Softer Life
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 24, 2004 – The last 8 days of 2004 are here. It’s the time of year when I always spend some time, quietly reflecting on a year that will soon pass. It will be replaced by the new kid on the block. The new year – 2005 with its as yet twelve untroubled months – will burst forth full of inspiration, good cheer, plans, goals, hope and promise.
On January 1st people everywhere will wake up to think about the things they plan to accomplish. They will be committed, eager and excited. Along about the middle of the month – real life will intervene and many of these dreams will start to lose their lustre. I know – because I’ve done this many times myself – set up unrealistic expectations – only to see them dashed all too soon. 2004 was a touchstone for me. I made a commitment to myself to write and I followed through. I didn’t think I had it in me, but I was wrong.
I had dinner last night with my friend Morgan. We talked about life, death, loss, relationships, friendship, family, longing, the wonder of children, work, passion, discipline, the purpose of life and all manner of things related to the human condition. He swears that I’m an optimist. I cling to my “optimistic-pessimist” model, convinced of my curmudgeon-like persona. Even though I was dead tired, I sat in front of the fireplace for a long time after Morgan left and thought about my life, especially the harsh edges, my anxiety and the fear that it engenders because of its quiet, but powerful presence.
I’ve thought for a long time that I don’t really like people very much, in spite of my very obvious attachment to the species. Perhaps this is because of the underlying fear that is always pervasive in my mind and body. It’s a very physical thing, this ogre of anxiety. I experienced real pain at a very early age in my life, and with it, I think my ability to trust was affected and fear became my constant companion. When that happened a protective wall went up around my heart. Mine has been entombed for far too long.
This year I’d like to live a softer life. Less governed by cynicism, bravado, negativity and fear. A life more open to sharing, giving and loving. I have just given my last little white Inukshuk – #13 – the name “Spirit of the Heart” and his lifelong duty is to assist me in keeping an open heart, regardless of the circumstances in my life. For some reason I didn’t give him away. Perhaps I knew he had a gift to give me in 2005.
He will stand on my desk beside the ever gleeful Scrummie, as a constant reminder that I have a strong desire to move away from a closed heart to an open one. Fear and anxiety have darkened my life for so long that I can hardly remember their absence. Underneath, somewhere in that soft place in my soul exists a very warm and loving woman, with a lot to give to others. I don’t know her well just yet, but I plan to spend more time with her in 2005.
I’m off in a few moments to spend Christmas Eve dinner with Eric and Dorothy, and then to visit Chris and Neil et al for a sip of holiday cheer. I’ve said a quiet, fond “hello” to those long gone – my parents and my precious brother Michael. I’ve reminisced about many a Christmas past, when I was much younger and our family was still together.
Those times are gone but the memories are still warm. Things change – it’s the nature of the cycles of life, so it’s possible for me to feel the warm side of my heart again. I recognize it’s soft beat there, just below the hard, outer crust.
“An Open Heart Begets A Softer Life”.