denial goodie bag

16.2.11

I recently read an article on unbrave girl about how she didn't want to be anyone's inspiration anymore. I was also given an article called Rebel Yoga. Both of these women reminded me of the lifestyle design phenomenon (so 2007, I know) and what I have been writing about. Everyone is a teacher. Everyone. Even if you don't think anyone is watching or even if you don't want to be.

Once you arrive on Planet Earth you are given a gift bag of goodies and one of the things in said baggie is a card that says: Teacher, lifetime member. If you lose the card, it just means you have forgotten about your membership. Sorry there is no unsubscribe option.

I realize unbrave girl was saying she's just an average girl who doesn't do anything spectacular but obviously she has a following. You don't have to be on a magazine cover to be someone's hero. You don't have to have saved lives to give another wings. I mean, c'mon, when someone says their mom or dad is their hero, there is a collective Awww. We get it.

Inspiration comes from the smallest or seemingly smallest things and the most ordinary. The Rebel Yoga teacher is an inspiration because she takes something esoteric and intimidating and downward dogs it down to the New York masses. We live in the world wide web and the Big Apple is no longer the best known city that never sleeps.

***

It took me a long time to understand why I had to write a letter asking someone who I had never met to please clean up their dog poo. That was my job at a company that managed homeowner’s associations. We underling assistants were asked to write these form letters on behalf of the people who lived behind community acceptable colored walls.

I found it extremely insulting to my small intelligence to do what I considered classic paper pushing exercises. I could never live behind the cream curtains of a homeowner’s association. I have a hard time letting someone do something that I can do myself. In the most debilitating cases, we had to tell folks to call the fire department in case of a fire.

Although I think we get used to the idea of having someone do things for us and even tell us what to do. You know? What the rules and regulations of the community are and such. Sometimes I wonder how a different person would have reacted to the Trembling Trees thing. Then again, since I was one of three that was fired I do have two other reactions to go by.

All of us jumped right back into teaching. Mrs. Bear opened her own school, and Mrs. Rabbit (eventually) went to graduate school and into teaching at an Indian Reservation. I took the jumped-in-and-out-again route. Talk about indecisive.

I think from the start I took the long way around because I needed to know the answers. I needed to know why things happened the way that they did. Obviously I can't be that vigilant with all things in life but with my career, I had to be.

***

In high school I took a psychology class. During which I remember learning about how people react to death. This was young(er) Lani. This was an early Ah-Ha! This was teenage me bending toward my textbook. I felt like I was finally able to understand why my mom acted the way that she did after my dad died.

Denial.

When you are six years of age and you watch your mother go out and party for what seemed like every night and leave you at home with your younger brother, you're wondering what is going on with mom. You don't know if this is right or wrong you just wish she'd stay home sometimes.

Sometimes we had a babysitter though. I remember telling her I was scared to be alone at night but she reassured me that a locked door was a secure door. Then I got used to it. Judge my mother all you like, I didn't have the capacity to do so and when I did it, I felt compassion.

I felt a rush of sympathy and love for my mother. Which was important because in high school I felt very distant and unrelated to her. I felt the cultural differences between her Thailand upbringing and my American one as pungent as a shot of fish sauce.

But with this insight, well, I had received my first spoonful of “getting it”. It was like children's medicine that had been dissolved in water. It tasted like love. And I loved her differently.

Because if we think about it, what is a normal way to grieve? If my mom had cried all the time, or was chronically depressed would that have helped or made a better difference? I don't think you really know how you are going to react to something so devestating until it happens to you.

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