Days 23/24: The blog didn’t stutter. I didn’t manage to write yesterday because I was all wrapped up in the past and not doing a very good job of being Here and Now. I was expecting the call back from the state troopers so that I could have my say and be done with it. All that I learned from it is that people going about their daily work have no idea how hard it is to be the person waiting for a phone call. I had endometrial cancer about 7 years ago. If you want to know what death by a thousand paper cuts feels like, wait 2-3 days for test results about your cancer screening. The thing is, I did get a phone call–from the people doing the lower-my-rate refi on my mortgage. Lots of excitement telling me that I would close on within 24 hours and skip a mortgage payment. Now there are words you want in a phone call, “Hi! Skip a mortgage payment!” And instead of letting that be a 10 on my joy scale, I treated it like a 6 while waiting for a call that didn’t come.
I went to sleep thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it. And I decided I was done thinking about it.
After two misdirects, I was instructed to leave information with my local state patrol instead. (Isn’t it ironic?) I told a Colorado trooper about a bitter cold night in December, 1981, when Pennsylvania State Police refused to help me with my flat tire and instead a guy in a red pick-up stopped, changed the flat, and refused the money I offered for his help. He assaulted me on the road in front of the police barracks. The Colorado trooper was apologetic and told me that a report wouldn’t do much. I told him I didn’t expect it to–that I just wanted to tell the story so that I could let it go once and for all. He said he would like to tell it one more time in a news bulletin that goes out to troopers–that it could serve as a reminder about how their actions impact lives every day. So, I am releasing the story to them as a teaching tool. And I’m releasing it to the guy in the red truck. He may be dead or just living with the knowledge of his own actions every day. That’s enough.
One of the great things about reaching out for contentment, actively and mindfully practicing contentment, is giving up all hope for a better past. There’s no fixing it or fading it. Putting on a fresh coat of paint doesn’t make it leave. You have to stop clutching it tightly in your fist, expecting it to shape shift into something new. And here’s another truth: When you release it, it’s not going to float away like a balloon. You may be able to wipe it from your hands like soil. But if you’re like me, it will feel like knocking the dried muck from the soles of your shoes, putting them back on, and noticing a new lightness in your step.