Yesterday, I was saddened to hear of the poet Mary Oliver’s passing. For years, I’ve referred back to her poem “The Journey”. It speaks to one’s internal struggles, while framing that process in a wild, wooded journey. Most of us do not have lives chock full of drama. We’re ants, just trying to drag that big crumb up the hill, each of us with our own particular battles along the way.
As the cold, gray January drags on, my own particular battle is to not sink into a deep, dark depression. My inclination towards depression means that I honor the smallest of victories. Yesterday, just getting myself out for a walk on a rare sunny day was enough to shift things. A tiny victory that lifted me out of a slump. We each have our own little battles and victories. The trick is to honor our own while maintaining perspective and awareness of others’ challenges.
Welcome to Fearless Friday.
Fearless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share. These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.
This week, I’d like to introduce Ranga Rajah, who blogs at Letting Go of Baggages. She sent me her story about a little internal victory she celebrated.
I decided to get some shopping done for my winter essentials. The store I picked had some excellent selection of jackets, shoes, scarves, trinkets, and quality handbags on sale. I picked up a few including a cross body bag.
Before going for the handbags, I had picked a few trinkets and had to hold them in my hand because the cart had large open squares at the bottom. I decided to put the jewelry into one of the bags I was buying.
A salesperson who was arranging the bags saw me putting the jewelry inside the handbag. Comes up, and asks in a very rude manner, “What did you just put inside that bag?”
I showed the inside of my bag. They continued on, “You be careful, there are cameras all over the place. They are on all the time and I am not joking.”
I was taken aback but gained my composure and said, “No cameras can look deep enough and stop people’s intentions. I did not think about negative stuff till you brought it up.”
The salesperson should have taken a moment to think that I put the trinkets in the bag in front of them. While checking for more stuff, that encounter kept coming back to me and I told myself I should leave the cart filled with my shopping, go elsewhere and continue.
I knew I was too upset, therefore decided to divert my attention the books section. I had calmed down by then and decided to end my shopping spree.
But I needed to share my hurt; therefore I mentioned it to the cashier without identifying the salesperson. The important thing for me was to emerge as an emotionally balanced, and a better person. I think I managed it that day.
Thanks, Ranga, for sharing your story.
Normally in this space, I’d add a few blogs that fit in with the theme of this week’s Fearless Friday. Today, though, I’ll share the Mary Oliver poem I referenced at the beginning.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, 1986