Over the long weekend, we spent some time down at the lake with my parents and aunt, and for some reason, I couldn’t get Nick Drake’s “River Man” out of my head.
Two years ago, I began a collection of chapters, dubbed with the working title “Nelson’s Cut,” after the shallow, swampy cut-through that connects Potato Creek to the main “Big Water” section of Lake Marion. The mouth of the cut is directly across from our dock there, where I sat and typed out the opening chapter or two of the thing. Was it destined to be a book? I’m not exactly sure – but I am sure that plug-ins on a dock are a fabulous idea for those with horribly abbreviated computer battery life. So I sat there in a lawn-chair with a glass of iced tea and wrote, stopping momentarily to look around and try to glean some creativity from the view. It felt relatively successful, if for no other reason than that I actually wrote something for the first time in a few years. But then I got pregnant and my whole life just sort of revolved around baby everything, and alas, “Nelson’s Cut” is not only unfinished, but has yet to even evolve from the state it was in at this time two years ago. But “River Man” was my writing song. It practically birthed one of the characters in the brief couple of chapters I wrote, and it certainly was the soundtrack for the keys clacking along on the end of that dock. I’m taking its constant spinning in my head these past few days as a clear sign that it’s time to get back to it. So add that to the list of 183 things I want to do when it comes to writing. Sigh.
It was kind of a frustrating weekend. Have you ever kept quiet for years at a time in a situation, only to accidentally let it slip how you really feel about something? And then suddenly, you’re the bad guy. Hasn’t everyone been in that situation before? That said, it never gets any less aggravating to sit in a crowd of people, be told that the grass is purple, look around, be the lone voice saying “Um…looks kinda green to me,” and then get glares and accusations of “Geez, Becky! Way to Go! Now you’ve pissed him off!”
I’ve had more than a few people tell me that I “have no filter.” That’s a load of crap. I’m just telling you right now, if I said even 30% of what pops into my head, I would have a huge cheering squad on one hand and a gaggle of people ready to kill me on the other hand. Honesty can be a little polarizing, I guess? Maybe it would make people feel better if I just buried my head in the sand, so as not to make anyone uncomfortable?
That is not how I function, at least not in my personal life. In my professional life, I’ll keep relatively silent because, well…it turns out that my silence can be bought – imagine that! But on the personal front is really what I’m referring to here, and I’m still not sure why my stance in these situations bothers some people so deeply. Don’t assume too much. I get it. I get the red you see when someone tries to blow down that sand house you’re building, fast as you can scoop it up. I’ve definitely had situations in my life where I’ve spent years lying to myself. The eating disorder thing – making sure I spent an extra 30-45 minutes on the treadmill every time I went over my allotted daily calories of 1200. Fabulous years (sarcasm, guys). The selfishness I exhibited during the first year or so of my marriage. I’m still not sure why Jonathan stuck around. I wish I could go back and change those things and a few more. I wish I could go back and be some better version of me.
My life wasn’t changed by the people who acted like they didn’t know what was going on and I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed with the silent approach. Change in my life was never a magical realization spurned on by some moment of clarity, driven by nothing. My life wasn’t changed by a lack of responsibility, the implied permission to do anything I wanted. It was changed by realism, and the realization that there was something to lose, some consequence for a choice I was making. Change came in part from the people who got right up in my face, literally and figuratively, who challenged me and tested me and told me what I was doing wasn’t going to cut it and that they knew I had better within me. They knew I had good within me.
And geez, y’all – I wasn’t even that screwed up. Yet.