One of my favorites songs, of all time, was What About Now by Robbie Robertson.
There’s gonna be a change of season, mmm-hmmm
Indian summer look around and it’s gone
Why you wanna save the best for last
We grow up so slowly and grow old so fast
The song is still a reminder for me that I should live in the now. I cannot change the past, I can plan for the future, but I live in the present tense. And my hopes and dreams are but fantasies unless I take action to mold them into reality.
As in, “Someday, I’m going to write a novel!”
And how many times has someone responded, “Hmm-mmmm, sure you are…”
Well, I pulled up my big-boy pants, and I wrote a novel, Bobby’s Socks. It was about child sex abuse and suicide. “Yuck!” (I think that was the customary response.)
In part, the story was about the epigenetic science that discovered how the trauma from child sex abuse marks your genetic code. It switches on the wrong gene instructions. At the time, the brilliant scientists described it as a sort of ‘suicide gene’.
The story emerged from 2008, after I read an article in Science Daily about child sex abuse and suicide. I got angry, and I told my wife, RD, “I know what that feels like, I could tell a story about this!” Thankfully, she loves me unconditionally, she encouraged me to write the story, and after A LOT of editing, she nudged me to send it out to be published.
It was a painful process, but it was my decision. I had to accept the response. And she warned me people might not say anything, as in ‘crickets’, silence, “is this thing on?”- because they will not know what to say, or better, what to ask. But I thought about the statistics behind the issue, and then I told her, “If I save some unseen child’s life, well, I guess it will be worth it.”
As an aside, PBS provided a current article about the subject. It is vitally important information. Here is a link that you can copy and paste: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/epigenetics-abuse/
Unfortunately, I, like so many others, understand what it feels like to go the ‘edge’. I’m lucky, I didn’t look down. It is not pleasant to think about, or read about someone taking their life. It becomes even more difficult if you have had a friend leave this life by their own hand.
I had a friend that happened to work for me, she had read the manuscript for Bobby’s Socks. We had talked about our ‘dark sides’. I greatly valued her opinion. In fact, all of us at the start-up business thought she had the world at her feet. It was just a matter of time before she conquered the planet, and we could all say we knew her before she became the great – this or that. And yet, she got into an argument, and she made a permanent decision.
To this day, I simply wonder why? But the experience taught me a valuable lesson, I allow myself to cry. I allow myself to feel the pain from loss, or frustration, but then I decide to take action and I let the negative feeling go away. It is part of the reason I try not to judge people, because I don’t know what they have experienced. I don’t know what it’s like to wear their socks.
I guess wisdom does emerge with age. As the Polish expression says, “not my circus, not my monkeys”. I think an active thought is to realize I have my own problems, and the other side of the equation, that I think that we could all learn from, “it’s none of my business, unless you want to share, I’ll listen.” But I also don’t put up with a constant, pity-party, if you want to improve your lot in life, you have to keep trying, and failing, but get back up, and keep trying. I know the Chinese proverb, but you get where I’m going …
My point, I spent the early part of my life not telling anyone what I thought. Or, I made an effort to act like I did not care about someone, because, for some odd reason – I did not understand the beauty that life provides when you can tell someone or show someone, “I love you.”
If it helps, say “I love you” in the mirror each morning, or when you get into a tough spot, it works for me. I think that’s why prayer can be powerful tool, but it has to be a brutally honest prayer – that’s the scary part for most folks roaming the earth’s crust. Because, if you are honest with yourself, you might not like the response. But that’s also the secret, if you can learn to accept yourself, honest with yourself, whatever the life challenge, you can manage to work through it, and come out the other side a better person.
I think our society numbs away true feelings, but raw feelings fertilize sunflowers.
Instead of us focusing on the obvious, why not focus on the solution? I think there is a force within each of us that waits for us to find it, if you will, a light within our living cells. But we have to seek it.
I’ll call it a ‘happiness gene’. To me, the first step of the internal journey toward self discovery is to talk, and by talking we might trigger on that ‘happiness gene’. And oh what a cool sock hop we could have…
For example, to talk about what I was really thinking was by far the scariest experience I have ever felt and had. In fact, the reason I used a pen name to write, Bobby’s Socks, was my excuse to protect my nephews and nieces from knowing their uncle had ‘deep dark issues’. In fact, it was my chicken-hawk method to sneak out into the literary world. But that’s the point, I think everybody has – ‘deep dark issues’, and there is no hiding in this modern world full of hidden cameras, and that mobile device that tracks our movements – cell tower to cell tower.
As for my talking, it was even scarier to call my friends, one in particular from my teen years, and let them know I had written a novel. Typically, they all thought it was going to be a novel that was funny and satirical. After all, I’m a fun guy, right? But then I told them it was about child sex abuse and suicide. Of course, their first responses were – silence.
But then a funny thing happened on the road to expressing my inner Mark Twain, when I got to that life intersection, it was the moment I truly felt – FREE. Because instead of being judged, I got lots and lots and lots of happy hearted hugs. And I finally understood that they loved me, for being, me. And so, if you want to know what I think, put on a pair of happy heart socks, smile and go out there, feel the warmth from the summer sun and talk.