Friday, May 6, 2011
Paths of Destruction
So simple, so clear, so much easier to walk along a wide path; though I tend to prefer narrow paths that prevent me from having to walk side by side or in large groups. I love the solitude of strolling along the edge of a beach, leaving friends behind while I drink in the sun, allow the wind to curl my hair and delight in the squish of the sand between my toes.
But gheez, we all know, I have not walked the narrow path as set forth in the book of Matthew. I walk the path my mama always told me to walk. She would say just start walking and if you find a bunch of big boulders and shit, nay stuff in your way, then turn around. But if the path opens up to you without a lot of obstacles, six-pronged forks, hairpin turns and perilous falls to your certain demise, then by all means, just keep on walkin'. Didn't matter how wide or narrow. Didn't matter if it appeared to be the high road or the low road, for deception lies in preconceived notions. Just walk.
With that said, actually walking that narrow path between the vast, scary ocean and the solid ground beneath my feet literally summarizes my existence. If I step too far into the water, then I am solidly screwed for I can't swim and I do not like sea creatures of any kind, not even the little Nemo clown fish. I don't want to be there but once I'm in, it is very difficult for me to get myself out. However, if I stay put, on the solid yet sandy side - I will prevail. I may not last very long as we all know what happens with castles built in sand but I will remain on my journey and wake up each day to move closer to the purpose for which I am here.
First order of business then - figure out my purpose.
Last week, while in Oklahoma City, I was able to visit with a wonderful friend from my long ago past. She and I started out in the corporate world together, both hired around the same time in our late twenties, both naive and green, both single mom's to little boys who were the same age and both ready to set the world on fire.
We didn't realize it back then but we were smart. Really, really smart. During our visit, we remembered words we used to teach each other, plans we made to change the direction of our company (which never materialized) and choices we made to change the directions of our lives (which did materialize, in the seemingly most interesting and fascinating of ways.)
She married a wonderful man who had two boys of his own. They built a life together, raised those boys, had financial security and did all they were supposed to do to be good parents. She rose to the top of her industry and is close to retirement with her handsome man complete with a place in Arizona and a family chalet in the mountains of Santa Fe.
I married a wonderful man, later divorced him out of boredom then married another man, had three more kids, moved to Wisconsin, got another divorce and am now raising the whole brood while the ex is serving time at federal camp "good time" for felony fraud. I rose to the top of my career as well but retirment is not a word I will entertain for many, many years to come. I struggle with the burdens and sometimes I breakdown from the sheer load of it all. I told her of nearly losing my second son, The Commando, after his dad went to prison. And I have no handsome man or mountain chalet anywhere near or far, not even with a telescopic lens.
She understood the agonizing story I told her of watching as they took The Commando from me and she lauded my bravery in not stepping in to snatch him up and take him home. She knew how deep I had to dig to go through with this measure of intervention on a child who was raging, creating his own rath of destruction.
Then she told me how her son, the one who is the same age as my #1Son is strung out on drugs, committing crime, jobless, nearly homeless and still hasn't hit rock bottom. All three of their boys went down the same path of destruction my brothers chose. She knows, just as I knew with my brothers, this will likely end in death or jail for each of them.
One would think my son would have been the one to fall into the deep end with the crazy life I created for him. Instead he is centered and good, thoughtful, hard-working, loyal and kind.
One would think her son would have benefited from a loving relationship, financial security, all the trappings of a solid, centered life.
But one can never know how these things turn out.
Just as it has been for my life, the edge of that water is always so close at hand, or at foot as the case may be. It is quite easy to fall in, to fall out, to fall over until you find yourself going down the road too wide. Wrong choice of friends, basic wiring of the brain, just a tiny slip and you are cast out into the raging currant. Especially when it comes to drugs. Drugs are as vast as the ocean and every bit as deep. The longer you try to keep your head above water, the more drugs you will need to stay above sea level. Then you are caught in a whirlpool of sharks, waves, wind and three-headed sea monsters from the deep that will pull your ass under and keep you there until you grow fins and gills and breath it in just to survive.
I drifted off, into the analogy of the deep as my friend was sharing her heartbreaking news. I asked all the questions I could ask from someone who had experienced this many times over. But there was one question remaining. One that had never been asked, not even of my parents.
I asked if she knew what happened to him? Could she tell me what went wrong?
It was then this beautiful soul, who gifted me so often in our times of abandoned youth, deliberately placed the most powerful gift of all in my hands, in my heart and in my mind. It was wickedly deliberate, because she is brilliant enough to know exactly what I needed to hear. She lit her words and then set back to watch the fuse burn until she could see the shrapnel, tearing through my brain and systematically removing all of my fears of being a single parent with a crazy life. She obliterated my doubts and uncertainty for what the Commando and I went through.
She told me she could look back and see the exact moment when she lost her son to drugs. She said she hadn't been strong enough to do what I did when she had the opportunity, when he was young enough still, to save.
And just like that, I remembered my purpose.