So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the bigger picture is when it comes to what this world has taught me.
**First “Bigger Picture” Lesson: Quit being so damned superficial.**
She is a very pretty 16 year old girl, running 3-5 miles a day, trying to eat healthy, trying to look good for boys because that’s the nature of the beast in society. She cares about her hair, her make-up, and even the bra she wears for the day. She is under a lot of pressure from her mother to look and act a certain way. She rebels against that, and appeals to the same tastes of a different crowd. (Don’t we all want to be “popular” within our circle? Even if our circle is the kids who wear all black and smoke pot?) She has perfect teeth, a big beautiful smile, and she loves to laugh. She is a normal American youth.
One fateful day in August, the month before her birthday – she is involved in a terrible car accident that will change the course of her life forever. She breaks her right femur over the passenger seat of the car and flies head first into the windshield. (The leg being the only thing that stopped her from being ejected from the car and killing her instantly.)
From this accident, her injuries are as follows. 1.) Punctured muscle in front side of thigh by femur. 2.) Surgical implantation of metal rod and three screws to bind femur back into proper position. 3.) Left cheek muscle severed by impact in windshield resulting in plastic surgery and limited movement in left side of face.
To add insult to injury, over the course of ten plus years of drug abuse, soda drinking, and now two pregnancies, she has under 10 teeth in functionality. This will result in complete extraction of all teeth, and dentures.
Not only has this taught me to not take myself so damned seriously, but it makes me look at others differently as well. It has taught me not to judge others by their looks but by their character. I hate to admit that at one point I was so superficial – but it’s true. It’s the way I was brought up. My mom wouldn’t even take me to our family reunion claiming that all of these people were “dirty.” So, it didn’t matter if I thought they were nice, or good, or bad, etc. The way they looked was “bad” enough that my mother didn’t want to eat their food or even be associated with them as family. (Turns out they are all very humble people and I know better than to be ashamed to call them family.)
**Second “Bigger Picture” lesson: You need nothing but LOVE to survive in this world.**
She is brought up in a middle class, semi-well-to-do family. Her parents own their own home, her father works and makes good money, her mother stays at home and runs a musical theater program for children. Every Christmas is a blowout. She gets everything she asks for. A barbie car, a bike, a trampoline, a pool – the list goes on. Birthdays are the same. She is taught to take care of these things, and that if you no longer need them it is better to sell them than to give them away. This mentality is perpetuated by her mothers feelings towards “living poor” after her parents divorce.
Instead of instilling that love is all you need, her mother decides to get herself a rich boyfriend to support her and her teenage daughter. It was over a year later before her mother finally decided to get her own apartment and truly “live poor.”
She moves out shortly after her mother gets this apartment, at age 17. She gets a settlement from aforementioned car accident and lives extravagantly for about two years. After the money is gone, she has to borrow from family to get her own apartment on government assistance and works the night shift at a grocery store.
From that apartment, and then moving into a three bedroom apartment shortly before the birth of her first child, then upgrading to a three bedroom trailer, and then a large two bedroom duplex – she obtains mountains of furniture, clothes, towels, blankets, TVs, computers, other music/electronic equipment, beds, etc, etc, etc.
But, after two extended stays in county lockup, she loses EVERYTHING. Even after cycling through five vehicles – she has not even a car to show for all the money from settlements, various jobs, and family aid. She now has barely a carload of personal items including 1.) A single plastic tub containing anything of sentimental value and anything deemed necessity. 2.) One average and one small laundry basket of clothes. 3.) One suitcase for toting shoes and bras. 4.) One walmart bag for toiletries.
So, think about that. Look around your house and consider for a moment all the things that you value the most. Imagine if all you had the ability to keep with you had to be contained in just a tub, two laundry baskets, a suitcase, and perhaps just a few small bags. This was one of the biggest hurdles for me.
You work and sweat and bleed and puke for this shit that you obtain in life. Even if that work is on an emotional/mental level. Maybe you don’t have a job, or maybe your family helped you get these things, maybe you suffered physical trauma and got a monetary settlement like I did – it makes no difference. This “stuff” you’ve acquired over the years is valuable in that everything you own contains memories. Everything you own becomes a reflection of you, and your personality. Having these things gives the impression that you have had at least a moderate amount of success in life. Not having these things gives the impression that you’ve made a series of very bad choices.
Nevertheless, I am happy and grateful for what I have. I have learned that I need nothing on that level to reflect or say anything about who I am as a human being. I am happy for the fact that this takes away the filter you would formerly look through to see “who I am.” Now, you have to look at my actions and my words. And if you don’t – well, I don’t really care for your kind anyway if you can’t see beyond the material.
The love I carry with me is my most valuable asset. I hope the love I am given is something that I can pay forward, always. The compassion and humanity I am shown on a daily basis is what I wish to reflect onto others. My life is not cluttered with inanimate objects and what-nots. It’s filled with the love and gratitude I feel for you and yours and the love and gratitude I have the privilege of witnessing in others. I love this lesson most of all.
To be continued… (Part Two in a couple of days)