by Ipsa Liberalis
It's nearly a new year. Literate Ape, aka The Big Banana, suggested we contributors write a retrospective. As generally happens when Mr. Literate recommends something to me, I kind of went: Why? Ain't no one got time for my retrospectives.
But, as also generally happens when Das Ape says something, the gears start churning and suddenly there's something coming out of my noggin. I don't know how he does this. I haven't known him for very long, and in retrospect, I've only met him the one time. But in the few short years since he came into my life, I have gone from being a person who never gets political on Facebook to someone who not only gets shitty when someone is wrong on the Internet to contributing to a political blog! How did he do that? What changed?
The short answer is that his even passing interest in my ideas (although we certainly don't agree all the time) made me feel like my ideas were worth hearing, something that is incredibly rare in this life, in general, and in this political clime, specifically.
But I am not so easily moved in all arenas, and I suspect you aren't either. Change is never delivered, I think, only sought after. This blog isn't here so that I can change your mind. I, personally, don't care to change my mind about most things, so I can't expect you to just mosey over this way and have an epiphany. I mean, I'm no political scientist, economist, CEO or artist (although, as these words keep appearing, I guess I could say this is me, writing, which is a thing writers do).
With that in mind, I'm going to write my actual retrospective on times that I have sought and achieved change. And I swear, I don't mean to go on and on and on about this, but there is no other place to start than:
The first change
I began this life in a big diverse city. When I was 11, we left that city to move to the country. My dad was in search of somewhere like Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show and my mom was offered a retirement option, so we went.
When I was 12, I decided to be my best. Read as: get straight A's at school and get to church every Sunday to get top marks with God, too. So I did that. I went to church every Sunday for a few weeks, week after week, sometimes with someone, sometimes by myself. One sun-dappled summer morning, I was in church, saying the Lord's prayer, when the hushed murmur struck me like ice to my heart. I listened to the bleating sheep and couldn't reconcile that with how smart and independent my parents had always encouraged me to be.
I walked home dismayed. I had done what I thought was the right thing, but it didn't feel right, and I spent the next few years aggressively seeking alternative points of information. I turned 12 in '93, so this was way before Wiki, but I got there with books, both fiction and non-fiction. When I began, I thought change would be delivered to me, but I was wrong: I had to seek it out. I got to a place where I could handle the world and feel hope for it. I changed from being a Christian to an atheist.
The next change
Then my mom died. I had just gotten to college when it happened, and I got some well-intentioned but very bad advice that really fucked my shit up. I was able to stay in school for about two years but I knew some things were very, very wrong, which had to be righted. Again, a search for what else was out there, what had been left behind, what was there that I wasn't looking for or seeing.
I changed from letting others guide my life to being in the driver's seat most of the time, no matter how strong my desire to be good and obey was.
The change after that
I met someone who I thought was deserving of my best self. I started going to therapy, bringing someone professional in to look over all of the rough cuts I'd done on my own. It wasn't entirely successful, but it was important work in that era.
I changed from someone who made all decisions in binary to someone who might wait and see.
One of those well-intentioned bad-advice givers said something to me that she should not have. Having built up all of these successes over the last 23 years, having heard untruths and rejected them, having lived some hardscrabble years, I knew I didn't have to turn the other cheek anymore.
I changed from someone who would do anything for someone to someone who would really do something for myself.
That's how I got here, how I got to this blog. I'm not here to give some meta, uber-insightful revelation about this world that will change the game. I'm not here to blow your mind and make you see a new light. I'm no prophet. I am just a person who knew change needed to be made, mostly in myself, and I set out to make those changes.
I didn't do it alone, though. I had a lot of help. And now maybe you're here to make a change. You're reading this to be changed. Maybe you're not sure about something. Maybe you're looking somewhere new for something. So you're here, you're the change-maker. I can say my piece and you can take it or you can leave it.
Like I said, I am not here to change your mind. I'm here to whisper into the wind, and if that wind fills your sail, you can change and guide your own path.
Be kind. Work hard. Good luck.