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When I Grow Up | 2011 | White Elephant

03.31.11 10:27 a.m.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  

-Marianne Williamson


Vampires, Vinegar, and Vaccines

I will feel this way again, soon.

I don't believe I have ever ached for spring as much as I do this year. The winter was long and harsh, largely for reasons at which I could only hint at in writing (there are aspects of my life rather more important than my catharsis). I have cycled through depression and am now fighting off the tentacles of anxiety. I feel that, if I could just have a good sit-down in a patch of grass with a seventy degree (in angularity as well as temperature) beam of sunlight on my eyelids, things would seem easier. Whether this would be the truth is quite another question, though I do not think that the whispers poured into my ear by my anxiety have much correlation to reality.

It makes me wonder at my sanity. I do not feel that these states are who I am, but they are persistent. I feel I have much better things to do than indulging them, but they insist upon toddling after me anyway, inflating tiny traumas into something on which they are certain I would obsess. If sunlight would banish them and as they sap by joy, can I presume I am possessed of tiny vampires wearing the faces of coworkers who cannot mind their business? They do seem to become overactive when I am trying to get to sleep.

I tell Melanie, though in different words, that I know this is a first world problem. People suffer untold atrocities in the Sudan, Libyans outrun mercenaries, and I whine that I can't find a job, which is where my lack of confidence fixates. She says that I can't live the lives of strangers; my life is mine alone to lead. Yes, I have a luxury problem, but it is still a problem.
Xen crushed by Percy
The metaphoric vampire octopus of sleep deprived anxiety

My mother says that my problems are the sort that can change tomorrow, as they are not based on any inner deficit (aside from a sleep debt I cannot seem to successfully repay, which feed the tiny vampires) but on a poor economy and my lack of a place in it. I did, after all, pursue a Master's in education because I saw teaching as stable and reliable when it has proved to be anything but. In my dour mood at the time, I point out that I have been waiting for two years of tomorrows. Yes, I get the occasional nibble or additional job, but they are temporary or limited. But aren't these steps the building blocks to what I want? And, further, since when am I defined by what I do to make money? When, precisely, did that happen and could I please travel back in time to that moment so I could scold myself?

I crave the inner peace I seemed to have before, which was little more than a lack of obsessive focus on something about which I can do little. I know people who are overjoyed to have less than I do and I am aware I should be. I have not been completely unemployed since the summer of 2009, after which I began subbing. I have a girlfriend I love more than anything, more than I thought I could feel, someone who makes me want to be a better person, someone who weaves her future and mine. Most people don't ever achieve that, a fact popular media rams down our throats. This month, my first novel is going to press and the sequels are eagerly solicited, the culmination of a life's goal. I have enough money to cover my bills and put a little into my savings account every week. I like where I live, I like my family, I like my life. The specific here and now - not fixated on how much I have done has gotten me in this holding pattern or the duplicity of the future - I have what I need. Here and Now is realistically all we can effectively deal with. I will say that I am in a much better position now than I was last year at this time.
I will come out of my chrysalis.

Like anyone who has tasted the Eastern philosophy vinegar, I know that strife comes from expectations and desires. Like a Taoist, I should smile and continue to accept the inherent harmony of nature.

Melanie is steadfast in her confidence that this is all going to turn out well and I cannot fault her the belief. More than likely, it will. I am an impressive candidate and I am far from slothful when it comes to pursuing my future, as my resume attests. This is not an end of a journey but a continuation of the path. If I threw a tantrum and fell to the ground, I would be trod underfoot. But I won't and I can't.

In my anxiety, I plan. I know I do not need to worry. I expect, one way or another, I will have a teaching position in the fall as I am no longer pinned to one place. There is a school that was interested in me - though did not offer benefits and was over an hour from where I currently live - that I imagine will continue being interested in my come the fall if nothing else should pan out. I have a Master's degree in Education and an enviable (and hard won) resume. Any school with sense would want me.

My solution, is to actively try not to think of it, which is more difficult than it sounds, like not thinking of a white elephant. Bolstered by Melanie and Melissa's talk of stress inoculations, I talk to mirrors, assuring my reflection that all is going as it must for my true happiness, however silly my reflection seems to find me. Spring will come, even if the forecast is for twelve inches of snow tomorrow, the cruelest April Fools joke.

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job, parties.

last watched: Six Feet Under
reading: Franny and Zooey
listening: Wailin Jennys

When I Grow Up | 2011 | White Elephant

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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