Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.


Crazy sounds about right.

So. Anybody who knows me, or even reads this and knows this part of me, knows that I'm my biggest fan. I know I'm hopelessly flawed and often just crap....but I'm smart, talented, warm, funny, generous, and I have a great rack. I know that I am capable of great things, and I spend a lot of time figuring out how I can harness that capability to do something good for the world. I try to be a force of good wherever and whenever I can, and throughout my life, I've received feedback that affirms my ability to help others help themselves.

This, to me, is the point of having, acknowledging, and using gifts. In the words of one of the Kennedy brothers (RFK in this case, I think), "Of those to whom much is given, much is asked;" when you have gifts, you're almost duty-bound to serve them, to offer them in turn as gifts to your community and your world.

And seriously, can you imagine a world where everyone acknowledged how amazing they were, and instead of being driven by fear of being hurt, they believed that they were cherished as much as they cherished everyone around them? Can you imagine the world we could create if we all embraced that confidence?

But I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that I've always had a pretty good understanding of my ability to help other people. In grade school, I was the kid who would be at the table in the back, showing other kids how to add and subtract or running vocabulary flashcards or doing reading exercises. In high school, I tutored I don't even know how many kids, and every now and then, when I go home, I run into one of them and they still remember me and talk about how some offhand comment changed them. A good friend of mine told me that he went to college because of something I told him once. A friend of my sister's sent me an e-mail a few years ago telling me that some encouragement I offered her on a random meeting in North Carolina inspired her to do what she really wanted to with her life.

I don't share this to stroke my own ego...okay, maybe a little....but mostly to remind myself that I have impact. What I say and do matters, and people can, will, and have changed their lives in response to my words and actions. I have, on some level, always known this. I don't know why it is - I don't think it makes me special or superior...it's just a reality in my life, one that I can't seem to escape, and really wouldn't want to anyway. I feel that an intrinsic part of who I am and the gifts I have is to affect people on some level.

Being aware of this has often set me apart. I was the teacher's pet, the overachiever, the one who pushed for what I wanted, spoke up about my opinions, shared my knowledge....and - shockingly - this did not necessarily make me popular. I got the old "you just think you're so smart" line and the "you think you're so much better than everyone" line all the time. Which I don't feel is something I have ever believed. I think I'm great, yeah, and I think everybody else is and can be, too. It's frustrating, though, when nobody believes you when you say that, and growing up in small towns filled with people who embrace that provincial mentality (and give me shit for using phrases like "provincial mentality")...well, I felt out of place and alone. I feel like most of my life has been spent looking for a place where I didn't have to worry about people being offended by my confidence and my acknowledgement of my abilities....and would also call me on my shit when I was being arrogant about something, which is a tendency I think I have mostly under control....but not always.

The point of all this masturbatory rambling is that I've had a few times in my life when I thought I found kindred spirits who understood this quandary of mine....the words are there, the actions are there, and I trust what my eyes and ears tell me....and then reality crashes home, and I'm disappointed. I can't figure out if my hopes or expectations are unrealistic, or if I just haven't found the right people yet. I can't seem to find the balance in striving for something pure and idealistic....and embracing the fact that people (including me) are human and fallible. Is it wrong to set those sights so high? Is it wrong to strive for an ideal under as pure an umbrella as is humanly possible? Am I naive? Am I crazy?

Yep, crazy sounds about right.

No comments: