Updated: Dec 21, 2020
“I’d like to slap her.” said a friend of mine who wouldn’t slap a mosquito biting her. A teacher told her son he couldn’t be a dancer. And it was all he wanted to be from a young age. He dreamed of Broadway and that teacher had him signed up for baseball by noon the same day.
If we listen to all the things people tell us we can or cannot do, who would we be?
I try to think back. Think if anyone told me I couldn’t do anything. I wanted to be a writer. Most teachers told me that someday I would write a novel. I wrote a couple short stories and found my brain shuts down at ten pages. So what does that do to you?
What if folks tell you that you can do anything? As Boomers like me told the Millennials growing up. What happens then? David Brooks, (@nytdavidbrooks) in his book, The Second Mountain, says
“nobody quite knows where they stand with one another. Everybody is pretty sure that other people are doing life better. Comparison is the robber of joy.”
He says they are lonely. He says they are depressed. If you don’t know what your passion is, what your desire is, if you are told to go out there and do anything you put your mind to - you flounder.
Ok Boomer? I think I messed up a bit.
Desire can fill up like a dresser drawer full of sweaters. Become a mess of wrinkled blue, brown and red wool squished in to fit - hiding the favorite sweater at the bottom until you forget you even had it. When you go to clean out the drawer, it becomes a chore….if you don’t have the heart to get to it, or if you start too late. Maybe the favorite sweater doesn't fit anymore.
Last night we were inexplicably watching a Rocky movie. One we actually had never seen. Rocky was angry with his 20-something son. In his stuttering Philly accented slang, he was telling the son to stop blaming everyone around him for what he was NOT. To take responsibility for his life. That life was measured not by his success but by how he got up after he got knocked down. They were in the alley behind Rocky’s restaurant. It was dark and the ground looked oily and dirty. The son stared back silent with eyes like cereal bowls being filled to the brim.
“Wow,” We both said and looked at each other. “That was pretty good.” Then we kind of laughed at ourselves.
“Rewind and play that again.” I said.
Hearts are like hotels. Rooms full of desire. This dream, that idea. Doors open, they close. At intervals the VACANCY sign lights up like a blue flame desperate for air.
And heart break is so quiet but seen so loud. You hear it in the clenching and wringing of hands, the strangled tear-stuck words of a mom, the keepsake not saved and thrown in to the trash.
My friend’s son is a Broadway dancer. And Rocky didn’t win the fight last night. But he got up after he was knocked down. And God knows the door is open for a sequel.