As I was working on this, I received my FIRST VALENTINE’S GREETING in decades; virtual flowers from my dear Pamela. This is really going to be my year. I also received a dick pic (not from my dear Pamela, ha) — which I’ll spare you, but that’s a different story.
There are those who would judge me as failed because I am now working on this blog instead of that promised January short story which is now two weeks late.
There are those who would judge me as failed because I have censored some of my experiences, not yet turned them into the stories I want to tell, in some ways need to tell, because I am mindful of how my interpretations might upset and violate the privacy of people I have known; but how dare I fear when Ashraf Fayad, Palestinian poet and artist, who has committed no crime other than interpreting his life into the stories he needed to tell, fearlessly, has been convicted of apostasy and is in a Saudi Arabian prison for eight years and eight-hundred lashes, which is reduced from his original death sentence. [Click HERE for the Amnesty International petition to free him]
There are those who would judge me as failed because I am sometimes impatient and less than sympathetic with those whose views I consider to be built on a foundation of suppressed or denied bigotry, those I consider to have happily embraced the arrogance of ignorance.
There are those who would judge me as failed because I have not parlayed my gifts — intellectual acumen, empathy, performing and directing and teaching and writing talents — into a reliable income that would allow me a room of my own with windows and quiet and privacy.
There are those who would judge me as failed because I have not had a long-term romantic relationship, the kind for which greeting card holidays were invented, the kind about which novels, plays, films, poetry, opera, pop songs, and Broadway musicals have been written.
Here’s the thing about those and that: Once Upon A Time I would have agreed. No more. This blog is part of my process. Procrastination and distractions are stops on my creative journey to my destination.
And another thing about those and that; I have channeled my truths into my writing and my life, and as I have matured — or, at least, aged — what once seemed black and white, the definite rights and wrongs, saints and sinners, now have become a beautifully complicated story in many shades of gray, where what once seemed definite turns out to be other than it first appeared, and right and wrong blur into could be and maybe and “oh, now I see”, and everyone — known long and deeply enough — turns out to be both sinner and saint, in fact, those labels become meaningless and are replaced by “human”.
And another thing about those and that; Yes, I do still get impatient with bigotry and all the -isms and -ists and such, but I work for some people who are incredibly kind to me — love me, even — and yet hold political, religious, and judicial views repugnant to me. If I read about their views and beliefs, heard about them from a distance without having been personally acquainted with these good, decent, loving, well-intentioned people, I could dismiss them as beasts. Conundrum: as much as I loathe what they believe, I cannot bring myself to hate them. I think their logic is distorted and their beliefs mistaken, and we discuss this with each other, not infrequently, but always respectfully and with some mutual shock that we can co-exist and be fond of each other. So, yes, I get impatient, but I don’t hate, and when reading about bigots and haters and those who’d deny me my humanity, I remind myself of these people, who would justify doing the same even as they know they love me. I’ve changed their minds about a few things, which would never have happened if I lived in hate all the time. So, I forgive myself my impatience at other times.
And about me not having made millions, or a CD, or been published, and about me no longer singing, performing, teaching, and as to that not having a forty-hour-a-week job or money enough for a real room of my own or the ambition to be part of the American dream rat-race, and my acceptance of this simpler life, a life in many ways dependent on the kindness of others: all of those games are fixed. I played them. I almost won. In many ways, I did win. Too, for years I sang, acted, directed, taught, and was a counselor for many, many people. I did it all my way, outside the confines of having earned degrees or shingles or being able (or wanting) to charge by the hour or at all — I changed and saved lives, there is testimony to that should you need it, and if you want to judge me for not having managed to make a fortune from that, I judge you for that judgment — I wonder why you are not, instead, singing my praises for having done so much for so many and asked for nothing in return. If I am now living a simpler life in some ways subsidized by others, it is the least the universe can do for me since I spent decades taking care of everybody else.
And about that romantic love thing; well kids, I didn’t have time or belief enough in myself to do that. Part of my journey was (is still, some days) about me having early on, somehow, believed I was “not good enough” to be famous, to sing, to act, to teach, to write, to counsel, to be loved, and the destination to which I am here, with you, going, is that place where I believe I do deserve joy, where I can look in a mirror, where I can say to myself, “I am enough.”
I’m almost there. Here, where we are going, and so my few words about my human failings are these: I forgive you, Charlie, for thinking you were failed. You were not. You are not. You are amazing and glorious and a gift to this world, and so today, Valentine’s Day, I offer you this: I love you. Me. Here. Going.