An epiphany for everyone in the audience

I blame Yes. Their song “Changes” has been in my head since my visit to Portland. My son chose my fave albums from his collection (gosh, he knows me very well, I must say!) and surprised me with them as I sat, bruised and broken (in body only), in the Swivel Chair of Death. More of this later…

So…the big news is that I’m moving to Salt Lake City to live with Kat, Kev, and Cassidy. I’m leaving the PhD program. Just walking away. While I was laid up this week, I had an epiphany/ies. I realize now that they’re all things my kids and loved ones have been telling me for the past year+, but you have to know it for yourself, don’t you? You can talk to me till you’re blue in the face, but until I register it myself, I’m just smiling and nodding at you. We can only hear what we believe.

For instance, I loved telling people I was doing a PhD; vanity, pure vanity. It doesn’t make me a better person, and if truth be told, it may make me a more neurotic and unhealthy one! My body’s been trying to tell me to “give it a rest already!” but would I listen? Noooooo. Not until this week, anyway. When I look at my education, I realize that what I really love — the reading, the paleography, the research, even the conferences — I can totally do anyway. I can finish those books a publisher will jump at; I can start my scholarly journal at last.

And one reason I bragged about the PhD (there may be others, yet undiscovered) was it made me feel like I was not a failure after all. After doing some deep soul-searching and writing this week, I realized that no one who loves me thinks I’m a failure, and it’s sure not because I’m doing a PhD. They thought I was great long before I subjected myself to that particular torture.

Back to Portland and my recent visit: the last night at my son’s, one after another of his friends drifted onto the candle-lit “Stoop of Happiness” (as I like to call it) to give me a heartfelt hug or two, and to chat about the universe, and say goodbye before my trip the next day. I sort of felt like Rose Kennedy or something; the respect and love from each of them touched me deeply. I’d had no alcohol; there was no music; just a twilit evening under an indigo Portland sky, sharing love and joy with people I care about very much.

I realized this week, too, that my perception of pain is utterly subjective. When I fell on my face (Swivel Chair of Death played a part in this, aided and abetted by alcohol and Bartleby the cat), that pain eclipsed my hip pain entirely. When I broke my left foot this week (and really, you do have to laugh, don’t you? I did, and do! What a sight I must have been), that pain took over and I felt no pain in my face or my hip. (I must confess they all seem to hurt equally now, but not nearly so badly as before! But you know I believe that pain-means-I’m-healing; it’s all good.)

My son and daughter-in-law will be amazed and happy to hear that I’m going to apply for disability in Utah. My ego, finally, is not wrapped up in the process, producing an agony that for me last year was the subject of many of my blogs. I chuckle to myself, I must admit: for the last umpteen years I have been broken and dis-eased inside, but because the outside of me looked grand and healthy, no one believed me. Now I am utterly at peace with myself — soul nicely healed inside — but the outside of me is broken, quite literally, from head to toe. I could be a Poster Child for Social Security Disability. “Seeing is believing,” I think, is another way to put it, and I find I am ready to march in the Parade of Bureaucracy, unashamed. I hope they give me money.

If not, I find that, even after years of higher education, my first love is writing, followed quickly by teaching and tutoring English as a Second Language. (“Gosh, Jen — you found that out 19 years ago! What up?” Yeah, yeah…I know. Epiphany time again.) I feel just a little like Dorothy — and not just because there are “twistahs!” in the local Illinois scenery. (I wonder where those red shoes are?)

And at the end of it all; in fact, at the beginning, middle, and every other part of it all, there is love. Love is what it’s all about, whether it’s family or friends or even strangers. (Maybe especially strangers?) I am so full of gratitude for all the amazing and wonderful people I’ve met, and experiences I’ve had, including meeting myself.

I love me now, and that’s quite the thing. I love myself! Do you know how extraordinary it is for me to say that, think that — and mean it?

I love you, too, and I love the very wonderfulness of your generous and kind spirit. I will never, ever, forget you, no matter where I go or what I do. Life is delicious; I relish every moment — the pain, the joy, the sorrow: I could not have asked for a better life. If I had listened to the “reason” of others, or not followed my heart’s wisdom, or caged my soul so it could not fly, would I have met you? I shudder to think how it might have been; then I brighten, because luckily I followed my path, the one that to so many looks like pure craziness.

If this is crazy, then I wish it upon you, too. My world is an awesome one! I love being nuts. It’s very freeing!

Happy epiphany-ing.

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