On Carefree Living

One foot in front of the other, for the rest of your natural life; and I suppose that’s only fair, everyone else has to do it. But sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it to me. We all have our burdens to bear, but why does mine have to be so dang heavy? Some nights I lay in my bed trying to remember the last time I felt carefree. The last time I didn’t have to constantly assess the growing number of threats around me. I turn the light on and open the drawer to find a collection of pictures from those days.

I’m young in those pictures – a baby, a child in the third grade. Grandma took a picture of me taking pictures of flowers with a broken camera in the late spring. And a memory, precious memory, surfaces; of trying to draw orcas while my family sat in the living room with my grandparents. Sprawled out on the floor with colored pencils and starting to get hard on myself because I’d drawn a near-perfect orca the other day…but this orca wasn’t turning out so well. Frustration mounts and I’m getting annoyed. They tell me to keep trying, I’ll get better eventually, I’ll get better if I just keep trying. But eventually seems like a long ways away and progress comes slowly.

I lay there in my bed; trying to feel the worries of a third grader whose biggest concern is drawing a near-perfect orca. And it comes to me: every week I have those same carefree concerns as I sit with a friend and talk about nothing of consequence and draw and erase and draw and erase as I try to construct the near-perfect set of legs. The legs, of course, belong to a grotesque creature I saw walking down the street late last week. But, grotesque as it is, that creature is a comfort to me. It’s a reminder that I’m always exactly where I need to be. Because I’m here and it’s over there and it’s not going to hurt me because I’m here and it’s over there.

I used to get frustrated when they would show up – it was evidence that I am sick, it was evidence that I am different. But they told me to keep trying, to keep trying to accept it for what it was. And, though progress was slow and I slipped more often than not, acceptance came and I’m now at peace with them. I draw them. I accept them.

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