Once upon a time, long ago, but not very far away lived a family of eight children, and their mother and father in an old barn of a house at the end of a street against a field of horses. There were six daughters and two sons and they lived happily together though they were very poor. They did everything together. They sang, played, camped and worked. They were friends.
The sixth child was a girl. She was content in the warm bubble of love that surrounded her family home. It didn't take much to thrill or entertain the children. A tent in the family room was more than enough excitement for them. A place where all of them could be themselves. Her little brother by 2 years, and older sister by 2 years, were all the friends she needed as a child. Then, one day she started school. Although she was a good little girl and eager to learn, she found it difficult and confusing to be in such a hostile environment. The adults were ambivalent and the children there were fickle and cruel sometimes. There were expectations and a status quo to uphold.The chain link fence around the school yard made it plain what sort of institution she had entered. A soulless, lime green existence punctuated by shame and humiliation stretched out before her for twelve long years. Her little brother grew away from her and her older sister became trapped inside a beautiful body. She, herself,began to change in bits. She hardened and steeled herself against caring too much. She lost herself in books and writing, sheltered in fiction. Somewhere in the tenth year of her sentence she had become a mere shadow of herself. Why had this happened, she wondered. Her life was good. School was Ok. What had she lost? How had she lost it? That is when she fled. In the snowy wilderness she communed with her past self and the diamond stars and God beyond. She walked bare footed in the snow and howled with coyotes. Everything felt familiar. Being cast out from a happy existence was not new. The winter cold turned her inside out and she found a small girl hidden, shivering in fear, seated at a peeling desk on linoleum tile. She brought the girl to the fire and asked her to sit. She let the girl cry and told her it was alright. Soon they were both smiling. In a canvas tent amidst sage brush and bitter bark she learned to smile inside again. After that everything was easier. She realized there was nothing wrong with struggling and striving- it did not have to make you unhappy. Whenever things were hard, whenever home seemed far, she could put up a shelter and look inside for strength and for herself. And that was Ok. Comfort is something you can pack along with you in the wilderness and happiness can be there as easy as it can be found in your own family room. Things were good and things were bad. But she strove happier ever after.
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