There are times in this ridiculousness when I get to be normal. Well, maybe a facsimile of my version of normal, which is always a bit off anyway. But I digress. It has been a week with two birthdays, and we have cake. Red velvet cake, home made cupcakes, Publix cupcakes, and Chuck E Cheese cake. That, my friends, is a shit ton of cake. Like, whoah!
But it isn’t the cake that’s really important here (unless you, my love, are as concerned as I about the expansion of my ass or the spike in my blood sugar). What’s really important is the idea of letting go. Letting go of the rules that I’ve always, without hesitation, imposed upon myself, upon my family, upon life.
Rules. I love rules. Rules govern my life: the way I drive, dress, apply makeup, my grammar (oddly, my spelling & typos seem unaffected), how I staple a paper, how I wash a dish. Rules rule.
But when does a rule become a burden? Are rules meant to guide or control?
When can you throw off the mantle of being ruled and become one who simply is?
A few months ago I set out, deliberately and with both care and gusto, to allow myself to break my rules. Not all of them, just the most arbitrary, stifling ones. I have, for better or worse, discovered that I’ve tended to have an aversion to wearing patterned clothes. It became very apparent a few years ago. There are reasons, of course, but for all intents and purposes I was a solid-clothing wearer. Period. So I began to buy patterned clothes. Clothes in styles that took me outside of my comfort zone. That challenged me. And I rocked it all. I did and do. It is both frighting and liberating. I created an arbitrary rule that I only wear solid clothes and didn’t even know it for years. Why? Why have I tried to complicate my life? What is so abhorrent about an article of clothing with a pattern on it? The answer is NOTHING. Not a damn thing. I just felt more comfortable, nay safer, in solids. Because I like to let my personality shine, not be out shined by my ensemble (no matter how fabulous I may look). And that’s ridiculous! What in the world?! I don’t like this, or do that. Blah blah blah isn’t my thing. But by following my myriad rules and staying in my safe zone I have failed to live my life.
Did you catch that?
I have FAILED to live my life.
About 3 months ago, I came to a turning point. I was about to reach a milestone, becoming older than my mother was when she died. I have already surpassed my cousin, my brother, and now my mother and I felt both terrified and set free. After a lifetime of indecision and course corrections, I felt as though things were beginning to fall into place. I’d worked so long and hard to get to that place, on so many levels. If it were possible to bottle the feeling, I’d send it to everyone in the world. The thing that made this so very profound is that I realized I’d ruled myself out of life and that shit had to come to an abrupt end. I had no hobbies, we did nothing as a family, and my life was dictated only by the chaotic schedule of my job and life requirements like buying groceries. No socializing with friends face to face. No vacations. No end to justify the means, and that isn’t a life. It is an existence. I can’t merely exist anymore. I’ve wasted so long existing within my rules that I’d forgotten how to live.
So I bought patterned clothes.
And I went out with friends. More than once.
I made plans and I set them into motion. I enrolled in school with a clear plan. I registered for a summer course. I bought concert tickets and a new car. I was breaking my rules, swallowing my irrational fears, and doing what I was meant to do.
And it was working, dammit!
But I’ve been sidelined a bit. I have moments, hours, days, where I am so angry, railing against the injustice of this hitting at such an inopportune time. Railing against its ability to change my entire life within a month and not even be a true, immediate danger. At how that compares to the struggles others face, with illnesses that will take their lives, who aren’t pissing and moaning about losing a breast, but rather losing their lives. Those times are mitigated by exhaustion of the soul, by the peace that is starting to find me at odd moments, by the way I am touched and humbled by the people with whom I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself through the years.
What the ever-loving-hell does this have to do with cake, you’re thinking?
As I said, we’ve had two birthdays this week, three this month. My husband turned 48. Twenty days later, I turned 39, and today #5 (Q) turned 4. My life is now. Not some alternate reality where I made better decisions at X, Y, or Z point in my life, not in the misty future, now. Here and now. I have a life to lead. And arbitrary rules to break.
So I let the kids eat all the cake. Eat the cake! Why not?