I'm a late bloomer, probably because I've worked so hard at keeping the 'light and silly child within' side of me alive. I'm an artist. For me to be creative I need to live in a horse-time kind of world, where clocks and bills and schedules are irrelevant, at least while I'm in the studio or sitting here, writing. My WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT ALPHIE stage came later, much later. And it happened when I learned the word NO.
I don't usually say it like that. I don't shout or loose my temper, get angry or gnash my teeth. I say, " No, thank you. That won't work for me. Thank you for asking though." and I move on. Most of the time the other party wants an explanation.
" But why? It's a great idea!" Or, " You really need this thing a ma jig. Your life is going to be so much easier if you have one. Why wouldn't you want one?" Or, my least favorite (and the one I have practiced saying NO in a firm, non judgmental way to), the folks who think they are here to save me and convert me to their religious set of beliefs.
(Snore...) " No, thank you. Not my cup of tea."
I love that word, "NO!". It's such an effective tool. And I no longer feel like I owe any reasons either, at least most of the time.
Living with horses has taught me a lot about how to protect, in a quiet and efficient way with no overt emotion, my personal space. They don't expect any explanations and they respect my ability to say, " Move three steps back please. I am coming through. Thank you." . No anger and sometimes laughter when they test to see if the rules are still in place.
Nope. No. Nuh uh. Nah. Nada. No thank you. Not going there. Noooo...
Pretty simple, easy to understand and very effective. Almost all languages have the same word for , "No.". And if the person I say no to doesn't seem to be listening, I walk around them and move on. It's a waste of time and energy arguing and is, sometimes, exactly what the other wanted anyway. They want to engage in behavior that is inappropriate for the sake of the confrontation. Again, not my cup of tea.
But where does that leave me? I've read over and over again that we are the makers of our own lives, find our own paths. Do I believe that? In part I do. I think that it's what I decide to do when I come to a divided path, an intersection, that determines who I am and where I end up. When I walk out the door, realize that I left the milk bottles behind and turn around to go get them and leave a few minutes later, avoiding the skidding out of control truck that hits the car in front of me head on, I did have something to do with that because I listened to a small inner voice that said, " Wait, turn around."
And when I stopped to take this shot, stood up and saw a six foot rattle snake slither across my path four feet ahead of me, RIGHT WHERE I WAS GOING TO WALK, it was because that inner voice said, " Wait. Watch." and I avoided a possibly dangerous interaction, while out on a hike, with a snake who's territory I was in. He would have struck because I frightened him, not because he wanted to bite me.
That's free choice. We live in a circle of life that interconnects, weaves together in to a pattern that carries us forward on to paths there to teach us. I can choose to tell the truth and sleep well or lie and toss and turn, worried about whether I will hurt someone or get caught in the lie. I choose to say, "No, thank you." to things, to events that I know will hurt someone else.
When I was on my own and very young I took terrible risks. Most teenagers do. We are experimenting with our lives and oblivious to the possibility that we might hurt our parents, grand parents or siblings by getting ourself hurt. My brains turned on to that idea when my Mom died just after my oldest son was born. There we were, my husband and I, responsible for a real human being that we had brought in to the world and my Mom died and, a year later, his Dad. We were on our own in a huge world with another baby on the way and no back up!
The world is a pretty big place when it's just you, the babies you're responsible for and the horizon. There were intersections everywhere, choices and worry and unbelievable happiness, terrible pain at every turn. Nothing focuses you more than having children.
And here I am, in the middle of my life, thinking about going back. I want to be closer to my family, to spend time with them without airport security checks and extravagant air fair costs. I want to have an occasional weekend meal with them, spend time catching up and then go back to a new horizon, that place we came to because I decided to take another chance.
I want new pastures for my horses, new trails and shorelines to explore. I want a new environment to be my muse, that place my ancestors came from. I love the open skies of the Midwest but need the rolling hills of Virginia to fill my dreams. I want to add a dimension to my pattern by caring for a home that the original owners loved as much as we will. And I want to care for it so it has longevity, becomes the place my children's children go to for time with their Grandparents and their herd, the gardens, space and quiet. I want to send my money and essay in to make a new path to walk on. I choose to take a zig instead of a zag, and to come to Essex County to do that.
I would like the opportunity to own instead of lease, to have the freedom and possibility to give my family an inheritance that they have memories attached to. All I can promise is myself, my enthusiasm and creativity, my husband and the family, four legged and two legs, that we bring with us. And the story that we will add to yours.
By saying No or Yes, we add to history and open roads not yet traveled.
I am, ever yours, Nancy, in the middle and standing in the yellow forest, waiting.