A friend and I were discussing the topic of people who seem to always be in control. Regardless of what life throws their way, these individuals react as if they had been expecting it all along.
I smirked a bit, feeling squeezed between silly and cocky, when she said that I was just that sort.
“I used to think the same of me,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s true anymore. I don’t know how to be in control of everything and live to make myself happy.”
I laughed, and said, “Woman, I can’t control the world, not even what happens in my own life; anyone who goes around thinking they can do that will die very soon and very disappointed. I know I can’t control what happens around me, but at the risk of committing cliché in the first degree, I will say that I have control over the way I react to the circumstances life slaps me with.”
Let’s examine a few examples: I joined the military determined to serve for at least 20 years. I was really grateful to the country that paid for most of my schooling, so I wanted to give back. Then my right shoulder was injured… then my left hip was injured… then other things were injured… and then everything began to deteriorate.
I left the military a decade earlier than planned, and started working as an assistant researcher for a Criminal Justice professor studying methamphetamine and its effects in small town America. I loved the job, but my marriage fell apart and living on the same city with my ex-husband was not something I could do, not if I wanted to heal and move on.
I drove to the opposite coast and began to work with individuals who had been affected by HIV and AIDS. During this time, I started writing fiction with purpose. I fell in love with storytelling, and I had so many stories to tell… This was almost five years ago. I had just started working on a Masters in Counseling with a specialization on Grief, Loss and Trauma—I was really touched by the way HIV and AIDS affected the body and psyche of my clients and those closest to them.
The time came when I had to decide if I was going to write fiction or work as a counselor. I couldn’t do both well at the same time. Those of you who have been with me for more than four years probably remember those days. I was confused, feeling guilty about the possibility of leaving my clients, and feeling worse about the unlucky chance of doing them a disservice because my mind was somewhere else…
After months of going back and forth inside my head, I decided to move back to New York City to study Creative Writing. I made myself available as a volunteer for individuals who needed help. I explained that I was going to school, so they needed to contact me with plenty of time.
I found myself serving as an interpreter in family court, taking patients to medical appointments, explaining paperwork to Spanish speaking patients, helping people fill out forms for Social Security and the Department of Social Services… and my favorite, running to raise money for different causes and sometimes individuals.
Today, I can’t run, but I can write and share. Most of my stories—even the ones that look like something else on the surface—explore the lives of individuals who live in the margins of society, or whose circumstances have caused society to marginalize them as individuals. Some might miss the connection between serving in the military, assisting individuals affected by infectious diseases and writing fictions about those who exist in the fringes. But can you see it, my Wicked Luvs?
I have no control over a Universe that decided I should land on my right shoulder, instead of flat-footed and straight-backed while smacking the ground, when a fellow Marine and I were running demonstrations in a grenade pit; I have no control over the mind of Fate when she deemed it fit for my left hip to be crushed under a moving wheel and my flesh to be torn by a broken fender; I’ve never been able to dissuade Death from taking clients, patients, friends, family, from taking anyone I hold dear… But I will always be able to control what I do with those experiences, and I am Mistress over the way I continue living my life after learning a particular lesson.
If you go back to the fifth paragraph of this post, you will read me saying that “I wanted to give back.” I still do—I’m all about making my witchy Self happy, and sharing the yum. I can’t give what I wanted to give nearly 20 years ago, but I can still give. And that, my Wicked Luvs, might not give me control of the world, but it lets me claim control over the ways in which I deal with my circumstances… and live to tell the tale.
A few days back, I said, “I’m grieving. I’m thinking… There’ll be changes…” Well, that remains true. Some of the changes will affect my online presence (I will stop using my Facebook profile, soon…). No worries though, this means more yummy blogging (most likely every other day between here and my fiction Site); there will be changes on the fiction writing front (mayhap a bit of fantastically creative witchy nonfiction *twinkle, cackle, giggle*), changes on the publication side, and I’m sure life will come up with music I haven’t even imagined dancing.
And that’s all right, Life dearest. I’m a Caribbean witchy Marine woman: I’m always ready to adapt, overcome, and change steps in order to dance (and live!) in a way that makes me happy.
Dancing Fire VI, by Irina Sztukowski
the artist’s description of her work makes this piece even more enthralling
from the artist: “When I finished painting this abstract art piece, I was surprised myself how the cold wet watercolors could transform into a hot powerful fire. Just in a few brushstrokes the energy of a dramatic composition moves the viewers’ eyes from the figure to the flame generating a new Dance of Fire.”
“Fire cleanses and reveals, fire cleanses and reveals…”~ AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories