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What was real
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Regrets, I’ve had a few….
Bucket lists – things I should do before I kick the bucket – I don’t have one. I would rather do it than write it down.

Friends recommend books like What Color is Your Parachute, The Secret, Daily Affirmations, I could never get past the chirpy optimism to the meat of the self help offered. Cliches and recycled wisdom. For words to live by from a slightly more obscure reference, I prefer: “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it” – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6. Self improvement is a catch-as-catch-can proposition. What are the wrong priorities? Work? Carpe Diem on a per diem budget of $10? It’s just not all under control – there is a randomness to the universe that cannot be escaped, that has to be figured in when we set about to improve ourselves. We are all taught to forgive – we are supposed to, it is God-like, closer than cleanliness. But what if the evildoer expresses no remorse? Then our forgiveness becomes enabling, and there are some acts so heinous we should have nothing to do with encouraging a repeat.

I have a microwave that sends more positivity my way than members of my own family. Then again, I have no estranged appliances. LED displays of “Enjoy Your Meal!” do not discriminate. Still waiting to hear “I’m sorry” from some of the Perpetrators of Cruelty from my past. I bear no grudge, but it would be foolish to seek them out and proffer forgiveness. Remorse, or at least some semblance of taking responsibility for their terrible actions, for their suspicions and poisonous invective, an olive branch, a trembling first step in my direction, still waiting.

Mostly, I forgive harm done to me, but not so much intentional harm inflicted upon those whom I love. There are those who dwell in misery, who see menace lurking behind kindnesses, who blame everybody but themselves for their misfortune. Yes, fate, serendipity, randomness, these all play a part in the outcome of our lives, but we choose how to react. Just don’t be evil, and keep doing the best you can – now if only I could stretch that advice out to about 300 pages, I could be a paper back writer.

Like fruits and vegetables, I want to take the pieces of my life, put them in a big mesh bag, and rinse them off. Which of the questions I ask myself are dusty assumptions? We used to call them “old tapes”. Like little bits of magnetized metal can stretch and play, sounding different when compression algorithms take the souls out of the notes. Expectations of ridicule leak out of my ears, a hemorrhagic fever of failure. Each morning I greet a trickle or a torrent and with practice, can talk myself up to sanguine. While doubting the veracity of compliments received, I believe with a child’s naiveté the degrading lies. Wincing and accepting a condescending narrative, because it fits better. I think it protects me from the storm, but it adheres to my skin leaving me perpetually bowed against an invisible wind. Sit up, a chirpy voice inside my head exclaims. Thighs growing closer together each year as I age embarrass me. The Memoji that I use on Facebook has “lines” on its face – full disclosure – my avatar is better looking than her originator. Who is that pasty-faced wrinkly out of shape Mrs. Potato Head? A construct of early voices of derision, a legacy from a taciturn set of relatives. Most days I can unbutton the Trench Coat of Doom. Wish I could burn it, but for now, setting it aside will have to do.

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