More than once mamas have asked me, "What made you so wild when you were younger?" I was wild when I was younger. I started smoking young, I drank young, I was interested in boys young. Young being elementary school, young being 10. More than being wild, I was miserable. I was lost and lonely, angry, and really confused. I acted out, I yelled, I got in trouble, I did poorly in school.
The strange thing is my family life was really good. I mean, we were a family, which is complicated for everyone, but I was loved and cared for and appreciated. We had enough, and even a little more than enough. Both my parents were worldly and education and they taught us about the world outside of ourselves. They also taught strong values, to be moral, and be wearable. I know which fork to use at fancy restaurants. I can chat my ass off at a dinner party. And though I struggle with it sometimes, I am grounded in who I am.
By the time I was 13, I had a ton of diagnosis and I believed them, I let them shape how I viewed myself. By the time I was 30 I had had my shit together for a few years, and realized most of those diagnosis were bullshit. That's the abbreviated wildness story because my wildness isn't really the point of this post. The point of this post is This Equals That.
I've realized that the reasons why mamas ask me about my wildness is because as human beings, and especially as human beings raising human beings, we like to feel in control of life. We like to feel in control of our children's future. We constantly judge situations to make ourselves feel safer. If I feed beastie organic fruit he will not get cancer in the future and die some horrible death. Whew, dodged a bullet there. And look at that kid over there shoving that other kid. His mother must not raise him right. My darling would never do such a thing. There's also that t.v. thing. That child must watch too much t.v. look at the wildness in his eyes, see how he pretends everything is a gun? I bet he plays Halo 10 hours a day!
News stories about parents screwing up are juicy fodder to be judged and devoured. I separate myself from the parents in those stories, making up elaborate backgrounds for those poor souls. The fantasy histories I create justify their fucking up and my righteousness. They did This it equals That.
There are a million ways that we, as human beings, make it seem that This Equals That, but in reality, it doesn't. When I figured out the equation doesn't add up I lost a little peace in my soul, and a little sureness in my step, because the earth didn't seem so stable anymore. The flip side of that is I was also able to let go of some of the guilt and the responsibility that comes with being the This that makes That equal. I realized that life is just complicated. Sometimes that can be a good thing and sometimes that just plain sucks.
The first time that I had a big This DOES NOT Equal That moment is when my dad died. I was still looking at life as pieces and not seeing the whole. 62 years old, worked out everyday, didn't smoke, had been a kind, giving, life loving man and he fucking got cancer and died right when he retired. Right when he was going to travel the world with the OSQ, the love of his life. This DOES NOT Equal that. I was pissed. Angry at the Universe in a way that made me scream in my car and randomly give the finger to God. Life is not fair.
Soon after my dad died, my sister's beautiful 19 month old daughter died in her sleep. Not SIDS, not a virus, just gone. Her parents loved her and cared for her, they did everything right as parents. This DOES NOT Equal that. By that point I was just fucking confused about life. I think that the fact that I had had such a charmed life made it even more devastating. I was so naive about the crap shoot of day to day living.
This Equals That isn't only about the negative though. It is the positive too. We take credit for both. With the negative we beat ourselves down, with the positive we build ourselves up. Look at what I earned! we tell ourselves, Look at what I deserve for being so good. But really what have I really done to deserve this life? Karma knows, but me, I have no idea. My greatest sorrows are losing people that I loved so much. I do not have to fight daily for food and water. I have been safe everyday of my life, I have more love thrown my way than should be bearable. I have my beautiful beasties.
There are many more things I could list, both positive and negative, that have happened in my life They have proven to me again and again that life is not fair, and mostly it seems pretty random to me. In big pictures moments, which are rare, I can see that This DOES NOT Equal that. It has helped me forgive myself and others on many occasions, but still I obsess and fret about the damn fruit my kids eat, and the many times I say SHIT around their little ears. When I get lost in the details I am convinced I am ruining them.
The whole notion of karma seems very This Equals That, but it isn't. I think that is one of the reasons that Buddhism speaks to my soul. If you are carrying hundreds of lifetimes of This and That, there is no way to imagine the equation. There is no way to use your judgment to figure it out. It just is the way that it is. And it all seems like a mosaic. Taken as pieces it makes no sense, but put together it is beautiful and complex. The mismatched pieces make a whole, make a picture of your life.
When I step back though, and get out of the details of This and That there are such shiny moments, colorful, and bright, and then there are dark rough stones that balance out it. This DOES NOT Equal that, but these fine broken pieces of moments in my life sit perfectly side by side and create a picture of the Sassy Queenpin Mama and the roads I have traveled.