Last night I fell asleep to the quiet buzz of a single thought. Who do you want to be? My response on most given days is “a writer”. But, that is a long, windy, arduous road in which the traveler is prone to stumble and lack the necessary endurance to sustain for years. YEARS.
Then, as minds often do before sleep, it drifted to the funerals of the past seven months, my mothers and my dear friends. Two vastly different people and their approaches on life.
My mother’s legacy is of family. Family is what is of paramount importance to the exclusion of all else: friends, church, personal ambitions, travel, etc. My mother sacrificed her wants and needs for her family. That sacrifice was a point of great pride. She had very few close friendships. Not having the mental stamina to dissect herself from her pervasive anxiety.
My friend’s legacy is similar, but also markedly different. Family is paramount to her as well, but she always made time for friends, neighbors, and adventure. She helped make a difference in the larger world. There were hundreds of people attending her funeral the day they put my friend in her earthly home. She was vivacious, humorous, adventurous, and leapt outside of her comfort zone if it entailed expanding her heart and mind.
Two vastly different and passionate women. My mother’s legacy of living a fearful life devoid of adventure and close non-familial relationships is in direct juxtaposition with my friends.
This past weekend I went on my family’s first camping trip. It was wonderful and we shared a campsite with family friends and their young children. The kids had a delightful time and the adults all enjoyed each other’s company. A memory worthy experience. I felt that beat of my mother, only family matters.
I weighed the legacies of these two women in my mind. I can understand my mother’s protective urge to enwrap her family in her wings and harbor them safely from the rest of the world. So many of her attitudes, and beliefs were born of fear and control. If she held on, and controlled us out of parental fear and manipulation, then her world, her life was safe. Is that the legacy I want to live? Safety?
I ruminated on all the ways her legacy of fear had infected my attitudes and beliefs. Parents’ attitudes are so integral to the construction of our beliefs that it is such a sisyphean task to unravel what is healthy and unhealthy. I am still learning how my mother’s fears have infected my world view.
It would be easier, to pull back, to recoil from the arduousness of the journey. To harbor myself and my family along the rocky shores, camp there, and hide.
Or, do I travel, explore, learn and grow and have a legacy of great love, to be applauded and loved by hundreds? Do I follow that pulse, that fire in my belly that soars to write, to travel, to extend myself beyond my insular world to experience others’ worlds? I don’t want my legacy to be of fear. Fear of extending myself beyond the scope of my family.
Last night, I understood more completely my mother’s legacy, but even though I can pause and contemplate the security of a positon in a safe, rocky knoll, I can’t stay there.
I can’t continue my mother’s legacy of fear, and insular control. I need to follow that long, windy path that my soul propels me to follow. To write, to explore, to follow “the road less traveled”….