“It doesn’t matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was.”
Anne Sexton is one of my favorite writers. Truly. One thing that this quote reminds me of…well…death. Particularly, the death of my brother, Johnny. He died when I was sixteen years old. Everyone eventually experiences death.
It also makes me think of an episode of the golden girls, when Bea Arthur’s character is sick, and cannot find a doctor to diagnose her illness. Finally she visits a friend who is a doctor, and she asks him, “well, am I going to die?”
And he says, “Sooner or later, I guarantee it!”
But I digress.
Things are not always as they seem. It is your perception of life that changes things. It is your outlook on the world that can change it. YES you can change the world. YES you can make things happen. But first you must believe that you can do this.
Getting back to my brother and perceptions…
Sometimes it’s hard for us to deal with loving a person that was or is not exactly….picture perfect. You know? I mean, everyone has issues, and everyone has flaws, sure. But it can be difficult to see past a person’s flaws. But like I said…we all have flaws.
Think about your flaws. Write about them in your journal. Then think of the good things about yourself. By far, you don’t identify yourself with your bad habits now, do you? So then why should we remember a person in their flaws?
Love means seeing past a person’s bad habits, and loving them anyway. It is quite hard to do. But sometimes love is like exersize. You may not always want to do it. But when you do, it feels good.
Today, try to love the person that frustrates you with their bad habits or negative ways. Maybe all they need is a little bit of love and understanding. Make art with the person. Teach them something you know how to do, weather it be baking, or crocheting, or embroidery…love really does bring things together. And maybe your love of art, can help you see past the damage inside this person, and just see the goodness in them.
It’s like being at the foot of the ocean in Coney Island or the Jersey Shore. You don’t focus on how brown the water is, and how clear the water is in Puerto Rico and Jamaica. You focus on how majestic the ocean is, and how beautiful the water looks, at a glance. So then, instead of the water being gross to look at, it becomes an ocean: majestic and spiritual.
Oh, and my point about my brother? Well, my brother wasn’t perfect you know? He had issues, from being born into this family of mine, and unlike him, I was lucky enough to have a grandmother who taught me what it is to truly be spiritual. He acted out. But rather than remember the things that made him flawed, I choose to remember his good things: like how proud he was of me, and how much alike we looked, despite having only one father in common, or how he would just casually hand me $50, or how he just loved in his own non-communicative way.
I wrote lots of poetry about him. My poems, and my faith in a higher power are what saved me. Pain and grief are natural things. Shit happens. It’s the circle of life. But when we remember to love in actions, and when we learn to focus on the good things, it becomes…I won’t say easier…but it is not as hard to let go. My perception of him, changed the way I grieved. And then in turn, it became easier to let go. Anger, and negative emotions…they must be let go. Let them go, and change your perception, lest you become bitter and angry at the world.
Your perception of life can change things. You can change the world. You can make things happen. But first, you must change your perception.