I was not afraid of roller coasters when I was young. I stood in line, much to my father’s dissatisfaction, for repeat performances of the scariest coasters wherever we were.
It was the line at Disney World that created the most vitriol from my father. The rows meandered to lengths he had only ever seen on a freight train. I presumed a long line meant I was in the right place at the right time. If these many people wanted on this ride, then it was not one I was going to miss. So I waited while he paced the park. I still feel that way about lines at fun places. It will be worth the wait if I can remain patient. Queues for toilets qualify too.
As much as my father and I share similarities like a passion for writing, a caustic wit, and an exasperation for stupid, we are not the same. He doesn’t have time for the art of being patient, being social, or being present at times. Those qualities are much more natural for me.
But what I can learn from his person, is that I could use a bit more time with myself and to be happy in the quiet. Sure his quiet involves having the television at full blast all day every day, but it is just background noise for him to give him the space to read, do his crosswords, and take care of himself. Those are qualities I admire. Okay, maybe not the crosswords because I suck at those, but something that moves your mind and challenges you.
Maybe my noise is masking something deeper? In fact, I’m pretty sure it is. I fill my days, week, months, with busy work. I have been doing this since the kids were born. Rarely have I taken a moment out of tasks for something just for me and felt good about it. Even showers become chores, haircuts non-existent, going for coffee with a friend would initiate a Catholic-size guilt response sending me into a to-do list frenzy. I needed to have plenty to show for my day. I needed to have hatch marks through the list to prove I was something. Probably worthy. That is my internal dialogue. I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy of my beautiful life, such wonderful friends, and I’m not worthy of love.
If I stand back and look at myself objectively, that seems insane. I give love freely, why wouldn’t that qualify me for some in return? Because I have such amazing friends, might I have some redeeming qualities that keep them hanging around and inviting me to play with them? Was I not part of building our beautiful life and should qualify to partake in the spoils?
We all have an internal dialogue. Something that if we just stopped feeding it, it would wither and die leaving the fertilizer for something more beautiful to take shape. Why then do we nourish our weeds? Why do we love our stories so much?
This year I have been battling my worthy mantra in the hopes that it will go away, one week at a time. I’m happy to say, it does, at the moment. When I’m in line with our daughter enjoying her company, then riding alongside her to my ultimate demise, I know I deserve her in my life, and I am worthy of sharing this day with her. The whole day I was able to be present and quiet the noise. It was the spaces when there was quiet that it came back again, usually right before bed is the worst. Maybe that is why the television is always on at my dad’s place, to eliminate the quiet. Interesting.
What I need is a line-up for life. I need to remind myself that every moment is an opportunity to wait patiently for the big ride. We’ve paid the price of admission, and we are as worthy of the fun as anyone else in line with us. Would you say to a friend or even a perfect stranger, “Get out of line. You don’t deserve to be here?” Of course not. Because we all deserve to be here and enjoy the ride even if sometimes it scares the shit out of us.
Is my internal dialogue gone? Ha, no. But it does mean that when I’m present to my track playing on rewind in my mind, I can skip that song and move on to something I can dance to. That is more progress than you can imagine and I deserve it.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Pro Tip: Being patient with yourself can give you the presence of mind to quiet your own internal dialogue.
Check out the video: Rolling Around Screaming