”Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?”
Running along the interstate right now, I am astounded to see the sheer vastness of the world around me. Although the clouds are low, the sky looks so high. The trees are so tall, but the trunks look so small. The rocks look so massive, but all the little pebbles are tiny. It’s a big world, but a small world at the same time, and in this paradox of modern living, how does that all fit into how we run our lives? Do we tend to focus on the sheer heights of the sky as opposed to how blue it is? Or how tall the tree is instead of focusing on how long it took it to get there. It’s all in perspective, and those of us that struggle at times with ourselves tend to look at the difficult aspect of life as opposed to the good things that accompany them.
Yesterday I dug deep into the world of balance (you can check it out, it’s still on the site) and pushed not only myself but everyone reading to try to balance a little more of your life out. Try to stand on one leg in a wind storm, try to do a handstand on ice, balance isn’t easy! I’ve found it almost impossible to find balance in my life and it wasn’t until very recently a major change in life made me start to reevaluate what I tried to balance and what I let topple to the ground. Pretty much anything that was good for me toppled all the things that tried to kill me stayed perfectly balanced. It was a lot of work keeping such ugly stuff balanced, but that was the decision I made, and right now I’m regretting every misbalance that I chose.
Kentucky. Corbin, Kentucky. The site of another one of my post earlier in the week. I had shared the article “I am Kilroy – Who is Julie” with a few news agencies around Eastern Kentucky and the same community forum that roasted her back in 2010. I’m here right now and starting to pay a little more attention to what I’m seeing out my truck window. Run down mobile homes, lots of cars that look abandoned, trash. I used to always look forward to passing into Kentucky and stopping in Corbin due to their very low fuel prices, but now I’m a bit jaded. I feel saddened, and although I know that there are more upscale sides of town, the side that most people is the interstate-side-living that is easily seen both night and day from 75 miles per hour. The manicured lawns and kids selling lemonade is masked by truck stops and tall pines. Most people never make it more than a half of a mile off of an exit to see what a town is really like.
These interstate-side-living residents, what is their balance like? Is it impossible to sleep at night due to the fact there is a constant hum 80 feet from their window? I often times peer into the night to see the windows of houses lit up by soft yellow glow and wonder what they’re doing in there. Sadly, the houses along the interstate always make me think of a stereotypical trailer-trash sort of drama complete with thrown dishes and several empty beer cans. That sort of living, that sort of life seems pretty terrible, but not as terrible as it could be in the good side of town.
*enter disordered thinking Segway here*
You have it all, the house, the two car (or sometimes you need even more!) garage, a dog, two kids and a spouse on your arm. You wave at your neighbors politely as they pass by when you’re getting your mail, you buy girl scout cookies from their kids when they come knocking on your door, you even participate in the homeowners association meetings. Is life really that much better than it is interstate wise? The pressure to keep that lawn manicured is . The to have the smart kids in class that the neighbors urge their children to be like is fierce. Your car has to be the shiniest, newest, and fanciest otherwise you’ll be behind everyone else. A rat race, a never ending struggle to keep up with the Jones. You put pressures on yourself to try to be not just like but BETTER than the neighbors, you want them to want to be like you but deep down inside you really just want to be just like them. Even if you do have the shiniest car, you’re still not happy because there is a good possibility that Joe next door will roll up in a brand new one that is just a little bigger, a little faster, and a little shinier.
Then there is the aspect of trying to be like them physically. There are entire reality shows, albiet a bit overdramatized, all about housewives, wives, families and such trying to keep up with or surpass others with looks and money. These people with their designer clothes and fad diets. The women that go to the newest, trendy work out club complete with jewelry and makeup on – are they really there to get fit or are they there to be seen? The guys with the golf clubs that make it a special point to make plans with “the guys” on weekends to keep up with each others affairs only to turn around and try to make theirs more exciting.
True story, I once needed legal council, I’m not proud of it, but we all make mistakes. Let’s just say my life was very unbalanced at the time. I found my “guy” and he help me through the whole thing. He had just bought a new house and wanted “landscape better than those people that lived there before.” I worked with his wife, who wanted a fountain that looks like those that you see in magazines. They wanted bigger and better. I was able to get knocked down from a large charge to a $150 reckless driving ticket. My attorney informed me that due to his close relationship with the prosecuting attorney against me, they were able to strike an understanding over my case and that was that. Over a game of golf he was able to save my butt.
I was a little miffed at it. They had it all, he was a powerful successful attorney, she was beautiful, they had the biggest house in the country club with the best landscape designer (me….that’s how I paid my attorneys fee) in the county. I tried to hide my envy, but I’m sure it oozed out time and time again. I was bitter, thinking these people don’t know what it’s like to have it rough, to have to deal with an out of balance life, and especially to have a life that is leading you very close to having to live by the interstate.
I went to visit them to see the progress of the installation of shrubs and noticed someone peeking out of the window at me. I waved and they disappeared. I walked around the side of the house and again a set of eyes were looking out at me, watching me walk by the window. I tried not to stare, but I didn’t remember seeing anyone there every before. Once I got on the back porch the door opened and there was a little guy, maybe eight, looking at me with big ole blue eyes. I waved again and he screamed.
Screamed. Bloody. Murder.
The hell, I was shocked and shuffled away to finish my inspection. I glanced back over my shoulder to see the door closed and little eyes peeking out from the six pane window next to it. The eyes followed me, he screamed again and disappeared from the window. Another voice, “Owen, stop it right now.” The screaming persisted and reappeared in the window. Pointing now, looking very much terrified for no apparent reason. I hurried along to the front yard and went to get into my car to keep from disturbing the little guy any more. I pivoted on my toe right before to take a look at that huge, glorious house with the fancy cars in the drive and saw the front door swing wide and the wife coming out.
“Nikki, I’m so sorry about that. He’s special.”
Knowing what she meant, I told her it was no big deal and that I was used to getting screamed at by boys.
She half smiled and confided in me “I wish sometimes that he could just be normal. You know? He’s just, so, well, weird sometimes.”
I couldn’t respond with anything but a nod and excused myself. After safely in the car and about a block away and felt sad. That poor little boy, scared out of his mind, and all his mom wants is for him to be normal. What is normal, lady? I understood the difficulty she must face every day dealing with such behavior, but when I was passing judgement on her and what I perceived to want out of life, all she really wanted was her little boy to be normal. She didn’t really want money or fame, she just wanted normal.
I look out over these interstate-side homes and wonder, how many of them just want something as simple as that? Do they have to worry about keeping up with the Jones as much as the attorney family does, or can they accept the fact that they should be happy with what they haves? Are those that live in simplicity happier than those that are constantly at a want for something that they may never get? Looking in the mirror, sometimes I see that little boy in my eyes. Just like him looking out the window and not understanding what he was seeing, I sometimes look at myself and don’t understand what I’m seeing.
Balance. Simple and pure, that little guy doesn’t know the meaning of the word…I used to struggle with it myself. Finding myself balancing too much of the wrong stuff and none of the good stuff. Again, a little later in the day, I find myself riding in the truck, looking out that same window pondering the quote above…the shiny cars in the dark night, are they ever shiny enough? Are they ever fast enough? Is it ever dark enough.
In a society that struggles to be something they may never achieve, it reminds me of the parallels of having an eating disorder and having other disordered thinking. The constant need to be better – either by starvation or otherwise is no different than the people that starve themselves from how good their reality really is. They starve themselves from poverty while binging on the luxuries of life whether they can afford it or not. We all have that characteristic within ourselves, but it’s up to us as individuals to decide where to put it in our lives priority wise. Are we going to place the quest for the almighty dollar above watching the sunrise over a mountain range? Are you going to spend your afternoon paying someone to wax your new car or enjoy the fun of playing in the hose washing it yourself on a crisp spring afternoon.
Wherever you look you can see the little boy looking out in curiosity or the little boy screaming in fear. What are you afraid of?,
(pictured above is a very excited young lady getting ready to hit the road again – her favorite place to be with her favorite person to be with, her valiant driver, Brook)