I came home from volunteering at Mother Teresa’s in Kolkata (Calcutta) with Lice.
Lice, as in brown bugs in my head.
Now, my son says no one will ever want to come to the house again, but I’m telling you about it for a reason. It’s because every now and then someone will say how cool and exotic and wonderful my life is and It’s true, I do like my life. But when I hear that, a tiny knife poofs up from nowhere and secretly stabs away at my heart a little because this life is Plan B. Plan A, my preferred plan, died when it was hit by a mac truck going 80 miles an hour, although the memory of it never did die, but hangs on and on like it’s suppose to still be real. Time helps. I once again delight in the lush green spring, wake up to mostly sunshine and hum. I pray again too, a little, though it’s taken me awhile to get back into it, because you know, life dies hard. No matter how good you have it, the dreams you want and don’t get, when you really, really want them, die hard.
So, now I travel and see things and meet people and it’s fantastic, but traveling means I take a whole lot of showers that are not hot, but freezing. A rat walked on my head when I was sleeping, a mouse was in my bed and a snake in my room. A dog with rabies bit me and I got a rash that was not quite as bad a leprosy.
I guess the point is, it’s important to Me for You to know it’s not all roses. I volunteered at Mother Teresa’s, I helped people, I came home with lice.
I went to a reunion of sorority sisters last weekend and re-met old friends after 30 years. We were one good looking bunch, let me tell you. I did not tell them I had lice. No. But I did tell them I am technically homeless, launching a new career and don’t really know where it will all land.
One girl said “So, you don’t really know what you are doing with your life, and you came Here?” She pointed to the floor, I assumed she meant the sorority party.
I nodded, she repeated.
“You don’t know what you’re doing with your life and you came HERE?”
“Well, uh yeah.” I stammered, beginning to feel a bit startled because she, obviously, was.
“Boy, that takes a lot of courage.” She said.
No it doesn’t. Not really. Because, you know what? The best stories, the richest stories, the ones that are crazy missiles of hope exploding into people always seem to happen smack dab in the middle of Messed-Up.
Another girl asked me…”Why did you start traveling?”
Ok, seriously? That answer needs a warm fire, a cognac and a whole evening, but I had two seconds so I boiled it down to one crunchy bit and said “Well, I pretty much hated my life and that’s why I did it.” I surprised her and she reported it to others later. I guess I could have waved my princess hand in the air and said, ”Oh, I travel because I want to contribute to the world in a positive way and volunteer” or “I want to expand my knowledge by learning first hand”, that’s true too. I have no idea why the other answer popped out, but it’s ok.
Ann Lamont says to be the people we dare to dream about being, we have to “fall in love with our own crazy ruined selves.” What a relief! What freedom! When I can pull it off it makes me do a little dance. It’s a kind of a super human super power, all that grace. You love your crazy ruined self and then you love your crazy ruined friends even more. Right on.
I know you won’t believe this but sometimes that approach disappointments folks. Ha ha. I know, right? When their Eat, Pray, Love ideas of my life get more real and less romantic, the light in their eyes for me goes out. Meh. That’s O.K., considering no one is All-That anyway except, of course, God.
But something even better happens too. My life fills up with people like me, wading through clay and inhaling fragrant flowers at. the. same. time, and talking about ALL of it, the heavy clay and the delicious blossoms. When I hear the amazing, real, terrible, beautiful stories I think…man, they did that! THEY did THAT!!! I can too!
It’s so great how that works. Quantum physics will one day prove what I already know, that nothing is as good as we think, but it’s also is a lot better than it seems. Both, at the same time.
Anyway, the lice are gone, so you can come on over to the house and give me a big fat hug. I could have organically drowned them with olive oil but because I was freaked out, I blasted the little bastards with neurotoxin, many times. Now I’m free and clear and minus a few brain cells.