30 Best Days.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door”
A childhood friend looked at me once with a crooked smile and tilted head and said…”You are like The Statue of Liberty”.
What? I am what? Is this supposed to be a compliment? My mind darted and dashed about going through the endless meanings of that assertion. My sweet childhood friend what, ever, did she mean by this? The Statue of Liberty, really she is glorious and represents freedom, liberty and a safe haven for immigrants near and far. But how does that relate to ME??
My own grandfather walked through the port of entry at Ellis Island on a ship aptly named the SS Venezia. He departed from Venice with his sister and a woman that no one can identify. So, surely I can relate. My life began the day that an unknown Italian woman journeyed across the Atlantic with two very young children in order to create a life filled with opportunity, riches and abundance in this new land called America.
So..me…”Statue of Liberty”??
Why? I asked… and with the sweetest of innocence she gave me her reasonable and totally rational explanation. Her logic was contained at the base of this massive copper statue: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I guess this says a lot about a human being. Always willing to take in, love, support and accept others for who they are, regardless of their situation. To open ones heart to the possibility of the unconditional love of a friend. That is what it has always been about for me. Today, I realize, she was right all those years ago.
After I cried myself to sleep last night, I awoke to a massive feeling of burden. Burden from recent betrayals. Burden from past betrayals. Burden from the loneliness of moving to Washington DC in 1996 where I would set the world ablaze but doing so meant the trade off of being alone without family or childhood friends nearby to lean on and emotionally support me in these moments. Burden of feeling stuck in DC with no where to turn for help. Burden of friends who walked away for no reason. Burden of men who gave up so quickly along with those who never even gave me a chance. Burden of the sadness that consumes my heart when I realize that I am 50, even more alone and that the rest of my life appears to be meandering about on horribly winding, twisting, cobblestone path infested with overgrown ivy choking me and my very last glimmer of hope. Darkness. Burden in the way I feel right now: sad, lonely and terrified. Terrified of my future that looks bleak. Wondering which could possibly be worse, death or continuing on this self destructive path.
And I am so sad. Sad to the point that, in many a tearful moment, I would simply prefer it all to be over. In my head, I exclaim that I will never allow the hatred and bitterness of the world to change who I am. In my heart, I hold all of this painful burden. In my head, I will continue to cry myself to sleep at night, wake up to a new day and do it all over again. In my head, it is worth it. In my heart, I have always felt that if I could make a difference to one person each and every single day then my life is perfect and somewhat complete. In my heart, I live each day hoping that I can be the one person to extend kindness and gratitude to at least one individual, one stranger, one human being, one animal. Seeing someone smile or receiving a lick from a furry friend because of something I have said or something I have done gives me great joy. This morning I sat with wonder and reflected on whether anyone has ever felt the same passion to make a difference in my life? And this quote came to mind:
One person. The World.
More than the fortunes I dreamt, the successes I have achieved, more than the fame I imagined. More than the parent that I am, the family I have adored, more than the child that I admire, even more than the paths that I have crossed, the books I have read, the mountains I have climbed, the rivers I have navigated, the beautiful places I have traveled, the lives I have changed, the people that I have touched, the inspiration I have instilled and the lessons that I have learned…more than all of that. Before my last breath and before I have no hope left in me….just one time in my life, even if only for a fleeting moment and before I am reduced to an urn of dust, all I am asking is for one and only one thing:
I want to know what it feels like to be the world to one person.