We’re often told that the longest journey begins with a single step. What’s rarely mentioned is that the first step can be a doozy! When I retired from street vending, the last thing I expected was a serious bout of depression. I should have known better. After all, until recently I loved vending, and it provided a good income. With no market to manage and no scheduled events, shifting my focus was far more difficult than I had imagined. I didn’t realize it in the moment, but I had suffered a great loss, and I needed time to grieve.
I’ve had quite a few major emotional hits in the past year, including estrangement from a brother and a sister, the termination of two decades-long friendships (in the same month) that I valued greatly, and a hefty loss of income. Through all of this, I continued trying to build something wonderful for our arts community, only to find that it didn’t matter to anyone but me. Old grievances that I had not fully resolved came back to taunt me. And, as always, I missed my Jami.
There are several stages to grief, but I pretty much got stuck on rage. I felt betrayed, angry, bitter, and irrelevant. I know that the circumstances of my life are the result of the choices I’ve made, and I admit that some of those choices were really stupid. It’s a different matter when you’ve done everything right and still find your life disrupted because of someone else’s decisions. These feelings were compounded by our history of disenfranchisement in a country that was built on lies and malfeasance, by our current political climate, and by the escalating level of extreme behaviors in my community and the world in general. I didn’t just want to burn bridges; I wanted to blow them up!
There’s a theory that if you have a problem with everyone around you, then the problem might be you. Because of that, I usually take a minute to step back and examine my own motivations, and this time was no different. I determined that it might well be me, because I will not willingly submit to bullying, insults, or otherwise careless treatment. I’m not intimidated by titles or wealth, and I have no desire to work with those who pander or prevaricate for profit. If it is unreasonable to expect courtesy, honor, and authenticity in other people, then I will gladly accept the blame. I will turn neither my metaphorical cheek nor my real one. I will always be true to myself and my beliefs because I love and respect myself and my Art. That’s as real as it gets.
I have a t-shirt that reads, “I don’t need anger management; I need people to stop pissing me off!” It’s the truest slogan I wear, but I sought professional help and we're working to find Me again in this new phase of my life. I’m finally able to create again, I can write again, and I can express more than the anger and bitterness that had me so engulfed in misery. I’ve progressed from being “peopled out” to actually enjoying time with family and friends. And, instead of asking myself “why bother,” I just go with the creative flow, because neither Art nor I need explanation or excuse. We simply are.
I’m grateful to those who have supported me on this journey, especially knowing that my burdens are no heavier than yours. Please stay with me as I find forward, one step at a time. Namaste.