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    Thank You Hope

            On the fourteenth of June, in the year of our lord two-thousand-and eight (that sounds so official, doesn’t it?), I spent the evening with a woman I was madly in love with at Plymouth beach. As wonderful as that sounds, and it was, there’s a lot more to it than that.
            While sitting on the beach just before sunset, she mentioned the title of a book that for some reason stuck with me. We covered so much ground that night, it wouldn’t have surprised me if I didn’t remember it. But I did. Because that night, I was truly present. I was fully engaged in the moment, and more myself, than I had been in months, possibly years. That night seemed to go by in slow motion. It was as though every word that we spoke, every feeling that we had, every moment that we shared, was painted on a giant canvas, right in front of us. Like watching a painting being created right before our eyes. All we had to do to see exactly what had happened was look up. It was all right there. The totality of our shared experience preserved like a landscape scene on this constantly evolving painting.
            I felt completely different that night than I had in years. Since my father had died, almost nineteen months before, my life had not gone well. For the majority of that troubled year and a half, I felt like a spectator of my own life. It was as though my life wasn’t real, but just a movie that played in front of me, all of the time. A movie in which I was supposed to be starring, but actually, was not even in. Right before my eyes, alone in this vast theatre of self, I was watching my life happen. And I was alone. I was an audience of one. Lonely. Scared. Hurt. Overwhelmed with despair.
            “How much longer can I stand this?”, I would ask myself. “How much longer before I jump up on screen and start creating this movie - MY movie - instead of just watching it? How long will I suffer in this isolated, cavernous, lonely place?”. I didn’t have a clue. It felt like it might be forever. But I knew I couldn’t last that long. Eventually, I would choose the path of self-destruction over the path of disengagement. At some point, when it got as bad as it could get, I would engage in the movie the only way I would be capable of: I would destroy it. I would jump up on the screen and start wreaking as much havoc as I could. If the only thing I knew how to do was self-destruct, then that’s what I would do. I would go down in a tragic, self-indulgent blaze of false glory. Because that would be better than just dying alone in this theatre, wasting away to nothing as I helplessly watch my life fade to black.
            But this night with principessa on Plymouth beach was unlike any other I had experienced since I returned from California, almost two years ago, just before my father died. I came back form the golden state full of energy and promise and hope and optimism. But within a few months, circumstances completely derailed me. Actually, it was my response to those circumstances that derailed me. The circumstances were indeed bad, but if I had responded differently to those circumstances, they wouldn’t have affected me like they did. The death of my father was incredibly painful, and the actions of certain people around me were completely detestable, but I take full responsibility for how I responded. Once my father got hurt and began his slow demise, my world started to unravel, mostly because I let it. After his death, things in my family, and things in my life, got exponentially worse. And so did I.
            But as I said, this night on Plymouth beach, I felt different. I was softer. Much more open and not so guarded. More vulnerable. Days before, I had the first of many subsequent awakenings. I realized how I had disappeared over the previous year and a half. And I began to grieve all the loss I had experienced in that short time. Like a flower that had been closed for ages in fear, withering in pain and anger, I slowly began to open. The world literally looked and felt differently to me. And thus so did this woman who I had been with for almost a year. She had just broken up with me a few weeks before, but I had just recently allowed myself to feel it.
            That night ended with both of us in tears. A little over a month later, my friend and writing teacher from UCLA was in town with her husband. They’re both huge Red sox fans, and we went to a game together. During the course of the game, I mentioned to my friend the title of this book that principessa had told me about. To my surprise, my friend said she knew the author personally. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind getting the author to sign a copy of the book and send it to principessa. My friend said she’d be happy to. I was thrilled. She wouldn’t be seeing the author for a while, so I would have to be patient.
            I’ve never thought of myself as a patient person, but I’ve re-assessed that belief. I’ve come to understand that patience is simply a mind set, or more accurately, a spirit set. That is, if I have faith and confidence that I can somehow manifest whatever I’m needing patience for; if what I need to be patient about is deemed important enough to be worth waiting for; then I can exhibit the quality of patience. So if I have faith in myself to create, faith in the universe to give me what I need, and the belief that I’m worth it, then patience is simply giving my life the space it needs to manifest. That’s a way of being, which is not only a frame of mind but a frame of heart and a frame of spirit. It’s a mental, emotional, and spiritual pursuit. When I put patience in that framework, it doesn’t seem like a tortuous waiting game, but merely a cog in the soft machine of the process.
            So lo and behold, here we are in May, almost a year later, and this book is signed, sealed, and I had it delivered. I hope she likes it. I hope she can truly receive it. But whether she can or not, I’m happy I did it. It was a gift from my heart, with no expectations attached. I give it unconditionally, simply because it feels good to do so. It was a loving act who’s genesis began on a beach in Plymouth almost a year ago, on a very special night in my life. A night that signified my awareness of an open door that I willingly walked through. When I took that tenuous first step, I started down a different path. A path of light, not darkness. A path of openness, not protection. A path of engagement, not isolation. A path of vulnerability, not defense. A path of hope, not despair.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a hopelessly optimistic amount of Wrongs) Reserved.

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