Note: This is an abbreviated version of a longer e-mail sent to family and friends yesterday, but the message of which properly belongs here, in this blog, about my year without complaining.
My life has been an amazing, fabulous journey. I have had so many opportunities, met so many first-rate people, seen so many stellar events, places and moments.
True enough: I’ve also had a plethora of difficult obstacles and roadblocks. Some of these I pulled down from rubble piles into my own path, in front of my own feet. Some of them just spilled into the causeway with the natural shift of the world. And yes, it’s true, I’ve also seen a few bricks thrown from the sidelines as I stumbled forward.
Regardless of the roadblocks that have slowed my progress; regardless of my own blind staggering, the unwieldy grope of my outstretched hands; regardless of the blows that descended upon me; I have had enormous moments of joy. I have been doing a lot of thinking, meditating, writing, and yes, even praying, such as my prayers can be — from the heart of a recovering Catholic. And I have had bleak moments when I lost sight of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s definition of “catastrophe” as a situation in which children die. At those moments, I truly felt that I could not continue.
Last night I emboldened myself to try, again, to drive at night. I thought that my new glasses would enable me to have the depth-perception the loss of which has grounded me for the last five or six months. My friend Jessica needed her spirits lifted. Her father has been in ICU on life support all week, and I wanted to give her an evening out. We went to an appropriate place: Cafe Gratitude, a vegetarian restaurant where the dishes have such delightful names “Humble”, “Terrific”, “Warmth” and “Grateful”.
On the way home, we had a rather terrifying experience. My vision failed me as it did early in the summer, while driving on I-29, which event led me to stop driving at night until my annual visit to the neuro-opthamologist. Last night, at a wide curve on Broadway Blvd. in Kansas City’s southern downtown area, the road went right and I continued straight, because I simply perceived the vista in front of me as completely flat. With Jessica in the passenger seat, my vehicle continued forward off the road onto a concrete island and would have careened into the oncoming traffic had Jessica not found her voice and calmly but firmly directed me back onto the correct lane and over to a place where I could safely stop.
She drove us home.
As I told someone last night, I’ve been shot at, raped, robbed, left for dead, hit by a car, hit in a car; and none of those experiences were more shocking than the moment last evening when I thought both Jessica and I would be killed.
This journey, this year of learning to embrace a positive and pleasant attitude and way of living, has certainly not been the cakewalk that I might have liked or even expected. As many of you know, quite a few unexpected (though not catastrophic) challenges arose. But I have also been given some phenomenal support. I have also been allowed to do some of my best and most effective lawyering, for clients whose lives I am humbled to have impacted. I have met some astoundingly genuine people this year; and heard some ideas that have reoriented my philosophy.
In short: It’s been a wild ride, this year, and as the autumn unfolds, I find myself hoping for more warm days to spend on my porch, contemplating everything that’s happened.
I have two more months in my year; and maybe on 01 January 2015, I will start “mysecondyearwithoutcomplaining.com“, and keep on moving forward. Stay tuned; and remember: It’s not a catastrophe unless little children die; and where there is life, there is room for improvement.
Mary-Corinne Teresa Corley
The view from my porch, 25 October 2014. This tree survived the ice storm twelve years ago, and though still a bit misshapen, has given us much splendor to behold.