This morning, after I dropped off a package at the post office, I decided to take my walk around Central Park’s reservoir. It was a cool morning, the sun finally shining after several days of gray rain. The clouds have been so dense lately that we never got to see the Super Moon here in New York City. My walk was invigorating, and, as usual, inspired a thought that inspired this blog.
The Cooper Hewitt Museum, which is the former home of Andrew Carnegie, is across the street from the entrance to the park. The Museum is closed until 2013, undergoing repairs and alterations, and posted on its fence is a yellow and black sign that says: “Like many others on Fifth Avenue, I am having some work done.” It makes me laugh every time I see it, but today I saw something more in it than just humor.
Over the last several years, I realized that I have been undergoing repairs and alterations in my own life. And, further, that it is something perhaps all of us need to do every so often. Take stock of what isn’t working, fix it, if it can be fixed, or opt for something new. Sometimes it’s not things but people we need to shed. And that, for our own integrity and self esteem.
Years ago I came to the awareness that I was attracted to angry women who were inevitably destructive to my sense of self. It was brought home one bright afternoon when two of them turned on me and were vicious in their criticism. It stunned and hurt me and after much soul searching I took full responsibility for having chosen them and shooed them out of my life. The pain lasted for a long time but as I realized how good I felt without them I was able to take further stock to find out why I had ever considered them friends.
Recently, I have had another epiphany: I am attracted to creative people. That, in itself is not problematic, but many of them are what I call: ‘crazy geniuses.’ The genius part is heady …being with wonderful artists, musicians,writers. It’s the ‘crazy’ part...the erratic and often nasty behavior, that has had terrible consequences. I am good-hearted and, I like to think, kind to one and all. But I am learning, in my old age, that my personal integrity has often been at stake, putting up with people who do not treat me as I treat them; calling them friends when they truly are not my definition of same. I have been going along, trying to get along when I should have left. For the few rewards those friendships gave me, the penalties for staying too long were severe. And I have found that the hardest to say goodbye to is the person I think has something I need, even though it has been proven over and over to me that they have nothing I cannot find in another…whether it’s a service or friendship. Lately I have broken with two crazy geniuses and am mourning the loss of what was good, and also celebrating myself for having had the integrity to leave something that was overwhelmingly destructive.
There is a beautiful and pithy poem by Jelaluddin Rumi:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I am grateful for everything, and I am sweeping my house, repairing, altering, and getting ready for the next good thing or person to come through the door and into my heart.