I’m still tiptoeing my way through this minefield that could have been. Growing up in a challenging environment can do that to a person. You probably know what I mean though. Not everyone grew up eating gold and having a flying pony (wise words of Phoebe Buffay). A lot of us, probably a lot more than are willing to admit it, grew up in difficult situations. Our parents weren’t always nice; we didn’t get sage words of advice passed down from generation to generation. The grass sometimes was greener on the other side of the fence; we just didn’t know how to get there. Likely because the fence didn’t belong to us, it belonged to the rich neighbor who sat there eating gold and letting his flying pony crap on our side of the fence.
The thing of it is, I’m not bothered by how I grew up. No, it wasn’t always peaches and cream, but it was my life. I had people who crossed paths with me that made a difference in my kid sized heart and mind. I had the ability to read and a thirst for knowledge that allowed me to escape some of the worst times I went through. And I had this uncanny belief that God was there watching over me and that someday it was going to be alright.
An anomaly. That’s what I’ve been told I was. An exception to the rule. Someone who by chance made it and made out good despite having the deck stacked against her.
I’ll buy that. Maybe I am an exception to some strange rule of the universe that says when life kicks you when you’re down; you’re not supposed to be able to get back up. And if you do, you only stand as high as kneeling and not any higher. Okay, let’s say that’s the case. Let’s say I surpassed all odds to get where I am in life today.
What I’ve been told by a few is that since I am an exception to the rule, I should feel bad for others who haven’t made it as far. That I should even go so far as to feel bad for those who are still stuck in the mire of a bad childhood and can’t seem to live a good life. So, that means I can carve out a life from the so called one that was handed to me years ago, but I have to feel bad about it later.
Misplaced guilt. How does that taste going down? Um, not good. Not good at all. Why should I feel ashamed for clawing my way to where I am today?
Truth be told, I don’t feel guilty. Not daily, anyway. But it does creep up on me every now and again. Like when I’m close enough to some kind of success that I can taste it. Or when I’ve gotten a promotion or bought a house or taken a trip and I don’t feel at liberty to be excited or to share the joy of what just happened.
And that’s a shame. It’s as big a shame as that proverbial neighbor sitting on his side of the fence eating spoonfuls of gold as he watches his flying pony take a dump on my side of life. And it shouldn’t happen. –The pony thing or the guilt.
What ought to happen is when you (or I or anyone) sees a flying pony crapping on our side of life, we ought to pick up that pile of poo and throw it back in the neighbor’s yard. Or charge a cleaning fee and not leave his side until it’s paid in full. Or better yet, snag the flying pony’s harness when he’s over there doing his business and take a ride. That might get the neighbor off his high horse (pun intended).
And no one should feel guilty for making it in life. No one. Whether you’re born into a good life or out there making one happen, enjoy it. [Assuming you are going about it legally and ethically and with moral good sense.] If you’re the lucky SOB who wins big on the lottery or the gal who gets promoted or the kid who wins the scholarship or the couple who finds love, embrace it. Enjoy it. Go buy your own flying pony and your own spoonful of gold.
Live it up. Smile, jump up and down, be proud of your accomplishments. Give credit where credit is due. Maybe even let that poor neighbor kid take a spin around the neighborhood on your flying pony. While there’s no need to rub it in the faces of those who haven’t made it yet, you can be happy. You can. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Because no one needs your pity or your condescending sense of misplaced guilt for having a good life. What people need is your story. Your inspiration of how you made it. They need your encouragement and maybe even a little bit of your stalwart belief that they can make it too. Because sometimes people can’t believe in themselves and they need you to believe enough for both of them until they can see the possibilities in their life.
Shine in what you’ve accomplished, my friend. Rejoice in how far you’ve come, while never forgetting where you came from. Be an example for others; your kids, your grandkids, your siblings, your peers. Support them in their endeavors. And never give up hope. Life might still kick you in the groin even after your successes. (Sometimes she likes to do that.)
If (and when) she does, it means you’ll have to decide if you’re going to get back up again. Maybe it’ll take you a little longer than before if the blow was hard enough. What matters is that you get up again.
Life is like that. A constant dance between man and incidents. Okay, man, woman, and incidents. I can be politically correct. Never give up.
Demonstrate the hard work it takes to get that flying pony. Chew your spoonful of gold thoroughly before swallowing. Teach your flying pony to do his business on your side of the fence. Because that’s what life is, you know. You may get the flying pony, but he still has to poo.
Are you going through a rough time? Have you hit an emotional slump? Don't give up. Count your blessings. Eat some ice cream. Plot your way to getting that spoonful of gold. Whatever you do, don't give up. You'll get through it. We all will.