My cubical in Durham stands a majestic 10 floors up from the concrete of a city that is once again trying rebuild itself to its former image. It’s beautiful really.
A lot of my co-workers get wigged out by our new location (we moved there in September), fearing daily muggings, carjackings, solicitations, pan handling, stabbings, shootings, drive-by’s, you name it and I’ve heard it. But as I stood at my window looking down at it all, as an early November snowfall came up on us, I couldn’t help but notice all of the peace. I sit outside amongst it all every afternoon, waiting for Mel to pick me up and, to date, the only encounter I’ve had with a complete stranger was with two punky looking young African American gentlemen across the street yelling at me.
The conversation went something like this:
THEM: HEY! Hey you!
ME: Yeah! What’s up?!
THEM: You vote man? (early voting was going on in the Triangle area)
ME (smiling): Yeah! Yeah I did.
THEM: You vote for “O”?
ME: Yeah I did.
THEM (both grinning big time): My man! Good choice!
It was a quaint encounter and despite its significance (these kids were riding SO high on voting for Obama), I was taken (but not at all surprised) by this city’s acceptance of a new 32 year old white guy sitting in a square twiddling on his iPhone waiting for his wife to pick him up. It renewed some faith in me. I’ve always hated undue paranoia. It spawns the absolute worst in people, me too sometimes. So when life/society picks me up by the collar, gives me a good shake and says…
“Listen asshole!! This world is still made up of predominantly good, loving people. Despite what you may think, it hasn’t ALL gone to shit…” ,
… I tend to listen.
As I said before, there’s an inherent peace in it all. The hard landscape, concrete and brick, so far from what I grew up in and took for granted, still housing the good in people. It doesn’t matter if you grew up amongst granite mountain tops, or towering skyscrapers; we all have the same plight and our hearts all want to make a difference somehow. If only a little.
It got me thinking a lot about this last year. It’s been a year that can only be described as “intensely emotional”. Physical duress I can deal with. You push through it and, eventually, you heal. But when life decides to get under your skin, be it positive or negative, it takes a toll and eventually you weaken deeply. Some folks can let anything roll off their back and, to a huge degree, I’m the same way. But the punches kept coming this year, along with the lift-ups, and when it finally came time to breath, I realized I’d had quite enough.
I became numb.
Mel and I both did I think. You just get to that point where the last thing you want to do is emote in any form or capacity. You’ve had it. I’d had it.
But honestly? When you break it all down and add up the “ups and downs”, I think we came out on top. Life appears to be leveling out nowadays and this amazing calm has fallen around me. As if nothing could trump what I’ve been through already. It’s all downhill from here. It’s easy from here on out.
Whether it’s true or not is frankly irrelevant. I’ll take it where I can get it. Yes this year’s been crazy, and yes I spend an inordinate amount of time spinning my wheels, but I feel changed from it all in some way.
And, for now, it feels positive. Much like the resurgence of the city I watch every morning, sipping my coffee, as a new day’s sun yawns and stretches it’s arms over it.
Life’s pretty good for a lot of excellent reasons!
It feels good to say it.
It feels good to mean it.