My dreams are polluting my days. Dreams of family and friends and home. Keeping hold over my heart and mind as I sit here, attempting disentanglement from those very things – from people, places and past actions. I need to look at my life calmly, clearly and without the obstructions of guilt or sentimentality. But my thoughts WON’T LET GO! The more I try to quietly slip away, the louder they yell – now using shock tactics to maintain control. “But what about this?” they shriek, forcing me to agree with, yes, yet another reason to feel like a failure, to feel like I’ve run away from my life and problems.

HEY. Hold on. I’ve come here to salvage my life. And my sanity. I know this, I KNOW THIS! I shake a feeble fist at the bullies of my brain’s playground. They take my lunch money anyway.

So today my world has been reduced to a smoldering, stinking pile of rubble. I have royally fucked up. My husband and I are hanging by a thread. I have wasted my life. It is a foregone conclusion that my selfishness has ruined everything. I feel abandoned in my misery. I will now die alone and vultures will pick at my cold carcass. 

Hog-tied and held hostage by these thoughts. Self-pity is so unattractive.

I give in and call home, but it’s awkward and weird. My husband’s voice sounds far away, distracted. There’s a tinny echo and a pre-recorded Indian lady occasionally announces “YOOU HAF UUUSED NINETY ROOPEEEESE”. I hang up, feeling worse after our stunted conversation.

My friend Tom is good to talk to. He’s 65 but you don’t notice. I don’t think he notices either. He’s great. Tom gets me sugar for my coffee and picks up my shawl when I forget it. He’s looking out for me. He calls me kiddo, which I respond to like a dopey 41-year-old puppy. He tells me I need to have patience, for my own particular brand of bullshit, for my life, for as long as I can. Patience, strength and courage for whatever happens. He isn’t impressed with how badly I’ve fucked up. “We’ve ALL fucked up,” he says. “Why do you think you are here? We’re all here looking for help. Looking for a way through life. Everyone fucks up, kiddo, in one way or another. ”

It’s true. And there’s a strange camaraderie growing here, with the other fuck-ups. I begin to feel less like the odd one out – and more like we’re all in this together. There’s strength in numbers! We’ve all decided that we can’t do it by ourselves, whatever it is, in our lives back home. We are all here to pause, take a breath, and try again. We are all here because we know we NEED to be. Struggles are shared, accepted, even embraced – and that seems to take the sting out. It doesn’t make my mistakes okay, or go away – but how long do I shake my finger, scolding BAD DOGGIE!, cowering from my own actions? Let’s learn and grow, people. I want to solve my problems, not wallow in them. A wave of understanding and compassion washes over me – for myself, for everyone, for mistakes and struggles in general – and I feel better.

To be human, by default, is to be lost in the woods. We’re not given a map when we arrive – yet we’re all so bewildered when we don’t know the way! We just need to admit this. And if we do, our collective question of Marco? should be answered with a unanimous Polo! This is alright. It’s OK to be lost, because we all are. Our general cry for help can unite us. That’s what I think.

Frank the Cosmic Bear tells me, “If we all knew how much we REALLY had in common, we wouldn’t ever be able to leave each other.” Well said, C Bear, well said.

And wouldn’t that be nice, to remember that we are all so similar? Wouldn’t that save us a lot of trouble – make us less harsh and more accepting of ourselves and others? Wow. Since when did I start tearing pages out of the Northern California Hippie Burn-Out Basics Handbook? It’s TRUE though.

With all this universal love I’m feeling, it might be time to start that commune I’ve been joking about for so many years.