Remember (Part 3): The Explanation

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I still vividly remember the night I wrote Remember, sitting on the floor in my bedroom, papers strewn around me, furiously scribbling on the page. It was one of those out-of-body experiences where I looked down at my hand and thought, “Wow, look at my hand writing.” It was as if I were looking at someone else. Remember wrote itself. I didn’t even think about it as my hand penciled in the words. It was kind of surreal.

When I finished and looked at it I had the most distinct thought that it was a story about me in the future. That didn’t make sense, though. If I knew it was going to be me in the future I could take steps to make sure it didn’t happen to me. Right? And yet, the thought remained. This was a story about me, a story that had written itself.

I suppose it came from a family vacation almost a year and a half earlier. On our way to Reno, Nevada we passed by this exit sign for Painted Rock. I didn’t know if it was a town or a ranch or just a trail, but the area along I-80 next to the Truckee River was beautiful and inspiring. We spent time at Lake Tahoe, the Redwoods and the Oregon Coast over the next week. It was a return to nature after a difficult year as a sophomore in high school. Less than six months before this trip I had been diagnosed with depression. My greatest solace in those dark days came from writing poetry, listening to music and being in nature. It felt so liberating and inspirational as my mind filled with stories. I swore I would one day go back and explore the area, as I wanted it to be the setting of some future novel. It was hard coming home, going back to normal life after this vacation.

Time went by, and sometimes I would think about this story and poem I wrote. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t let the woman in the story become me. I would keep exploring, keep feeding my soul with nature, keep writing.

More time went by, I had a baby, and I was thrown into the pit of postpartum depression. I was lost. The real Tacy became lost. For years it felt like someone else was inhabiting my body. Everything changed, and I stopped writing. Life was so hard, and I forgot about Remember.

Then, one day a woman in my church randomly asked me if I liked to write. It took me a second to answer I was so caught off guard. I finally managed to tell her that I did like to write, that I didn’t do it much anymore, but wished I had the inspiration again. She told me about a writers group she was in and invited me to come to their next meeting. Curious, I went. I didn’t take anything with me to read, but I left that meeting, went home and started writing. Just going to a single meeting inspired me to start writing again.

Not long after, I was going through a notebook I had created of all my poetry and short stories from high school and when I was first at college. And I saw Remember. Truly, I had forgotten. And I suddenly saw how I had, indeed, become the woman in the story—not to an absolute T, but close enough. It hadn’t been ten years, less than that, and it wasn’t work, but mental illness that had stolen my memories, my dreams, the yearnings of my heart. Knowing that the story had come to pass, just like I had originally thought, hit me to my core. It was . . . unbelievable. And, yet, it had happened. But I was still stuck in this certain way of thinking and living. I started feeling more like myself three years after my daughter was born, but then my marriage was falling apart. We got help, things seemed like they were going to work out, then right as they started going downhill again I got pregnant again. The pregnancy was miserable, I got postpartum again, life was up and down until my marriage hit the point of no return and last year I got divorced and became a single mom.

Throughout the years I have continued to write—sporadically. I have had moments here and there to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of nature. This last year has definitely had some very low times, but I feel stronger than I ever have before. I have a plan—goals, even—and I see a path I can take that will give me the freedom to take the reigns of my life and get what I want out of it. I will no longer be the woman who gets lost or who forgets. I will be the woman who knows where she’s going, who always remembers.

On a side note: My six-year-old son is really into favorites. He loves asking what your favorite—whatever is! He asks me what my favorite color is, my favorite food, favorite number, favorite thing to do. And he often asks me what my favorite word is. “Perspective,” I always tell him. Perspective is my favorite word. “What’s your second favorite word?” he’ll ask. He does this with everything, often getting to my sixth or seventh favorite of whatever it is. I have always loved the word perspective because I believe life is all about perspective. But my second favorite word is remember. It is a powerful word, though it’s dependent on how you choose to respond to it—like everything in life. One of the things that keeps me going in life is the fact that I can remember the good things that have happened. I can remember and be grateful. Remembering can propel me forward through the slumps. That’s why I love it. Remember.

Remember (Part 2)

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It is so incredibly hard posting this story. First, because the editor in me writhes in pain and screams out changes that should be made as I look at it! It’s really hard letting people see it without doing MAJOR edits on it first. But this is how I wrote it when I was seventeen – almost twenty years ago, and I’m going to keep it this way for now.

It’s also hard because it is such a personal piece for me. It means opening up a part of me for anyone and everyone to see. I’m handing you my soul, my life, and I don’t know if anyone will even care or not. But I’m all about taking risks, making leaps and bounds, these days. So, here is Remember.

 

The click of her heels hitting the cement echoed through the deserted street. She quickened her already fast pace as if hoping to beat out the coldness that had more closely crept up in an unintentional race. A slight breeze suddenly arose, joining the race and adding a new challenge, which she attempted to thwart by pulling her coat closer around her and letting the time between when her heels hit the ground decrease.

For a quick second she let her eyes look up at the looming mountains in the near distance. The autumn colors were quickly taking over, and the scene made her breath catch for a moment and a moment alone. She thought the mountains looked beautiful, but apparently the coldness didn’t think so. She could feel the competition closing in on her, and just before she cast her eyes back down she caught sight of a golden maple leaf slowly and somehow pleasantly making its way to the hard frostbitten grass. She wondered how the leaf could have so much time to fall so slowly, gently and happily to the cold, hard and uncaring ground. The woman shrugged and continued down the still empty street.

“You’ve got to be crazy to walk in this cold weather,” so many people had told her.

“Maybe,” she always replied. “But it’s my only chance to be out in the open, to enjoy Mother Nature.”

She didn’t bother to look up as she crossed the last street before her block. There usually weren’t even any cars out in this sort of bitter coldness, and if so, she knew she would have heard the growl of their angry engines trying to defy the weather.

Three more houses, she thought, as she skipped over the gutter and onto the new sidewalk. Two more house. She passes one more as she once again quickened her steps and lengthened her stride. One more house . . . and . . . home! came the final triumphant thought as she shoved a key into the door knob, jiggled it around, turned the knob, shoved the door open and stumbled into the surprisingly warm house.

“How did it get this warm in here?” she asked the house, plopping down into the nearest chair and closing her eyes.

“Well, you didn’t expect me to wait in the cold just because you walked home in it, did you?” came a deep an unfamiliar voice.

Her eyes popped open to see an unfamiliar man standing a few feet away from her with a steaming cup in his hand.

“Wh—who are you, and what are you doing in my house?” she asked as she realized with great surprise that she wasn’t afraid.

The man pondered while sipping a quick drink of his unknown liquid. “I am—a sage of sorts, I suppose you could say,” he finally answered.

“A sage?” the woman asked with disbelief. “Am I dreaming?”

“Only if you choose to let it be,” the man responded quickly this time. “But it can also be as real as you choose it to be. You decide how real it is. The power of the mind is much greater than most people realize.”

“A sage,” she muttered, not sure what to believe. “All right, fine. You’re a sage, but what about my other question—what are you doing here?”

“The real questions should be what are you you doing here?”

“Me? This is my house.”

“But isn’t that your nature?” He pointed a finger to the window, a window that held a stunning autumn scene out of its glass frame.

“Well . . . yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” she questioned as she let the mass of confusion she was feeling play on her face.

“It has everything to do with everything,” the words slowly came out. “Or don’t you remember?” He finally let his hand fall back to his side, but his sparkling eyes continued to point to the glass window.

The woman left the question rhetorical as she thought it had been intended. She didn’t know whether she was dreaming or not, but no matter. For some reason she wanted to listen to this—sage. Straightening herself in the hard chair, she once again realized how warm it was and began taking off her coat and gloves. She had forgotten about them with the intrusion of this stranger.

The man must have heard her movement and turned to face her. He gave her a slight smile and said, “You’re crazy to walk in that coldness.”

“Maybe,” came her repetitious replay. “But it’s my only chance to be out in the open, to enjoy Mother Nature.”

“Enjoy Mother Nature? I wouldn’t exactly call a cracked sidewalk and a tar-lined road Mother Nature.”

Slowly she asked, “What do you mean?” although she was already beginning to understand him. But he put the picture—her own picture—before her anyway.

“You’re getting ready to leave work; your co-workers tell you how crazy you are as you slip your coat on. You give them the same response you just gave me, pulling your coat tighter around you and yanking up the collar to keep your neck warm. Then you say goodbye, head out the door and cast your eyes down to the cement to keep the cold from biting them out. Yes, I do admit, occasionally you glance up at the mountains whose melancholy mood you think describes you, or by chance notice a leaf taking its time sinking to the ground. But usually you don’t even look up for cars.” He paused for a moment, and only a moment, then went on. “When are you going to be like that leaf you saw today?”

“I don’t have time,” she began her futile protest.

“Time? Have you even forgotten what time is? Didn’t you once write a poem about that?”

This time he meant for an answer, but she couldn’t give him one.

“Don’t you remember ten years ago when you wanted more than anything to get out and explore—really explore? That was when you knew the true meaning of time, the true meaning of nature.”

“And don’t you remember ten years ago when the crystal ball that held that desire was shattered by reality and the fact that I was only a little insignificant teenager?” she shot back.glass-1286412_1920

“But you’re not a teenager anymore,” he rebuked. “And those pieces weren’t broken so small that you can’t glue them back together now. Remember those days you ached so desperately for those things in that crystal ball, and your fingers desperately itched for a million pencils and pieces of paper to write it all down. Don’t you remember? There’s a painted rock still out there waiting for you. Remember.”

A painted rock. The words did spur a remembrance. But it was Painted Rock—not a painted rock, but Painted Rock, Nevada. Yes, she remembered, and suddenly it all came rushing back. Suddenly, all the stories, the dreams, the fantasies came back, hitting her like an unexpected tidal wave in the middle of a calmed morning ocean.

“Remember,” he again prodded.

“I do,” came her faint reply as a glistening tear escaped her eye and trickled down her cheek—something that hadn’t happened for quite awhile.

“Then go to it,” he tempted. “Go find those memories your Irish friend sings about—the ones you left behind.”

“But how—”

“It doesn’t matter how, just as long as you do it.”

The idea was almost too appealing. How she had ached to find those memories, to return and reclaim her thoughts. How her fingers had itched for those pencils and papers, but she had never gotten the chance, and it had torn her and wrenched at her until the final piece from that crystal ball had fallen, and she had . . . forgotten.

“But if what you say is true, and I have forgotten—”

“Ah, but the thing with the word forgotten,” she was interrupted again, “is that it has an opposite, a word that can change it all around and make things turn out right; remember.”

Remember. She looked out the window just in time to see a golden maple leaf slowly falling at the same moment another tear slid down her cheek.

Remember. She took her un-gloved hand and brushed away the tear, then quickly shoved it into the glove. The other hand followed. Pulling her coat on and yanking the collar up around her neck, she stood up.

“Where are you going?” the sage asked as she walked past him to the front door.

“For a walk,” she stated in a matter-of-fact tone.

“You’re crazy,” he told her with a grin.

“I know. But I need to be out in the open, enjoy Mother Nature. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll even see if I can find some way of getting myself—” She paused, turning around to find that the stranger was no longer there. “To Painted Rock,” she finished with upturned lips. “Maybe I’ll see about finding those memories, and this time I won’t forget.”

Remember. She stepped outside and breathed in the crisp night air. She let her eyes glance upward into the sky whose daylight and confusion had finally retreated behind the gates of the western mountains. The moon, full and smiling, cast its pale glow down upon her, and she returned the smile at the memory. The click of her heels hitting the cement echoed through the deserted street, and she slowed her already leisure pace, just like a leaf slowly and pleasantly falling to the ground. Remember.

Remember (Part 1)

A few times in the last several months I have felt prompted to share something I wrote as a senior in high school. I was never sure why, so I kept putting it off, but the other night, as I was driving, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man came on, and I again was struck with the thought that I should share.

Letting others read what you write is always hard. It makes me feel extremely vulnerable. A beta reader, supposed to be giving feedback on a novel I had written, once said that she wanted to stab herself in the foot with a fork my book was so bad. Obviously this statement did nothing to help and everything to make me feel completely worthless and want to give up writing altogether. But I’m someone who picks myself back up, and here I am, still writing.

The truth is that I’m a much, much better writer now than I was in high school, so it’s difficult to allow myself to be this vulnerable in sharing this with you. A lot of what I wrote back then was very ambiguous. But I didn’t write Remember for anyone else. As a matter of fact, it sort of wrote itself—for me, in a way, but I’ll explain that later.

I’m going to break this into three parts. First is the poem, then the story and finally the backstory and an explanation, I guess you could say.

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So, here’s the poem:

Remember

A tear torn loose from your saddened eye
joins those the October sky is crying
from thinning gray clouds that are nestled deep
into crevices and secrets of the eastern mountains
that loom above you in the near distance.

Autumn has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as golden leaves dot thinning green trees
that attempt to hold fast to their ground, but fail.
A bitter coldness has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as a lasting droplet, full in glistening shape,
falls to your cheek, hitting a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

You steal a penetrating stare from the full moon;
the darkness plays around your essence
as you hear the southern men1 sing
about being simple—someone you can love and understand.
And you wonder how you can ever have this
in a city full of lights and confusion.

But don’t you remember the glow of the moon
and the first time you danced under its pale luminescence?
An Irish voice2 sings of her hopes
of finding those memories she left behind—
and so should you plead.

There’s a black, serpentine road leading to your destination,
for there is still a painted rock3
waiting for you in the hot Nevada desert—
waiting for you to answer a call;
and you cry as the moon reminds you.

The stories flood back in a tidal way of memory,
hitting you with full force, without any suspicion,
but how can you accept them in all this light and confusion?
Oh, how you’ve desperately ached to accept them,
how desperately your fingers have itched
to paint them in a stream of penciled words,
but you are young and condemned accordingly—
and you see the last piece from your crystal ball shatter . . .

 

The autumn rain pauses for a moment and for a moment alone,
but one last droplet, full in glistening shape,
finds its way crawling down your cheek
with your tear . . . a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

1Lynyrd Skynyrd

2Enya. I used to listen to her a lot in high school, and would sometimes sing her songs as I would swing on the swingset or dance in the backyard at night under the moon.

3This refers to Painted Rock, Nevada, a little town I drove by on my way to Reno, NV on a family vacation to the Redwoods. The landscape surrounding the area inspired my imagination and the seeds of a story were sown because of that. I always wanted to go back and explore the area more, but never have.

A World of Contradictions

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Life is interesting. And full of contradiction. Society claims they hate the news because it reports so much bad in the world. “We want good stories, happy stories, inspirational stories,” we all say. On the flip side everyone talks about how much they hate social media because it gives a false perception of people’s lives. Everyone posts happy things, like life is never bad. “Show us reality,” we say. “Not your fake happy smiles.” So which one is it? Good or bad? Positive or negative? Depressing or inspirational?

With my blog I’ve found that I get way more views when I post a depressing piece than a happy one. And the happy ones aren’t fake. I’m open and honest all of the time. I’m always me and I always show that. But my posts about hitting low points and showing ugly crying pictures of myself always get more views and more responses than posts about how I’m doing well or how I’m happy and haven’t been dealing with my mental illness.

I’m certainly grateful I’ve gotten such a positive response from readers, friends and neighbors during my difficult times. I’m grateful they have been there for me, prayed for me, loved me and not been scared away. It shows me that people are learning, caring and seeing past the stigma of mental illness that has been around for so long. But people—everyone, with or without mental illness—still need love and support even in the good times.

So we want happy, but we don’t want fake, but we don’t want depressing, but we only care if it’s depressing. And around and around we go. I have no judgments about whether this is right or wrong or makes sense or not. I just find it interesting because it does seem like a pattern of contradictions. Do I keep writing even if I’m happy or should I only share when I’m struggling? What are your thoughts?

Pearls at Dusk

As I’ve mentioned before I used to write a lot of poetry when I was in high school and college. Then the inspiration just sort of died. But in the last year I’ve written four or five poems. I used to crank out that many in a week! Considering I went years without writing a single one I’d say four or five is pretty good. The inspiration has often come after going through something difficult or just when I’ve needed to be inspired. This one came the other night as I watched an almost full moon rising in the east as the sun sank in the west. I hope you enjoy it.

Pearls at Dusk

The yellow moon rises
against a violet sky at dusk,

like a pearl breaking free
of shell
and sea
and salt.

Free to shed soft, delicate light
on a land cast in shadows
and sorrow.

I clutch its glow to my heart,
drink it in to my soul,
treasure up the grace it has given me,
like a whole string of priceless pearls
strung around my neck.

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Warrior

Strong. Brave. Fighter. Cause. Motivated. Winner. Inspired. Inspiring. These are all words I thought of in association with the word warrior. I haven’t felt like any of those words recently, though. I’ve been more depressed than usual this last week. Why? Because of everything and because of nothing. Such is the nature of depression. I’ve been tired and unmotivated. I haven’t been exercising enough or keeping to any of the goals (which aren’t many) that I have for myself.

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The reason I was thinking of this is because a friend gave me a word necklace. Warrior was the word. And I haven’t felt like a warrior. Then I looked up the definition. Merriam-Webster defines warrior as: a person engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly : a person engaged in some struggle or conflict. Now I can say I am a warrior! I have a lot of experience in this war of mental illness. Mental illness is one of the greatest struggles and conflicts I have been through. It’s a daily war, a daily struggle.

The definition doesn’t say a warrior is strong or brave. It doesn’t say they are motivated one hundred percent of the time or that they always inspire others. I’m sure there are a lot of warriors in this world that no one knows about. But we think of warriors as brave, strong, etc. Knowing my friend thought of me when she saw the necklace inspired me. It’s simple gestures and thoughts like that that motivate and inspire me to be strong again. To fight. To keep going. Yesterday, I opened my door to the garage (which had been left open) to discover an envelope with some cash in it. A couple of weeks ago, someone anonymously left a box of groceries on my doorstep. It’s so humbling to know that people are thinking me, helping me while times are tough. This also motivates and inspires me. It makes me want to work hard so one day I can be that person helping others. All I can do right now is write, share. It seems so insignificant compared to what others have done for me. One day, I’ll do more. One day, I’ll be more. But for now, this is enough. For now, I am enough. I am a warrior.

Force and Resistance

Do not attempt to conquer the world with force,
for force only causes resistance.
– Lao Tzu

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A friend recently shared this quote with me, and I instantly connected with it. While it may, in general, be talking about leaders of nations it can also relate on a smaller scale. I have particularly felt this lately with tragedies here in my country. People are all fired up and trying to force their own beliefs on everyone else with the attitude of, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Period.” They may not think their “sharing” of beliefs or passive-aggressive behavior is just that, but it is. The more I’m bombarded with that sort of attitude, the less likely I am to hear anything you have to say, the less likely I am to respect you or believe you. All you’re actually doing is reinforcing my own beliefs and solidifying how important they are to me. On this small scale, personal level, force never works. As Lao Tzu said, it only causes resistance.

This idea of force can also be related to mental illness. The more people out there who try to convince the world that mental illness isn’t real, the more resistance they’ll find. It’s been hard hearing all of the stigmas, in the wake of the shooting in Florida, brought out and pounded in, after all the work so many of us have tried to do to break them down—with the truth. But we aren’t going away. The world has changed. People aren’t staying silent anymore about anything. But I’m not going to shout it anyone’s face. That would make me a hypocrite. I will simply continue to write, on my blog, openly talk to those who ask questions and hope, like others out there—others like myself—that in my small, quiet way, I can make some small difference or inspire others to do the same.