As sheep graze the green grass of Ireland in the month of March, not more than a week away from Saint Patrick’s Day, here on this third planet in orbit around the local star we call our Sun, a collection of cells looks at itself and smiles.
Now, what is a smile?
Smile, n.: A subset of collection of cells sharing signals to coordinate an activity that similar cell collections recognise automatically.
Could the definition be more generic?
What is a smile but a symbol and what is a symbol but a clash of simple meanings?
Today, for the first time, I held my smiling great-nephew in my hands and flew him through the air like Superman.
It takes one to know one.
In that moment, I realised that I am who I am, wealthy enough to retire on the interest of a modest trust fund of my own making, happy to be the slightly rude and crude fellow who occasionally acts like a gentleman in front of women who want to be treated like ladies but who otherwise is not a core member of the type of folks who would be associated with the “church lady“.
I have finished another round of recovering from the loss of my father, which includes releasing the constraints upon myself that I had learned to keep subdued in order not to feed and incur the wrath of Dad when he was alive.
I am not a weekly churchgoing kind of guy but I am willing to support those who are, having, with my wife, pledged to donate half a million dollars to the summer church camp where she and I met as 12 year-old “rising seventh graders,” neither one of us being daily Bible readers or church attendees but friends with those who are.
To those who are, I am grateful for their influence upon my youth. I know that many of them would love for me to join them in service to the community to promote religious teachings in action.
But that is not who I am. I am a child of a universe of which our cultural/religious teachings are limited to a single solar system.
I will allow the teachings to continue to be a part of my set of states of energy but I believe it is a subset of which the set includes stuff unassociated with our species and its methods of survival on and around Earth.
I am healing from unintentional cuts in the thought patterns I was following that the cuts interrupted — cuts known as psychological damage in one respect and unique personality traits in another.
I am who I am because of who I was when I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be, exactly.
I am a collection of cells influenced by a lot of subcultures.
But again, that is from the viewpoint of a single planet.
From the viewpoint of the known universe, our species is invisible.
I practice telling myself this over and over because I choose to equal the influence upon me from others (“others” being any stimuli outside the immediate circle of influence that constitutes my set of states of energy (this collection of cells) that moves around the planet) by repeating to myself what I believe.
I have healed from these wounds, these cuts, these interruptions that redirected the forward momentum of multiple personalities in conflict that comprise the entity known as me.
I have reevaluated my risk aversion levels woven together as characters/masks/personalities/compartmentalised responses to external stimuli.
In the midst of healing that started when my brother in-law died in 2006, continued through my midlife retirement, caring for my mother in-law as she aged, got lonely, left her hometown, moved to our town and died, then rapidly followed by my father’s declining health and death, I resurfaced the core personality traits I had suppressed for the sake of others.
I am blossoming late in life, changing my personality feedback loops to pay attention to when I’m reacting for the sake of others and cutting off those reactions, replacing them with self-affirming actions instead, rather than living in the past working hard[er] to suppress myself when it surfaced unexpectedly.
I am no longer living for others and letting others live for themselves, choosing neither to lead or follow others.
I am responsible to myself.
All while giving leave of the self for other goals that may or may not include me (especially after I’m dead and gone).
I have reached the point where achieving these goals means leaving people and ideas behind that I was trying to please for no other reason than I didn’t know what else to do because I waited for permission to tell them goodbye, permission I was never going to receive from anyone else but me.
I felt like an interstellar spaceship being held in place by the roots of an extinct dead grass patch.
I gave myself permission to once again be my natural self, weird in some circumstances and accepting of comparable weirdness from others.
Releasing the fear of being seen and judged by the imaginary thought patterns of others in the subcultural religious teachings of my youth.
The release was a relief and a lifting of carrying a burden that was not mine to own.
I stopped worrying about pleasing people with whom I don’t hang out regularly anymore but have friended in social media circles.
In other words, I want to joke about butt plugs shaped like the bust of Vladimir Putin but not when I’m getting blasted with “God is so good to me and my family” messages all the time.
So, all I can do is say goodbye to the people/family in the subcultural religious teachings of my youth and let them be happy in their subcultural circles of which I no longer actively participate.
No better way to be me than to use someone else singing “I Gotta Be Me.”