Mad-Hatted Courtroom

*In a departure from my usual posts, I’m sharing the beginning of a children’s story I wrote. I’d love to read your comments. Thank you!

 

“Order! Order! Order in the court,” yelled the restless judge with the rainbow colored robe and the purple top hat. “Mr. Rabbit, please explain why we’re here.”

“Yes, sir. Right away, sir,” said the jumpy prosecutor with the white fur and pocket watch. “We are here today, my honor,” he stated, as his hand swept over the courtroom, revealing all the people of Wonderland, “we are here to charge the Cheshire Cat as being an absolute failure.”

“Failure?” asked the mad judge, as if it were a word he’d never heard before. “Prey tell, what is a failure?”

“It is someone who has not made any meaningful contribution to society. Someone who hasn’t amounted to anything, and never will.” The prosecutor’s tone was emphatic. He kept glancing at his watch, though, as if he had another important meeting to attend.

“Your honor, forgive me. I’m in quite a rush. I have another client to represent soon.”

“Of course, of course,” said the genial judge. “We wouldn’t want you to be late, now would we?”

The rabbit hopped off his seat and trotted down the aisle of the courtroom towards the exit. The residents of Wonderland erupted in confused murmurs.

“Order! Order, please,” said the judge, as if he was inviting everyone over for tea. “Well, now, Mr. Cat,” said the judge with a mischievous smile. “How do you plead?”

Suddenly, the cat, who had up until now been invisible, appeared in his bright pink glory with a beauteous smile arching across his face.

“My lawyer will represent me, your honor.”

The doors of the courtroom slammed wide open, as the Cheshire Cat’s lawyer made a grand entrance. It was none other than the white rabbit, making his way down the aisle, as if he was a very important man of heft. One foot pounded the floor, then the other, like a cowboy ready to start a shoot-out. When he made it to the seat beside the cat, he hopped on and said, “We plead Not Guilty, sir.”

“Well, I never…,” chuckled the judge. “What is going on here? You cannot represent the prosecution AND the defence, Mr. Rabbit.”

The courtroom could tell the judge was trying very hard to sound serious, but was really more tickled than tart.

To Be Continued…

Adulting

Most days, I’m like a scared six-year-old who hates having to sleep alone in her room, who will make every excuse to invade the sanctity of her parents’ bed. Other days – and these are my best – I find delight in the little details of life, like bubbles reflecting rainbow colors or origami butterflies taking flight. But in between my deep need for comfort and my unadulterated joy, there are moments when I become an adult, and those are the moments I dread.

Ironing the wrinkles out of my husband’s shirts. Folding my child’s freshly laundered school uniforms. Driving to work in rush hour traffic. Apologizing for mistakes I never made, yet trying to justify the insensitivity of others. Making sure I return favors, remember to give gifts, wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook. Acting like everything’s going to be okay in front of my child, when I know they’re not okay at all. Smiling through depression. Remembering to pay the bills. Feeling the need to stay on top of current events and participate in drawing room discussions. Struggling to keep up with everyone else who, conveniently, seem to have their life sorted out. The list is endless and, when you put it together, feels insurmountable. “To Do” lists used to help me stay organized. Now they just give me anxiety. Is this what it means to be an adult? Really? Why was I ever in such a hurry to grow up?

What bothers me is that we’ve branded “adulting” as being this terrible condition where life is all work and no play, and the only time you can let your hair down is when the kids are in bed, or there’s a babysitter available, or you’re holding a cocktail in your hand while lying on a beach chair in Puerto Rico (although that would be nice). Why can’t we reframe the narrative and think of adults as being these awesome people who have the same level of curiosity and imagination as children, only with more resources at their disposal to transform some of those dreams into reality? We all grew up thinking about what we wanted to be as adults – writers, artists, doctors, astronauts. But many of us ended up basing our career choices on what made sense for us at the time or what would earn us the most money. And now many of us are stuck in these jobs we hate, taking care of these families we resent, feeling like the joy has just been sucked out of our lives.

Imagine always being able to see the world through a child’s eyes. Close your eyes and really think about what that would be like. Where do you still find wonder? What excites you, or makes you want to know more? Where does your inner voice lead you, when you’re half awake and half dreaming? I love stories. Even when I’m not reading a book or watching a movie, I’m making up my own stories. Sometimes they’re projections of me in the future, imagining myself becoming the person I want to be. Other times, they’ve got complex characters and intriguing storylines. Should I be writing these down? Sharing them? Publishing them? Maybe. I’m not sure where my sense of wonder will take me next. Do you think it’s possible to make a career out of chasing wonder?

What do you hear when you close your eyes and listen? Where does your mind journey, when you allow it some freedom? It doesn’t matter how seemingly ridiculous or far-fetched it might sound. We need to re-claim a little bit of our childhood, in order to become cooler, better, and ultimately, happier adults.

New Chapter

This summer, I moved with my family from one continent to another. And so began a new chapter in my life. I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities, paralyzed, really, by all the different ways in which I can reinvent myself. What will most likely happen, though, is that I will stay put in this exact same persona, doomed to carry on the same cycle of negative thinking. I’m trying so hard for this not to be true. To be a stronger, more emotionally resilient person. Not so dependent on any one person to make me feel loved or special. The love lies within, I keep telling myself. The strength lies within.

But who am I kidding? This is easier said than done. The frequency of moments in which I feel overwhelmed just keeps increasing. The potency of those moments, too, and their ability to just shut me down, completely. I always feel a hair’s length away from falling apart. Why am I like this, I often wonder. God made me this way, so I can’t be all bad, right? God made me sensitive and caring to a fault. There must be some way to be sensitive yet strong. To not lose heart every time I hear the news, or talk to my son about what bothers him, or see my spouse vacillate between moods. I want to find this wellspring of strength within me. I need to find it. Because I don’t think my life can go on this way.

A new chapter means new beginnings and endless possibilities. I hope I find that strength so that I might be the surprise character who emerges from this next chapter, the one who will carry the entire story through to its glorious end.

The Wind

What is wind but the air in transit,

from one part of the world to the other,

constantly on the move,

thoughtlessly sweeping across deserts and meadows alike,

not knowing where exactly it’s going, but going, nonetheless?

How does wind decide where to go?

Does it go where it is needed most?

Where it can provide a respite to people drenched by the heat of the sun,

or a gentle breeze to lovers by the lake?

Does it go where it can blow seeds from one section of the soil to another, to maintain the cyclical nature of life?

Or does it go where it can do the most damage?

Awe-inspiring, beautiful chaos,

an upheaval of everything we hold dear?

Where it spirals maniacally and sucks up everything in its wake,

or thrashes the shores like an abusive parent wanting to teach his children a lesson,

one they’ll never forget?

Where it joins forces with other elements, like rain, electricity, and fire,

creating the perfect storm,

a thing of magnificent power, destruction the world could never anticipate?

But most days, the wind is just the wind,

sometimes pleasing, other times a nuisance.

It moves thoughtlessly through the world, with no understanding of just how much power it yields.

On noiseless nights, if you listen very carefully, you might hear what the wind is saying.

“Look at me. Feel me. Hear me.”

Just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I don’t exist.”

So look. Feel. Listen.

Is that the whisper of the wind you hear, or a stirring in your soul?

Do you feel the uneasiness that comes with realizing how much power you yield,

and how little you’re doing to channel it in the right direction?

If you’re reading this post,

then you know it’s no longer good enough

to just get by in life,

like a light breeze picking fallen leaves off the ground and scattering them willy nilly.

It’s time to wield your power,

to gather your invisible forces,

and channel them with intention,

always listening to the silent stirrings of your soul.

Don’t just let the wind whip you around at its will.

Hold strong.

Pay attention.

All around us are signs

for those who can hear.

No One

The thing is, I keep telling people that the world needs more “unmasking”, that we need to stop “posing” and acting like everything’s all right when, in fact, we’re breaking down inside. But do I follow any of my own advice? Nope. Hardly ever.

There’s a comfort in knowing that, even if I’m breaking down today, maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. And why bother someone with the details of what I’m going through, why ruin the flawless impression they have of me, when I don’t really need to? I’ll bounce back in no time, on my own. Right? Or, maybe I won’t. And I’ll just suffer quietly for as long as this exterior mask will last. The question is, how long can I keep the charade going?

And what if I do tell people how I really feel? They’ll most likely say the most inane things, which, despite being well-intentioned, will just bug the shit out of me. If I am a little too honest about how I feel regarding my mother, my spouse, or my best friend, those are words I’ll never be able to take back, and relationships forever altered. I want to be comfortable being me, but without any of the collateral damage I fear it will incur. Perhaps the biggest fear is that, in being me, I’m really being no one. Because, let’s face it, I am no one. The voices in my head have done such a phenomenal job of convincing me of this. No amount of therapy and medication has been able to undo this belief. I am no one, and all I want is to be a someone, a me who I can be proud to represent.

I’ve always thought I had great faith in God. He will get me through this. Every night or day I cry, I beg Him for some help, some strength, a sign, perhaps, of what my next step should be. “Please steer me in the right direction, so I can climb out of this black hole.” I have lost interest in everything, even the things I used to love – movies, books, family. Writing. The things that used to make me feel a sense of connection with the world. They just don’t make me feel the same way, anymore.

I think I am craving connection. In this world of 7.5 billion people, why is that so hard to find? Do any of you feel the same way, too? Is anyone even out there?

 

 

 

There is a Space

There is a space

where words run out

and logic meets emotion,

the metaphysical meets the metaphorical,

and our entire human experience can be distilled into one basic premise:

Oneness.

Logic tells us we will thrive if we unite, and suffer if we divide.

Emotions tells us it is when we feel connected to, and loved by, others,

that we feel our best.

Science tells us that the planets revolve around the sun,

the electrons around the protons,

and everything around the universal laws of nature.

Our storytellers describe the paths of protagonists as being arduous,

yet surpassable if conquered with others,

and the outcome of villains to be loathsome and lonely.

Just as there exists a soul within each of us,

there exists a collective soul in the entire human race,

an unfolding story,

from Creation till today,

a developing vision,

of tomorrow and beyond.

There is a thread that connects us all,

our predecessors to our progeny,

one race to another,

from tribe to tribe,

and warrior to warrior.

If we acknowledge that bond and base our life around it,

there is no obstacle we cannot overcome,

no goal too far from reach.

But if we ignore the thread, or worse,

forget about it,

even snip ourselves free from its “burden”,

then we are on our own,

each man for himself,

survival of the fittest,

law of the jungle.

Who do you want to be?

What is really in your best interest?

Sure, success is a valid form of measurement,

so long as it’s based on the prosperity of the whole,

not the wealth of the few.

How far we’ve come,

yet how far we’ve fallen.

Do you think there’s still hope?

Well, we are still standing,

at least for now.

Let’s give it our best shot.

Let’s let go of all this disingenuous “othering”,

and allow ourselves to melt into the earth,

and meld into each other.

Magnify our One Voice.

Manifest a future free of fear.

Let’s immerse ourselves

within the space

where words run out

and logic meets emotion,

where what I want

is what you want,

and all we have to do is get there,

together.

Walls

I’ve been hearing how satisfying it is to allow oneself to be vulnerable.

Tear down those walls, they say.

Only then will you feel real joy.

Live each day to the fullest, they say,

doing whatever it is you were meant to do.

Follow your passion, they say,

but first figure out what your passion is.

What they don’t really focus on, though,

is how terrifying it is to do any of this.

I built these walls three decades ago.

I know what to expect.

They protect me from feeling too much,

when the news has only death to deliver,

when my spouse says something hurtful that will stay with me for years,

when my boss overlooks me in favor of my colleague.

These walls have kept me from drowning in sorrow.

But they’ve done something else, too.

They’ve removed me,

made me irrelevant.

I’ve spent so long crouched within them, I no longer feel like a part of this world.

Is that what’s happening to all of us?

We’re not just building walls to divide borders,

we’re building walls around our hearts?

I don’t like what’s happening to us.

The isolation,

the fear,

the paralysis,

allowing others to take over,

allowing power and money to take precedence over life.

If tearing down my walls is what I need to do to become more a part of this world,

to the point where the sorrow might overwhelm me,

but it might move me, too,

and push me out of my comfort zone,

then that is exactly what I’m going to do.

The thing is,

it’s terrifying.

I cry every day.

My heart shudders all the time.

I feel more scared than ever.

But I don’t want to hide anymore.

I don’t know why God made me this way,

a hulking mass of depression, anxiety, and pessimism,

but I need to believe that I am who I am

for a reason.

The truth is,

we are living in monstrous times.

The worst monsters are the ones we can’t see,

but that manipulate us anyway.

How can we get rid of something we can’t even see?

Well, we built invisible walls around us, didn’t we?

If we can create invisible forces,

we can certainly learn to get rid of them, too.

If we shed the walls, we shed the chains.

If we shed the chains, we’re free to “fight” the monsters,

the ones we can see, as well as the ones we can’t:

the power that corrupts

and the people who wield that power,

the imbalance where money is more valuable than human lives,

the suffering of those people, who,

even though we can’t see them or they’re just a soundbite in our system,

and they feel so far away,

are still a part of this world,

and a part of us.

Just because the powers-that-be thought it best to divide us into nations, races, and religions,

doesn’t mean we should let them separate us in spirit.

We are all one.

So to hell with it if I cry when I watch the news.

At least then I might actually take action

in ending this misery,

because the truth is,

we live in monstrous times,

but these are the only times we’re going to get.

Let’s turn them into something else,

so that years later,

when our children and grandchildren remember us,

they’ll say,

“Man, those were such wonderful times.

Everyone cared, everyone was an activist.

Everyone did their part in unifying this world,

which is the main reason

we live in such peaceful times

today.”