The Olympic Mountain Range from Rockland - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c 2010
This is a photo of the Olympic Range from the rooftop patio of the apartment I had on Rockland Avenue in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I would go out on that rooftop patio every morning and greet the day - in awe of the beauty, no matter the season, the weather nor my mood.
This was my reset button, my way of realizing there was more to know, more to discover, more to live for. In the foreground, you can see the trees of Fairfield and the totem pole in Beacon Hill Park. I left this place when the landlord took out the rooftop patio and raised the rent beyond the living wage. I could not afford to pay half my income to rent.
Lately, my reset button has broken off and I seem stuck. The kind of issues that made me leave that apartment are a few of the things that always seem to trip me up. Most of us have a reset button; some of us call it coping skills. Every once in a while though, when all sh*t goes sideways, that reset button starts to smoke and either burst into flames or breaks off. It is the opposite of "dial up the awesome and break the knob off." - Matt Adrian (Read Matt Adrian only if you can afford to suffer the paroxysms of uncontrollable laughter - seriously, I thought I would die.)
Back to the issue at hand. My reset knob is out of order, ne marche pas, it done broke. I have been hitting it repeatedly for months, coping skill upon coping skill has been drawn from my quiver and shot into the enemy fortress of the epic goat rodeo that has been my life since April. Every arrow is emblazoned with the message, "Never mind; it could be worse." I am thinking of making a new family crest with these words swirling across a scrolled banner below the crowned lion rampant. The war cry or motto, as it stands, is: la vie durante - "During life" If things are going to be sh*t, they may as well be stylishly so.
So what does one do when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are being delivered by fully-loaded, eighteen wheeler lorries to your doorstep? Well, you can keep sorting and shoveling and re-framing and saying positive things or you can let it go and veer around the epic pile of stinking dung or you can shovel through it or you can turn and walk away. In fact, you can do all of these. It doesn't have to be a huge, operatic, dramatic conclusion. You can pick and choose, depending on the day and the pile and your level of energy. You can take each thing as it comes and not waste time wondering if you should change your name to Job and look for your place in the Christian biblical Hall of Fame.
The fact is, even in the worst times, the times when everything is going pear-shaped and nothing is going your way, YOU HAVE CHOICE. You are not a victim. You can respond however you want. You have your piece of road and that's all you can control from behind the wheel of your own car. Okay, I can't afford a car, but I can still choose which bus I will take and, instead of thinking of myself as a 54 year old loser who doesn't even own a car, I can consider myself an eco-friendly, considerate consumer who is totally lucky to drive her girlfriend's car when wanted or needed.
Sure, maybe my creative writing receives sufficient digital rejection slips that, if printed, I could wallpaper my entire crappy apartment that I am fortunate enough to have despite having been laid off from my 20 year career in April.
I still have some work and I am still getting paid. I am not hungry. I still have the autonomy of my own apartment. I have friends and loved ones. I live a twenty minute walk from the ocean. I have the capacity to write poems and stories and this blog which I hope helps someone, at least one person every week though I rarely receive any comments. When I do, it is evident that they have found value here.
I can't seem to help but keep going, despite the ongoing cruel joke that is menopause and the four or more (I am losing track) medical crises I have experienced since being laid off - probably all jump-started by stress. It's not that I am having an easy time with it all. There has rarely been a day since April without tears and pain, but I am still here. Despite all that has been done to wipe me off the surface of the earth as undeserving, out of the job market, to take away my right to equality as someone who thinks gender is hooey and sexual orientation is not something for which I should be punished because it is simply who I am - I am still here. I am staying. Any changes in my direction will be my choice. If I let go and free-fall, it will be my choice.
Everyday, in all things, I create the path I walk and the direction I take, my choice. Each of us is unique and each of us has the choice to bring something good to the life we share. To each of you who has tried to change me, stamp me valueless, reject my right to equality, and to obliterate me entirely:
I am still here.
To each of us who has perpetuated hate or unkindness, I wish us less fear and more kindness - for ourselves and others. I wish us all a learning path, a peaceful path, with room for difference and compassion for our fellows. We are all worthy when we walk with love in our hearts.
I walk on with my head up, "with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child." - Comes the Dawn; Veronica Shorffstall; 1971
I choose to stay, for tomorrow is another story, another chance.
Gillian Cornwall, c. July 31, 2016
Sunset - Protection Island
Gillian Cornwall, c. July 31, 2015