Who We Are versus Who We Have Become

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I’m a fortunate woman. Every morning – without pressure of any sort – I get to languish on my sofa, sipping my French press, and gaze out the picture window for as long as I want upon the panoramic, lush verdancy of my  backyard.

On rainy days, it resembles a rain forest. At those times, I imagine entering it, machete in hand to clear my path if necessary, perhaps to enjoy an unexpected, friendly encounter with a pink and white tiger. Or, to have a  wild monkey wearing an ascot sidle up to me, banana outstretched like a welcoming bouquet. Or, perhaps I’ll witness a boa constrictor slithering up right in front of me, rising up from her tail, and with a big smile on her face say, “Hello SSSSSSSSSSSSandra. Welcome. We’ve been exSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSpecting you.”

One particular tree’s trunk  has a diameter ranging from 16 inches at its base to 8 inches near its top, the runt of the forest, if you will. It’s curved like a nascent rainbow, or a man living with peyronie’s “disease”. (I refused to capitalize the P on peyronie because I don’t necessarily think that a curved dick is a disease.)

Remember now, I’ve been gazing out upon this yard for years. Eventually, I had to wonder, “Why, when all the other trees’ trunks are straight, is this one curved?”

Surrounding that tree are other trees that maybe were there first. I say maybe because, judging by the height of the surrounding trees, the curved one would be of equal height were it not curved. So why would a tree that should’ve been upright become curved?

Maybe those surrounding trees chose to take up as much space as they wanted, unaware or unconcerned  for the growth of the tree in front of it. Maybe they never noticed that it was there in the first place. Maybe they decided that, for whatever reason, they just didn’t want that tree in their forest.

Whatever the reason, in order to thrive, that “peyronie tree” had to morph its growth pattern into a curved line, squeezing itself into to the space allotted it, yet choosing to thrive nonetheless.

That tree became what it could in direct accordance with the environment surrounding it, which brings me to my point:

Each and every one of us is a direct result of the ancestors who came before us; what their challenges and limitations were during their lifetimes; where and when we were born and to whom; the cultural tenor of our birth nation at that time; the color of our skin; our socio-economic and educational opportunities; what the people surrounding us would and would not allow us to do; misogyny; homophobia; racism; what was happening on the planet before we got here. You get the picture. I’m talking about seeing the forest for the trees.

Over the past two years since my mother died, and having had the opportunity to live in my hometown that I left 35 years ago for an entire 14 months, I’ve been micro-scoping all of the above. My DNA is fixed, just like yours. But, so much of what I became, based on what I came from is absolutely mutable. This is true for me. This is true for you.

It’s only over the past year that I’m able to see the limitations of certain aspects of who I became and why. In some ways, I had to become that peyronie tree in order to survive the harsh literal and figurative environments of Buffalo, New York. In other ways, I became my own lush and verdant forest.

My interest now is in looking at where my spine became curved and the impact that has had on my life, as well as my ability to transform it.  I always thought that, since childhood, I was more aware than the average bear – and maybe I was. That doesn’t matter now. What I’ve learned is that we can’t hurry life. We become aware (or we’re presented with opportunities to do so) in due time. We don’t all choose to take those opportunities.

I’ve chosen to take – and to take on – my newfound opportunities to reveal the authentic me before I had to become some things that I wasn’t. I’m now fully willing to do the work to dismantle these limiting aspects. It’s a lot of work. And, believe it or not, it’s also a lot of fun. It’s new territory and I am both Lewis and Clark.  Answering the questions, “Who was I truly born to be? What am I truly meant to do?” immerses me into the magic and the mystery of life, my natural habitat. Hey, it’s good to be back home again.

In some ways, I’m a majestic redwood. In others, just a little sprout popping out after a forest fire to prove that LIFE wants to keep living through me.

Everything in due time, my little pretty.






Earlier today, after sharing a lengthy conversation with a man and his wife at Alon’s,  swapping stories of caregiving, death,

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