Twenty Questions, Part II

For those of you who might be new here or are otherwise first joining this post series, please see the first post in the series for the first five of the twenty questions - and for a link to the article that got me writing these. For those of you who saw the first five and are ready to see what comes next:

6. How do I want to be different because I lived in this world?
I love this one; it's the first really easy one of the bunch. You know, we're all born naked and witless. We can't speak; we don't know how to control these bodies we're born into. We can't fend for ourselves. Obviously I'm already much different than that, and if you're reading this, so are you. But there's more; there's more than just not being able to feed yourself and slowly growing into the motor control required to operate a fork. There's more than potty training, more than basic speech or even literacy.

There's character. There's that thing we call our conscience, that voice in our heads that tells us when we're going in the right direction - and when we're not. Over the years, my body has grown, my calendar age grows consistently higher, and I'm starting to look at myself in the mirror and see the age creeping on. But there's so much behind my face that most people can't see. There's more than pouty lips, faded freckles and heterochromic eyes. There's kindness, understanding, loyalty, empathy. Over the years, there have been varying degrees of hate, rage, resentment and other things too - but over the course of my life, I'd like to think I'm keeping the balance shifted toward the better side of who I am.

I like to imagine my older self as a wizened old woman, short and probably a bit portly, with long hair that'll likely be grey and eyes that will be faded in color. I'll be soft-spoken and understanding, quick to spoil my grandchildren and able to lend an understanding ear to the certain heartaches my daughters will suffer.

I do hope that when I'm old, I can still remember what it was like to be young, so that I can understand my descendants when they come to me ... and I like to hope that I'll be someone they can come to.

I've seen rejection, so I hope I'm accepting. I've seen persecution, so I hope I'm tolerant. I've seen anger, so I hope I'm peaceful. I've seen spite, so I hope I'm forgiving.

And you know what, being wealthy and well-traveled wouldn't hurt either.

7. Are {vegans} better people?
This is another question where you basically plug whatever you want into the brackets, and this time the article writer instructs us to insert something we might find intimidating. It's meant to be that group you want to be part of but could never do it for whatever reason. For some, it would say, "Are runners better people?" The diplomatic answer would be, "No, they're just regular people doing the best they think they can do, like everyone else." But the really honest answer would be, "Some of them think they are." There are runners in the world who look down on everyone else for "not bothering" or not having "the discipline" to run marathons and whatnot.

Another truth is that every group is like this. Working mothers often think themselves better than stay-at-home-moms because they earn a paycheck outside the home. Stay-at-home-moms often think themselves better than working moms because they stay home with their children and don't have to miss anything.  There's the group of people who have college degrees and feel the need to lord it over the "uneducated" public, and then there's the "uneducated" public who think degree-holders are just idiots with an expensive piece of paper on the wall. There are those who are gay and those who are straight, and each side of every group seems to think they are "right" and "better." But are we, really?

No. We are all just people trying to get by, doing the best we can with what we have. Sometimes that's more, sometimes that's less. Sometimes a person is giving their all, and it just doesn't look like enough, and other times a person is just so stinking happy to have risen to a level they didn't think they could reach, and we see them as proud.

This goes back to the previous question ... the only people that are truly "better" than the others are the ones who honestly try to understand each other on an individual level, and then accept that we're all different. And those kinds of people would never think themselves "better" anyway.

The truth is, we are not created equally - none of us are. Why? Because each one of us is the sum total of the things we've experienced; our lives create us differently, we grow and adjust differently, and once we're less concerned with who is "better," it won't be nearly as much of a question.

8. What is my body telling me?
This is one of my favorites of these questions. Some of the worst experiences of my life have been because I didn't obey my body. I didn't follow my gut feeling or didn't obey my instinct. Slowly, I'm learning to never ignore what my body says - from when it needs fuel to what fuel it needs, to when it needs to stop and when it's ready to go.

And I've never felt better.

9. How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk?
Okay, in the article, there's a little paragraph that basically seems to boil down to, "Stop collecting stuff and start working on your mind and your spirit, because enlightenment is better than Jimmy Choos."

Hmm. Agreed. But the question? I'm still speechless after reading that.

10. What's so funny?
Everything, depending on the situation and my current sense of humor. Seriously, I've found some of my best giggles during some of my worst times, just because sometimes it's either laugh or cry and I generally choose to laugh if I can. So I crack jokes that may or may not always be appropriate and I laugh at certain stupid words hard enough to make any twelve year old proud. If that doesn't work, I'm on the phone to my cousin, and ... well, ya'll just wouldn't believe some of the stuff we come up with even if did tell you, so I won't. But the point of this question, I think, is just to remind us to find the humor in life, because too many of us go too long too often without laughing our troubles away.

11. Where am I wrong?
Wow ... so many places. I yell too much. I swear too much. I have things I'm ashamed of, things I wish I hadn't done, and things I wish I didn't have to do. There are places inside my heart that are dark and dusty, and I don't talk to God near as often as I ought to. And there's still so much about life and love and this world that I don't know. But when you get to that moment when you've realized that you don't know what you're doing or where you're going, or you just messed up so so bad ...

12. What potential memories am I bartering, and is the profit worth the price?
In the article, the author talks about a book where memories can be sold or bartered like currency, but what it brought to my mind was the movie, the Neverending Story. In both stories, someone is losing their memories. But the question isn't really about memories that you already have. It's about potential memories. The ones you don't have yet. The ones you might never have if you always walk the safest path in life. If you're too scared to ask out that girl because she might say no ... you're trading the potential first-kiss memories. If you're too afraid to try that food you've never tried because it might be gross, you're trading the potential memory of finding a new favorite. Or, you know, the potential memory of how gross that was, which could still be cool.

Honestly, I so love this question that I'm not even sure how to answer it. My memories (the good ones and the bad ones) are so precious and so valuable to me that I can't imagine giving them up, and to share a little secret with you, one of my biggest fears is Alzheimer's/Dementia - because I just can't imagine walking through my days with no memories. My memories give me hope, they give me strength, they keep me going. They make me who I am ... I wouldn't trade any of them for anything. But when I'm too afraid to try something or risk something or go somewhere, what am I losing?

... intermission ...

While you're waiting for me to come back and answer the rest of the questions tomorrow, go on and get out there. Take a risk. Live some life.