What They Say Is True
“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”
I mean… I can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Either one is always my choice.
My parents, my teachers, the authors of my books, the strange old folk to whom I’ve lent my ear at various Starbucks (okay, okay, and bars) over the years while waiting for a friend, the man who offered solace on a Qantas flight as I sobbed because I had left Mike (and therefore abandoned myself very far away from home), the songwriters and musicians who bring those words to life…
They all told me their stories – their feelings, their experiences, their lessons, and the adages of those who came before them. I rolled my eyes inwardly far too many times, while saying aloud, “Oh, really?” or murmuring, “Yeah, I’ll remember that...” Actually, I was thinking that none of it applied to me.
My Mom keeps a Post-It note on their fridge still (one that was replaced many times with new background colors throughout my childhood, each time I threw away the one before it) that reads:
‘I don’t care that you remember.’ – Billie, January, 1996
I was nine. I was at that place in life when I still believed in my rudimentary perception of the world and that the rest of it was revolving around me. But Oscar Wilde said, “I am not young enough to know everything,” and the older I get, the more I agree with him – the more I realize that these underlying human truths don’t rot with time.
When I was twelve, I decided my room had to be redesigned with sponge-painted clouds on the walls and light yellow gingham bed-linen, a more ordinary by far cry from the truth of my unconventional childhood. (Wait, wait – you mean to tell me not everyone grew up listening to mornings on The Howard Stern Show on the drive to kindergarten? Weird.)
In those clouds I put up quotes that I adored and saw my life being lived by. If I could memorize them and keep their lessons in the forefront of my mind, it was my belief that it would make my life easier. Armed this way, I felt I could learn from them and see the train wrecks of life coming before they hit me. But from inside the car on my road, when I came to get stuck on various tracks, the trains approaching never looked so dangerous, until they hit me. They approached like Lucifer: in various shapes and forms, looking alluring and with the gift of silver tongues.
I now regard this data as prophecies told to me for my fortification – capitol for drawing on when the trainwrecks started.
Numerous times I have stood there with the Why Didn’t You Tell Me?! look on my face, to which my Dad repeatedly responds, “I did tell you, but you didn’t hear me. I spoke the words – but I could have put it on a piece of paper, whispered it in your ear, screamed it in your face or written it in the sky. You were never going to hear me, until you were ready to.” And eventually – across any length of time – once I decipher my own language, he’s right.
By introducing my predecessor’s experiences, their existence is identified in my head; albeit subconsciously, knowing their outcomes allows me more opportunity in applying them to a bigger challenge in my own life. Each chapter in this book is comprised of the various instances in which I have learned these lessons over and over again; ideally deeper and better each time. The truth is, we are allowed endless opportunities to do this. These lessons accumulate, assimilate and then procreate in my gut instinct, and I am smarter, better, faster, stronger for surviving the process of it.
I choose to believe in these visceral impulses because it is where I find god speaking through me. Believing in him – his faith, his science and every other form of energy – is present in my ability and credence to keep moving forward toward a better tomorrow.
Now is probably a good time to state that I am not at all religious. I have broken all Ten Commandments at different times (three of them I continually reject every day). I do not wear a red ribbon around my wrist or pray five times a day facing a certain direction; I am contemptuous of enslavement to rules and I curse like the fucking sailor that I am.
In the words that follow, I am asking you to go beyond the word “god” as you read this book, (and the fact that I do not capitalize it,) because when I speak of “him”, what I am referring to is my own inner voice, which I cannot take prideful credit for. I am only a meager vessel who is blessed enough to have the universe’s truths pass through me while I stand here on earth – as every, single one of us is – trying to gain more awareness. I hold no power without the light of all other consciousness, and I am grateful for the support that grid provides, every day.
Whatever you want to call that universal force that is bigger than us, I respect. The greater good, prana, Allah, love, She, He, Yahweh, Great Tennger, science, Siddhartha, medicine, God, nothingness… Whatever. And I don’t mean to offend anyone, either. I only use the word “god” because it was the first way it was introduced to me as a small child and hey, eventually I ended up at a Catholic school, so old habits die hard.
More importantly are those time-tested sayings – the things They say.
I think at thirty I finally have to call myself a (loud swallow) woman. I’m like a grown up version of that kid who asks, “Why?” a hundred times in a row and then wants to discuss each answer, in order of priority, starting at the top. Annoying sometimes? Yes, regularly! But curiosity surely drives evolution. I have no plans to stop either, because as Ben Harper sings, I believe in a better way.
No matter how simple or monumental the fork-in-the-road decision appears I have the precious free will to choose to go in either direction. I must keep in mind though, as a wise businessman from Melbourne once told me over dinner on The Peninsula Beverly Hills roof, that “The easy way will always be the hard way, and what at first you think is hard will be easier in the long run.”
We are blessed in how many chances life gives us to learn these lessons too – again, and again. When we fall into the hole of one street, we eventually have the privilege of another set of circumstances further on down the line, which poise the opportunity to overcome it – or just, to walk around it.
I have (mostly) chosen to follow my heart-of-hearts, which is sound advice I garnered from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss,” he said, “and the universe will open doors for you, where there were only walls.” I believe, as the Kabbalah teaches, that desire is the basis for all the universe – from it, everything we know arises. It is the precursor to creation. Therefore, you will find my desires to be as outlandish as any other female’s and that they change just as often… And that most of the time, they are driven by love.
By thirty, I have basically endured two divorces, but have somehow managed never to have been a bride: actually not married at all. One proposal, two men I would have mothered children for, three great loves, four homes (each of which required appropriate redecorating, of course), five rings, lots of paperwork… And a partriiiiidge in a pear tree.
The part that still stings is that no white dress, no pretty cake, and no party have ever been elements of these stories. (And, my, how I love dresses, cakes and parties. Third time’s a charm!)
But how did this happen? To begin with…