Many of us are born with the desire to work hard, others learn to work hard, and others just never learn when to stop working. When I say ‘work,’ I’m including everything that can possibly come to your mind. From working to pay bills, projects, school, family and even personal goals, all these things that we do on a daily basis are done because we either have to or want to. Now, as you wonder about what things you work hard for, you might sometimes ask yourself, “why do I work hard for it?” Simple, even though we may come from different backgrounds or cultures all of our roads lead to one address: Success & Happiness. But that may not really seem like the road to where the wild things are. However, if you look at a mirror, your reflection may show the things you’ve sacrifice and stressed over around your half moon windows. Those aren’t wrinkles caused by sunrays…those are sleepless nights and tears of joy and pain, but we are too busy to stop and think about them. I know, this intro paragraph already is leaving you puzzled because the title threw you off since you were expecting a story on “Carol and Friends”. Since, you’ve already read this far and already became a victim of false advertisement…might as well take a trip with me and let me share where my wild things are.
As far as I can remember, my parents taught me three things: 1) Love your neighbor 2) Hell & Heaven don’t exist and 3) Work hard. I grew up watching my parents bust their buns off or sacrifice their dreams to give my brother and I everything we wanted. My dad assumed the role of a provider, an alternator that fueled my brother’s confidence and mine. He was my Superman. My mother, she was our shield, our safe haven, the panacea to humanity. She was and is Life. I never saw my parents slacking off or second guessing their decisions. They did it for a reason: dreams–not just any dreams, but the desires of their children that they could foresee, dreaming while awake. To them, working hard meant sacrificing their dreams and taking care of home. My parents didn’t belong to any community projects or artistic endeavors. My superman worked five days straight and on the weekends either played or coached a soccer team; my mom took care of all house work and the two crazy imaginative kids. Imaginations stretched to socks that became one child’s swimming flippers while the other let her shower time become her stage. Yet, I hardly recall times were my parents both took vacations together, or family vacations. Don’t get me wrong there were vacations but many times superman was either protecting Krypton or fighting kryptonite.
Being a kid, especially a Latino kid from the 80’s, first generation, from immigrant parents, not Mexican and raised in South Los Angeles, you definitely have to work harder to be respected or let alone acknowledged. Growing up with Civil War stories and reminders of the sacrifices that had to be made in order for me to be in this “land of the free,” I was often on edge. The hard work my parents always set forth reminded me that life is not always easy, a fact that we all know as a result of the burden of being human. We’ve all had to meet hard times, and in those hard times that my family has been through, I have risen and taken a lead role in the dreams I create. Seeing how dad took care of us made me want to resemble his role as a provider and fly around free with an imaginary cape and stay away from the kitchen and dresses.
At a very young age, I’ve had to make decisions out of necessity and not choice. The family sets all responsibility on the first child to be the one to set the bar that all others should meet. In creating that bar to be met, one abandons normalcy; if the ship is sinking, one must think fast and step up as co-captain. Fast forward beyond a sinking ship and fourteen years, I’ve never been one to live a normal life. I’ve had dark years, lean years and ah-hah years. This year, specifically, marks a recovery time. Booked solid for 365 days with countless art projects, unending responsibilities, and tangible dreams, a recharge is necessary. Don’t feel left out here; you may feel the same way I do. Whether you are a parent, involved with community or art projects, a community leader, a business owner, or simply in love with life and each moment that comes by, you understand the need to get away, recharge, and regroup. My mom has always said, “el que mucho abarca, poco aprieta” (Don’t bite off more than you can chew), but I don’t know what it is about us humans that makes us believe we are gods and can take care of 100 projects in twelve months. Eventually, like batteries, we will fade and die. It is said that the best medicine for a cold is chicken soup, so the best remedy for a busy life must be a two day getaway and recharge.
Twenty-thirteen has been a very challenging year not only for my family and I but also for all; we’ve come across many obstacles. Still, we compose, breathe and lead. A couple of weeks ago, I took a parenting role that I never thought I’d ever take. As a result, I was confused and searching for answers elsewhere. The situation was one of those Robin Cook moments were you have to decide, despite skepticism, if you should inject vaccine or not to survive. Not only am I a Tia now, but also a part time parent to my 14-year-old niece who is in desperate need of expression. My Superman has gifted her an acoustic guitar, “Flipper-boy” has gifted her with the Taurus trait of stubbornness, my Mom with the death stare as this only partially shields boiling thoughts, and I’ve given her the gay gene, grrr.
Now, as we try to think about how to search for answers elsewhere to recharge, I must mention that I’ve been blessed with having wonderful friends who book two nights away from the city to regroup my crazy thoughts and come back to the mortal land to continue the battle called life. Since I saw the film “Girl, Interrupted,” I was intrigued and wished to attend and make a mental hospital home. Like Winona Ryder’s character in the film, I wanted to get away and relax. I yearned to rebuild my state of mind via solo solitude, distance from the city, and a brief abandonment of responsibility.
One of my great friends that I’ve known for almost 20 years gave me the opportunity to get away and do some soul searching, releasing and recharging at a temporary, two-day home. The hills, the distance from city, and the solitude led to revelations, meetings with a couple of my demons, and a feeling of existing outside of society. The planet I was on was quiet, peaceful and fresh; the world was beneath me. Yet, everything was not entirely peaceful, for on the first day I experienced a small anxiety attack. I could not distance myself from my unending responsibilities, for they rang like voices in my head and stung like daggers in my heart. Too powerful, too intimidating, and too scary the brief meltdown placed me alongside the gods and further from society. My stay was like a maze through my own existence, for I discovered new muscles within myself that have never been used. With many responsibilities on my shoulders, I’ve forgotten who I am, so for two days refocused and remembered my position in the world. I realized that moments of confusion at this age are due to a rediscovering of a life that has been consumed by sacrifice, hard-work, tears and dreams.
Humans aren’t born to know when to regroup, rejoice or even re-charge, but we are born with the desire to love. With love comes many responsibilities: to believe, sacrifice and to dream while being awake and alive. Those two days weren’t heaven for me, but instead, were days that I would’ve never wanted to look forward to. Because of those moments I was mentally broken and rebuilt, not by a program or by my parents but by life. Being away taught me to be less worrisome, accept the things as they unfold, and live a little more. If I happen to find peace in the middle of my ‘wild things,’ then it’s my perfect heaven. That’s something that can never be indulged in over a cup of tea at starbucks trying to write the next blog, but at a safe haven searching for immortality amongst nature; in those two days of recovery were I met the real me.
Tomorrow, hasn’t been written yet, but today is filled with opportunities and worries. Let the future be the compass to finding tranquility and I can assure you that the more time you take throughout the year to find peace, the less you’ll deal with Carol insecurities. At the end of the day, you’ll realize that where the wild things are is not a place you go to or a movie you watch, but inside us all…and that’s where we need to look at to create peace.
’till next time!