Friday, September 24, 2010

Learning to Accept

Within hours of arriving back in Miamisburg, I walked down to Kroger (a local grocery store chain) to get some victuals. On my way back, I approached the entrance to a gas station out on Central Ave., the main drag through Miamisburg. A silver '70s model Chevy pickup truck passed and I heard a feminine voice shout something incoherent at me. Most of the drive by shoutings I've experienced in this town have happened near that particular spot. Perhaps there's a sign on the road there that reads, "Shout at pedestrians" and for whatever reason I haven't spotted it yet.

Even better, last night I rode 5 miles up to Walmart along the "bike route." The "bike route" is really a sidewalk that turns into the shoulder of the road. You know it's a bike route from the tiny green sign that reads "bike route" that has a corresponding picture of a bicycle. I stopped at a red light, and when it turned green, I proceeded into the intersection and was nearly run over by an old guy in a white, monogrammed polo shirt driving a Lexus. He stopped short and laid on the horn--a mere three feet from my ear--and then squealed his tires when I got out of his majesty's way. I turned around to look at the old fart, as if to say, "What in the world is wrong with you?" surprised to see that he had the exact same look on his face. I was a split second from flipping him the bird, but thought better of it and just continued on my way.

Souls come into this life to have different kinds of experiences. This is something I have constantly to remind myself of, especially living here in Ohio. The people in this area, I suppose, came into this life to live a relatively challengeless existence. Perhaps they are young souls who haven't had the experience of facing significant travail, or they experienced serious turmoil in the previous life and are here to just take it easy, roll along, and not have to think too much about anything. In this world, you can drive your Lexus without having to worry about cyclists riding on a "bike route," impeding your passage to the Country Club. Or perhaps, you don't have to consider that ambulating is a function with more purposes than taking you to the refrigerator to get a beer, a snack, or both. Shouts from old silver Chevies is the result of absolute surprise and wonder.

Living here, I feel the oppressive weight of constriction and judgment. In taking on a life of relative ease and lack of challenge, the trade off is that anything different or out of the ordinary presents a supreme challenge. Anything not experienced before is not only confusing, but very likely also evil. This is the climate I grew up in and through it, somehow managed to overcome this small universe and live a life of relative diversity and variety, appreciating differences, even seeking them out.

So, why did I come into this life in this particular place in the world? First, I needed to overcome the stultifying stench of conformity and Fascism. I had to learn to be an individual with wildly erratic impulses in a world that tends to slap down anything that falls outside the ten commandments. Second, I needed to learn to accept that some souls simply aren't ready for that. For them, it's a challenging life. Like the hiker who traverses continents who comes upon people complaining about having to walk a mile to get somewhere, I have to learn to see that not everyone has come to this world to expand, to explore, to tear down walls, to think outside the box.

"You get what you give," I've heard people say. If I want acceptance, I must give acceptance. For the time that I'm here in Miamisburg, I will endeavor to accept that these people are exactly where they need to be. I realize I'm not and am going to do everything I can to get to California and live there. In the meantime, "Hello Mr. Aristocrat in a monogrammed polo and Lexus. You go on ahead. The people at the country club are just dying to see you." And, "to you in the silver Chevy, I'm not from another planet, but I can see how you might think that. Don't worry, I'm going home to eat some beans and cornbread. Just close your eyes and in a minute I'll be gone."