A friend of mine who is currently recovering from knee-replacement surgery and dealing with rehabilitation therapy posted a wonderfully positive status on Facebook. With her permission, I share it here.
"This morning my husband asked me how I was feeling. I said I was feeling great. Actually feeling like me. I qualified it by saying that I have been having "Moments of Me".
In her world, those "Moments of Me" are how she is defining progress in her recovery. The pain, the struggle, the limitations, the loss of her independence, the boredom, and how very small her world has become recently, is very much outside the comfort zone for this strong, self-reliant, and wonderfully robust woman. Every moment of normality and every moment that she can point to as regular is a step forward in her recuperation and convalescence. As her friend, I was thrilled to hear that she is experiencing more and more of these moments and that she is seeing a small light at the end of a very painful tunnel.
As an addendum to her Facebook post, my friend threw down the gauntlet to her friends to try and define the term "Moments of Me" in personally creative ways. I realize that she is extraordinarily bored and is hoping that we will provide her with some much-needed entertainment. How could I deny her that? And so....friend....challenge accepted.
As I have gotten older, I have become aware of the little bits of me out there in the universe that I wish I could retrieve. Toxic bits. Unkind scraps. Moments that I wish I could have back. How would I have handled myself if I had the chance at a mulligan? Would I have better control over my temper or my tongue? Would I have been less dismissive and more compassionate? Would I have stressed less and enjoyed more? Would I have spent more time on the floor playing and less time worrying about keeping it clean? Would I have stopped more often to appreciate and record just how fleeting it all is? All of those times that I worried over narashkeit (nonsense...the small stuff) served only to diminish my strength and my power over my own world. I'm not for a minute reaching for unattainable self-perfection but rather a better understanding of my faults and foibles and how I can learn from them.
These are indeed "Moments of Me". They are certainly moments that I am embarrassed by and ashamed of, but they are a still part of me. They have been teachable moments and moments of growth and maturation. But they are only useful if they have been instructive. So how do I re-gather these negative "Moments of Me" from the ether of the universe and celebrate the "me" I would rather be?
I sing and I dance. I plug in my headphones and jam, loudly. Last week The Husband posted a rather unflattering video of me belting out "Hello, Dolly" and doing the soft-shoe in the kitchen while preparing brunch. This singing and dancing routine wasn't an isolated incident. I tend to do this a lot but in the privacy of my own space. I was blissfully unaware of his prying eyes and his gentle humour in posting the offending film until the comments came pouring in. I was slightly horrified by my image; hair pulled back, sweatpants, sweatshirt, no makeup, and singing and dancing to music only I could hear. My mortification was all-encompassing. This past weekend, my dear cousin pulled me aside and told me how much he loved the post. He told me that it was a pure Dawn moment. "It was so you", he said without a trace of mocking or irony. Only then did I stop plotting my excruciatingly painful revenge on The Husband and realize that he recorded that image not out of ridicule or malice, but rather out of love and he wanted to share that love he has for me with everybody he knew. He saw what I didn't.
I allow myself public emotional release. I squeal with childish glee at the magnificent sight of dolphins in the bay or an eagle taking flight. I shake with sustained anger at those who would excuse and allow continued poverty or injustice from their perch of privilege. I still weep at the end of Marley and Me and I have read it several times and seen the movie even more than that. I scream and cheer passionately for my favourite sports teams even when they kind of suck. (I live in Toronto. It's what we do.) I vituperate at the f***ing squirrels for all of their sins against me. I sit in stunned silence at great moments of artistic genius and appreciate godliness in them. I still laugh out loud at Danny Kaye movies and I still cry when I hear Idina Menzel hit the highest bridge notes in Defying Gravity. I swear like a sailor when I encounter profound stupidity and I am calmed by the brilliance of words. Through every single one of those things, I like to think that I am bringing balance back into my world.
I dispense with the bullshit. The Husband had a wonderful grandfather whom I absolutely adored. As he aged into his nineties, it became obvious to all who knew him that he just didn't have time any longer for pretense or bullshit. He said what he wanted to say when he wanted to say it. His lack of filter did get us into some trouble on occasion, like the time he wondered aloud at my son's elementary school why all the teachers were "so ugly". His often inappropriate musings were excused as the rantings of an aged man with no fucks left to give, but I have to admit that there existed a tremendous freedom in his demeanour. While I hope to God that I haven't yet descended to publicly insulting people, I am no longer distracted by bullshit. New-aged diets, beauty routines, must-have shit, phony celebrities, flat-earthers, science deniers, climate change rejection, paternalism, misogyny, quacks, religious fundamentalism...I'm done with all of it. All of it. I cannot and will not pretend that any of this is anything other than grade A, high-level bullshit and I will continue to call it such whenever it rears its ugly head. There is tremendous honesty in living as Zaidy did with zero fucks left to give about any of it.
There are other times when I feel me come to the surface. The contentment I feel when I sit quietly and watch The Husband solve a complex problem. The pride I experience when I see the independent adults my sons have become. The pleasure I get listening to children sing. The awe that comes with the viewing of a sunset or the ephemeral emotion contained in a rainbow. These are touchstones, markers that remind me of who I am at my core. No labels, no monikers. Just me.
I know that I can't go back and undo the bad stuff. I'm not sure that I'd even want to. I just want to come to a place, like my friend has, whereby I experience more of this authenticity. It is in those truths we find those fleeting "Moments of Me".