And as I have reached Day Eighteen of Everyday Inspiration, I got a prompt to use a map as my muse. “Maps that tell tales about ourselves and the places we come from, that we miss, that we’ve reshaped in our minds. We use maps to identify locations, track movements, and to make sense of our lives, past and present.”
I have been all over the place with the map’s prompt, literally, and my head burst with possibilities and no focus.
That happened for maps awaken my dream to visit every place, in every latitude and longitude of this planet, and elicit that excitement of preparing for the journey and arriving at the destination I had longed for. But maps also evoke memories of what I have been and have become.
What road to take now? Travel the world, or go for a quick tour of what I have been or have become, by freezing a given moment in my memory lane?
I would need to zoom in and adjust the settings of this post’s navigation, and to do you and me a favor, and set a destination, one that we can get to, still today.
If I map out a few characteristics that friends use to identify myself, there will be a lot of consistency and alignment with my self-image. There is a relative of mine though, who somehow sees people only through her religious belief, and her attachment to the region she was born. That simply means that you’re unworthy if you don’t share the same religion or were not born in the same area that she was. That is where my picture shows in the map. I don’t fit. I am not protestant and I wasn’t born in her city.
She reached her 9th decade, healthy, mentally active and in good shape, but a lonely widow, who tends to subtract life’s moments of happiness from her memory, and instead multiply endless possibilities of future events that might go wrong. She may have Alzheimer’s, she may become sick, she may…whatever. And there is nothing one can say to convince her that her life could be beautiful.
My husband and I went for a visit today. We drove one hour and a half to the city where she lives. First I baked a cake for her. It seldom happens that I forget something in the oven, but today I did. I surgically removed the burnt edges of the cake, already forecasting the future commentary on a failed cake. I crossed my fingers and we headed to her city.
It was a rainy, gray day with heavy and dark clouds. Those days that make for great pictures, if you see the glass half full, but can also be seen as depressing, when your glass is half empty. That is the kind of glass from where my relative drinks life every day. I brought my camera though, and set the shutter speed to snap photos from a moving car. My husband was driving, of course.
My heart was slightly racing in anticipation for a heavy day, as we approached the city. I had mixed feelings. One side of me wanted to help her, and the other one was dreading what I was about to hear for the umpteenth time.
I am not always right but I can never go wrong with her predictability. My cake was obviously heartily welcome but I had to explain countless times what and why it went wrong, and what I have missed from the recipe. I was also reminded that the edges were not good and that it was not a normal apple cake; eventually, I heard that it tasted good, though.
To understand her mood, one needs to accept that she will be unhappy if it rains because is cold, and unhappy in equal measure, if it is sunny, just because is hot.
In between complaints just about anything, she complimented me on my hairstyle and appearance. I was pleasantly surprised, but before I could even enjoy the flattering second, she enumerated at least five reasons why I looked better, but all of those had vivid details on how bad I actually always look, on her perception. I took the high road and jokingly replied that I had gone through plastic surgery. I thought that this would put an end to the story. It didn’t.
When we were about to leave, she turned to me once more, repeating the same soundtrack on how different and better I looked today, to finally conclude that I had used Botox. I started counting to 5,000, bid farewell and kept counting until I reached the car, still smiling, to keep my cool head. Note to reader: She may not have noticed that when I smiled, all my facial muscles moved, just because I didn’t use Botox!
That is how my afternoon mood ended: feeling sorry and sad for someone, who wastes every connection, every attention she gets, and every new day of the time she still has on Earth, by spoiling every opportunity she has to make it worth it.