The Open Road


Aunt Myrna B-chick

Myr will sit next to the one-eyed man with a fifth of whiskey wrapped in a small paper bag who will unpack his lifetime of regrets.

Because she has a built-in empathy sponge, she often draws tragic characters into her vortex.

On the flip side, she enjoys traveling by bus or by train so that she can daydream without having to worry about traffic signs or those double yellow lines on the road.

Myr has had upheaval in her life. Deaths, heartbreaks, betrayals. Big events that have unsettled her. Secure rugs pulled from underneath her feet.

She knows that real happiness can only be found if one is able to face the fact that life is always uncertain and constantly changing.

And that if one can’t face that fact, then one is doomed to live a horribly unhappy life.

Just last night, Myr rotated all of the food products in her cupboard, label sides facing forward. It is reassuring to Myr that “salt” declares itself as “salt”, and that pepper shouts out its reliability as “pepperness”.

Myr tries to pretend that she is FINE with the uncertainty of life, but wonders if she might be revealing her true, worrisome nature with her labels-must-face-forward obsessive compulsion.

It takes no effort for Myr to believe that dogs are better people than people when she looks into her dog’s eyes.

She finds great solace when she wraps her arms around her dog and squeezes her until her tongue pops out.

But Myr does not embrace dogmas.

Instead, she often listens to Buddhist talks. Recently, she attended a talk about suffering. How suffering is wanting anything other than “the now”.

Everything that Myr wants is either moorlessly free-floating in the past, or bobbing just out of reach, in the future.

Lao Tzu once wrote: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Myr would have liked to have asked him: “How does a writer reconcile with this?”

Myr is stuck in a place where she plays back all of her sorrows, again and again.

She usually falls asleep at the community acupuncture clinic. The acupuncturist very often finds her snoring, lying prostrate in a lounge chair, her body pin-cushioned with tiny needles, surrounded by other “stuck” people.

Friends and family periodically tell Myr that she is a “strong woman”, but some days she would like nothing more than to curl up on the sidewalk in a fetal position, wearing a sign that reads: “Adopt me. Well-behaved woman”.

Myr loves that “fetal” sounds like “petal”.

When the Buddhist teacher tells Myr that “pain is inevitable, and suffering is optional,” Myr’s skin stands up in little goose bumps.

This emboldens her. That she has a choice. She can either stand up. Or curl up.

So Myr will continue to believe in the person who is hanging out somewhere, just out of reach. She secretly opens her heart again, one valve at a time.

But she’s scared. She’s scared that if nothing is forever…

What’s the point?

When she gets on the bus this morning for her long journey, we can let her have her daydreams. No signs to follow if she’s not driving. No double yellow lines.

There it is:

A vision standing before her down the road, surrounded by a swirling fog. Better than she imagined. Warm eyes. A dimple on the cheek. Extending a hand.


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