Okay, so that was a weird post yesterday. But to be perfectly honest, I do think about these things a lot. I did write a book about a ghost-dude, after all! I'm completely fascinated by the whole idea of an after-life and spirits and ghosts, etc. Not that I want any hanging around me any time soon! But, from a comfortable distance, I find it interesting. Maybe it's the history aspect of it? I do love stories about old ghost towns, and there's always such a curiosity about what happened to the town and the people who lived there. Yes, very fascinating to me.

The other thing I think about quite a bit, and it ties in with all the other stuff, is the idea of our spirits in physical form. I do believe we pick our bodies before birth because in some way it does affect our character and spiritual growth. As the years go by we become less enchanted with the idea of being stuck in the same body, especially if it is one with imperfections. I know there are many times I've wished away my not-so-perfect nose, my too-long chin, my tall frame—and I could go on. Believe it or not, I have even been to a plastic surgeon, though I did not go through with any procedures. Now I think, what the heck? Why change anything? Who's going to care, be impressed? If they can't love my stupid nose, then forget it.

And that's the thing. I've grown. We all grow. That's what life is all about. Our bodies stop growing, but our souls never do. Our souls are very important and society is getting it all wrong. We are supposed to learn and grow until the very end, even when things are crumbling away, our memory, our eyesight, every thing. Our soul will carry us through all of that. But it can't if we don't spend any time on it.

One thing I feel very strongly about is that drugs are a blocker of our growth. Any time you deny yourself the ability to work through a bad situation, with alcohol or drugs or any type of addiction, you lose a perfect opportunity for growth. It's like saying, "I don't like this, it is uncomfortable so I'm just going to skip over it." If you were to look at a timeline and see all the gaps that haven't been filled, you'd be alarmed. I have seen people who are addicts react to things the same way a teenager would, because they never learned how to deal with adult situations in an adult way. Youth is for the youth. There's at time to reap your wild ways, and there's a time when you start to mature and grow as a human being.  Not because you are getting old and boring, but because you are not stagnant. Learning and adapting and taking on a time-earned viewpoint is a beautiful thing.

I remember when I stopped smoking. I was about, oh I don't know, maybe twenty-one or so. It was hard. Though smoking had lost many pleasing aspects in my mind—the coughing, the heavy feeling in my chest, the cost, the stench—I still had an emotional connection to the act of lighting up and taking a drag. Oh man, especially after a long day at work or school. It was my reward, and I had so few rewards! Smoking made me feel rebellious, wild, like I'd be in the awesome and cool James Dean club forever. I looked at my last pack of Camels and . . . something changed in me. Something was saying, You don't want to be sick anymore. You don't want to get wrinkles and have yellow teeth and bad breath, do you? You want to be healthy. You want to embrace life, hold it, chase it, breathe good air and eat good food. You want to feel sunlight. You want happiness.

I knew then that I wan't happy. I had to find out what true happiness meant. I smoked my last cigarettes and did not buy another pack. In a few weeks I'd starting eyeing a twisty walking path behind the local community college, and had bought a new pair of sneakers and some exercise clothes. For months I walked that path, listening to countless tapes of Vivaldi and books on tape. And it was if something was growing in me that had previously been held back. I could almost see the old, scared me sitting in her maroon Chevy Cavalier smoking and feeling lost. That girl never thought that she could change, because she'd been so hurt by life that she was in a man-made shelter of protection. The things she said and did kept her safe. But she wan't getting sunlight and she wasn't feeling any joy.

Another example, and my mother will hate this part, is the time I got high because I found out the guy I loved had cheated on me. I loved him so much! Too much. It was dangerous how much I loved him. When we weren't together I thought of whole conversations between us, and I ached, literally ached for him to be there. Losing him was a horrible pain. One day after seeing him out with another girl, I went to my friend's house to find comfort. But she wasn't there. Her uncle greeted me. Her sleazy, shoot-at-the-hip, hang-out-in-the-garage-all-day uncle was there. He knew I was suffering and offered some of his best weed. We sat in the backyard on a fall day, sharing a joint and telling each other stupid stories. It took away the pain. It was like I had risen above my situation and was looking down, like someone in an airplane watching the earth on fire. The next day I was still numb. But the sadness seeped back. Not as intense as that first day. Sometimes I've found myself regretting skipping over that initial pain. I'll never have that day back. One of the most important in my life. The day I learned that I didn't need someone who would cheat on me. The day I found out my pain wasn't because I'd lost him, but because I thought I wasn't good enough to be loved.

Life is difficult. Life is raw. Life hurts.

There are times when you must step outside of what you know and take on what is unknown. Never fill the gaps of your life with bandaids. Always feel your pain so that you can grow into a person who can take on any thing at any time. With grace and with wisdom. When life hurts, get on your knees and feel the hurt. And when the hurt is over, get on your feet and face what is new.


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