When I was a kid, I used to play my favorite tapes [yes, tapes. I’m dating myself, I know] over and over again, much to the chagrin of my family members, since my choice in music tended toward broadway showtunes and weird Australian Christian techno [shout out to the newsboys, back when Peter Fuller was still the lead]. I’d put it on, listen to one side, flip it over, listen to that side, flip it back….ad nauseum.
I did the same thing with movies. Mr. Holland’s Opus and Dead Poet’s Society were my two movies of choice ‘back in the day’ – also on “tape”. As an adult, it was Rent, and then Hairspray. I couldn’t clean my house without that movie blaring in the background.
Playing things on repeat is soothing, in a weird way. The words, music, cadence of the music or film becomes like a second skin, soothing and reassuring. I didn’t have to pay much attention to it to know exactly where the plot was, or what song came next. It was just always there.
Lately though, I haven’t played any of my tapes. I’ve craved variety…and oddly, silence.
I’ve been in a really dynamic place lately – everything inside me is basically in flux, and is looking for a place to settle. As I sort through what that means, I’ve realized that there are some other tapes playing on repeat in my life as well.
The tapes that live in my head.
We all have them. They’re just there. And I’m getting pretty sick of some of mine.
That’s a good thing.
I’ve spent 30+ years of my life thinking one way about a lot of things. It’s how I was brought up. It’s what I was taught. And I took those beliefs to heart – right to my very core.
Believing in something is important. Owning that belief is essential.
But what we believe needs to be healthy.
And when it isn’t, we have to recognize that it isn’t, and then do something about it.
And that’s where I am.
For years, decades, I’ve had a tape playing that says I’m not good enough. That if I take one step off the straight and narrow, God won’t love me and I’ll go to hell. That I have to be something I’m not, because what I am isn’t ever going to be what God wants.
And since I left the Army, there’s also a tape that says I’m a failure. That my calling wasn’t real. That nothing I will ever do will be as good as being an officer. That I’m “Jonah”.
It’s been a rough couple weeks. I’ve lost friends, been un-invited from events I was looking forward to, I found out that I have to move by January 1, my car is quickly dying, and I have no easy way to replace it in the forseeable future, and, to top it all off, I lost a filling on my way to church Sunday morning, and swallowed the damn thing. Insult to injury.
As I sat in the pew, being thoroughly anti-social to the poor woman sitting next to me, I fought with the tape in my head that said God was punishing me for being gay and admitting it, that I deserved it. That my life is supposed to be hard now because I’m being disobedient to Him.
And it played….over. and over. And over. Again.
I’m pretty freaking sick of that tape.
So it’s time to change the tape.
Every year, I make goals for the coming year. Not resolutions. Those are garbage. Goals.
This past year, I wanted to do Senzuru – the Japanese art of folding a thousand paper cranes. Legend says that if you complete it, the crane spirit will grant you a wish. Well, two weeks ago, I finished folding my last crane. And I got my wish. I was able to finally be me in public. Yep, my wish was no more hiding – any part of me.
And now I have a thousand cranes in a basket in my apartment, ready and waiting for my “Spirit of Life” sculpture for the CALC member show.
This coming year, my goals are a little more complicated. I can’t count it like the cranes.
This year, my goal is to change the tape.
To reclaim my spirit.
To heal from the past .
To not panic about the future.
To let go of what has been.
It’s going to be a year of self care.
I’m going to start seeing someone to talk through this 30+ year tape garbage. And hopefully, I’ll be able to not only stop it, but throw it out.
I’m also going to start having fun again. I’m leaving several boards that I’ve been on, or in charge of, and I’m going to focus on me.
It’s time to get back into the clay studio.
Into the lives of my friends and family.
It’s time for massages [I’ve found someone who will trade me ceramic oil diffuser pendants for massages! SCORE!]
And game night
And a good beer once in a while
Here’s to changing the tape.
May it be so.