Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Where I Find Myself

Since I quit my job as a graphic designer, I wouldn't say I have created a new life—the one I've been working on all these years has just switched onto a different set of tracks. And now I find myself in the presence of people I wouldn't have met headed in the other direction.

I get to be with women who have risked everything and trekked from the remote regions of Guatemala to find something better in America. We read and spell, and they let me hold their babies and eat their food on occasion, and we laugh a lot.

And I get to spend time with people eager to tell their stories to all of Small Town.

I met a Vietnam veteran who planted minefields outside of Saigon and now counsels Iraq war veterans because he knows what it's like to be taught as a child to kill and then be dropped back into society as if you hadn't just turned yourself inside out. It's all for politics, he says.

I met a man who got drunk at a party 25 years ago and finished the evening with a bullet lodged in his brain, one that he'll carry with him from now on and that leaves him with occasional seizures. More than anything, he just wants to provide for his family and can only lament the stupid actions of his youth.

I shook hands with a breast cancer survivor who spent the weekend celebrating her survival with her closest family and friends, including her mother and her daughter who stood on either side of her, clearly overjoyed that she was alive.

I sat with an eight-year-old girl born with a defective leg who is about to have surgery to fix it. She was afraid she'll have trouble learning to walk again after the surgery, but she was more excited to tell me about the stories she had written and illustrated—she told me the most delightful story of two pizza makers , one from Chicago and the other from New York, who competed to make the best pizza and finally decided to open a restaurant that featured their pizzas side by side.

I have started each of these paragraphs with "I" because people like these have been whirling around me for years without my knowing it. And now I get to be a witness to it all and hear their stories.

Here's to switching tracks and to finding yourself in places that suit you.

8 comments:

pf said...

Your new "switch" suits you wonderfully, my friend!

lynn said...

Very moving indeed, Robyn. You are absolutely right, there are so many interesting people right here in front of our eyes, in our street, our towns. Like you, in the same job, I've met loads of them and feel richer for it.

cheryl said...

I loved this - your listening for and hearing people's stories.

One of my favorite quotes is from Muriel Rukeyser, "The universe is made up of stories, not atoms."

Every person has a story (or two or a thousand.) You have taken the time to listen.

Rich said...

Cheers, Robyn!

savannah said...

thank you for this gift today, sugar! i've been lost for a few days and as the song goes, and now i'm found... xoxoxo

Scout said...

PF, thank you. I like it.

Lynn,don't you feel richer? And you wonder what all you'd miss doing anything else.

Cheryl, everybody's got a story—I love the quote.

Rich, bottoms up.

Savannah, you're very welcome.

Shan said...

I love that you've got a whole new thing to do and you love it like it's purely fun. Way to grab hold, take in all you see and share it with the world Robyn! Very inspiring...as usual ;).

MmeBenaut said...

This is so life affirming Robyn. I'm glad that you switched tracks and although any one of the creative gifts that you have could have provided you with something or other, the one that you chose is the one that gives you not only intellectual stimulation but the opportunity to meet with such wonderfully diverse people. Thanks for sharing.