Digging with a Spoon
One of my favorite bands in my adolescent years was U2. I played their album The Joshua Tree, in the form of cassette tape, obsessively, for weeks on end. Sprawled across my mattress on the floor, pouring over the lyrics printed upon the cassette jacket. (Google 1980's if you are thinking WTF??? at this point) The song I played on rewind was "Running to Stand Still", a song about heroin addiction. I wasn't an addict but I connected to every word of that song.
There was something about the lyrics. The feeling of being trapped. Feeling a wanting, a deep desire to go somewhere, to be someone. Desperately wanting to escape, no matter what that meant or looked like. Many people dutifully follow signs to an EXIT door to freedom. Others get a spoon and try to frantically, painfully, slowly create their own exit.
Spoon in hand, I got to work, chipping away. Like Andy in Shawshank Redemption (a poignant story about a man imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit), I have spent years, four fucking decades to be exact, digging, digging, digging my exit. Unlike Andy, I hadn't made it to liberation on the outside.
This didn't mean I hadn't made progress. My tunnel is a totally bitchin' masterpiece. It forks, circles in on itself, offshoots to side way journeys, goes deeper into the earth and dead ends into cavernous spaces. It's lyrical abstraction...a drunkard's take on a labyrinth.
Every once in awhile I stop. But stopping feels like giving up. It feels like losing. It feels like fucking failure. I am failure.
What to do? Dig Beth....DIG!!! I pick up my spoon and begin the same frantic chipping, scraping, and spooning away of dirt. It feels good. I am being productive. I am doing something. Who cares if it is the most inefficient, ineffective way to get where I am going.
Then I see it. LIGHT! Beautiful, fucking daylight. I have FINALLY made it! I run to the source to see the light is bouncing off the floor.....of a crevice. My eyes travel up the sheer rock walls to the opening of freedom at the surface.
I reach the floor. I collapse. I cry. I scream. Goddamn it! I worked so hard to get here. How the fuck am I going to climb out of this impossible hole with my body and a spoon?
When the echoes of my dashed hopes die all becomes still and quiet. I close my eyes and want it all to disappear.
Sometimes, the answer comes in despair. What you have held onto as truth gets decimated; scattered, wrecked, destroyed. All that is left is you, your spoon, and silence.
Being stripped bare has been the most beautiful gift bestowed upon me. I suddenly see the stinking pile of bullshit I have been tunneling through. Running on rewind in my underground exit tunnel is NOT living. Frantic busyness is NOT a life well lived and it will NEVER offer me the space to be more of who I already am.
Back to the floor of the crevice.
I am lying on my back, exposed to the elements. I open my eyes and see a kaleidoscope of possibility in the rainbow prism of light. As I sit up and look around all I can see is opportunity. The walls disappear and I realize I am free. I have ALWAYS been free.
I breathe. I rise. I walk away.
I am naked as a jaybird with not even a spoon to my name.