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  • Up until age 9, when I was in the 4th Grade, my world had very little definition, very little clarity. There were a lot of reasons for this – being the 6th of 7 children, the 6th that came along in 8 years, and then by the time the 7th came along 5 ½ years later, having a new baby was such a big deal in the family, I might have gotten just a little bit lost in the shuffle. But, I will say, for the most part, while life was a bit blurred and confused in my little brain, not knowing any better, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy about it. I developed a very rich fantasy life that I otherwise might not have. But, there were always lots of people around me, and I always liked being around lots of people. It was part of my nature, I would later learn, part of how I got my energy, being around people. (I am an ESTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, with my “E” and “J” being off the charts).

    I was also very sensitive to other people, not in a touchy-feely kind of way, but I intuitively picked up on how people felt, and I picked up how very unhappy my Dad was, then. This culminated when we moved when I was 8, and I was in the car with him when he just broke down and bawled his eyes out for a good 10 or 15 minutes, his whole being going into his grief over whatever it was he was upset over. This kind of shook me up. I had no idea what to do with this. It only served to reinforce my desire for more of a “he-man” kind of Dad, the kind that would take me fishing and play catch with me. Those duties had been delegated to my brother Chris, whenever he found time in his social calendar for me, which he did often enough that I felt like someone gave a shit about things that were important to me. Dad just always seemed miserable to me, and I grew a dislike for him, because of it.

    That year, a lot of things happened that began to change my little world. One of them, which I’ve written about extensively and won’t go into a lot of detail about here, was Mom finding AA and recovery. That changed so many things. My relationship with her became so different after that. It also made a tremendous change in Dad. He started to laugh more, and seemed a lot happier. He also made more attempts to pay attention to me, although I had already kind of written him off as irrelevant in my little world, so most of his attempts to reach me were rebuffed by me. I just didn’t like the man. I had other options for father figures, and I went with them, instead of my own Dad.
  • One of the other things that happened that year was, I got my eyesight tested, and they decided I needed glasses. Now, I have no idea how I made it that far through school and in life, without being able to see shit, but I guess you could say, I was good, from an early age, at faking it until I made it. I managed to get good grades in school, up to a point. I guess my eyes must have gotten worse in 4th grade, because my grades plummeted, and Sister Mary Ann, who I really liked, thought it was because I wasn’t paying attention in class, which was probably also true, but once I got glasses, my grades immediately improved.

    The first time I tried my glasses on, I was simply astounded at the clarity of the world around me. I never, in my wildest dreams, knew there was so much detail to see. I thought everything was supposed to be blurry like that – I didn’t know any better! I spent the next few years just jamming on how cool it was to see so much, in such detail. I didn't even care that my glasses made me look like a damn nerd - and they really did - because being able to see so well was such a gift. Those glasses caused me more problems - I was always breaking them, they were always being held together by rubber bands and paper clips and tape, but I didn't care. As long as I could see, I was wearing them.
  • This line of thought began with a fleeting thought, this morning, about how much more clarity I have had in my life, in general, for the past year, since I stumbled into Cowbird. I immediately began to examine my world more closely, when I got here, started to pay more attention to things around me, and instead of just letting a fleeting thought go flit-fleeting on its way, I would reach out, grab it, pin it down on paper, and follow it through to its conclusion. Or, at least, to a deeper point of thought. Like I am doing with this thought.

    I got into the habit of setting a certain amount of time aside each day, usually early in the morning, to cultivate thoughts that had been percolating in my brain, and to pick a thread each morning to follow to wherever it would lead. Some threads required multiple stories. Some were short and sweet. But, it became a way of life, and it helped me to walk through what would have otherwise been a very difficult year, with more clarity, understanding, and the ability to process what I was going through, in a way I’ve never been able to before. And, that’s just the part of the Cowbird experience that involved my own writing and reflecting.

    The other major point of clarity that this experience has brought to my life has been the very clear understanding of how we all are connected, on so many different levels, in ways that we might not understand, but just to know that we are, has been completely eye-opening to me.

    Example of what I’m talking about – the very first time I dedicated a story to anyone else, I dedicated a story that revolved around the Broadway show “Rent” to B. On the wall behind me in my cave is a very large poster of the London cast of Rent, in a scene from the show, and I used a picture of that to go with the story. Then, I find out that B had a roommate who was friends with a member of that cast, and actually knew most of the people on that poster, had gone out for drinks with them after shows at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where it played in London.

    This sort of thing became common after awhile. Today, I feel so connected to this global community of storytellers. I do believe we have all been drawn to Cowbird, and to each other, for a reason. We are all connected, on a number of levels that we don’t necessarily understand (it’s a mystery!), but that we can appreciate and just be grateful to have in our lives.

    How very fortunate I was, and am, to have found this place.

    That’s my Cowbird thought for this day.
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