I Hate it Here

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On the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol last month. I have my butt on Louisiana, my hand on Indiana and my foot on Tennessee. I’ve lived in all three places and hated each one when I first moved there.

 

“I hate it here, ” I texted to my Sister-In-Law last night. “I don’t fit.”

It was the first time I admitted it. It felt like such a relief to finally say it. For the past 6 months, I’ve been trying to overlook the things in Baton Rouge that I don’t like and keep my eyes open to the positive. But, lately, this refocusing has been stealing more and more of my energy and my spirit. I’m getting short-tempered and frustrated with the littlest things. And, the big things are really sending me over the edge. It felt like such a relief to quit fighting reality to try to make it better and just admit what I’ve been trying to deny. I slept like a baby last night.

I’ve been here before. I remember finally admitting that I hated Memphis after I’d been there about two years. The first year I was married, and my ex openly despised the city even though he had chosen to move us there. In reaction to his venom, I felt like I had to keep the ball rolling forward. “Bloom where you’re planted,” I would tell myself. Even after we split, I tried to keep a positive spin on  the town and my choice to be there. But, I found myself in the same agitated state as I am now. At one point, I finally let go and let myself hate Memphis. It was popular to hate Memphis just like it’s popular to hate Baton Rouge. Locals might be surprised to hear that, but people who have moved here talk to each other, and they talk about how they can’t stand it. I have avoided those people and their complaining. I wanted to focus on the positive and make the best of it. I’ve lived all over the place, and I know that any town can be okay. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. I wanted to really like coming home. But the crime, the bad air quality, the bureaucracy of my job and the inadequate walkability of this town keeps nagging at me. “Try to figure it out,” I tell myself as I search for places that are walkable and safe. I haven’t even ridden my bike because I can’t figure out where to do it with the traffic here.

The Memphis-Arkansas Bridge

The Memphis-Arkansas Bridge

I woke up this morning and remembered that I’d said that last night, and I felt like I was in a different place. With the ‘admitting’ I was able to shift my energy. I no longer had to fight it and pretend that I felt something different. I felt a bit lighter. “Okay,” I told myself. “So you hate it here. Now, what are you going to do?” When I got to work I felt less frustrated. I was able to enjoy my walk around the neighborhood with my dog tonight. My friend JoAnn called and invited me to dinner, and we had a good visit. All of a sudden, my expectations were lowered because I didn’t expect Baton Rouge to be anything it is not. Funny enough, when I went to a noon meeting today, the topic was on having realistic expectations. I can’t expect Baton Rouge to be New Orleans … or Seattle … or even Memphis. So, I no longer feel this pressure for Baton Rouge to show me something special,  or for me to come up with something that I really love about it. I can accept the city as she is.

This morning’s reading in “More Language of Letting Go” was about trusting that the good will come. I’ll type it at the bottom for your reading pleasure, but I’ll give you my thoughts now. The author, Melody, and her significant other are in a new house, and nothing is ready. They spontaneously got up and started drawing pictures on the wall that represented the things they wanted in their lives. The walls would be painted later anyway, so they drew everything they thought they might want. They lived with those painted walls for awhile and then finally painted over their scrawled images. As time went on, each one of those dreams started to come true in some way … sometimes in an unexpected way. They allowed themselves the gift of imagining that good would come … and it did. I thought about the blank walls of my life in Baton Rouge. Maybe I’m just at the point that I’ve finally left Memphis behind and am now accepting my life in Baton Rouge as it is. What would my pictures be? In what unexpected ways might those things happen that I can’t even imagine today? Maybe I don’t so much ‘hate it here’ as I don’t know what ‘here’ is. Maybe there are gifts in Baton Rouge that I can’t recognize at this point. My finances are tight right now, and I can’t do the things I want to do travel-wise. Maybe it’s time I sit my ass at home and write. Maybe it’s time I did something different, and maybe the things I see as restrictions today will emerge as enablers. Only time will tell.

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I learned to love Memphis. I had lots of friends there that hated Memphis. I would try to avoid them or change their mind. But, once I realized that I hated Memphis, too, I checked out from the city and tuned into my life. From somewhere deep inside me, I gradually learned to love that place. I read Memphis Magazine one day, and I became fascinated with an article written about an ancient amusement park  that had flourished in Bluff City and then read another story about the heyday of Overton Square. I devoured that glossy magazine and realized there were some cool places there that I hadn’t seen and a bit of history I’d like to explore. I heard about the House Concert down the street, and I started going just to see what it was like. It was amazing, and I got hooked into the Memphis Music scene. One day I woke up, and I loved Memphis. It no longer bothered me when somebody said they hated it. I knew its treasures, and, if they didn’t, well …. that was their loss. It was no skin off my back. The things that Memphis gave to me were things I’d never had and didn’t know I wanted. That’s the beauty of letting go of an outcome. Sometimes the unexpected ending is better than the dream. In Melody’s reading, she says that the future is never limited by what we see now. I’m letting go of the reins, Red Stick. Just be yourself, and we’ll see what the two of us create.

January 1 – More Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

It was a slow, boring January day at the Blue Sky Lodge. We had just moved in. The house was a mess. Construction hadn’t begun yet. All we had was a plan, and a dream. It was too cold and rainy to skydive or even be outdoors. There wasn’t any furniture yet. We were lying around on the floor. I don’t know who got the idea first, him or me. But we both picked up Magic Markers about the same time. Then started drawing on the wall.

“What do you want to happen in your life?” I asked. He drew pictures of seaplanes, and mountains, and boats leaving the shore. One picture was a video-camera man, jumping out of a plane. “I want adventure,” he said.

I drew pictures of a woman tromping around the world. She went to war-torn countries, then sat on a fence and watched. She visited the mountains and the oceans and many exciting places. Then I drew a heart around the entire picture, and she sat there in the middle of all the experiences on a big stack of books.

“I want stories,” I said, “Ones with lots of heart.”

Across the entire picture, in big letters, he wrote the word “woohoo”.

As an afterthought, I drew a woman sky diver who had just jumped out of the plane. She was frightened and grimacing. Next to her I wrote the words, “Just relax.”

On the bottom of the wall I wrote, “The future is only limited by what we can see now.” He grabbed a marker, crossed out “only” and changed it to “never”.

“There,” he said. “It’s done.”

Eventually, the house got cleaned up and the construction finished. Furniture arrived. And yellow paint covered the pictures on the wall. We didn’t think much about that wall until months later. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, and sometimes in ways we’d least expect, each of the pictures we’d drawn on that wall began to materialize and manifest.

“It’s a magic wall,” I said.

Even if you can’t imagine what’s coming next, relax. The good pictures are still there. The wall will soon become covered with the story of your life. Thank God, the future is never limited by what we can see right now.

The wall isn’t magic. The magic is in us and what we believe.

Before we start speaking the language of letting go, we need to understand what a powerful behavior letting go and letting God really is.

God, help me do my part. Then help me let go, and let you do yours.

 

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