I was fork-deep into my second piece of carrot cake and a few sips into my cabernet. I deserve this indulgence I thought, the buttercream icing caressing my throat. Sitting in the room full of like-minded folks—all enjoying the poem readings and banjo playing—I felt like I’d slipped into my well-worn front porch swing.
I contemplated the messages presented in the entertainment, stories of laughter and pain, stories of summer dreams and midnight redemption, stories of rising above life circumstances and sinking below them, and I wondered why I felt I had to earn my evening out.
Why did I need to tell myself a story even as I was listening to the artists share theirs? Why did I need to justify my sublime experience by “deserving” it? If so, what was it I’d done to deserve my wine and cake and a friendship that is sweeter than either?
I had no answer to these questions which is more and more often my response to such deep self-inquiry, but I also intrinsically knew the answer. I was no more deserving of this night than anyone else in the room and no more privileged to be a part of it than those who were not in attendance.
My choices had led me here and not just the obvious choice to walk through the doors to the event, but choices I’ve made for several years that include taking time to enjoy shindigs that add a layer of fat on my bones for the lean days—the bittersweet days when I can glean much needed nourishment from memories of such social interactions with truly hospitable humans. Choices that included carefully choosing the people I spent time with and invite into my inner circle—people who I feel enjoy being with me even on my worse and least “deserving” of days—people who need no proof of my worthiness in order to be my friend.
From festivals and fairs, dances and solstice celebrations to art walks and small talk, I am enjoying the sweetness of summertime even when a carrot cake is nowhere in sight. Even on the leanest, loneliest of nights, I have a reserve of more than wine to keep me warm—I have a reservoir of love deep inside me that fuels my passion for living and energizes me to keep creating my world and filling it with love.
After the last bite of carrot cake, my friend and I headed to Wonder Woman, and to no surprise the Goddess’s message was loud and clear—all of mankind doesn’t need to deserve to be saved in order for her to love and protect the fraction that is helpless. Wonder Woman felt one person could make a difference—and she did. She made the world a brighter, safer place, one heartfelt battle at a time.
I don’t have a set of kick-ass bracelets to use against the enemies of light and love, but I do have a presence inside that sustains me in the lean times. I have a patchwork quilt of stories and memories that comforts me and remind me of the friendships I’ve forged as I’ve sought to find my own kind of power.
Feasting on leftovers of love and joy when my pantry is empty inspires me to be brave. I’d much rather thrive on these self-sustaining energies than on the rations from a hollow chicken.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. Access more at soundcloud.com\lifespeaks.