As I lay half asleep on the couch, listening to Homicide on ID channel, I could hear the detective say, “She had a crazy ex-boyfriend. Everybody got one. Even Michelle Obama got a crazy ex-boyfriend somewhere.” It made me giggle. Not out loud, but a little in my head. Just a minor giggle. Perhaps a two on the giggle scale. There was amusement, but not a full blown chuckle of anything past a five or six. Not to be confused with the full-blown guffaw of a seven point five plus…but I digress.
I wondered in my mind if he was right. Do I have a crazy ex-boyfriend? Do you? Larger, I thought about the universality of the statement, that we all have it. What else do we all have?
There is none of us who doesn’t have a good memory of something. No doubt your good memory is much different than mine, but someone even who has had the worst of a life, has at least some moment they can lean on in their mind for comfort. If I try now to think what that moment is...eyes closed, taking a nap when I was a little girl. Sitting on top of the cattle trailer, watching the sunset outside the milking parlor. My babies sleeping in my lap. Milk-drunk sighs and sticky chins. Almost every time my hand has been held. That’s goodness.
Funny how things work out, but the next thing I heard the narrator on my show say was, “Everyone has a dark secret.” Now while I’m not sure if that’s true, if we open up the definition of “dark” then perhaps it might be. I have known great Christians of whom I would never believe anything bad, but maybe to them their awful dark secret was something as benign as lying about a chore as a child. We have all done something we wish we hadn’t. We all know things about ourselves that we hope others never know. Even if it’s not our deeds, but maybe just our thoughts, or something we perceive as a weakness.
To that end, we all have something we regret. I hear people say sometimes they don’t have any regrets, and I have to question that. Really? Nothing? I think the notion of saying you have no regrets is that if you had done something differently then you wouldn’t be where you are now. I get it, but what about little things, like I wish I had worn more sunscreen? I wish I had not eaten so much last night. I wish, I wish, I wish…
We all have something we fear. I’ve heard it said that you ought not to even speak those fears out loud lest the Devil hear them. I don’t know about that, but the notion does plant enough of a seed in my mind to make me hesitate. Our biggest fears are often common: death, darkness, snakes, public speaking…no, really. I think when it all comes down to it, our fears are based on discomfort. We don’t want to feel pain, either emotionally or physically. Anything we fear, has to do with the potential of pain. Just sayin’.
Feeling pain leads to another thing. We all have something we don’t want to give up. Perhaps in some cases, an actual addiction. We can joke about such things, like I’m addicted to Pepsi Max, but there are other addictions that aren’t a laughing matter. On a much more harmless level, though, these things that make us happy, these things that bring us comfort, we don’t want to go away. It brings me comfort to have my sons all in my home, and I dread the oldest moving out next week. That will bring me discomfort in my heart and worry in my soul. I don’t want to give up my couch or my pop or my crime shows, or anything else that I like. We are all that way.
We all miss something or someone. I miss a time, and the people who were there. The commonality of loss, though, makes it easier to look forward. Ain’t nothing you can do about it. Chin up. No hope of changing something leads to resignation which leads to peace, I think. We all want that. When I look at the peace that others have, at least on the surface, it makes it easier for me. They’re going on, aren’t they? Then I can, too. Ain’t none of us too special.
We have all these things in common, so why are we so different? Why do we argue and backbite and gossip and make an already hard life even harder? Ain’t we all a bunch of scared chickens half the time? If we’re really lucky, then you can at least find another chicken to hunker down with in the henhouse. Rustle your feathers up against and just coo. Do chickens coo? Wait, that’s doves. Maybe that’s another column. Just sayin’.
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.