This assumption lets us off the hook. “Nothing others do is because of you.” You’re not the center of the world. You’re not the cause of others’ anguish. You own what you do; they own what they do.
That sounds easy. Do I take things personally? I like to think that this particular agreement is not as hard for me as some of the others. I know I can’t recall a time recently when I took something personally. Although, my head is fuzzy. I stayed up late and got up early.
There’s a soft glow in the room. It comes from the orange paper globe lantern that Jim hung from the ceiling. I bought it last summer. It’s one of those home improvement things that you buy and then don’t actually install. I do that a lot with things I buy that I know will make my spaces more beautiful. I have a few paintings like that. I haven’t gotten them framed, or I haven’t hung them yet. There should be an agreement “Don’t get stuck.”
But there’s not. There’s “Don’t take things personally.” That’s what I’m writing about. Feeling insulted or sometimes feeling envied. I know there have been times in my life where I’ve said to myself, “Oh, so-and-so is doing that because she wants to copy me.” In fact, isn’t that one of those things we tell ourselves when we’re young? Don’t our parents sometimes tell us that to help us cope?
I’m thinking now of this playground scene, it seems my childhood has been distilled to one playground scene. I remember standing between two rows of classroom barracks. I’m actually riding on Barbara’s back. She’s given me a lift, and Janine is there, and Matthew Martinez, who even as a boy of eight has the face of a grown man.
Wait, I just got a flashback to my dream last night. My parents had made a video where they’re singing, with excellent voices, in Spanish, some ballad. First Dad, he’s so young and has a thick head of hair. While he sings he’s able to walk up on the walls, just walk on walls. The whole family is featured in the video, singing and dancing. I keep saying to the person who’s watching it with me, “There I am!” but then I realize that one’s my sister Janet. Or, “There I am!” but then it’s Bobbi. At the very end, I see me, it is me, I’m a baby. Mom holds me while she belts out some tune, and I am in awe. In my dream, the person watching the video, I am in awe. My parents and family rock!
The dream must have come from something Jim and I watched on PBS about Little Joe y la Familia and other Latino musicians. I was cooking pork and a sauce made with port wine and balsamic vinegar, listening to the television and now and then glancing over to see who was talking. The guy from Los Lobos was saying how he and his brothers all grew up playing music. They’d buy instruments that they didn’t know how to play and then seek out the Viejo musicians to teach them.
Music was a part of my family, too. Mom played piano, Dad harmonica. They played together and sing, old songs, ballads. Spanish and English both. Mom said she grew up on music. They lived in the country and that’s what they did for fun. Everyone learned a different instrument.
I never learned how to play anything. But my sisters and I always sang. We’d stand in front of the fireplace, even grown women, I picture us standing in front of fireplaces, as if the fireplace were our stage. And we’d sing, silly songs. Going to the chapel and we’re go—nna get mar-ar-ar-ried. Our repertoire was pretty small.
Ah, the timer. If I were in a writing retreat with Natalie, here’s where she’d say “Wrap it up,” and I’d try to write some pithy line that pulls it all together. Unfortunately, nothing can pull together a writing practice about an agreement that I hardly touched on, a playground scene, and a dream about my family making a musical video when I was a baby.
-Related to post WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS. Also see ybonesy’s PRACTICE: Don’t Make Assumptions — 15mins, and QuoinMonkey’s PRACTICE — Don’t Make Assumptions – 15mins.