When I think I’ve learned nothing about the nature of relationships I remember that I can bring better health to someone with simply my words or my touch, walk up to anyone and introduce myself, and that a few of my former lovers are still my friends. I’ve shared homes over the last 36 years with 35 people who are not relatives, I have a good memory for people’s stories and I can rock a baby to sleep.
When I think I have nothing to put in a resume I remember that I’ve earned money as a writer, public speaker, photographer, painter, handyman, encyclopedia salesman, massage therapist and teacher. My resume actually should be titled “Coloring outside the Lines.”
When I think I’m not very creative I remember that I’ve invented toys, tools, countless solutions to problems, consumer products and new food groups. I can write haiku’s, sing harmony and rebuild the face of a mannequin with plaster and super-glue. Playboy once bought one of my jokes, Fortune Magazine printed my letter to the editor and I’ve kept a personal journal since the day John F. Kennedy was shot. And I can make anyone look good in a photograph.
When I forget that I’ve brought some beauty into the world I remember the weddings I’ve photographed, the thousands of homes I’ve wallpapered, painted or remodeled and the smiles on the faces of those who listened to my jokes and stories. I’ve planted flowers in the forest, apple trees beside the road and seeds of silliness in more minds than I know.
When I think I’m too arrogant to really be of service to anyone I remember getting down on my knees in the snow to lift an elderly woman’s arthritic feet into my taxi, staying up all night on the phone with a suicidal stranger and speaking as a Red Cross representative to hundreds of people about HIV and AIDS. I remember being first on the scene at three bad car accidents and doing the correct first aid and wishing I knew how to do more. And I put quarters in Boston parking meters at random.
When I think I’ve learned nothing truly useful I remember that I can cook well without a recipe, always know which way is north and can paint any surface that isn’t moving. I can lead a group, follow a leader and change my own car oil.
When fear and self-doubt come to visit and act like they’re going to stay I remember my first and last drinks, the feeling of hugging my son a million times and why chocolate was put on this earth.
And I remember when I was so young I thought I could fly.