I spent most of the afternoon in the worst possible company. I’ve heard it said of people; bad people, infamous people, that they fell under the wrong influences; that they fell in with the wrong crowd. Sometimes it’s true that other people can help reinforce the worst parts of a person. If you surround yourself with people that have too much in common with the worst parts of yourself it will make you worse than you were. The thing is, I’m the person that has the very most in common with the worst parts of me. The worst influence for me is me. I get mired in my own head, thoughts reinforcing thoughts, fears reinforcing fears, spiraling down into a darker version of myself. I have a lot of fears but most of them, all of them that I can think of really, live in me. I’m not really afraid of things in the world. I’m afraid of the things in my own heart and mind. I spent the afternoon keeping myself distracted but that’s not a good solution for me. It’s a habit but not a good one. I began to feel closed in, like a mental claustrophobia. I decided to go out for a bit. I went and sat on the steps of my porch. I didn’t know I needed it but I did. Under the wide gray sky with the trees as slender silver and black lines in the dark, it was like I let out the breath I’d been holding. Had I actually been holding my breath it would have been well past the point of passing out. It reminded me of the world apart from myself. It reminded me how small I am and how small my problems are and how temporary each moment is. It’s good to be reminded of that. It’s good to be reminded that, no matter how it may seem, I’m not the center of creation. Other people do that for me too. Other people are my checks and balances. Other people remind me to be the better part of myself. It’s been said that Hell is other people. I think Hell is just the opposite. Hell is having no one else and nothing else beyond myself, locked in the worst of me.
The path from the foot of the steps to the place where I park is made of fifty three raw granite stones. It’s haphazard and lopsided and uneven and doesn’t even reach all the way to the car. I built it, little bits at a time, lazily. That’s not the best of me. I can, however, rebuild it any time I choose. I can do it better, taking the time to level the ground and match the rocks and pour the concrete. I can do better. Doing better makes me better. Being better allows me to be better still. An upward spiral. I’ve been working on that new path for a while now. It’s not done. Sitting on the steps I saw the shadows of each crack and lump in the path. I also saw the stones themselves shimmer in the darkness. The pieces are there. The path reaches out into the world. If I keep building it out into the world I’ll be ok.