The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE: MY SAFETY NET
I’m not a daredevil. I don’t fly without a safety net.
I have never had a fear of heights. I like them.
Except for one time in my life.
My wife and I took our kids to Gatlinburg, TN on a vacation. And there in the middle of this very touristy town is a tower, The Space Needle. To go up, you have to go through a game room. Then you pay your ticket and you take one of two glass elevators up to the top (or take the stairs). When you step out, you can see the town spread out around you. It stands 407 feet above the ground.
And the one thing you will notice when you get there is that there is no glass or barred barrier to keep you from stepping over the rail and dropping to the ground (or rooftop) below. It’s open-aired.
So, when we stepped out onto the platform I grabbed my daughter (who was little at the time) and didn’t let go. It was a wonder she could breathe. She wanted to look over the edge. That right there is more proof she’s my child. No fear, this kid.
I didn’t want to disappoint her. I held her a little bit tighter and we slowly walked to the edge and carefully looked over the rail. Nothing but open mountain air. We looked for a few seconds (my heart beating very hard in my chest) and then I pulled her away and suddenly wanted to get back down to the street as quickly as possible. I told my wife and Joseph (my step-son) we were going back down and without looking back, I headed toward the elevators. I know they weren’t done but they followed me. I think Mindy saw the fear in my eyes and saw I was determined. Only when did the elevator open its doors did I put my daughter down. And I let out a large breath.
I still think about that. I think about that moment of looking over the edge with her in my arms. And how her legs were above that rail and the only thing keeping her from falling was my arms and the strength that lay within them.
And late at night when I can’t sleep and my mind goes through the mistakes I have made and guilt that won’t die, horrible thoughts and how I would handle them passes through the grey matter called my brain.
What if I had a heart attack at that moment and let go?
What if she suddenly slipped from my grip and fell into open space?
What if somebody had pushed us from behind and the ground became a rushing vision?
What if… I had simply let go?
This is the curse part of having a writer’s mind.
I have thought if she had fallen, I would have simply climbed over the rail and joined her.
If had just have been me, I could have leaned on the rail with that open space behind me, the metal rail and metal bolts keeping me from finding myself in freefall. And I would have been fine with it. As I said, heights do not bother me. I honestly like them.
Except for that few moments of holding my daughter.
Life doesn’t have many safety nets.
We either learn to fly or we fall.
It’s rarely literally.
Most of the time, it’s all figuratively.
When I have those moments when I find myself falling toward the blackness below, I have a safety net that keeps me from hitting the bottom.
It doesn’t matter if I fail (many, many, many times) or if I’m successful (few), being creative is my safety net from falling into that deep. dark abyss.
As long as I have that, I’m not afraid.
But it takes work. I have to ‘keep at it’. Even if I’m not actually writing or making something, I have to at the very least, I have to think about it.
The ideas that come to me help keep that net tight and taunt and unworn.
And what’s funny is, that mind that I have and try to keep honed can also be the opposite side of the coin. One side is a blessing, it’s the curse, too. That late-night thinking (and very early morning) when my body is tired but my brain has more to do. That safety net becomes further down and seems to disappear in the distance. I fear it might fade away entirely and there will be nothing to stop me from plunging into the dark. Nothing creative comes to mind when all of the guilt and fears I have built up come pushing me toward the edge.
But when I find myself falling, the bottom rushing towards me, I become caught in the net, like a trapeze artist when they mise the swing or it’s time to come down. I’m slowed gently and bounce away from the bottom.
Though having a creative mind can be both heavenly and hellish, being creative keeps me safe.
But I still think about that day years ago, when I held my daughter with nothing but open space past the rail. Even though there was no safety net below, I was her safety net. I kept her safe.
And know that she is a young woman, making decisions of her own and starting her own life based on those decisions, I have to trust she’ll have her own mental safety net in whatever form it manifests from.
Sometimes, when it comes to falling ‘inside’, we might fly.
And I hope that for her.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
May 22nd, 2020
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.