An open letter to my sister (brother number 2)

It was a pleasure to be with you and Marcus last night. I enjoyed not driving. I enjoyed sitting and listening to your newfound group and the things they felt were important to them. I enjoyed sitting at the restaurant tying a couple on and partaking of the different fare they served. New surroundings and being with people I am comfortable and relaxed with always make me smile.

Therein lies the truth of me. I have always been the type to be boisterous if you really know me. It is DNA material. The spirit that will leave this body to the earth when all is said and finished.

One of my early memories was of visiting our little catholic elementary school with mom. It was after I attended public school kindergarten where everyday I felt uneasy, scared to be away from home, remembering how I wanted to avoid sitting beside a kid who smelled like pee everyday. I remember being bullied in the play yard by some older boys. However when I went to the catholic school and the grade one portable which would eventually be my classroom I was welcomed by the students there. Especially the girls who cooed and were excited to see me and show me around. I remember being in the coat room and being led into the classroom while mom spoke with the nun running the show. For the first time I felt accepted, and excited to be with strangers my age who were excited to meet me.

That didn’t last very long. I realize now that first day was the best it was going to get as far as school was concerned. Any school for that matter. The teacher was not experienced in teaching children. She was there to keep order and to bring education to those she could handle. Those who were not ready were kept in the back corners of the room. I won’t say it was out and out discrimination, but being a person of colour I found myself sitting along with a couple of first nations boys in the ‘not to be heard from’ corner. I spent a lot of my time looking at the little yellow bird the teacher/nun kept in a cage beside her desk. I also was exposed to more bullying and me being the smallest and non white it was easy to single me out.

Now it wasn’t all crappy. I found a way to exist in relative safety through sports. I was quite athletic then and I was good at playing and doing things with relative ease.

I was also excited by acting in the Christmas performances each year. One year in particular stands out not for the actual night of the performance, but for the dress rehearsal the week before. I was one of the wise men. On the other hand you could say I was the only wise ass cracking fool there. During the practices on stage leading up to the rehearsal I was ad libbing my lines and changing it up. For instance I was supposed to announce that we were led by a star to the east and in my exuberance I made like I was unsure as I was pointing and so turned with my arm out and spun around like a compass needle. I was pleased with the laughs I was getting from my class mates and even my teacher.

So it was quite a shock when I did the same thing in dress rehearsal. The kids in the school audience were laughing, but in the wings my teacher was shouting at me to stop. She was enraged. As I came off the stage she yelled down at me and I felt like a balloon being taken down from the wall and stomped on. I left the school and went home crying.

We have all been through similar situations in our lives. I too have doled out cruelty, misunderstanding, mean spiritedness, cynicism but also love and understanding, responsibility and non-judgment. If you are looking for me to condemn life’s punishments and cruel lessons then I will leave that to someone else. Betty said to me this morning something she learned in this week’s yoga class. To paraphrase: “Don’t take anything for granted. Be grateful for everything. If you can be grateful, it is much harder to be bitter about anything”. I was not at class this week but she shared with me the stretches she remembered as I sat on a mat and did them in our home.

I am grateful for you reminding me about the yoga classes in our community on the day that they were beginning. The lessons are helping me very much. I am grateful that I am able to attend such classes with the help of your nephew who is able to baby sit his siblings while we are away. I am grateful for the rediscovered movement in my body, the feeling of being able to concentrate on me and what matters in my life. I am touched by the generosity of others, the people in our community and in different parts of the world who have reached out with no thought other than to help.

If you think that I am loud in public because I am sad, angry, bitter then ask your brothers. I am pretty sure they have seen me loud and angry. What you saw is not it in the least. They know the difference I am sure as you would also if you think about it.

I am excited by the smile of life. The beaming joy from the freedom of expression to be myself. It is the release of tears flowing endlessly down mountain falls, a call to movement and stillness. When I am not, I feel trapped, alone, shackled by my body. I cry out and there is only my own echo.

If love is an illusion that makes life bearable then I crave it. If I am an illusion and all is an illusion then I must be love. I must therefore be here for a reason. Because I chose to be here. To be reminded of what love is and what it is not. And that when all is said and finished, love is. And love is not.

All that is best, and all that is shit,

love your brother

P.S. When you were up on stage I noticed your husband out of his comfort zone. Standing there for you and for him. And I could see what matters. I am proud of you both.

 

Reminds me of the Alan Watts  videos:

https://www.apple.com/ca/your-verse/

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