Insomnia in the Garden of Good and Evil

January 10th

Birthday girl

I’ve struggled finding sleep lately. Wide awake from midnight to 3 am is becoming the new routine. I listen as Nelson chases bunnies in his sleep from the foot of the bed. As the landscaping company meticulously blows every leaf from the Sprouts’ parking lot across the street, into the street at 1 am. As our neighbor, who is a bouncer at some Scottsdale club, returns on his Harley Davidson around 2:30 am, grinding the throttle as he parks in his garage.

With plenty of time to think, I’ve wrestled with the idea of staying on the right path in life, and how temptation is constantly present. Imagine walking down a path in the rainforest. The brush has been hacked away and bare feet of those who have traveled before you created a winding line of worn earth that leads deeper and deeper into the unknown. Light trickles down from the canopy overhead, where birds and monkeys fight to sing the loudest chorus.

If you stay on the path, you know there will eventually be an end. It is impossible to turn around, as much as you may try. The path disappears behind you. Your memories are the only trace. There are highs and lows. Vistas that take your breath away, moments of intense pleasure. And also bogs you must wade through, quicksand that suffocates with grief and hardship. Times that are hard to shake off.

But if you can just get back on the path, you know these highs and lows become easier to navigate. You’ve found and developed tools along the way. Yet the biggest challenge you face are the vines. These try to pull you off course toward bright and shiny objects of desire that seem so worth stopping to admire in the moment. But if you linger just a moment too long, the kudzu starts at your feet and slowly works upward until the shiny object is all you have. The forest has enclosed around you. The path is gone. You are forever lost. Your beloved item is no longer so shiny.

I feel the pull.

I had dinner recently with a married couple who are friends. The woman is my age and does not have a wrinkle or freckle on her truly beautiful face. I stared at her wondering if it was more than genetics. Regardless, I came home to examine the ever increasing map of an Arizona childhood playing out across my brow and began to consider what I could do to stop time. The vanity vine wound itself around my feet as I pulled here and thought about injecting that there. A patch of gray hairs continue to sprout from my crown. Gravity is doing my figure no favors.

How does she do it? So beautiful and thin and put together? Why can’t I look like that?

We stayed in another friends’ home during the holidays in Denver. They are newly married and purchased a home that is just my style. I wandered it, admiring the furniture and linens and thinking about my life — which is a bit chipped and stained and worn after so many moves in the last few years. I watched as Nelson ran outside in the beautiful yard, chasing squirrels and sticking his nose happily in mounds of snow. The vine of envy took root.

Why don’t I live in a home like this? Why haven’t I been smarter with money?

Again commuting, although mercifully a short distance, I find my patience wanes the moment I get behind the wheel. I tell others jokingly, “I’m a pacifist outside of my car.” And in that flash of stupid anger when my temper flares, I feel the vine of wrath wrapped around shaking fists.

Why am I sitting in this damn traffic?

The extra glass of wine I shouldn’t drink. The married man who winks and smirks. The snarky judgments I hurl at women. And the swears. Oh, the swears.

The vines never cease.

My strongest tool is faith. I have faith that the life I am leading is perfectly imperfect. I have faith that I will be a better person today than I was yesterday. I have faith that my Grandmother Maxine, gone one year today, is helping guide my steps through her experience.

I have faith in an all-loving, compassionate, wonderful God.

And, worst case scenario, Botox is fairly cheap in these here parts…



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12 Responses

  1. Love you girl, but you need some sleep! And you are too hard on yourself. And, and, and … do you know what people often think when they look at you? “How does she do it? So beautiful and thin and put together? Why can’t I look like that?” I do anyway 😉

  2. I think we all have feelings like that. Comparison is the thief of joy… it’s so true. Thank God we have God, right?

  3. Thinking of you, friend! It is a constant battle for all of us not to be consumed by the roaring lion.

  4. Hey sunshine, everyone does that. That aging thing is best dealt with now and a little at a time. Wrinkles are beautiful, let them be.

  5. Jennifer January 10, 2014

    If I had a dollar for every time I wished I was someone else (including you, my dear passionate, brilliant, adventurous, goofy internetz-friend), I wouldn’t have to work again. <3 It's so nice to know that we are human and that the vine is always greener on someone else's path.

  6. Beautifully written Kelli…I’m thinking of you and your family today…lots of love!!!

  7. I agree with Sue: the only thing that I ever thought looking at you was “she’s so thin and pretty (with a gorgeous tan) and put together! How does she manage to match her jewelry to her outfits? Why can’t I look like that?!”. I agree with you about commuting and traffic though *shakes fist And middle finger at other drivers*

  8. I need to beware the vines too. That’s a great analogy. I’m focusing on being deliberate this year. The vines are what distract me from that …

  9. Even though things appear perfect on the outside they never are on the inside.

    I chose less because it is more.

  10. You continue to inspire me, Kelli, and I love the vines analogy as well! It’s funny, isn’t it, how those vines wrap around us and try to pull us down…keep those boots firmly planted! 🙂

  11. Each one of us has its own path in life, a purpose. Most of time we can’t figure it out until we’re old but some lucky ones find it in time to make a difference. My bet is you’re one of those people. And even if you’re not, you’re making the best out of it and to me is enough. I guess God feels the same.

  12. I feel the pull!

    It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. -Henry David Thoreau