I usually get to the gym at 8AM on Thursday mornings. It is one of those small, mostly storefront, places that are gyms for women and provide a wonderful structured and accountable hour of exercise. I could exercise almost anywhere, but I have learned and I know from many years, I would not hold myself accountable on my own.
There is limited equipment and usually there is space for only four of us at a time plus the trainer, who keeps us marching set-to-set, station-to-station.
This morning, while I was lying flat on the mat while holding a medicine ball straight up over my head, and starting to do some curls, I checked in with the trainer to see if she took me off the schedule for the month of May. It turns out the three other women that I was working out with today, were not the same women usually there on Thursday mornings so they were not aware that I was selected as an Amtrak writer in residence (and I thought I told the entire world about this), and would be taking my train trip around the USA from April 30 thru May 31.
My train itinerary on Amtrak
Each one of them was so excited to hear about this trip and wanted to know what I will be doing. Amtrak has been so amazing to honor me with this residency and all I have to do is an occasional blog on the Amtrak web site. I shared that I am planning this trip as my “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” trip.
I am going to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, see the Alamo, and also do what I dreamed about in the 1950’s ― go to Disneyland. I am going to try very hard to catch baseball games in Atlanta, Anaheim, LA and SF. I also have one full day speaking gig set up along the way, but even that will be fun and a chance to meet so many people.
I then mentioned to the women that I had a little anxiety, as this will be the first time that I have spent one month traveling on the road, completely on my own.
Not only the three other women there, but the trainer also, had an instantaneous response, that each would love to have at least an hour “ON THEIR OWN” without the demands of their kids, their jobs, or their husband, let alone the chance to travel and just be by themselves.
Wow! I thought. Wow, I felt. Once again, I received a great lesson on perspective. This has been rumbling through the corridors of my mind all day.
At this point in my life I am happy to be living on my own, and have the relationships that I have. My days are my own as I have no regular schedule or job to go to. My kids are all adults and not all are local, but I am there for them if they need me. My grand kids are local so I do get to see them often.
I seem to be on a path of continuous change and reinvention, which I adore. I have a BFF who I hang out with often and go on many vacations with, but she also has her own life. Yes, there are times I feel lonely, and alone, but I know the reality is that friends are not far away if I want to be with them.
But as a transgender woman, I know how alone I have felt for so much of my life. I know how much I have hidden my truth for fear of being alone and abandoned by friends and family, and even the entire world. I was “On My Own” for decade upon decade, all the while being afraid that there was even a more dreaded way to be “on my own.” Once again, it was that damn perspective thing at work. Even today, I couldn’t escape it once again!
I am pretty sure it is not only trans folk that feel they are isolated, and on their own, and that no one can feel what they feel or understand what it is like for them. My sense is that it is just one of those characteristics that come with being human, as we try so hard to understand ourselves and where we fit in, what makes us, us, and how we can be our unique, distinct self, all while needing to be in direct contact and relationship with others.
However, over the years I have learned that this sense of aloneness – of being on my own, may well just be a matter of perspective. Perhaps everything in our lives reduce just to this! I know that I have been and am in many relationships. I have loved and been loved, even if this concept itself is hard to put into words.
Sometimes I forget the things I have learned and need a reminder like the one I received at the gym this morning. The reminder brought me back to what Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth—that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory...
So, I have a new perspective to my adventure on the rails in about a month. No, I really will not be alone on this trip, not really “on my own.” I will be on an adventure and meet many people along the way. I will listen to their stories and perhaps they might listen to some of mine. I like this version so much more.
Lea Salonga – On My Own _ Les Miserables
Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life!
She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Workshop descriptions can be found at her website.
Grace has been selected as an Amtrak Residency writer for 2016, and will be traveling around the USA in the spring of 2017 while sharing her experiences on the rails
Visit her website at: https://www.liveurtruth.net/.
Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard