Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where Bad Habits Go To Die

I'll admit it's probably a bit morbid; my summer ritual of sitting in the Clay Street Cemetery on the wooden bench near the main gate.  As a child I was terrified of cemeteries, my most prominent memory being Forest Cemetery in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. In the summer I'd pass that cemetery with a shudder as I was riding my bike to the beach. Yet, my fear intensified on Halloween since it sat smack center of the hottest trick-or-treating neighborhood.

This fear disappeared the year my father-in-law died. I stood at my husband's side as his father was buried in a beautiful, lush green plot in Libby, Montana. I remember the sun shining and it being peaceful and quiet.  Nothing remarkable happened as we mourned his passing.  Maybe that's what mattered.

When I tell people about the cemetery, they think of Birch Hill. But Clay Street Cemetery is the older of the two and doesn't require me to bike up a hill. I go there to read, write, think, and occasionally nap. I rode by it for a couple of years before ever stopping, and when I did it was out of sheer curiosity.  There is only one wooden bench donated by Denali Elementary School (class of 1997-1998). My first year I visited only once. A few years passed before I returned.  Then last year I went almost every weekend in the summer.  This time I had stopped because I needed quiet and distance from a problematic friendship.  There is no place more quiet and distant than the oldest cemetery in the city.

By the end of the summer I had journaled my with through the problem. I had decided it didn't matter if our friendship continued. I no longer could let this friend's behavior effect me. And like many resolutions, I make them and forget about them.  And like many instances, the resolution magically is fulfilled.  I hadn't realized it at first. I had returned to the cemetery this year to complete a reading assignment.  Unfortunately, carb loading on a pile of pasta put me into a food coma and I fell asleep on the bench. I dreamed about writing in my journal the year before.  I dreamed about my resolution. I dreamed about it coming true.  When I woke up, I had this sudden peace and warmth in my heart.  I realized this bad habit I had acknowledge the year before had finally died here.

I have yet to journal this year at the cemetery. I've meditated on other negative habits, but my plan to tackle them hasn 't been written down. When I do, my plan will include two things:  First, letting go of negative perspectives I don't need anymore--anger, resentment, and doubt. Second, I'll shore up my vision for the future. One that includes a prosperous business, bringing choreography to the stage, and books to Nooks and Kindles.  That will be the day I sit in Clay Street Cemetery and say goodbye to all the unhealthy negativity and make room for healthy habits that will realize better things to come.

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