This is a slightly edited version of another portion of “Georgia: On My Mind” which was originally published “The Cactus Flower” in 2005.
Do you remember that set of tapes that I mentioned previously, the ones by posed by Dr. Wayne Dyer in his best selling book of the eighties “The Sky Is The Limit”? There is a set of questions near the end that have been on my mind lately. I have reviewed these questions several times in the last twenty plus years and the answers have changed since I first answered them.
For instance, the first question is: “How would you change your life if you knew you had only six months to live?”
So why is it six months instead of one day or one week. Because six months is enough time to make some changes that could be of value. One day or one week is not enough time to make any worthwhile changes. Now that I have decided on six months what am I going to do with my last six months on this earth? Am I going to travel, spend time with family, buy a Harley and ride, maybe write the great American novel or spend the last six months as Georgia? I could do all of the above as Georgia. To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do or how I would do it. Certainly the time I spent with my children would be as George. That’s who their father is and that is whom they love and would want to be with. The rest of the family and world would have to handle potluck.
The second question is: “Who would I choose to live with if I could live with anyone in the world and I had no history of living with anyone up until now?”
This one is, to me practically impossible to answer. Part guilt or ignorance? I’m not sure, but I do know this. If I had no history of living with anyone how would I know what traits and habits would be acceptable and which would be intolerable? I also know that history cannot be changed in reality, only in wishful thinking. My history is imbedded in my mind and therefore is always a part of every thought and action of my present. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s re-phrase the question slightly. Remove the part about not having any history up to now and just consider having a choice with the history. I would change nothing about who I lived with. I would change the how I lived with the who. I guess the simple answer to this is the Dennis the Menace cartoon that hung over my desk for years. Dennis and his little buddy Joey are riding down the street on their tricycles and Dennis says to Joey,
“Boy, I sure wish I was three again knowing what I know now.”
Question number three: “Where would I choose to live if I could live anywhere in the world and had no awareness of where I’d lived up to now?”
Sheesh! Again the history is being wiped away. Where was Dr. Dyer when I was getting graded on what I remembered of history? I can only say that I would have to see the entire world and then make a decision. I do know that in my life I have always been attracted to the desert. I don’t remember having any particularly magic moments in the desert. I just know that I have always been most content and felt most at home and secure in the desert. It probably has to do with housekeeping. In the desert everything just seems cleaner. There are fewer bugs, and definitely no chiggers. I remember as a child in Texas and Oklahoma coming in from playing in the grass with these red itchy areas everywhere my clothes were tight. I don’t even want to think about what the little creatures would do under a bra. I know, again with the history. In the desert there is no mud, no leaves to rake, few mosquitoes, snow to shovel only once in a while and for another positive there is no sunset like a sunset in the desert. So I’m sure that even with no history that I would end up in the desert.
Question number 4: “How much sleep do I think I would get if I had no clock and no ability to measure time?”
This one is for me, a dishwater blonde question. I actually know the answer. I would get eight hours of sleep a day. I know this because that’s how long I sleep under almost any circumstances if there is nothing else external to wake me up. If I have to be up at a given hour all I have to do is go to bed 8 hours earlier and I will wake up right on time. No you can’t ask me why I’m always late, besides you already know the answer if you just think about it for a moment. And then of course there is my afternoon nap. Just twenty minutes is all I ask and I can do it standing up if I have to. I actually went to sleep in a stand up tanning booth the other day.
The fifth question is: “How much and when would I eat if there were no such thing as meal times?”
Now this is a piece of cake for me. I have a very limited sense of smell and smell has a lot to do with appetite. When I am left on my own I eat very little and I certainly don’t like the time it takes to cook and then eat. For lunch just give me an I.V. of peanut butter and jelly and let me take a nap.
Question 6: “How would I spend my days if there were no such thing as money?” In other words, what would I do if I didn’t have to work for a living?
For starters I would write, a lot. When I wasn’t writing I would go fly-fishing. Yes, I know that I would be living in the desert but remember this is to be a perfect world when I finish answering all of these questions. So, I would go fly-fishing in the desert on horseback when I wasn’t writing. I would go for long evening horseback rides in the desert with my best friend. I would spend the remainder of my time with family and friends the way God intended me to.
And now for question number 7 which is quite a question to ask a lady.
“How old would I be if I didn’t know how old I am?”
The answer to this question can be very telling. When I was a child I wanted desperately to grow up. I didn’t want to be a child. I wanted to be an adult. My parents were my models of what being grown up was. But no matter how old I got they were always older so in some perverted way I never seemed to grow up because I never caught up. For most of my adult life I can’t honestly ever remember feeling as though I was much more than sixteen or seventeen years old on an emotional level. I have two things in my life that have affected that conception. As a recovering alcoholic I have learned that one of the most widely held beliefs in alcoholism is that at whatever stage in life the alcoholic behavior kicks in we cease to mature. I was 17 when I started drinking. The other thing that has affected my self-assessment of my age is my dual-gendered nature. I have heard it said and observed that, for most of us, we tend to go through growing up all over again when we finally accept this part of our personality. I am no exception to this theory. So, the short answer is: I would be in my late twenties or early thirties if I didn’t know how old I am.
The eighth question in the series is: “What kind of personality would I have if I were starting today?”
My knee-high-nylon-jerk response to this one was, at the age of … say twenty something, that I wanted to be charismatic, clever and entertaining with an intellectual influence. Well, I certainly failed to develop that personality and I am sure that the world is safer because of that failure. Today I would say that the personality that I would like to have is … pretty much what I have.
The last and ninth question is: “How would I describe myself if I couldn’t use labels?”
Well, let’s see. Are words like gorgeous, sexy and brilliant considered labels? How about mistaken self-identity Georgia? The unspoken part of this question is honesty. So, if I’m honest about this description I cannot use words like brilliant, above average intelligence certainly but not brilliant. I am propelled by a powerful desire to accomplish the task that I believe God has given me in this life. I deal with things and circumstances in life as they occur and do not, for the most part, look ahead with anxiety or wishful thinking. I do not look back at the mistakes and miscues with regrets. I consider them classes in life, each one of which prepared me for the next class. The people God has placed in my life, from my late bride to my friends make me one of the most fortunate people in the world. The description here would be blessed. I have been blessed with a compelling desire to express the best I have seen in both women and men on a daily basis.
I’ll close with a personal “Thank You, Dr Dyer” for your insights and willingness to share them.