Norma Jean: Boot Camp

I have Technicolor memories of driving down Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and watching people inside their impeccably clean cars, phone in hand, in an Armani rag, with well-tanned faces and thinking to myself, "Wow, these people are up there far from the hassles of regular life; these people are making it!""Making it" means getting away from the chaos of the streets and living in a cushy reality of fast cars, six-figure incomes, live-in help and shoes that never touch the cement. On a cell phone behind tinted glass cutting deals always looks better than sitting at a bus stop. Cars protect us from the city and consequently put us out of touch with a certain aspect of life. A click opens the garage door into our secure little fortress and we are safe; we've "got it together ba-by." And the numbing routine continues.My perspective of this city has changed. Living on foot is like visiting another city -- or country for that matter. My son and I walk down unpaved alleys peeking into yards, examining ant hills, meeting stray cats and watching gardens grow. We wait for buses and, once Downtown, share sidewalk space with the homeless en route to school. If this sounds grim, believe me it's anything but that; my son is ecstatic and can't wait to venture out each morning, and I'm far more present to life. It's tough to give up anything and go back to boot camp, but check out the muscles.Comforts shut us down to the world around us, little by little. These legs were getting atrophied from sitting all day at a computer followed by gas pedal action and then Larry King Live. The trolley is a great treat, as are my feet, my bike, roller blades, city buses and trains. We share this fair city with thousands who survive both physically and emotionally no matter where positioned in the pecking order. Conversations with non-related types or the disenfranchised are a refreshing opportunity to feel connected and to validate what might feel like an obscure life.People live out patterns with minimal variation. We see the same co-workers and tell the same jokes day after day, watch the same TV shows, use the same expressions, review the same old gripes with whomever and basically live inside a predictable, relatively safe prison of our own design. Eventually we feel bitter, disappointed, bored and desiring to somehow crawl out of our skin or peck at the skin of others.I receive calls daily from individuals who feel isolated by their lives and confess to a complacent kind of dull loneliness. Do we seek only "one'" to get inside our cell with us or do we need to be shown how to live again?Break a habit today; it's not so easy. Stop deciding who's "bitchin'," what success looks like or how to buy more buffers, and open to the larger world of the whole community. You won't feel so lonely. Really living is the best revenge,

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