Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Aim at a high mark and you will hit it" - Annie Oakley

OK. I am aiming. But by 9:00am this morning, day two, I had already missed my mark. Not in large way, more of a stumble than a fall I guess, but realizing this was not going to be a cake walk in any way, shape or form. The slip went down this way: I was talking to my friend on the phone and we were recalling a conversation that had happened to her. The outrage I felt for her was just tempting enough...like the chocolate I had sworn to keep in the back of the pantry at all costs. "That's not nice!" came flying out of my mouth, like a tube of toothpaste, there was no way it was going back in.

This is gonna be hard.

I'm thinking though, to truly take all the negativity out is to not just keep my mouth shut continuously (you might as well ask me to fly) but to change the thought pattern, the perception, the clinging on the judgement; the "OMG did they really just say that??!!" thoughts in my head. Like my kids, I think I am going to try and pack them up, kiss them goodbye for a little while and send them off. I know they will be back, just like my kids, but I won't greet them with a healthy snack when they come through the door.

So why Annie Oakley? Simply put she was one tough cookie. And a graceful one at that. She had balls of steel, fire in her belly and true grit to transcend the awful things in her life. She did it all, not for glory or praise, but to survive. And she wasn't just content with surviving; she was going to live have fun, with joy and fullness; wringing every last drop of life out, just like the smiling ruffles cascading from her famous skirts.

Coming from a destitute childhood she overcame much. Her Father died, she was taken from her family to live and work at the county poor farm, and she endured terrible abuse. She also persevered. She worked and dreamed and worked some more. She started hunting at age six and by the time she was fifteen she was supporting her reunited family and had paid off her Mother's mortgage. This was the late 1800's and this girl was making her own rules. She did it for the good of her family, she did it to make a life for herself.

By all accounts she was a lovely person. Her life story is interesting enough, but what got me completely hooked on Annie was how she responded to all said people and events that happened to her. She started to work at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and as history tells us, was the first American woman celebrity.
Enter Lillian Smith, the decade younger upstart who openly taunted and criticized Annie, mocking her, telling the world in essence she was a younger, better version of Annie.
Annie, full of grace and dignity, held firm, held her tongue and kept doing what she did best- hitting her mark. Lillian, so busy talking smack neglected her sharpshooting skills and performed badly time and time again. After much rebuking from the public, she faded out of view and left the show.
Annie went on to endure a train wreck that left her paralyzed, multiple spinal surgeries, and a terrible car accident. She kept on, with a steady gaze that would make a sailor cry. Kept on with a smile on her face and a skip in her step. Kept on, hitting her mark. She transcended her abuse in her early poor farm years to open her heart and find love. She organized (quietly) women to learn how to shoot so as to support themselves. She was very much a feminist (quietly) feeling that she and any other woman with a strong mind and backbone to match could dream and do anything a man could.

I look at her pictures and try to see the spark that lit her. She looks sly to me, confident, humble, grounded and...happy. I try and imagine how much she and her husband must have loved each other, devoted and connected all those years of marriage. How Frank simply stopped eating when she unexpectedly died. He had had enough of a world that didn't have her in it. He died 18 days later.

So Annie Oakley. Guiding Saint in finding my way through life without taking anyone down the negative slippy slide. I'm in.

No comments:

Post a Comment