I’ve done a lot of traveling this Christmas break… hell, I’ve done a lot of traveling in general… But I think New Orleans takes the cake… for sure the most incredible place I’ve been in the United States. Going to New Orleans at this point of my life was like reading an autobiography… about myself. I thought about a lot of things approaching this city, while I was in it, and since leaving. Having the time to process it and to think about the experience in and of itself, it is almost disturbing how many parallels I’ve discovered.
I have touched a lot on the part of my life that destroyed me… but I don’t care to relive any of it. I no longer see the point. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind, I could never leave the past behind. But it was comparable to a shot in the dark… aimed right at my throat. I was in ruins, and I stayed that way for a long time, not because I wanted to, but because I wanted, even less, to fight the demons on my back. That was my Katrina. I waded through stagnant water of things not worth saving, and as the water receded, I took several steps back to re-evaluate what I should let go of and what was worth hanging onto, but more importantly how and where to start rebuilding.
The rebuilding period was the hardest and the longest part of that transformation. There’s something about rebuilding that makes you realize you will never again have what you had before, and that’s sometimes a difficult pill to swallow. When you take a step back from what knocks you on your ass, you learn how to defend yourself. I was quite the exoskeleton of defenses for a few years, as I can tell New Orleans was while justifying their determination to rebuild… I don’t regret being that way, because I think sometimes you really do have to protect yourself above any and all things. I was still rebuilding, but from the inside out… There’s a lot of forgiveness that has to take place when you rebuild something that once was your fortress, even if only for yourself. Like the people of New Orleans, I had to forgive the storm: both literally and figuratively.
I’m not sure you’re ever finished with the re-building phase of anything, but the beauty of the restoration part of this whole thing is the realization that, even though you will never be able to rebuild what you had before, you have the opportunity to build beyond it and make it better. That is beautiful to me… I saw the beauty in the breakdown of New Orleans and of myself in the form of restoration, front and center, more than anything else… and I think perhaps, maybe, that’s why I am wholeheartedly in love with that city. It put everything I knew about myself and many other situations in my life and the lives of those I’m surrounded by into storybook format. Pictures, illustrations, and sound effects… no stone unturned. What a beautiful, beautiful place! I mean that in every definition and capacity possible.
Don’t get me wrong, Bourbon St was the greatest, the music was incredible, and the food was to die for, but it was what was underneath the face of New Orleans that was inconceivably beautiful. It was shocking to me how, so many, many years later, the destruction from Katrina was still very prevalent to the face of New Orleans, but how, at the same time, it made it that much more beautiful. To me, that was a parallel as to how to wear scars as assets, beauty marks, storybooks; not deformities, ailments, or disabilities. It all goes back to the sentiment that “what breaks you down is not the load you carry, its all in how you carry it.”
So to New Orleans, thank you for being so great to me and my family... (see above) I salute you and thank you for an experience of a lifetime… You taught me a lot about how to restore gracefully. You and I will be close friends, and I look forward to a lifelong relationship. I’d say for the first destination on my eternal journey to an awakened soul, I hit the jackpot. I find it inconceivably rewarding to be able to stand on the other side of this rubble and see where I am now and what I’ve rebuilt, and what I’m working on restoring. When push comes to shove, you find out what you’re truly made of… I know I did.