• By Erin Chandler, Erinchandlerauthor.com.


“I’ve always been more interested in my own kind of people you know, people that have problems, people that have to fight for their reason, people for whom the impact of life and experience from day to day, night to night, is difficult, people who come close to cracking. That’s my world, those are my people and I must write about the people I know.” – Tennessee Williams There comes a time when we must let go of the lofty idea that we can relate to everyone and everyone can relate to us. As my dad used to say, “Everybody deals themselves aces.” Each of us looks through a prism of uninformed perception. After all, if we knew the whole truth, there would be no need to carry on with this passion play. Recently, someone did what I consider in my tiny universe to be the unthinkable - they insulted my big brother. It was a harmless comment from a guy who had found himself in my brother’s line of fire, literally. Chan shot him with a BB gun as a child. In light of this, he seemed to assume I would take no offense at his popping off a few cracks at his expense. In a half second, I went blind with anger, my chest tightened, and I leaned aggressively forward, ready to shoot off a few insults of my own. I asked if he read my book about our unconventional childhood, it being a sort of an explanation/celebration/apology about why my brother and I were both hell on wheels. “Did you interview so and so?” he quipped, mentioning a boy Chan once put in a trashcan. This was going nowhere fast. He began to school me, “He used to come back here every once in a while and …” Come back here once in a while? I screamed in my head. This is his home! This is where his family is. Versailles was everything to him! Where do you think he was from? Las Vegas? Aspen? Lake Tahoe? The hot asphalt he burned into, driving from one end of the country to the other? I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe for the rage I felt toward anyone who might have for a moment made him feel unwelcome or unwanted. I saw in my head the handsome face and sensitive, smiling eyes of my only sibling. He was wild as a hornet, but he was also brilliant, worldly, charming, funny and most importantly, his heart was good. I started talking about the line from downtown Versailles to Pisgah Cemetery when he died. Name one other person around here who would draw a crowd like that? So many people loved him. Why did I care if there were a few who didn’t? There is a technique called Heart Math, where you calm your senses by paying attention to your heart. The suggestion is to conjure a memory, a joyous memory. It could be playing in a field with your dog, your child’s pre-school graduation, or like my funky place of peace, the backstage of a theatre, on a couch surrounded by costumes, the “real world” beyond the proscenium. It matters not what brings your body calm, it only matters that it changes your breathing pattern and allows you to step away from the drama. Did you know that a sniper teaches himself to take a shot in between heart beats? They have to be so in tune with their breath, their bodies, the beating of their own hearts, so as to take the perfect shot. Whatever our reason for awareness, we have the power to redirect our attention to calm and therefore stop reacting and just be. I wish I had known this before my old babysitter unwittingly triggered such a runaway emotion. As for my innocent perpetrator, I harbor no negative feelings, in fact I am embarrassed to have reacted so fervently. I realize my reaction had nothing to do with him or his views and everything to do with me and the chip I obviously still carry. The chip I carry in defense of the person who will forever be closest to my heart, whether it beat fast with anger or slow with enlightenment.


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