Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"I Can" can

Two years ago, a small, brown package, a perfect cube, arrived in the mail. "Arrived" implies ease and eloquence. I wonder what that package went through before it got to me? In the animated movie, "The Prince of Egypt" Moses' mother sends him in a basket, set loose into the Nile River. Along the way cranes beat their wings, alligators get into a tussle, and hippos send waves crashing to the shore. The life of a piece of mail must be similar.

The "post office" in Cambodia reflects and ancient and forgotten past. The yellow paint of the dilapidated French building peels in the heat and humidity of southeast Asia. My moto driver delivered me somewhat safely to my destination and waited while I walked inside past lingering eyes of men and curious children. I handed my mail slip to the woman who smiled cautiously at me. She walked away, paper in hand to retrieve what I had been told waited for me at the post office. At least 30 minutes later, she returned as if I had not been waiting 30 minutes, plopped the box hard on the counter and said, "30,000 riel" which I had learned was roughly $7.

I could never wait to open mail until I got home and today was no different. I sat on the marble steps out front in full view of onlookers and began tearing apart the packaging tape. Inside a black can with white lettering, "I Can' Can."

A note inside read, "This can has been sitting on my desk for several years. After reading your blogs, I'm pretty sure you need it more than I do." A friend from church sent the can that contained about 200 cards, each with a different, "I can..." statement.

Two years later, that can made it home and sits on my bookshelf in Nebraska.

I remember leafing through the "I can" cards and feeling, fuller, wiser, more content. The words were not magic, but they were true and after several months in Cambodia I couldn't tell fact from fiction anymore. My mind was confusing me, testing me. Truth seemed too far away and the lies dominated slowly, carefully, and strategically.

"I can."

Those are powerful words.

"I can" does not speak timidly.
"I can" means buisness.
"I can" doesn't accept less.
"I can" says, "Watch out."
"I can" speaks of optim and confidence.

One day after receiving the "I Can" can, I sat on my bed in my room. The humidity and dust from the street poured casually into my window and the neighbors screeched Khmer back and forth to eachother as it echoed off the tile floors. I remember reading the following message on one of the cards: "Eskimos leave sharp knives smeared with meat at the perimeter of their camp. Wolves will repeatedly lick the sharp knives until they cut their tongues and bleed to death. I am not a wolf. I can eliminate destructive behaviors before they eliminate me."

Destructive behaviors= bulimia, self-hatred, guilt, etcetera, etcetera.

I knew it. I heard it. Something clicked. That wasn't healing, batta-bing, batta-boom, it was another step.

More steps.

I can eat cereal for dinner.
I can accept the zits on my face.
I can pass A&P class.
I can be patient with myself.
I can forgive.
I can ask forgiveness.
I can make mistakes.
I can love a little more.
I can respond to text messages 3 days later.
I can answer an email a month later.
I can forget things.
I can be alone.
I can rest.
I can play piano just because it makes me feel so good.
I can smile if I want to.
I can wear my new, freaking cool boots.
I can be in a bad mood.
I can let things go.
I can hand over control
I can pray.
I can take deep breaths.

Today, my situation is a little different than it was in Cambodia, but I remind myself often who I am and where I've been, because, well...I can.