Is Fire Goddess Spelled with Two Ds?
When I was eight years old, I saw a movie about a mysterious island that had an erupting volcano and lush jungles filled with wild animals and cannibals. The island was ruled by a beautiful woman called "Tandaleah, the Fire Goddess of the Volcano." It was a terrible, low-budget movie, but to me it represented the perfect life. Being chased by molten lava, bloodthirsty animals and savages was a small price to pay for freedom. I desperately wanted to be the Fire Goddess. I wrote it on my list of "Things to Be When I Grow Up," and asked my girlfriend if "Fire Goddess" was spelled with two Ds.
Through the years, the school system did its best to mold me into a responsible, respectable citizen, and Tandaleah was forgot-ten. My parents approved of my suitable marriage, and I spent the next twenty-five years being a good wife, eventually the mother of four and a very respectable, responsible member of society. My life was as bland and boring as a bowl of oatmeal. I knew exactly what to expect in the future: The children would grow up and leave home, my husband and I would grow old together and we'd baby-sit the grandchildren.
The week I turned fifty my marriage came to a sudden end. My house, furniture and everything I'd owned was auctioned off to pay debts I didn't even know existed. In a week I'd lost my husband, my home and my parents, who refused to accept a divorce in the family. I'd lost everything except my four teenaged children. I had enough money to rent a cheap apartment while I looked for a job. Or I could use every penny I had to buy five plane tickets from Missouri to the most remote island in the world, the Big Island of Hawaii. Everyone said I was crazy to think I could just run off to an island and survive. They predicted I'd come crawling back in a month. Part of me was afraid they were right. The next day, my four children and I landed on the Big Island of Hawaii with less than two thousand dollars, knowing no one in the world was going to help us. I rented an unfurnished apartment where we slept on the floor and lived on cereal. I worked three jobs scrubbing floors on my hands and knees, selling macadamia nuts to tourists and gathering coconuts. I worked eighteen hours a day and lost thirty pounds because I lived on one meal a day. I had panic attacks that left me curled into a knot on the bathroom floor, shaking like a shell-shocked soldier. #p#副标题#e#
One night, as I walked alone on the beach, I saw the red-orange glow of the lava pouring out of the Kilauea volcano in the distance. I was wading in the Pacific Ocean, watching the world's most active volcano and wasting that incredible moment because I was haunted by the past, exhausted by the present and terrified of the future. I'd almost achieved my childhood dream-but hadn't realized it because I was focused on my burdens instead of my blessings. It was time to live my imagination-not my history.
Tandaleah, the Fire Goddess of the Volcano, had finally arrived! The next day I quit my jobs and invested my last paycheck in art supplies and began doing what I loved. I hadn't painted a picture in fifteen years because we'd barely scratched out a living on the farm in Missouri and there hadn't been money for the tubes of paint and canvas and frames. I wondered if I could still paint or if I'd forgotten how. My hands trembled the first time I picked up a brush, but before an hour had passed I was lost in the colors spreading across the canvas in front of me. I painted pictures of old sailing ships, and as soon as I started believing in myself, other people started believing in me, too. My first painting sold for fifteen hundred dollars before I even had time to frame it.
The past six years have been filled with adventures: My children and I have gone swimming with dolphins, watched whales and hiked around the crater rim of the volcano. We wake up every morning with the ocean in front of us and the volcano behind us. The dream I'd had more than forty years ago is now reality. I live on an island with a continuously erupting volcano. The only animals in the jungle are wild boars and mongooses and there aren't any cannibals, but often in the evening, I can hear the drums from native dancers on the beach. Well-meaning friends have tried countless times to introduce me to their uncles, neighbors, fathers and even grandfathers, hoping I'd find a mate to save me from a lonely old age. They use phrases like, "A woman of your age . . ." and "You aren't getting any younger . . ." to push me into blind dates.
I gently point out that "a woman my age" has paid her dues. I enjoyed being a wife and mother and believe in my heart that I was a good one. I did that job for over a quarter of a century. And now at my age, I have grown into the woman I wish I could have been when I was in my twenties. No, I'm not getting any younger, but neither is anyone else, and honestly, I wouldn't want to be young again. I'm happier than I've ever been. I can paint all night and sleep all day without feeling guilty. I can cook or not cook. I can live on cream puffs and Pepsi for a week at a time and no one will lecture me on the importance of a balanced diet.
It took a long time to find myself, and I had to live alone to do it. But I am not lonely. I am free for the first time in my life. I am Tandaleah, the Fire Goddess of the Volcano, spelled with two Ds and I'm living happily ever after.