Monday, December 10, 2012

It's the holidays, and that's a good thing

Hah, I just realized that I quoted from this very speech in a previous holiday post.  Terrible to think how long it takes for a change in life to sink in, but poignant just the same.
[T]he real value of a real education [has] almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
‘This is water.’
‘This is water.’
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.

-David Foster Wallace
 I noticed this morning that I was enjoying the holidays.  It had been a truism for a long time that the holidays were something to be survived, never enjoyed.  I am mostly posting to acknowledge the work that went into getting to a place where I can enjoy the holidays. The boundaries that were established, the rules of engagement that had to be articulated and fought for and the awareness to say, "I don't want to fear the holidays anymore."  It took me a long time to embrace as true that internal work that accomplishes nothing but bettering my experience in life is worth the time and effort and is worth prioritizing.  No one will notice that this has changed but me and that is enough.

 Honestly, even writing that sentence, a nagging voice of doubt pops up, "Was it really worth all that work?"  Life is mostly work, struggle and frustration. The moments of transcendence are rare and fleeting. So yes, if there will always be work, then working on breaking down the distortions of my mind, my fears and biases is worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

samsara-the riptide

This past year has been a difficult one. It is really hard for me to acknowledge that. I tend to participate, against my better judgement, in the Olympics of oppression. In the pantheon of suffering, this past year doesn't register at all. I have far more to be grateful about than I have to be upset about. I live a life of incredible fortune, friendship and opportunity, but I have suffered badly this year. More than I have in awhile. There has been tremendous, nearly overwhelming sorrow. death. grief. close encounters of the impermanence of everything and the incredible discomfort that truth causes me. So I came to Kripalu to try to readjust or reset or do something to change the feeling of sorrow and grief.

 I just went to a great workshop on the meaning of yoga. Several things pinged me deeply.

You are what you came from. Begin again. See the beauty. Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being you. Begin again. Act in ways that make you feel more alive. Surrender to the mystery. Begin again.

 It occurred to me at some point in the past 5 years that I was accomplishing things that I thought I would spend the largest chunk of my life trying to accomplish. I thought achieving power would be this tremendous and fraught journey that would culminate in me getting a glimpse into the heart of what makes the world tick. Instead I ended up an observer in the room and felt mostly disappointment with how people wielded power when they had it. I possessed it in moments of crisis because of a role and power felt cold, not intoxicating. I traveled and I took a path that I tried to write as it came. And still I end up back on the beach, watching the waves and feel afraid. I have to begin again, knowing what I know now and with a new understanding of just how much I don't know and will never know. I have to let go of the idea that knowing will protect me and walk on anyway. I have to accept this sorrow, stop comparing it to other people's. Accept that it is real to me and that I have something to learn from it. Begin again.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sifting through the ether

Sometimes I come upon a paragraph like this and want to jump into another person's brain for a little while so I can feel what it feels like to think a sentence like the first one.

Fortuna's Wheel, it seems, is a chaos-proliferate fractal of perpetual hurt. The fate of others (and ourselves) is providentially unknowable. The present moment opens before us " so astounding to behold that we feel we can go on forever, held in beauty " emboldened by evanescent grace. 
There is birdsong that enswathes the air of the graveyard. " Joined with the chorus of the dead, it pierces the heart with more precision than prophesy. This song " of the living's eloquence and the deads' abandon " carries us towards evening. 
Its melody wends through Time, through Fate's indifferent landscape. No mathematician can map its course nor calculate by statistical prediction its destination.
             -Phil Rockstroh

Monday, June 04, 2012


    I have mostly finished moving into a place I intend to live in for a decade.  I am not good at the idea of permanence. I like to plan for all possible options and outcomes and not commit to any.  So now I sit in a house I have a mortgage on and wait for it to feel like something.  It was an enormous and exhausting effort to find and buy the place, so I expected it to feel like something when I moved in or shortly thereafter, but it does not. It feels no more permanent than any other place I've ever stayed.  It is possible that it doesn't feel more permanent because I am incapable of relying on anything to be more than a temporary state. Or maybe it is something that takes the time passed to sink in.

   Nearly simultaneously, I became aware that my sense of time passing has shifted significantly. The time is near for there to be more history behind me than there is in front of me and the need to do accounting on what my life is and what it could still be seems to both more urgent and harder to focus on.  I appreciate that the absence of children means that I don't get to see time pass slowly on a daily basis the way parents do, so markers of progress or change are inherently less visible for me.

   So while I want to notice the moments and I know the power of being mindful in my life, it seems that the dissonance between moving and everything being in flux with the intent of creating stability is causing me to exist outside of myself for the time being.  Wherever you go, there you are seems true and yet impossible.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It continues to not be what I expected

My friend sent me this link to an article of people who never marry. It was intensely strange to read the article as someone who is in a relationship. One of the quotes:

she wrote: “It can be marvelous to be free; it can also make you wince with pain when people tell you they envy that freedom.”

seemed particularly familiar to me. I was single for 7.5 years. I dated, but never seriously and honestly assumed that couplehood was not in the cards for me. I got the comments about being too picky, difficult, lesbian etc and thought who isn't picky about the person the fall in love with and what is so admirable about being "easy"? Those comments seemed strange to me. I have largely always been who I am. I never thought it was cool to not care, I talk too loud and I have what can only be described as a byzantine set of rules for people in my life and an easy set for keeping most new people out of my life.

But alas, the universe continues it's consistent streak of guaranteeing that nothing can be planned for in my life. I'm nearly 3 years with the same fellow and I am in love. So now I'm reading that article from the other side of the pool and it continues to not be what I expected. I remember the freedom fondly and I wonder what I would have done with this time had I stayed single. I suspect it would have looked a lot different than my awkward attempts at domesticity that make up my current day to day narrative.

The hope is for a constant companion who will bear intimate witness to our lives. Who will heighten our joy and ease our suffering. Who will be our designated collaborator and caretaker, sparing us the effort of constantly fending for ourselves.

The meta narrative says companionship is better than being solitary. The day by day ruler likely confirms this, but I sometimes do wonder about the overall story. It is very likely that I would have traveled farther afield and possibly have lived in another country over the past three years had I not fallen in love with a total homebody. There would have been many hours spent above the earth contemplating big questions, reading deeply and being more present when I had the luxury of being with friends. Instead time passes by in chunks, seasons and unnecessarily involved discussions about how we both feel about money, time, family etc. I assume that is how one achieves a constant companion to bear witness, but I still remember the freedom of not having to explain, of knowing what was true for me being enough all the time. And a petty version of me wants to ask all the people who told me that I was being too picky, what their thoughts are now that I have someone and am just a picky and just as difficult as ever.

But really, all I ever really deeply wanted from life was to never be bored, to never be predictable and so far life has offered that in spades. heh.