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I think too much and too much of it is worry. Under all this worrying is an idea I first got when I was half my current height and weight. It was a message so consistently delivered to my young ears that in time it just sunk in and took hold of my developing mind. Once it was in place, it operated like a filter, filtering everything that happened, and seeing if it fit that one idea. Funny how when you are looking for something, you generally find it. So I found confirmation everywhere: I learned I wasn't good enough.
Ah the sweet bright fiction of the New Year. How I love it. The ever-seductive new start. How it draws me in. The hope of a brighter tomorrow turns me on like a light bulb in a dark room. Now, after all these years, it will all be clear, all my dreams and hopes will come true, I'll go forward with confidence, determination and skill. Ah yes, I will be the me I have always wanted to be. I'll exercise, I'll lose weight, I'll write more, worry less, wake up every day raring to go. My favorite illusion.
I read somewhere that the cure for depression is to get up an cook for a lot of people, a house full of people. I mean, drag your dead ass out of bed and get in the kitchen. Use every pot, every utensil and every scrap of food in the house. It's simple really. You would be too busy to be depressed. Today in the paper, they had an article about cabin fever, described in part as the inability to use your personality as much as you are used to doing. That's what happened to me when I stopped working.
I'm consumed with weighty questions regarding the meaning of my life, my purpose, the nature of my contribution, the quality of my experience. I'm going through my second adolescence. When I was very young, survival was a challenge. As a teen, I became philosophical and spiritual, and this lasted into my 20's Then I had a family and I was too busy to think anymore. Life was action. Then I stopped working, my kids left home and now I am back to wondering what it is all about. Trouble is being a teenager is depressing. Being a teenager wasn't fun.
I babysat my grandson today. He was having a bad day. In five years I've never seen him in such a foul state of mind and mood. He argued with everything, lipped off, got angry or whined, hollered "Leave me alone!" or whimpered about how unfair we are. To say it was difficult to be with him would be an understatement. It was torture. Before the day was over, my nerves were shot. I had a headache. Fears arose, what if he grows up this way. He'll ruin his life. And again, where have I gone wrong, failed as a grandmother.
My daughter pointed out that concerns about Tre's future are just a story after all, the future is not here. It doesn't exist at all. And fears of failure as a grandparent, just another story. But what's great about all my worry and distress is what it reveals, a great commitment to my children, for whose lives and futures I have and will continue to be a stand. For it is only when you are really up to something big, that such distress arises. So at a time like this, it is important to remember that Tre is doing fine.
I had a revelation about myself today. I struggle with weighty questions about the meaning and purpose of my life, and behind all of that noisy self-doubt and deprecation is a litany, the litany of my life. I have to be right. I have to be right. I have to be right. Think the right thoughts, do the right deeds, say the right things, live a righteous life. Suddenly I realized that I don't have to be right. And in that moment, there was a new freedom, and new options. A new opening for a new possibility of fulfillment.
It is a new day and a new night, with nothing more to prove. A time to explore my inclinations, propensities, tastes, comfort zones, sources of energy and stamina, inspirations and aspirations. All this without the need to be right. Without the need to justify myself or my actions. I shall see what pleases me. "Master has presented Dobby with clothes. Dobby is free." It's fitting that the ice and snow is melting outside in the first mid-winter thaw. The future is truly unlimited. I don't have to be right. I have nothing to prove. It's a new day.
Once again I read Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff. It's astonishing to me that I so readily find the energy for Martha. It's a black, twisted, angry energy, and not the way I normally express myself, somewhat alien to me in fact. But not unknown in my family. I can hear their voices in my memory, the invective, the attack at the very soul of the other, the filthy mouths, the edge of spite. I have so little to do with either of them. Is it any surprise? Their voices are like poison in my memory. I hear them.
Today I called my brother to wish him a happy birthday, but I was a day late. I had entered a reminder on the wrong date. I wonder sometimes if I am losing it. But what really strikes me about my mental state of mind is how many things no longer seem to matter to me. Things that used to seem so important. Now I look at them and wonder why anyone cares. Like New Year's resolutions, as a case in point. There is really no such thing as a new year, after all. It's a story we made up.
I think there may be hope for me. After about six months of inactivity, and slow but inexorable weight gain, I finally got my lazy ass out of bed this morning and went to the gym for an exercise class. The whole place was full of people, early birds, and almost all of them were senior citizens. A building full of old farts, up earlier than anybody else, sweating away. I think I was inspired. And believe me, it takes something to inspire me. I'm not the idealist I used to be. But I can't deny I need to exercise!
Last night we went to my daughter's house for dinner. My grandson who is five, ran in and jumped on my leg, wrapping his arms and legs around it and grinning up at me. When we got ready to leave, he did the same thing, saying he was never going to let me go. What could be better than to be loved so much by someone so young? When we're together, we play... all day. It wears me out. But it's the best thing in my life. And I know it will end too soon, and I will miss it.
What is the measure of a life? Certainly not years or pounds or height. I doubt it is money or fame. Though it may have something to do with leaving a legacy, leaving something behind you that is valued by the living. Or maybe not. Maybe it is enough to be loved while you are here, regardless of whether you are missed when you are gone. Or, maybe it is nothing outward at all, but an internal gauge that measures a life. Maybe it is all about living fully, every minute. Being present to life as it occurs.
When I am fully present to life, there doesn't seem to be anything missing. In the moment of being present, there is nothing left over. There is simply a feeling of fullness. Gratitude arises from somewhere in the core of my being and fills me up. This is true even in the face of pain or fear. Every minute becomes precious, wondrous, unique and captivating. I am captivated entirely. Stillness moves within me like a quiet sea, breathing. I feel no need. There is nothing to prove and nowhere else to go. My soul is renewed. I am at peace.
Yesterday I started a meditation program. After my first meditation, I found I was deeply relaxed and more at peace than I have been for a long time. I was inspired to continue the program daily. I found myself very pleased with the idea of being a peaceful person. That was yesterday. Then this morning, my husband read a poem in writing class in which he talks about making love to me. My boundaries were violated and I reacted with anger. I have asked him not to make references to sex with me during class. So much for being peaceful.
I have always been on a spiritual journey. I suppose in the absolute sense, we are all on a spiritual journey and there can be no other journey that we are on. A planet spins in space around a star, and consciousness arises. To think this is an isolated event, some sort of anomaly, and unique in the universe seems to me an absurd notion. Rather, it seems to me more likely that our consciousness is part of a larger consciousness, a natural feature of the universe. Neither oddity nor alone, but in sync and harmony with all of existence.
When I meditate and the incessant yammering inside my head finally quiets and the nervous movements in my body stop, my attention naturally shifts to my chakras. First the crown opens to the white light. Then my third eye begins to pulse and warms up and energy flows through it. Next my ears become alert but indifferent to all the sounds that fill the world around me. My eyes are closed, but when I open them the automatic activity of reading reading reading everything in sight is paused, and for a brief time I see the world without all writing.
Even a momentary break from reading is like a vacation. It's like being in a foreign country where the alphabet is different...where I can't decipher the language and it all occurs as some strange artistic scribbling. My soul is grateful for these little breaks, moments when I can simply be, without language structuring my thoughts. It is like the shift from left to right brained thinking, and also like the shift from beta to alpha brain wave states. In these moments, I seem to appreciate the world more directly and holistically. I can't remember not knowing how to read.
I'm not sure I can keep this up. Somehow the days get away from me, especially when my grandson is here and my focus is on him rather than my computer. At first I always found something to write about, or maybe it was that I found I could write about almost anything. But these days my mind is a trash heap. Nothing there but complaints and worries. Some days I can't believe I've been alive this long and have such an empty head. My thoughts turn to escape, escape from my own mind. And then I want to stop.
I cut my writing class today. I didn't have anything to share, and since that is basically the agenda of the class, each person sharing something they wrote, it seemed a waste of time. Last week I went to class without something to share, and just listened to what others had to share, and that was pleasant enough. But this week it would have been two weeks in a row, and I guess I was just embarrassed. I have been making myself wrong about my writing. Telling myself it is too serious and heavy. Telling myself I should write comedy.
I have told myself a poison story that everybody in my writing class wants to be entertained. They don't want to hear my tragic tales. Most of what I write is difficult to hear. I used to think that was something to strive for, writing that hurt. I liked the idea of being edgy in my writing. But there are several comedians in the class and they always get great reviews from the other members. I even bought a book called How To Be Funny, but it didn't make any difference. I'm just not funny. Too bad. So sad.
If I have to be funny, I'm doomed. It's not that I don't enjoy comedy. I enjoy it very much. I just can't write it. Reading books about comedy and how to write comedy has no effect. I think it's a talent, like being able to spell. You are either born with it or you're not. I wasn't. But in the end, I think I would rather be funny than spell. I mean there comes a time in life when spelling doesn't matter. But there is never a time in life when it wouldn't help a lot to be funny.
My mind is incessantly preoccupied with worries and complaints. It is my mind, built by my experiences and the stories I have about those experiences. It is my rant and my rave, my version of life as I know it. And it is all made up. Even my version of success is just a version. Do I have a good life? How would I know? There is no objective measure. The new squirrel in the yard is friendly. He perches on a branch and looks in the window at us. Then he leaps up onto the roof and dashes away.
Happy is the oyster who has no pearl, who has lived a life free of irritation. I myself have not been so lucky. Irritants keep coming. Like the oyster, I can't ignore them. They demand my attention. Until I learn them and incorporate them into my life, they continue to vex me. Tearing at my flesh like the stray bit of shell tearing into the oyster's mantle, or the grain of sand, or perhaps a tiny parasite that wanders in to take a bite. There is no avoiding them, but can I like the oyster, turn them into pearls?
After yesterday's entry, I feel like I should just hang it up. That bit about the oyster and the pearl was just plain inspired. How do you follow that? I have a girlfriend who once explained to me that she had figured this out: everything that is not a question or a point of information is a complaint. She told me this over thirty years ago, and I have never forgotten it. It kind of makes me think. I hear myself complaining, complaining, complaining. Better to ask a question than make a statement. This much I have long since decided.
Every once in a while, a woman needs new clothes. Today was that day for me. I knew there was a great clearance sale at the outlet mall, so I drove my Malibu to Idaho and strolled into Van Heusen on a mission. One of my theories about shopping is that when you find something that really fits and looks good on you, you should buy it in every color they have. I now have five long-sleeve cable-knit sweaters, some nice blouses, a pair of black patent-leather shoes and some new socks.
Today a bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace, a mudslide buried an entire village, a child died of hunger, someone fired a gun into a crowd of strangers, a teenager committed suicide, an old woman died alone, somebody beat a little boy to death, a ferry sank and somebody shot a polar bear for no reason. The paper says the oceans are going to rise. Last night I had a terrifying dream. A great hairy beast took a swipe at me. I called out in my sleep. My heart beat wildly. A far off voice said, "It's alright you're dreaming."
Who says I can't get past Tuesday! Yesterday with just a little bit of patience I completed the puzzle, or to be completely accurate and precise, I got within one letter of completing it. Getting that close is close enough. Today, however, I never got to read my paper. The day started out waking up late and having to hurry to get to class on time. When I woke up, I felt like I had a hangover. Richard said I had bags under my eyes. I folded the paper and took it with me, but I never had a chance.
Sometimes I think about the people I have loved and lost in my life. Not only because they died, but more often because we either drifted away or turned away from each other. At such times the ceiling above my head seems closer, heavier, threatening. And I think, what have I done? Then I go on line and look for them. But they have vanished without a trace. And I wonder. Are they gone? And if not, do they remember? And if so, what? It makes me more determined than ever to keep close with the friends I still have.
Every day when I come home, my dog runs up to the back door and goes crazy. She leaps up and down and whines and strains at the door until I let her in. Then she runs around in circles for a minute, until she can finally calm down enough to stop in front of me and be petted. I lean down. "Kissie," I say, and she licks me right on the mouth. "Ew," my grandson says, "dog slobber!" Then she shakes her head and snorts. Next thing I know, she's curled up on the rug, the picture of contentment.
When I was three, there was no butter for my potato. My mother told me we were poor, to use salt, and I started to eat food in a dysfunctional way. I started eating as if every meal was my last chance to have whatever it was, eating when I wasn't hungry, eating when I was already full. Once I start, I don't stop. Eating is the last thing I do before going to sleep. I am forty pounds overweight, my clothes don't fit, my knees hurt. All to satisfy a three year old who wasn't getting what she wanted.
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