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Tell the truth! Tell the truth, tell the truth. This opening line grabbed me with a bolt of awareness because I wasnít being honest about my marriage. For years it was as if I was behind a door, peeking out at life from another room. Waiting to face it, to begin coping, on full prepared alert, but still waiting. The consequences of communicating the truth were unknown, scary with a vague anguish, dogging me. Now, daily, the depth of my peace makes me steady and strong in the truth. The ease of life slips over me and I smile.
I have a new love of facts. Seeking truth.
Standing up to reality.
Facts, shaken and sifted away from
emotions and assumptions
that hinder discovery
a stark, simple fact
unearthed like a sparkling gem
It's clean, smooth edges intrigue me
Facts can dislodge the stream behind it
of muddy nagging questions
until the current runs clear
mysteries finally settling
into a believable story
the reality check, no matter how painful is rewarding
even if it settles into a pit of despair.
There is resolve in completeness,
clarity of meaningfulness
Victory in the understanding.
Stillness of the mind.
Sliding from functionality to decrepitude. How does it happen? The sixty year old, submissively tired woman, barely looked at the sales clerk that admonished her. Tears slid down her cheeks and she didn't try to hide them, because she knew she couldn't stop them. Her fierce indifference warned the clerk not to ask if she was alright. She kept looking around the sales floor, for a place to calm herself. She thought,
If I crawled under the rounder, someone would come and take me away? But where? For how long?
She was tempted, but resisted. She plugged on, faking sanity.
Speaking on the phone with Mr. Past. I know he is struggling to connect with me. He has nothing to say, but he's trying to pull "we" together. I want the call to end and yet it comforts me, too. The mundane talk of cats or of weather makes me agitated. I come off cold, until I let go of a need to be purposeful and realize this is part of the lonely dance. We are both in step in repairing our independent lives. I begin to engage, start sharing my stories and the friendship survives another day. Comfort zone.
There is a deep reservoir of centering nourishment in the wellspring. Peering into its depths, one can only see the light reflected on ripples, and sense the stillness below. The deep is calming, a fluid heavy weight against chaos, against the blowing, flittering dramas at the surface of our lives. The wellspring inside me is carved out of loss, chiseled from grief, filled with survival; an opening for joy and appreciation, solace and satisfaction. While the surface clamors for attention, the depths of the wellspring are like the bottom of the ocean; unknown unless investigated, ready for discovery and harvest.
I went to a burning bowl ceremony on NYE. It was at a church I had never attended. I'm not a church goer, but I found it reinforcing to be one with the crowd; a crowd willing to give thought to a new year. The preacher was wise. He said, this is not just a new year. It's a new age. We make it so by our ritual. We change, not by burning our demons on a piece of "flash paper", but by watching ourselves chase after that which we have stated we wanted rid of. Now: "God's got this."
I know that a bigger person can let go of grievances, pay no mind to pettiness, experience forgiveness is a relief. I have that ability, even for trespasses more serious that this one. Why is this infraction more hurtful? Why am I not yet able or willing to let it go? Iíve never experienced hostility from my nieces before. It felt like 3 against one, my sister and her 2 daughters. I feel innocent of any infractions. I feel like I was kicked while I was down; losing a marriage and losing my father. I wanted love and support.
Walking in the footsteps of a monk, one would surrender individualism, sacrifice her wants and wills in order to sense what the divine was leading her to. It would be a life of exploring the thoughts and feelings within, instead of exploring all the world, and goods and stimulation the outer world can offer. It would be the art of developing, creating understanding, appreciating satisfaction from inside. A monk would be self sufficient, self reliant, would have accomplished wholeness and peace. The monk would have mastered resilience; would have a quiet ego untethered to others, an acceptance of what is.
If I walked the world as an artist, I would notice all the shadows under my feet. I would see the angle of the light and how it bounces off the edges of green leaves, highlights the contours in a face, and the surface of the landscape. I would develop interest in the subjects before my eyes and not judge them as pretty or ugly. I would discover how uniquely the patterns of nature present their beauty. I would delight in the colors of the skies from seasons to sundowns, from dawns to high noons. I would see with reverence.
Edge walking. Border crossing. Rim hugging. Discovering, dwelling in the fringe phases of life is not easy. There is no comfort at the border. There is trepidation, breath taking, aliveness, where something or someone is ending.
There's a feeling of helplessness. A resignation profoundly unfamiliar. A knowing that there is nothing to be done. There is only staying with the feeling, being a witness to the ending.
There is courage. There's a stripping away of the pretense of control. There is noble weakness, too. One senses the universal suffering of the world.
Surviving a loss is discovering the edge.
Do I dare write this? Ok. I discovered another little freedom that's coming my way. Dad's no longer going to church. He's too frail to make the effort. So, I no longer have to go to church. I can be done with the pretense; the smiles and the handshakes, the fraudulent portrayal of Christianhood. It has been a strain that must be akin to closeted gay. I do try to rummage the sermon for a trinket of useful inspiration. The sham effects my ability to relate to the hospitality being offered, as if I'm in the "in group." High-school.
I have a great friend. One that steadfastly regards me as OK. She sees my flaws, she nods as I reveal my anger, she knows I'm not what I want to be. The gift she gives me, always, is acceptance. More than my past husband, more than my son, more than my sister or my parents. It's a support I can always rely on. It's a comfort that is always present in my life, for more than thirty years. I am blessed to have her in my life. I have learned many lessons by knowing her and witnessing her strengths.
I'm studying with a friend, the "Artist's Rule" nurturing creative soul with monastic wisdom. Most of my best times in life are met with synchronicity, which heightens my enthusiasm. Or maybe I'm slightly bi-polar? and I've entered a manic stage? It's wonderful! My assignments from Art Therapy are beautifully complimenting this aforementioned study, along with my new friend, the printer, who has begun to collaborate with me on my projects. When I visit his shop, it becomes play time. Assignment: depict 10 notable events in your life and tie them together in some fashion. I'll invent rituals for each.
Just saw "Searching for Sugar Man." Documentary, yet fairy tale, true story about a fantastic musician, Rodriguez, that created an album in the 70's. Lyrics better than Dylan's. Someone took the album to South Africa; at the time extremely insulated for the purpose of maintaining apartheid. The populous was guided by the lyrics to question authority, question morality of status-quo. He unknowingly became a rock star of S.Africa while he worked construction jobs in Detroit for 15 years. His words were about facing reality. 15 years later, he gets found, elevated, recognized for his participation in apartheid. Beautiful.
Is it her, or is it me? I can't tell. I don't know why she is mad at me. I do know that she used to be the one person that gave me love and acceptance. The closest person on earth to me. My sister. One doesn't choose a sister, but I suppose one chooses whether or not to befriend a sister. I don't know what it would be like to have a sister that's not a friend, but I think I'm starting to find out. I'm not southern enough? Thoughtful enough? Entertaining enough? What? Not controllable, too energetic. Me.
I'm not one of the Southern Belles; the three clanking, clamoring, Charlotte females that were part of my family, whom I used to hold dear. I know times change but I am surprised at how fast hearts change. How fast a word can erase thirty years of relationship, without even a conversation for closure. Pouf! One bell clanks and all three of them chime discord! I am resoundingly stoic. I'm over the grief and have put the belles into the walled off area of my heart. There are many losses this year. Can I just heap grief into one pile?
Dad's dying. Slowly. Hospice is here. There was the initial wrenching pain that brought involuntary tears. So sad were the first signs of his frailty that showed the reality of the diagnosis. There was the emotional discomfort of not knowing what to say, how much to hover. But that was months ago. I can't keep that intense hurt fresh anymore. So as he slips and becomes more weak, I am inured. I'm anticipating that something will jar me into the proper grief mode. Probably, his death. Death is hard, awkward, painful and numbing. It makes us fumble, act scrappy, raw.
I've been waiting for a good long while. Waiting for the dog to die, because an unnecessarily premature goodbye would have been wrong. I waited for my Dad to die, to spare him the grief of my impending divorce. Only THAT one couldn't wait. So divorced, and dog dead, and Dad almost, I am soon to be as free as I have ever been in my life. I still have a job, but that could changed. I hate my job. I should anticipate the month by which all these burdens are behind me and book a cruise to anywhere, Ahaa.
Freedom. It's hard to appreciate until you don't have it. One moment, you think you are setting your sails and making exuberant choices. Later you wonder which line you crossed that ensnared you into your current life.
What does one do with freedom? It feels like I should run away. Boundless. Step over the borders of countries, of states. But, what would I do for connection? Send postcards to loved ones? NO.
A dream: live like a monk for one month. Rise at dawn, use a candle at dusk. Nothing but food and a shelter. Silence. I don't know why.
How to become the scapegoat for the family:
1. Live in another geographic area without other members of the family. This will make you expendable.
2. Try to gather, as a family, when huge, crucial emotional events are taking place.
3. Make a joke, or a mistake, or eat food other than what is served.
4. Controversy, gossip will be unleashed when you leave the table, others can bond by focusing on your supposed reaction to...whatever, or your "independent actions" or just how wrong you are.
5. Hey scapegoat; you're the black sheep! Everyone's shadow is cast on you!
I quit my job today. Amazing. I feel equal forces of trepidation and exhilaration. It was a smart premeditated move. It was idiotic to give an ultimatum. But you have to know where the line is, right? Stand up for yourself. Oh well. I've been fired 3 times and as my friend said, "well at least this time you left on your own terms." I have a job interview Monday. It's not the job for me. It's hard not to jump at any opportunity. A sign of the times and my age. Hopeful thought...the next job will be perfect.
Dream: I'm with man of my past on vacation. We are driving a rental car. It's a new thing on the market: an inflatable. It's light, fuel efficient. It's red and white, like an MG. We are having fun with it. We get to a town square area, with shops and coffee. We park in a corner spot. When we return, the car has been scrunched into too small a space by several cars that are blocking our way out. The car is deflated a bit. It looks like a beach toy now. Past man is angry, deflated as well.
I'm in my own house doing my own thing, and worrying about how this is perceived by my sister. Is she wondering if I have I abandoned ship? Is she scowling? Can I continue on my path and feel comfortable? Wow. My sister's attempt (contempt) at orchestrating my father's ending is palpable. My resistance is new. Those patterns that shaped me in my formative years still dwell within me in my senior years. Is it safe to shut the door on all that? I need to visualize hanging a wreath on that door, a wish for peace. Then walk away.
Maybe I'm Cinderella today. The rest of the household dressed fancy and went to the House of God. I'm here in my PJs with rooms to straighten and dishes to clean. I tried to find princess charming, who could whisk me away to the movies or help me find a fitting wardrobe for the dress rehearsal of the ball. But alas, all my princess friends are otherwise occupied, and anyway, my pumpkin has not yet arrived. My glass slipper looks, right now, like a worn resume that needs editing and updating; polishing the image. Where is that fairy god-mother?
Are Art Therapy students a bunch of narcissists? Ok, artists have been accused of the slur. They put forth their innards, having expelled them onto canvasses and then deem them significant enough to over price them to create "value" and advertise to all their friends, "look what I put on the wall." Mom was an artist all her life, yet I never saw this aspect of artist. I'm appalled at my classmates kindergarten like enthusiasm about their own ideas and their shit. I wince that I am part of this group. They are clamoring, "Look at me, Look at me!"
Mother, co-worker, sister, aunt, wife, daughter. All these roles have slowly sunk or abruptly vanished from my exisitance. I'm a bobbing log on the ocean of life. I have no rudder, no encroachments, no purpose. I am floating, unmoored. Breathe. Notice this big gap in life. It's like the pause before the next in breath. One could fill the void with illusions, dreams, questions, hopes. I'm trying to stay focused on the gap. Who are you without roles? Who are you right this minute now that there is nothing pulling you or pushing you to act, to play, to...
I love 100 words. It's the most therapeutic tool I can imagine. It keeps me focused, challenged, it helps me define me, or define a feeling or a situation. It works out the kinks in my psyche. It helps me examine life from behind my eyes. It makes me feel like all my parts are connected. It's wholesome! and raw. It's a blank slate that I must fill. In filling it I can examine the contents. I don't even like all the contents, but there's no denying them. It's economic in effort and time and yields extraordinary benefits. Thank you!!
May I shed the expectation of accomplishment and learn to create as easily as I breathe. May I flow into the spirit of creation as if softly leaning into a body of water. May all the elements of creation join into a choir of harmony, so that the evidence of this space in time, touch anotherís heart, or my own heart. May the energies swirl to show another path, a glimpse of healing, of wonder and awareness and of gratefulness. May all be joyous in their abilities to help, lift and comfort one another; for these are sacred acts.
My neighbor is dead. Funny thing: I spend that morning singing church hymns that never come to mind. Later, I noticed the quiet ambulance next door, taking its time. After that, there were no lights, no caretakers switching shifts, no garbage. She "lived" for 3 years inside that house, bedbound, I think. I texted my past husband a joke: "Its time to move the rocks!" Of course, he'd forgotten how we used to joke about rolling the neighbor's mean spirited, car door dinging rocks, aggressively placed alongside our driveway as soon as she died. Next week: mission Rock Removal on.
Boredom, obligation, faking joviality, watching shit on TV, news, blah, blah. I'm hungry. Waiting. When can we go? I don't ask, I try to wait. Sit, write 100 words, doodle, how many hours waiting?, watching hours passing, I feel like a caged animal. Maybe I should pace. Nothing changing, nothing to do. Wait. Watch. Wait. Help. When can I go? Who gives permission? I do.
This is the problem with trying to please others. There is no reason to just be there. Leaving, I risk wrath. But since I'm the scapegoat for all displeasure anyway...shits coming, leave or not.
Today, my dad (88) received a call from a remote cousin that had struggled to find him. I heard my dad share stories of places like Cook Creek, where he spent entire days catching frogs and how his mother would fry them. And stories of about the teachings from his--their grandfather. Later, when sister and I gave him his valentine's day present early, he got misty when he read the card, then said, "I really appreciate you girls being here. I'm so lucky...I know I'm grumpy sometimes... I wish I wasn't." His appreciation lifted the burden of care.
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