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Monday
Oct292012

Trust and the Path

Sometimes it's hard to know exactly where you are, and even harder to trust that where you are is a fine place to be.  It's a struggle I've been intimately familiar with over the past six months (a year??) on my own creative path, and I'm happy to be guest blogging about the challenge of seeing - and trusting - over at Shutter Sisters today.  I'd love it if you join me there.

Tuesday
Oct162012

The Trouble with Honesty

I used to think all we had to do was be honest with each other, those of us doing this life together.  I didn't know then that it's damn near impossible.  We tango through our shared spaces, trying not to step on each others' toes.  Losing track of who's leading.  Clumsily getting off beat.

Sometimes when we say please pass the salt we mean I need you to hold me.

And sometimes I'll do the dishes comes when we are really trying to say all I want to do is cry.

Or can I have a some jelly beans? becomes go away, mom!

Sure, you can work late substitutes for when are you going to pay attention to meeeeeee?

We fall from our safe spaces.  We may hold in our fear and our pain and our primal screams, landing soundlessly.  We may not notice the bruises our friends and family parade through the living room, so busy are we with being nice.

These swallowed sighs, these polite interludes are not the same as dishonesty.  They're gifts of a sort, or they can be.  We absolve each other of the responsibility of holding space for our every neurosis or insecurity.  We say I can handle this one myself.

But lately I'm wondering if the challenge has more to do with mystery than honesty.  There's a way in which every single person I'm close to becomes more inscrutable the deeper we go.  I puzzle that we are all but unknowable to each other.  How could we be otherwise, when (I'm noticing) that we seem to be unknowable to ourselves as well? 

We move through life as we think we are supposed to be.  Or more to the point, we move through life as we think we really are, but below the surface subterranean rivers of emotion and pattern and pathology carve unseen canyons into our soul's terrain.  We navigate by instinct, without maps.  Occasionally we fall into deep holes we didn't even know were there.  It's hard to tango where the ground shifts beneath our feet.

In the face of uncharted land, honesty seems beside the point.  If we don't even know ourselves how can we blame our dearest ones for failing to understand us?  Instead of honesty, what if we put our emphasis on acceptance, good faith, and trust?

Monday
Oct012012

Fountain of Youth

Ezra, 4th birthdayDear Ezra,

You turned four around the time that I started to notice that I'm going to turn 40.  Not tomorrow, but one day, and sooner than I'd like.  Everyone says 40s are the new blah blah blah, and I'm sure they're right, but nobody says 40s are young. Nobody says oh I was 45 and beautiful and carefree.  This is the sort of pointless script that's been running through my head lately, when I am not either crushingly busy or fastidiously quieting my mind.  Which is still enough of the time to be noticeable.

A friend told me that four-year-olds are obsessed with death.  I hadn't noticed until we watched March of the Penguins together and you asked me why did the baby penguin diiiiiiiiiiiie? for days on end.  Since then you have specialized in threat assessment.  Nearly every day you mentally follow one risk or another through to its logical conclusion, invariably some form of if you (fill in the blank) could you get dead?  To which I reply, yes, if you (swallow glass) (jump from a high place) (play with fire) you could die.  In my head I also note and if you (eat too much bacon) (don't take your fish oil) or, you know, (just keep waking up every day).  Apparently we are both preoccupied with mortality.

My godmother sent me a primer on Buddhism and you'll never guess what example the author uses, right there in the first chapter, to illustrate the basic concept of attachment.  Our attachment to our body.  Our vanity.  Our fetishization of youth.  In other words, I am a textbook case.  The Dalai Lama thinks I am a cliche.

I was hoping to justify my fixation as maintenance, like haircuts and eyebrow waxes.  Harmless.  I could harvest your knock-knock jokes and inject them into my laugh lines.  Emulsify your imagination, and smooth it over my age spots.  Collect the eyelashes you shed and let an obsessive-compulsive aesthetician glue them onto my own, one by one, the world's most luxurious extensions.

Is it creepy to fetishize your own child's youth?  I hope not.  I wouldn't really steal one moment from you, one innocent query, sweet boy.  Witnessing your curiosity as you piece the world together is one of my chief joys.  I would rather (go gray) (sag) (wrinkle) (learn to meditate) than rob you of a thing.  After all, if everything goes well, I'll have a long, long time to get progressively wrinklier, saggier, grayer (and hopefully more detached) before I get dead.

All my love,

Mama

Wednesday
Sep262012

Blessingway

You came in on the wind. 

Crested the mountain ridge, danced over meadow grasses, and through the open door.

Kissed me on the nape of the neck and whispered, don't be afraid.

You have beautiful friends, already.  They are adorned with feathers and beads and scarves and love shines in their eyes.  I think you've been talking to them too.

You have a beautiful home, situated perfectly to watch the sun transit the sky from wherever you lay.  It's quiet up there and there's a long view and you can breathe.

Your parents glow like the blessed, and wait intently for you to show them the way.

Already you call us into deeper levels of connection and commitment, the warp and weft of tribe.  Already you are a weaver.

When you are ready, we are ready.

Safe passage, sweet girl.

Tuesday
Sep182012

View From The Bus

The shuffle function on my iPod landed on Ani DiFranco on my drive to work and transported me immediately to the 24-year-old Corinna.  This time I watched that Corinna as through glass, like a tourist on a bus ride through some dimension where she still fumbles her way, mostly laughing, through early adulthood.  The music runs underneath it, the soundtrack to a time when every day was a test of how big to be in the world.  The unexpected rhythms of Ani's music and her way of turning metaphors on their ears were just as surprising as my autonomy.

From my seat on the bus it's all bathed in golden light: those few, halcyon years after abject fear and before responsibility.  There was a suspended moment when friendship and cheap beer and free concert tickets were the only currency worth trading.  When propriety and sobriety belonged to an inconceivable life (I had no idea then just how familiar they would be come), when any place that contained my passport, address book and toothbrush could reasonably be considered home.  From this angle that Corinna looks blithe and unflappable, and while I don't remember her as fearless, she seems utterly secure in the sense that it will all work out. 

She was right, of course.  It has all worked out, far better than she had any right to expect.  Every single thread has woven together in a warm and heavy tapestry of completely blessed life.  A life laden with meaning, as though that is a fair trade for youth and buoyancy and adventure.  Through the glass, she is in bloom.  And the tour bus is confining and crowded, and I know that in some other dimension my life awaits.