Tuesday, December 18, 2012

it takes death for there to be birth

One of the things I really appreciated about Matthew Sanford's memoir Waking is his ideas about death as a continuous part of life. So I was really pleased to see him quote himself on this the other day in his Tumblr blog, musing about the end of the world fantasies that flourished around 12/12/12 and now again leading up to 12/21/12:
The fantasies about the end of the world are so prevalent throughout human history that they should be taken seriously. Not their literal truth, but as expressions of our consciousness. Among other things, awareness of the “end,” (of our death) motivates individuals, civilizations and religious traditions alike. It often helps us appreciate how precious life is or that there is something better waiting for us in the “next life.” But why are these fantasies usually so cataclysmic? Why are they usually fantasies of physical dying? 

I am reminded of a line from my book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, “There are many death short of physical dying….How about the day you realized that you were not going to be an astronaut or the Queen of Sheba?….the loss of innocence is a most serious death and yet necessary for the onset of maturity.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the strength of womanhood

Strength in surrendering
All I could do this past weekend was go for a walk in our serene Arb, communing with the trees and prairie grass. Then I got to a crossroads and I paused. I wanted to walk on, but I wasn't sure I had the time for it. A woman who'd been walking in front of me had sat down on a log and was overlooking the view, I thought, and I didn't want her to think I had paused just to follow her next move. So I explained. "I don't know which way I should go." I can't recall the order of our sharing past that, but it sort of went like this (condensed version; I talk fast, so a lot more went into it):

She: "I just want to take the path you don't take."
Me: "I'm just trying to figure out if I have the time for the longer route. I'd really like to take the longer route."
She: "I just want to be here in the Arb. I'm supposed to meet some friends at the college for a concert and it's supposed to be fun, but I just want to be here."
Me: "... I can't decide. I am coming undone."
She: "So am I!!!!"

So then I gave her a big hug.

And then we talked.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

mucking around in the mud, opening my heart to the sun

My yoga teacher said something beautiful the other day about the symbolism of the lotus flower in yogic tradition. — How the lotus flower grows from the bottom of muddy, cloudy waters, rising above the surface and opening itself to the sun. Suggesting how we too can open our hearts to lightness and brightness, even when we feel ourselves stuck, mucking around in the mud, be it our everyday mundane lives or grief-stricken anguish.

This reminded me of how another yoga teacher used to describe me as a lotus flower with her petals always wide open. And how sometimes I might try to protect my heart a little by folding my petals inwards a bit when encountering unkindness or aggression.

For me, this closing in without shutting off is a real challenge; it's like I can never tell before it's too late that this would be a good time for closing in a little.

This fall, I will make more of an effort to follow the lotus flower's balanced modeling of exuberant opening up and graceful closing in.

image: wiki

Monday, October 15, 2012

when sentimentality rules

Our house is a sailboat and the fuck is my life but my life is also a wildly exciting roller coaster ride. And I have been finding more calm lately by simply observing and accepting, returning not only to my yoga mat but also to my former dabblings in Buddhism. I'll write more about that later. The bit I wanted to share today is my newfound lesson that sometimes sentimentality rules.

So I have planned this crazy packed Europe tour for my book, leaving this Friday and returning on the 31st in the afternoon. There is no coincidence in my coming back on Halloween. I feel immensely sad and bad about leaving my four-year-old for so long, even if she'll be in the highly competent care of her loving papa. It's my second long trip overseas this fall and on the previous one I missed first day of preschool. I simply can't miss Halloween.

So I've made these really busy stressful plans, cramming as much as possible into those ten days I'm in Europe before catching a flight out of Amsterdam early in the morning of Halloween to be back, well, for Halloween.

And though it may sound like I've gone entirely mushy, the fact of the matter is that it works.
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