The other day, two people called out my name, Lily! It had such a nice ring to it. There was gladness in the voice and a smile on the face both times. I was touched. My heart warmed. Was it for me? I couldn’t help asking silently, slightly disorientated by the occasions. It was been awhile since I’ve heard my name called. It started a song in my head. James Taylor was singing.
I would like to have such a friend. He would come if I call, wouldn’t he? He sang the words. I like to think that words still mean something. but I’m not sure. Though much have said about the power of vulnerability by Brene Brown, not too many people are willing to show themselves. That is my experience even though social media and electronics make it so much easier and cheaper to touch and be touched. We don’t want to be first to touch. We send out signals and hints. We test the waters gingerly with our toes.
Sometimes I feel such longing and yearning for the kind of friendship and relationships of old. You just call up/out someone’s name. And they come running. You know then you have a friend. It’s not a bad or impossible thing to wish for. It’s something to work towards – making those friendships and relationships. At least I’m recognizing what is important for me.
Words come easy. Words come hard. They come different on different days, caught up in the nuance of where I’ve been. I have been lost in thoughts and not in real time today. The words are tumbling in my mind/head like clothes in the dryer barrel. Now sorting and excavating them is challenging. But I’ve always loved challenges.
NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month of writing a novel of 50,000 words is too much for me though. That is why I’m here pecking out my few words daily. I have no fairy tales to tell. This is an exercise in purging what is not true or desirable. It’s difficult and painful though it may not be visible to the reader. I struggle coming to the keyboard every day.
Some days I don’t make it. That’s how it is. That’s how we are. I’m learning and understanding about our human nature. I don’t feel as guilty for my short comings. I don’t punish myself as much. I try again and again to come back to what is true. Our stories, our struggles are important to tell. They are gifts to be shared. We see that we are all the same. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all have ‘the soft animal of your body’ in Mary Oliver ‘s poem, Wild Geese. We can connect in our vulnerability.
It’s December 31, the last day of the year. I am still working on Suzannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead. I’m doing it in fits and starts. I’m unsettled and restless. It’s difficult to unravel the past year, to take inventory, to face the numbers.
Was it a good year? Did the good outweight the bad?
Was I happy?
Did I make any progress?
The hardest question to answer was this one:
Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2014 in words and pictures. What did it taste like? Smell like? Sound like? Who was (or wasn’t) there? Where were you? What were you doing? What was awesome about it? And most importantly, how did you FEEL?
It’s not easy to answer when you don’t know yourself at all. I’ve spent most of my life being for other people. It’s not anyone else’s fault except for my own unconsciousness. Do you know that it is much easier to be there for others than for yourself? I had not known this till this very minute as the words fall from my fingertips. It’s a funny thing, right? Why? Who knows. Maybe it is that vulnerability thing that Brene Brown talks about.
I never saw myself. It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to know my favourite moment or occasion of 2014. I had to put aside my lazy bone and dig deep and do the work. Nothing came for a day or two. But today, I’m remembering and feeling. Lake Havasu in February was pretty damn nice. The arid landscape and desert air proved to be wonderful for body and spirit.
It’s January 1, 2015. Looking within myself is hard work as you can tell. I had abandoned my post yesterday, interrupted by New Year’s Eve. It was hard to dig underneath the surface to unearth the layers beneath. What was it that I loved about Arizona? Perhaps I should leave it for another day.
In the meantime, I realize last night is another favourite and last moment of 2014. I am so happy that I made the effort to make it happen. What better way to bring in the new year than with champaign from France and with people you love? The pop of the cork. the lovely bubbles tumbling from bottle into glasses, filled me with memories of love and families.
Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is transient, or in a constant state of flux.
I’ve been thinking about that transient state lately. It is very true about: Here today, gone tomorrow. Life is that vulnerable. I am feeling that fragile. Things are turning faster and faster – like coming close to the end of the toilet paper roll. All of a sudden the paper ends up a puddle on the floor. The puddle is me.
That is how I am feeling on this warm balmy December day in Saskatoon. I watch the snow melting in slow drips off the roof. I hear Richard Harris singing MacArthur’s Park melting in the dark and someone left a cake in the rain. I’m feeling languid, coming undone in its wake.
Quick! Someone throw me a life line, a fuel injection, anything. Wait. I’m all right for I know that this, too, shall pass. I will sing like Richard Harris and his MacArthur’s Park. Nothing stays the same – ever. There’s a reason and a season for everything.
There would be another song for me
For I will sing it
There would be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky
It’s a cool -4 degrees Celsius this morning. I feel amazingly good. I don’t question it. I accept it as my good fortune. The sun IS shining brightly. Hallelujah! I sip my Chai, oh so strong and sweet. Mmmmm. Feeling blessed as I sip and tap.
Writing for me is like meditating, the letting go and releasing. This morning it is a little difficult as my furry neighbour next door and Sheba are having a noisy and excited good morning exchange. Bow wow! What do you do? They are dogs behaving like dogs.
Peace is restored – for a little while. Can I get back to the zen of the moment? That is the trick of life, you know – to return to your purpose again and again, no matter the distractions or how many times you have strayed off the path. I find my way to the place I have left. I try not to back track to the beginning. Otherwise, I cannot get pass GO. I will be stuck forever at the starting gate.
I’m spending a little time on why I write. Here I go again! I’m asking the why of things. Can’t leave that alone, can I? The thing that comes to mind is that it gives me pleasure. It is such a sensual thing, this tap, tapping on the keyboard. I feel each letter and hear each click. It’s rhythm soothes and excites me at the same time.
It’s a song and dance, a chorus line – the letters getting into position and kicking up their legs and waving their arms to form a line, a sentence, a paragraph….a story/number/dance. Applause, applause and then encore. That’s every artist’s hope.
Images and words comes come to me out of nowhere. They float to me on wings of fancy, much like the ghosts of my childhood. I feel them in me. They take me to another place, outside of myself – to be that story, that dance, the Alice’s of my dreams.
I always sing and dance to my own tunes. I hear myself after awhile – the warble in my voice, the missed notes and out of steps. It’s not a bad idea to come out of myself, to hear other stories and to watch other dances. It is helpful to share and compare. Everyone has a story, a song and a dance.
It’s in the sharing and daring to tell our stories that opens up the world to us. Soon others give and receive in kind. I write to enrich my life. I am always reaching out there to touch a sister, a brother, a kindred spirit. That’s the way of my mother, her father and mother and all her siblings. I come by it honestly. There is no other way for me. We suffer for it.
People don’t always reciprocate. Some don’t want to and some can’t. I try not to ponder the why’s. Through life’s journey, I have learned to accept and not to take it personally. I have lost nothing in the process. I am neither less nor more. But I have created the possibility to receive more. It is worth it.
I write because I love the words, the beauty they can capture on a page. They crystallize those whimsical images and ideas that come to me from outer space. On a good day, I am able to tap them out onto the screen. On a good day I can make them sing and dance for me. Today is a good day for me. It is cold but my office is bathed in the warmth of the sun. Sheba is laying peacefully on the floor while my furry neighbour smiles at us from across the fence.
Want to sing and dance together? I’m not good at duets but I’m willing to try.
There’s a time like this when I am missing my laptop. If I have it still, I would like to sit here, on the deck and tap away my melancholy. I would watch each black letter march across the screen, forming words and thoughts. No matter. I will make do with my pen scribbling across the page. I’ll tap later.
I am sitting here in the late afternoon. I am comforted by its warmth surrounding me. My Purple Wave petunias greet me each time I look up from the page. I hear the children laughing from the daycare near by. Sheba sits at my feet. I sip my tea. Traffic rumbles from the front street. The neighbour’s voice rasps her words. A jet flies overhead. I am in the midst of life.
Some announcements can knock the socks off your feet. They bring tears to your eyes. I am still stunned and disturbed over this death announcement. Why am I feeling like this? This business of life and death is well known to both of us. And sad news is no stranger. Still, it is hard for me to accept.
I knew her when she was a young intern and I, a wet-behind-the-ears nurse. I remember-ed an incident when I called a Code Blue. She and the crash cart arrived at the same time. I could not remember if the patient lived or died.
I knew her, but not well at all. I had not known that she was ill. Oh, the speed of it, the speed of mortality, of bad news! It was like a thunderbolt. It left me vulnerable, unprotected and unprepared – unwilling to face it straight on.
I scribble and erase cross out, scribble some more. My pen moves across the page. Birds chirp back and forth. Traffic is whooshing by on Preston Avenue. The sun shines on. I am finished my tea.
You’ve made it to retirement and if you think you can just fall back into life again, guess again!
It’s not that easy. The life you once knew is no more. For one thing, you’ve grown up. No, you’ve grown old – pensionable and pensioned. You can no longer fit into a size 5, 7, or 9. Even a 10 is stretching it. Now you are breathless just bending over to tie up your boot laces. What the hell happened here?
What happened to all my plans that I saved up for ‘when I retire’? Not that I am bored with nothing to do. I have too much to do but don’t know how to do it. The world I knew has changed and I am hanging from the ledge.
Deep breath now. Relax. Remember that you are probably not alone. You have the tools. You have the words. You can write your own script. This life is but a dream and you are the dreamer. So dream the life that is meant for you. Be brave. Be daring. You are already on the ledge. Be vulnerable. Be true. Be you.
I’m feeling like a fetus in the womb, warm and safe. And I am not ready to come out any time soon. And if I could sing, I would croon myself a lullaby .. to send me off to dreamland. Hushabye, don’t you cry….
It is alright. I can cry even if I am a big girl. It’s a sign of being human, vulnerable and brave. And it is some sort of rites of passage. I would want to mark it in some sort of way, even if it is in some sort of paralysis.
I have forgotten that I am a living organism of cells and protoplasm. I am made of energy. I breathe, feel and react. I have lived years in the world according to rules, regulations and protocols. Now all that is switched off. How shall I live then?
Now is a good time to pause, to let all the tremors, doubts, fears and other bogeymen run through my body. Let them come, one by one. Let them sweep me clean of all malevolence. Let me get to know the woman who is still in me…..the woman of hope, joy, laughter, love……waiting to be born again.
I have to confess that I am having a difficult time with everything lately. Perhaps it is because I am right on the cusp of RETIREMENT. My life is going to change. The word CHANGE is enough to scare the beejees out of anyone. Maybe I need to change the way I talk to myself….the things I tell myself, the words I use.
Then, there is the weather. I am sure that I can feel every drop in the atmospheric pressure. I feel every shadow of each cloud as they pass over the sun. It is no fun to feel your heart in your mouth. I think I would prefer my foot. Well, I can still joke. That is something.
So this guy suggest that I surround myself with white light. Then I could enjoy whatever energy is around. That is a lovely thought…to enjoy whatever there is. It is what I try to do when I embrace heavenly chi. I hold this protective shield around me. Seeing it in my mind’s eye makes me feel better already. Letting the words fall from my fingers eases the fear. Sometimes I drop out and nap like Sheba if I can. Escapism is not a bad thing.
Vulnerability is not a bad thing either. How else can God know what you need if you don’t tell? I know he is all knowing and all that, but he is a busy fellow. He has a large flock. Sometimes all he needs is a whisper. Other times you have to scream. OVER HERE, GOD!
Screaming definitely makes me feel better, even if it is only in print. It releases my stagnant chi. My chest is relaxed and I can breathe. Maybe now I can find that notice to renew my license plate. It is due tomorrow. I will find it. I am not behind. I have time. Sit, stay and dine. Everything is copacetic.
Mornings are hard in the middle of December. The sun does not show its face till 9 or later. So lucky that we have Sheba to be our alarm clock. She is quite persistent. If licks on the face, runs at the bed doesn’t work, she will resort to loud barking to get us out of bed. I am hungry! I am hungry! Get up! Get up! What is the matter with you people?
So another day begins. It is 7:25 and we have slept in! I think about hopping on the exercise bike with my book and mug of tea for a few minutes but thought was all I did. Oh tomorrow is another day. I will have to remember that for tomorrow and not let myself down and slide on the slippery slope of will power. I am an adult after all.
So, this is another morning. Wake up call again..at 7. I get up, remembering my promise to get on the exercise bike. I am feeling low and tired. It is not visions of sugar plums dancing I see in my head, but the shooting at the school in Connecticut. It is the cares of the world I am feeling along with my own uncertainties and heaviness. But time has been my best teacher. All the thinking and feeling and trying to understand and figure things out has not helped me in the past.
And so I sigh, get out of bed, make my tea and head downstairs to the bike. I turn on my SAD light and set my timer for 16 minutes. Those minutes are long and short at the same time. My thighs ache and I stop to rest and sip my tea. Hurry, hurry, get going! Only 16 minutes. You want to get going to get some good. Only 16 minutes to read this book. Pedal! Pedal!
The 16 minutes are over and so is breakfast. Those feelings of despair for the world come and go. When they come, I remember that it does me no good to think and feel them. I get up and move. I put the breakfast dishes in the washer. I wipe the counter. I put away the towels someone has folded for me. I sucked up Sheba’s hair off the floor in the kitchen, dining room and sun room with the electric Swifter.
The sun is out and I am sitting here, tap, tapping out my words. What I am thinking now is about the irony of our world, our lives. This is the time when we do have the world at our fingertips. With a touch of a button, we can send a message across the world. We can talk via Skype to someone on the other side of the globe. We are more connected than ever. Yet at the same time, we are more isolated than ever. I am missing those times when we were more brave, daring…to be vulnerable and talk to each other, face to face, on the phone. I miss those times when we were not afraid to be friends and say, I like you, I miss you. I need you.
I count myself lucky that I can feel all these feelings. Sometimes they are a BIG nuisance. You have a life to live, you know, and you have to flog through all the heaviness of feeling, just to get out of bed. But the rewards of trying and doing are very much worth it. Cultivating good habits help. I love Regina Brett’s: Get up, dress up, show up. Every time I can do that, I know that I am a success.
I find that I can accomplish great things if I show up. Sometimes our worst of times can be our best of times. My sun room is the best testimony to that. Because of my ‘condition’ of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I look for solutions and possibilities. And this is the end result.
We are all builders. So let us build good things. Let us build a better world. We can start with just a single block.