Tuesday, March 15, 2011

second chances

Are there others of you who practice this ridiculous and addictive habit of self-sabotage? I seem to have almost a fear of succeeding: when I put my finger on it, pin it down, it is because each choice made is an un-choosing of countless other things. Floating around in my subconscious is the idea that if I am admitted to Naropa, if I go to Colorado and become a wilderness therapist, I will not be a midwife, or a rock star, or a nomadic poet, or a neurosurgeon. It seems, also, to be irrelevant whether or not these are even things I want for myself. I simply cannot stand to watch the choices go away. There is a reluctance to ACT in my own life, to CHOOSE, that I do not understand. Recently someone observed that I've lived my life like a multiple-choice assignment, not carving out my own direction or answers, taking only what is handed to me and not asking for what it is that I truly want.

But what DO i want? Oh, isn't this the question! What do any of us want? The story of the Green Knight would have us believe that what we want is to have our own way. But to have our own way is the most dangerous thing of all. As per the Dalai Lama:

"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck."

And George Eliot chimes in:

"And certainly, the mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it."

I have been so hesitant to follow my intuition. The last time I went with my gut, I dropped job and love and security to swan off to California. We all know how that ended: stuck in Los Angeles for 7 years in an oppressive, loveless marriage. At least, that's the way I've been spinning the story. But what if I looked at it this way: I followed my intuition and left the world of D.C. and empty politics, became a landscape designer and solar installer and art teacher, made some of the dearest friends of my life, learned kung fu, had two beautiful and miraculous children, and discovered that so far, there is no hardship I cannot survive. What if that were my story? Would it help me continue forward instead of always holding this wish for revision?

I see it as both a weakness and a great strength of mine, the ability to meet someone where they are, to give infinite chances to those who have hurt me, or lost their way, or made mistakes. I hope the world will extend me the same allowance----and, usually, it does. But I rarely extend the same allowance to myself. It would be interesting, I think, as an experiment, to try being harder on others and easier on myself for a while. Or maybe nix the harder on others part. Maybe just be easier on myself.

I am back in Boulder for a second attempt, the first having gone sour in every conceivable way. I left my work, my children, my taxes and housecleaning and responsibilities in California. Here, I wake and recite my dreams, sip cappuccino whilst murmuring poems back and forth with my beloved, graze on chocolate and salmon, follow my whims and appetites. The mountains are to the west, snowy and sleeping. It is easy to befriend others. When I return, I cannot help but feel that everything will have changed.


rising here, i am
unafraid, expanding. aware of the
inevitable contraction.

(there is a tide)

there was an answer in the sheets
a story being told somewhere to which i knew the ending

(in the affairs of men)

there was laughter for a morning, snow melt, singing
letting life in, still, despite the warning,

(which taken at the flood)

there will be a reckoning, and yet
everything has already begun.

(leads on to fortune)

it is past time.
it is time.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” -William Shakespeare

Monday, March 7, 2011

children and time

it is an endless string of requests. can we stop and play tag? could we pull over and look at the fish in the neighbor's pond? will you tell me a story on the way? where is my cape? come outside and splash in the hose too, okay? i feel put-upon, exhausted, stressed. i see a long tunnel of errands: bus trip, groceries, unpack and put away, laundry, homework, cook dinner, wash up, return phone calls, plan trip for grad school interview this weekend, renew library book. the light at the end of it is me, alone, with a cup of tea, SITTING DOWN. i just want to get to that moment. i ignore and snap and hedge. no, there's no time. we'll see the fish later. i want to concentrate on getting there. i don't have time to look for your cape, keep track of your own things. i've got a lot to do in here, can't you just play by yourselves for a while?

but today xir turned to me and said you are always in a hurry. what are you rushing for? why can't we just have fun?

suddenly i could see myself through his eyes. THAT mom. Somehow i have become THAT mom.

yesterday we biked to the movies, the ones by the lovely lion fountain in downtown culver city, and the boys wanted to run through the streams of water while we waited. i fussed and went on about sitting in wet clothes in a cold movie theater and meanwhile the fellow i've been all gushy about in the posts below laughed and told them yes, be careful, you might have too much fun! oh no, don't have too much fun, get out of there! and ran through with them.

that used to be me. what on earth happened? what am i so afraid of? since when did i care about damp clothes in movie theaters? since when did i pass up a chance to play tag, or look at fish swimming?

i suppose there are no easy answers. dinner, after all, does need to be cooked, and the clothes do need to be washed. but a life that leaves no room for impromptu games of tag or running through the hose is not a life i'm interested in living.

where is the time we thought we would have? the time to sit and look at the moon and work out a song on the guitar, the time to lay in the grass and doze, or browse through several books of poetry, or play long involved games with your children until the shadows grow long and you've lost any sense of the hour? have we really spent it on dishwashing and grocery shopping? but how else could it ever be? i am at a loss.

how i love you, xir, and your ability to cut through your frustration and speak to me clearly. how i love you, anainn, and your laughter and flexibility. i want to take care of you, but not at the price of never really knowing you. what is to be done?

Friday, March 4, 2011

numinous beginnings

"The numinous beginning, which contained everything...." Carl Jung, 1957

A few months ago I wrote this in my journal:

"You just can never tell. Every unfolding day throws life into a new perspective, or adds an ending that turns what you thought was an anecdote into foreshadowing. Things just KEEP HAPPENING. So the past is mutable. There can be no conclusion, so there can be no story, and no story line. What freedom!"

It has been a strange week, a week almost out of time, nesting and dreaming and allowing life to surprise me. Not building up defenses to lessen the shock. Letting myself ride this, to see what will happen. Trusting my intuition, one more time.

So, suddenly, I love someone. It is as though I have known him for ages. I recognize him. And knowing him now throws my entire history of love into a new light: he very strongly resembles my first love. his manner of speaking and his smile are reminiscent of the boy who drew me all the way across the country. and his birthday is one day off from that of the boys' father.

Might these similarities have been what attracted me to all those others in the first place? Echoes of this yet-unknown person that I somehow knew was out there, shadowy reminders of a love I would one day experience?

(Well, as I said to my friend on the phone this evening, you simply cannot talk about things like this without sounding dippy. I apologize.)

And if I am making all of this up--as I feel, sometimes, I must be--well then isn't it wonderful to know that I have the capacity to imagine something this sublime. That it is there, in my heart, the potential to love like this. It gives me renewed faith in myself and in my ability to negotiate a path through this wild world, a path that stays close to the heart of things.

It is a time of great changes for me. This weekend I am flying to Boulder to interview for the wilderness psychology program. My life here in California is drawing, one way or another, to a close. And wherever it is that I may go, I know that I will go with renewed resolve to live this life as if it matters. Whatever else may come of this, I know for certain that the days of setting the stage--living on the surface--are over.