Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Finding my thing

Someday, my children,
I will tell you about yesterday,
when the last big piece
slid into place
like a key twisting in a rusty lock
and my heart clicked open.
Someday, together, we will trace a great many things back to yesterday.

————-

I wrote the above a few weeks ago, on July 14th.

July 13th, 2014, is the day in question, the day I began as a wandering, seeking, ever-curious, spiritually inclined atheist, the day I ended as, well, still all of the above, but one with a soul-nourishing practice to call home.

It is incredibly difficult to talk or write about, but I am compelled to try anyway.

(And this is the point in the post where I sat. A long time. On several separate occasions. And then gave up. For days.)

Here is where I have always felt at home: Nature. Analogy. Music. Silence.

I am incorporating all of the above on a nightly basis.

It is so grounding.

Each evening now finds me out in our garden, under the pear tree, in what I am coming to think of as a sort of yoga for the mind, an active, piercingly real meditation. In a simple, flexible ritual I am more or less making up as I go along, I pull strength from the natural world, often visualizing different contributions from the four elements which have bolstered so many before me. Usually by this point one of my cats has wandered over to “help.” Mostly I am silent, but I also sing a bit. I take time (often a long while) to sort through thoughts and feelings and find the subject most worthy of my focus.

Once I have my topic, I roll it around awhile longer, sensing its texture, looking for just the right angle. Then I form a statement of some kind. A hope, a request, an aspiration, a gift of love to friends or family or the world, a simple tendril of gratitude. Something that most earnestly expresses what I have gleaned from the day. After I have discovered and properly framed the thought that most deserved my attention, I meditate on it, often tugging lines of analogy again, but only briefly, and then I draw my circle of contemplation to a close. Cleansed by the crisp night air, I return to my house, light as anything.

I have always wanted a daily anchor point, and in several phases of my life have maintained one (yoga, music, walking, meditation), but always with some degree of force. Now I have formed a nightly habit with virtually no effort. This practice is so utterly suited to me that as soon as night falls I crave it more than chocolate.

I have struggled so much with words to describe it that when I head out, if Thor is around, all I usually say is, “I’m going out to do my thing.”

And then I do.

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Mission Accomplished: No More Placental Procrastination

We have had a placenta in our freezer for over two years.

In that time, we have planted a startling number of little fruit trees, each time failing to remember to include said placenta.

It would turn up occasionally as we scoured the freezer for ground beef or veggies, almost cheekily… a popsicle of a punchline.

I took to scrawling “placenta” on ziplock bags of cooked, peeled, juicy red beets. Thor wrote “not placenta” on some meat destined for the freezer. For clarity.

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It seemed likely we would be those crazy old people torturing our children by refusing to be parted from a fifty-seven year old freezer-burnt placenta. Which they finally would pry out of our feeble hands moments before dropping us off at the nearest nursing home.

Instead, despite several mundane mishaps we miraculously managed to do the deed this time; in thwumped the placenta, along with some hair from the kids’ first haircuts so both would have contributed to the tree’s growth, since we didn’t keep Owlet’s placenta.

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The goods! No, Granny, we did not put all of the first haircut hair in, just a lock of each.

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Action shot! And super cute siblingness.

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Success!

No knowing how

I am afraid of choosing
And of not choosing
Of being wrong
And of being right

I am afraid of being drawn down the messiest path
And even more terrified of walking the easiest one

But I do not feel all that afraid
I feel alive
I feel awake
I feel the poignancy of this moment, the possibilities shifting,
the temporary balance of these scales
I feel the question mark of the future and know it is not my place

The work I do now will determine what replaces it, but there is no knowing how.

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Thor dug an enormous hole as part of his backyard fish farming venture. Of course as soon as his back was turned there were two impish children in it.

My whole self

“I always felt that my speaking words was inadequate. When I was able to write words down, I could put them in order and make them say what I wanted to say better than when I spoke them. Saying words was the hardest thing, writing them down was better, but singing words I’d written down was the best thing. The words combine with the music and I felt I was able to express my whole self.”

– John Gorka

I have begun writing songs singer-songwriter style. It suits this place in which I’ve found myself. I wrote a handful of songs in college, none of them stellar, and two between then and now which I know I loved but cannot remember well enough to play, possibly because I was so lacking in confidence in my vocal abilities that I insisted Thor sing them instead of me. They are archived somewhere. I will dig them out eventually.

The new ones are just right. I don’t even care if anyone beyond my immediate circle ever hears them. The process of writing and playing and singing is enough.

I like the immediacy of it. The ease with which I can put it down and return, unlike composing a more complex piece or something for a larger ensemble. I like that I don’t need to obtain outside help; I even like the challenge of working with my own hands and voice, their quirks and limitations acting as my guide, though if the music demands that they be pushed then push them I do.

Just a moment ago I found myself full of doubt, fearing I was not truly growing. Sometimes growth feels dubious, enigmatic, impermanent. But as I sat down to play a song I’ve been wrestling with, it occurred to me — when looking for progress, it can help to feel the absences. The loss of negatives, sloughed off like dead skin.

I no longer feel stagnant. I no longer wish I had time and energy to pursue the things I love because I am now. I no longer languish on the couch every night watching tv and snacking endlessly (although I did both last night, and it was nice, but only like a place I enjoy visiting occasionally).

And most importantly, I no longer feel disconnected, like a piece of me is lost, or missing, or buried.

I feel whole.

I feel present.

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Fireworks

Assuming the pop of distant fireworks provides sufficient cover,
The neighbors fuck loudly, then fight, then clatter mundanely in the kitchen
While I stand on the kids’ play table watching the moon and stars
And the uppermost slice of colorful explosions,
Craving the resonant sternum-throb
Which does not come. It’s too far
And the puny plunking and spray of sparks
Cannot compete with the moon and the stars and the neighbors
So I dip inward, slip under the sternum to a place increasingly familiar
And whisper: “boom.”

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Video killed the radio star and then the internet frankensteined it back

In other words, I was on the radio today discussing teaching and learning with my student, who just so happens to channel a wise collection of entities known as Eloheim. Check it out!

http://www.awakeningzone.com/Episode.aspx?EpisodeID=3100

And a gratuitous photo of Owlet.

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Impossible

Live bold

Show fear

Open up

Draw back in

Hold still

Never stop

Be just in here

See all out there

Enjoy mundane

Seek out unknown

Ponder this

Keep mind clear

Hold close

Let go

Impossible?

Yes

No

 

Balancing

The kids are asleep, email and Facebook checked, Thor is at work, and I am out of ways to postpone feeling out of sorts.

I’ve been coming alive this year in remarkable, beautiful ways. But the side effect is that I am no longer so easily pacified. I’ve rejected the usual grammes of soma or “happy happy” patches or whatever your favorite nerdy reference is for hiding from darker feelings; which is to say, I am no longer satisfied to eat or imbibe or media conk or even read this restlessness away.

So I just simmer in it. Play a little music, draw some, write a few words. Sit and leave the room for no known reason and then sit again. Uncomfortable, yet preferring the current dissonance to the even-temperament of the past. Knowing I am just paying the bill for sharpening my ability to live and love and grow.

Last time I felt like this, I wrote a poem. Tonight with luck maybe I’ll get there, but for now, I’ll just have to squirm like an skewered insect specimen until the mood passes.

I sure am proud of the way my self-patience has grown lately. I am able to sit consciously through emotional waiting rooms I never would have set foot in before.

Anyway, here I am, for now. Achieving balance as best I can.

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Pride

I’m stealing just the first sentence of Victoria’s recent Facebook post because it is perfect:

“Before Pride month is over, I just want to make sure everyone knows that I’m not straight.”

What am I, then?

Because obviously I am married to a man and I love him and we have kids.

Which is kind of like being inadvertently closeted. Because while I am not ashamed of who I am, it just doesn’t come up in conversation now as often as it did in college.

So what am I?

All my life, I have been attracted to individual people.

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(This is from a sticker you can buy here.)

Many would label a statement like this bisexual. Some call it pansexual to make sure all possible gender identifications are included.

Personally, I think it should be everyone’s default assumption about others. Because it sort of covers all the bases.

Not to mention it covers that tricky concept that one is NOT attracted to all members of a particular gender, no matter what one’s declared orientation may be. Put me in a room of 100 people and I’m only going to be even remotely attracted to a handful. Let me actually have a conversation with each of those few and the odds I would even consider a first date with one of them are slim.

Not to mention the additional crucial fact of fidelity. Bi/pansexuality sometimes gets a bad rap because people assume it means you are sleeping with “everyone.” People are entitled to make their own rules about monogamy vs. polygamy, but for me, when I am with someone, I am with them exclusively. That means that since I am married to a man I am indistinguishable from a married straight woman who shares my views on fidelity.

Until I post about it on my blog, that is. Haha.

Tucking in Stray Thoughts

I was unbegrudgingly late to yoga today and was rewarded with a bit of insight.

I was late because Owlet appeared inside with a mildly bloody finger just as I was about to leave. Thor was with Platypup outside and would have handled it for me, but she would’ve gotten upset at the delay in bandaging.

I didn’t hesitate, or feel overly stressed about being late. I took exactly the right amount of time to hug, wash wound, apply ointment, wrap bandaid and tape, and say a slightly hurried goodbye, and then I left. I didn’t speed on the way there or feel my body contort with tension. I sang gustily to myself in the car, as is my habit these days, parked with the usual care, walked briskly but not urgently, and arrived roughly ten minutes late, with just enough time to set up and settle in before the opening meditation period ended.

This is far from the way things might have gone. More often than not I would have shunted Owlet onto Thor, she would have cried, and I would have left feeling both annoyed and guilty only to discover that I was also running late. Hopefully I would have resisted the urge to speed too much, but would definitely have hunched forward in my seat with too-tight limbs and a furrowed brow, parked in a rush, run across the street, and awkwardly whispered a flustered apology in the teacher’s general direction as I shuffled in, out of breath and clumsy with stress.

It would have taken half the class just to unravel the morning’s damage.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover my flexibility, strength, and mental focus had all mysteriously improved since my last class several weeks ago.

At what felt like just the right time, we concluded the active portion of class and submerged into yoga nidra. Usually when I meditate I treat thoughts as gnats, mostly to be ignored, the more persistent ones brushed gently away. Sometimes I let my mind ramble a bit first, recognizing that my time for lucid uninterrupted thought can be in short supply. I almost always eventually coax a sweet, elusive stillness into joining me.

I was alternating between periods of gnat-swatting, stillness, and mind-rambling when I found myself mulling over a parenting gem I keep as close to the top of the heap as possible since I would very much like it to one day be second nature. It is the best (though oh so hard in the heat of the moment) way I know to respond to a child spiraling out of control: namely, to articulate your best guess as to how they are feeling. Every time I do it, I am sure it isn’t going to work, because the kid usually ramps up their upset in response, but immediately thereafter a corner is turned and soothing toward equilibrium is magically possible. Because more than anything we all just want to be understood.

All in a moment I realized: this is a way to approach meditation.

When a thought appears, I could shoo it away, or allow it to tumble into a horde of ideas running rampant through my restless mind.

Or I could truly see that thought, describe it briefly to itself, and then smooth it effortlessly back into stillness.

It shouldn’t work. Engaging the idea in any way should lead to the usual endless chain of follow-up, right? But something about the act of succinctly rephrasing… It just so satisfyingly works.

It works so well I can’t even remember what those stray thoughts were, and usually I do because I figure if it was important enough to interrupt my meditation attempt it deserves attention later (again, not unlike a child).

The process goes something like this. Let’s say I am distracted by lesson planning. I then say to myself, quite gently, “I am concerned about issue &$@ with student XYZ.” And that finishs it. And my mind is left utterly clear.

Like working a stray piece of yarn seamlessly into the pattern, then setting the completed garment aside.

No. Easier than that. Faster, too… I do so hate the tedium of weaving in ends.

More like tucking in the tail of a ball of yarn: one quick move and no more unraveling.

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