A love looks at creekwater
and wants to be that quick to fall,
to kneel all the way down in full prostration.
A lover wants to die of his love
like a man with dropsy who knows
that water will kill him, but he cannot deny
his thirst. A lover loves death,
which is God’s way of helping us evolve
from mineral to vegetable to animal,
each onward form incorporating the others.
Then the animal becomes Adam,
and the next stage will take us beyond
what we can imagine into the mystery
of We are all returning
Do not fear death. Spill your jug into the river.
Your attributes will disappear,
but the essence moves on.
Your shame and fear are like felt layers
covering coldness. Throw them off
and rush naked into the joy of death.
I don’t think I’ve ever read the introduction to A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings – a book a dear friend gave me many years ago and I try to read, well, daily. Tonight, searching for some words to write my mother’s best friend who was recently informed she had a couple months (if that) to live, I started to read the introducation. My grandmother is constantly on my case for “lacking religion” – which really boils down to not being the unquestioning Catholic she is. Regardless of the hours of conversation around my spirit beliefs and things and people I love about religion and things and people who turn me off religion – she always comes back to speaking negatively of me because of this “path of unhappiness” I am on. Granted, I get that it does come from a good place within my almost 90 year old grandmother’s heart, but it would be nice if she could hear some of what I say. Particularly because I have always had a deep spiritual longing and curiousity.
In reading Barks’ introduction tonight I found myself wishing I had the ability to capture what he captures. Alas, I do not and will just transcribe here:
“…For this open-air sanctuary that a lot of us live in, without buildings, or doctrine, or clergy, without silsila (lineage), or hierarchy, in an experiment to live not so much without religion as in friendship with all three hundred of them, and all literatures too. It is a brave try for openness and fresh inspiration.
“It is what sent Whitman out walking around Brooklyn. His mother said, He goes out and he comes back in; that’s all he does. It is what prompted Thoreau’s rambling retreat to Walden Pond. It is Huck floating on the river at night. Melville looks out his study window in the Berkshires and writes the ocean of Moby Dick. Jake Barnes in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises slips into an old Spanish church to listen to his thoughts. Wallace Stevens speaks from inside the intensest rendezvous, where God and the imagination are one. Joseph Campbell follows his bliss, researching myth and symbol in the New York Public Library. Gary Snyder works on an ax handle in the high Sierra. Annie Dillard stares down into Tinker Creek. REM’s Michael Stipe stands on stage, Losing my religion. Iris DeMent sugguests that we Let the mystery be. We are lucky to have so many luminous figures in this country, but this lineage is not American. It comes down through such varied innumerable strands that it cannot be called a lineage at all.
“The records of wandering kept by Basho, Cervantes, Homer, and Allan Ginsberg. Mary Oliver’s faithful early morning walks with a rainproof surveyor’s notebook in her hip pocket. John Muir and Audubon. Anyone who heads out to see what happens, just to enjoy the trip. Needn’t go far, needn’t leave town. Rumi says that merely being in a body and sentient is a state of pure rapture. Form is ecstatic. Those who know that are the ones I’m talking about, and to. Those photographers who love wilderness and the depths of a human face. The radiant noticing of animals that shows in the cave drawings. It comes through Van Gogh and Cezanne, the way they saw splendor transpiring through what appears. Dutch light. Through Blake. All religions are one, saith Willy, and energy is eternal delight. Hopkins. It comes through south India and the Sufis. Indigenous rock art, Tibet. Bodhidharma, Rinzai, and that homely flower Mahakashyap was handed by his friend Gautama. That theology-flower of suchness might be a logo for it. No, no names. No flag. Dreamtime drawings. Chekhov’s holy chuckle, Dostoyevsky’s vivid seekers. The great Greeks and their love of impossible human conversation. Socrates and Plato are saints in this tradition. Saint Francis and my grandson Tuck, too, he will be surprised to know. All children. Gurdjieff. Ramakrishna. Camus and Beckett. Plotinus. Nietzsche prancing naked. And watch as it widens out so beautifully in Galway Kinnell’s “Prayer”:
Whatever happens. Whatever what is is is what I want. Only that. But that.
“It is joyfully scientific, this pared-down, vast, three-ises-in-a-row petition of Galway’s. The world is so amazingly interesting. I want to be completely here for its moment. That longing is the truth I try to follow, rather than a religion’s iconography. Watch an astronomer or a molecular biologist at work, an estuarist opening the net he has pulled up out of Doboy Sound. They glow as the facts of the world surface. I have found in my experience that good scientists and good mystics are natural friends, good carpenters too. Chefs and surgeons, historians, athletes, all so full of wonder, lovingly careful, and living right at the point of contact, the nailhead of attention and spontaneity.
“….<skipping a couple paragraphs>…The broad interest now in the boundary-dissolving poetry of Rumi is evidence of health in this rebellious, but always kind, impulse.
“If blasphemy is possible in this experiment to know and live what is, perhaps it is in whatever insults the soul. Whiteman tells us to dismiss such things. But what are those insults? Some come from within. Boredom, cruelty, a cold unresponsiveness, a self-absorbed shyness, depression, addiction. Some from without. War by concept, the insane greed of empire, marketing sterilization and bourgeois dumbing-down…So whatever keeps the soul from moving along (motion and shapeshifting are great nourishers of soul), whatever keeps it from traveling, from expanding and deepening in love, and living the truth of expressing that, those are the “insults” we need to be alert for.”
– From Coleman Barks’ Introduction to his A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings
I’m listening to Country Fair (closes out the B Side of Veedon Fleece) and, ugh. My heart just sunk. The song is beautiful. But…hauntingly so. The flute sets a nostalgic tone – you know Van is reaching back into some distant memory. One left fading to time, but still deeply imprinted on his heart.
My heart sunk when it came on because, at 30, I do understand how we lose something magical as we age. There truly is nothing like young love. I don’t know if life and “failed” loves make us bitter or if we just desire something different as we age (compatibility, companionship, dependability, stability)…
The song starts:
We stood and watched the river flow We were too young to really know In the country fair, oh, in the country fair We laid out on the long green grass And never thought that it would pass In the country fair, in the country fair
I suppose it hurts my heart because I can relate to this. I’ve felt that kind of love before. It was so beautiful, pure….intense. I can clearly see myself sitting with my former partner. In the dunes. At sunset. I look over and him and we start to desolve into one another’s eyes. The emotion…I will nont even begin to attempt to put word to it. No combination of words can ever come close to touching what I felt in that moment.
It, of course, didn’t last. It’s interesting, in Veedon Fleece Van’s run away to Ireland to reconnect following his divorce from a woman who inspired album after album of love and joy and exuberance…I used to compare the extent of my emotions toward this particular partner as that of Van’s toward Janet Rigsbee. And, not unlike their explosive love, ours too exploded. So, perhaps, the sadness I feel toward those young and in love in that magical way – where you really believe it will always remain just as it is. Time can stop in a way. Or, perhaps, the sadness I feel is toward myself for knowing it doesn’t last. Because that is a lesson you can never unlearn and it robs you of the extent of the magic….I’m not saying all relationships end or everything turns bad and bitter. I’m just saying, they do change. There is growth and transition – which really just mean, life comes in to play. Competing desires, emotions, paths…And the exhuberance fades. Just as the love deepens.
I don’t know if Country Fair means an actual country fair or if it’s referring to the Irish countryside. If the former – I love using a country fair as a metaphor for the love and unknowingness/hopefulness he’s talking about. Country fairs are so fun and amazing and usually in summertime. Ah, sweet, sweet summertime. While at a country fair (or in summer), time is suspended. You’re not thinking about the future, just this moment, because this moment is so amazing and full. And there is a sense the fair, or summer, will never end.
It of course does. Fairs pack up and move on. Summer fades to Fall. And, often times, the great love we feel for another transforms….
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole person. I guess since my fantasy vs reality post/things that have been going on in my life. How people have a tendency to fall for images…ideals…see fragments of a person and chase after that. When you reach the person, hold them close, you’re left with the actual being. And instead of loving them for their imperfections…their humanness…and identifying our own humanity within theirs…we often reject them. Let go. Turn away. Do it again elsewhere. And I’m not just talking romantically.
At present, I’m trying to love the imperfections. A couple days ago I met up with a friend/colleague who I am in awe of. If I really strip it down, to be honest, I’d have to say I’m in awe of his career. What he’s accomplished in my field. Well, we got into a conversation about Seattle Housing Authorities new proposal Stepping Forward (I really can’t stand the spin placed on program titles – especially when the word “opportunity” is included – if an opportunity were there we wouldn’t need the program). He was for it. I’m against. We had a really great conversation around it, with both sides expanding their views, but all in all, I left feeling disappointed that this man, this man I held up to this God-like status, supported Stepping Forward. He was knocked off his pedastal and became human and I felt disappointment. I desire better for myself. I desire to see a human – fully and completely – and love them for their humanity.
The day after this conversation, I was having coffee with another friend who had recently spent 56 days at a Buddist meditation retreat. And, I quote, he “hit it hard” – “it” being meditation. In our conversation he spoke about the difficulty reintegrating into his life once back. He brought up a analogy some Buddhists used that I’m familiar with. When we look at a car, we see a car. Yet, what makes a car? It’s comprised of various parts, placed together in a specifi fashion, coming together to create a “car”. You have a wheel, tires, doors, engine, etc., yet a wheel, tire, door or engine is not a car. It all fitting together to create the whole is. And when we look at a car, we don’t really see the parts (unless we’re focused in on them for whatever reason – usually because they’re broken), but the whole. People are like this. We are made up of various parts to become a whole. And the whole is what we see. Unlike a car, I would say, we do tend to hone in on certain parts and disregard other parts. In people, we allow ourselves to see parts that we adore. As we get close and must see the other parts, parts we don’t like, that person loses their allure. Yet, this is their humanity. This is what binds them to us.
There is a saying about never meeting your heros – because you’re idealizing and a human being can never live up to the mind’s creation/idealization of them. We’re just idealizing an image we’ve created in our own heads. Why love what is not there? Or why love less what’s there because there is more to it? There’s bad along with the good. And that’s the beauty. At present I am really trying to work on seeing the whole and loving the person for their whole self. For all of their beauty – the inspired elements, the colorful and the ugly – because I know I want to be loved for all of myself. So if that’s my expectation for others, I need to uphold it for myself.
I’ll end with a few paragraphs from one of my favorite writers, Lester Bangs, in my favorite piece of writing ever – his 1979 review of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks for Stranded Magazine:
” What might seem strangest of all but really isn’t is that it’s exactly those characteristics which supposedly should make George most pathetic – age, drunkenness, the way the boys take his money and trash his love – that awakens something for George in the heart of the kid whose song this is. Obviously the kid hasn’t simply “fallen in love with love,” or something like that, but rather – what? Why just exactly that only sunk in the foulest perversions could one human being love another for anything other than their humanness: love him for his weakness, his flaws, finally perhaps his decay. Decay is human – that’s one of the ultimate messages here, and I don’t by any stretch of the lexicon mean decadence. I mean that in this song or whatever inspired it Van Morrison saw the absolute possibility of loving human beings at the farthest extreme of wretchedness, and that the implications of that are terrible indeed, far more terrible than the mere sight of bodies made ugly by age or the seeming absurdity of a man devoting his life to the wobbly artifice of trying to look like a woman.
You can say to love the questions you have to love the answers which quicken the end of love that’s loved to love the awful inequality of human experience that loves to say we tower over these the lost that love to love the love that freedom could have been, the train to freedom, but we never get on, we’d rather wave generously walking away from those who are victims of themselves. But who is to say that someone who victimizes himself or herself is not as worthy of total compassion as the most down and out Third World orphan in a New Yorker magazine ad? Nah, better to step over the bodies, at least that gives them the respect they might have once deserved. where I love, in New York (not to make it more than it is, which is hard), everyone I know often steps over bodies which might well be dead or dying as a matter of course, without pain. and I wonder in what scheme it was originally conceived that such an action is showing human refuse the ultimate respect it deserves.
There is of course a rationale – what else are you going to do – but it holds no more than our fear of our own helplessness in the face of the plain of life as it truly is: a plain which extends into an infinity beyond the horizons we have only invented. Come on, die it. As I write this, I can read in the Village Voice the blurbs of people opening heterosexual S&M clubs in Manhattan, saying things like, “S&M is just another equally valid form of love. Why people can’t accept that we’ll never know.” Makes you want to jump out a fifth floor window rather than even read about it, but it’s hardly the end of the world; it’s not nearly as bad as the hurts that go on everywhere everyday that are taken to casually by all of us as facts of life. Maybe it boiled down to how much you actually want to subject yourself to. If you accept for even a moment the idea that each human life is as precious and delicate as a snowflake and then you look at a wino in a doorway, you’ve got to hurt until you feel like a sponge for all those other assholes’ problems, until you feel like an asshole yourself, so you draw all the appropriate lines. You stop feeling. But you know that then you begin to die. So you tussle with yourself. how much of this horror can I actually allow myself to think about? Perhaps the numbest mannekin is wiser than somebody who only allows their sensitivity to drive them to destroy everything they touch – but then again, to tilt Madame George’s hat a hair, just to recognize that that person exists, just to touch his cheek and then probably expire because the realization that you must share the world with him is ultimately unbearable is to only go the first mile. The realization of living is just about that low and that exalted and that unbearable and that sought-after. Please come back and leave me alone. But when we’re along together we can talk all we want about the universality of this abyss: it doesn’t make any difference, the highest only meets the lowest for some lying succor, UNICEF to relatives, so you scratch and spit and curse in violent resignation at the strict fact that there is absolutely nothing you can do but finally reject anyone in greater pain than you. At such a moment, another breath is treason. that’s why you leave your liberal causes, leave suffering humanity to die in worse squalor than they knew before you happened along. You got their hopes up. Which makes you viler than the most scrofulous carrion. viler than the ignorant boys who would take Madame George for a couple of cigarettes. because you have committed the crime of knowledge, and thereby not only walked past or over someone you knew to be suffering, but also violated their privacy, the last possession of the dispossessed.
Such knowledge is possibly the worst thing that can happen to a person (a lucky person)…”
I recently sat down to prepare my thoughts around my field and the individuals I work with. Whenever I do this, the word privilege comes to mind. For me, it is truly an honor and a privilege to work as intimately as I do with the individuals I work with. Over the years, at every organization I’ve been a part of, I’ve seen coworkers treat the individuals they work with as something other than human. This could be taking setting boundaries too far, it could be burn out or it could be to protect against burn out. Who knows. But, I do know you’re not going to be able to build the relationships or get the information you need to help another/do your job this way. There is no trust and without it, there’s little success.
To walk with someone who has been unhoused, potentially for decades, through the housing process is a privilege. I have learned so much more through the individuals I’ve worked with about the joys and horrors of this life, than I’ve learned through any one or thing else in my life. And as an employee or an organization in this field you need to understand this is a privilege and you’re not working with a number or a social ill – you are working with a person. A human being as worthy and needing of respect, love and dignity as yourself.
I work in a field that requires a masters degree, yet pays less than most starting salaries for those coming out of under grad. A field lacking the perks and benefits of, say, Google or Amazon or the gaming world. My work is grossly undervalued in society, yet without the amazing individuals who do this work, I do not even want to think about what society would look like. I spend my days with those making up the poorest segments of our society, in monetary terms. In the American Caste system these individuals are the Untouchables. Yet, my soul is enriched. And, no, I can not take that to the bank, but I can fall asleep at night with a clean and fulfilled conscience. When I turn on some terrible news program (regardless of station, the majority are terrible) or venture home, the bias and misconceptions – and hatred – toward those I know intimately and spend the majority of my time with enrages me. Everywhere I hear people speaking about my friends – people they will not even make eye contact with – as though they know them. Misinformation and pure myth (Ronald Reagan old definition literally made up the term “Welfare Queen” – completely fabricated story, yet how often do I hear middle to upper middle class individuals rant about the Welfare Queens “rampant” in the system – like anyone could actually get rich off welfare. Sigh) drive the one-sided conversations.
And now I am venturing into the “rant” territory. Back to privilege. I am privileged to get to know, on an in-depth, personal level, the individuals I work with. I am privileged because I know that what is said about “them” is either completely inaccurate or overly simplistic. I am privileged because I get to hear the stories of some of the most traumatized members of our society and see the hope, strength and resiliency at the core of the human being. I am privileged because I get to live a life so enriched by the beauty of our souls – all of our souls. And I am privileged because there is nothing else I would rather be doing with my time here than that which I get to do on a near daily basis. I do not have a job, I am privileged to have a career.
About a week ago was the one year anniversary of a friend’s death. The following is something I wrote in the days following his death.
“I picked up my phone today to see that my friend had died. He blew his brains out. He was an artist. An artist like me – to relate it back to me, of course. An artist “like me” meaning his work hung on every inch of his four walls. Piled up against one another against those same four walls. He also was not an artist “like me” in that he actually was an artist. He was a great artist. And musician. He had an amazing record collection. Wish I come have some of those records.
He blew his brains out. He was sick. I thought he’d gotten better. With the radiation. Maybe it wasn’t the cancer. Maybe it didn’t come back. Maybe it was his Lymes. Or PTSD. Or…what was the other thing? I can’t recall now. Now it is late. Now is no time for these memories. Now is the time for these memories:
We had spoken on the phone. A mutual friend told him he was giving me his number. I lived one hour away. I rang him. We instantly connected. I drove out to him. I knew of his sons. I had liked the older one, but he was now dead. Too much heroin was the official word. I wonder what the preceding factors to the heroin were. Genetics. That was certainly a part of the equation. The other son. I had my eye on him. I’d be lying if I said no part of my hour drive into the abyss of Virginia had to do with befriending his dad to get to him. When I pulled up, my friend was on the phone with his son. His jaw dropped and he apologized to his son. “Sorry son. Daddy’s gotta go. A beautiful woman just entered my path. Hellllllo, Whitney!”
He called me beautiful and said my name into the phone that held his sons’ attention on the other end. Gasp!
But it was him I ended up growing fond of. We walked the property he lived on – an old farm Jack and Jackie used to escape to. The stables had been converted into apartments. Here the man whose ex-wife’s family had gazillions and whose kids – living and dead – were all rich and famous – here he hung his tattered hat. He was too poor to buy vegetables to use as still life – so he took pictures of them at the food store. To add humor to keep the depression of such a fall at bay, he’d tell employees inquiring about his picture taking that he worked for their local competitor.
He had a dog. One of those tiny, ugly kind of dogs that are so ugly they’re cute. It was a birthday present from his daughter.
He had a rock collection among his outside decorations. He showed me the rocks. He picked one up and starred at it. He was no longer there with me. He was with someone else. Lost in a memory I had no part of. After a while he came back to me. He looked up, right into my eyes. So much soul in those glossy brown eyes. A life lived hard. A body paying for it.
“Dash gave me this one.” He held up a rock that had an erotic look to it. We both laughed. While I did not know his eldest son, I knew of him. And that rock confirmed everything I’d ever heard about his son. It also confirmed how my friend felt about me. He rarely spoke of his late son.
His home consisted of a kitchen and a main room where his art supplies were set up at one end and his record player and hundreds of records at the other. In between was a futon bed. Upstairs was a bathroom and two other rooms. One was filled of his art – piled up and left to gather dust.
The other room had been his bedroom until recently when his strength had given out. I went upstairs to use the bathroom and snoop around. There were a few black and white photos sitting in his room. They were of days long gone. When his children were still children. There was one of Dash and my friend. Dash is around eight. He confronts the camera with doe eyes and a devilish grin. A mix of childhood awe and the spirit of reckless abandonment.
I am drawn into the picture. For a moment I consider stealing it. Just as quickly as the thought arises, my conscience shoots it down. I realize I need to get back downstairs. I turn around the room taking it in. There is something about the room…it’s spirit…I can’t articulate it. Not then. Not now. I still feel that room.
When I first arrived at my friends, within thirty seconds he had launched into conspiracy theories and spoke with an unsettling level of paranoia. As a social worker I am trained to decipher mental illness. As a human I am bias and with judgement. I minimized the paranoia so evident in my friend. I minimized it every single time I saw him.
When I got back downstairs he started launching back in to conspiracy theory. I engaged him but started to feel uncomfortable. I soon turned the conversation to his beautiful pastel work. At this point he was still working with pastel’s. Toward the end, he released the beast through ink on scrap cartoon’s. Many were about his interactions with his doctors. Toward the very end I know not.
He showed me the collection of old photos he used to create his works. Some were personal, others he found. Apparently people selling boxes of old photos at yard sales is fairly common, knowingly or not is unbeknownst to me. I picked out a mountainous scene and asked my friend to provide me with an art lesson. I watched him work. His right hand was crippled – the last two fingers mangled stubs resulting from a car accident pre AA. Now it was post AA. I never drank with him, but his cabinets were always stocked with wine and it was rarely the same wine. Another common thread between my friend and myself. In and out of AA. In an out of sobriety. In and out of spiritual yearnings.
The ability to adapt to your craft following the loss of limbs has always fascinated me. I watched my friend work. Transfixed on his mangled hand. We conversed but I know not of what we spoke. I shut my eyes now and see every blended color. But I do not see the whole. As I age I realize how interesting the memory is. What we hold on to. All we loose. How much living we do disappears. I guess it can be said to exist in our wrinkles and scars. The great map of our journey. Perhaps in our soul. But it is lost to our knowing.
Time ticket away. I had a softball game to play in. A life to get back to. My friend asked me to stay for the weekend. I wanted this. But not enough to actually stay. I desired the invite. We are lonely beings. We crave the feeling of belonging. Of others wanting our company. My friend and I are extroverted isolationists. We so crave human interaction, but we spend our lives closing deeper and deeper into ourselves.
I told my friend I would be back with my art. And my cat. We would create art together. We would take walks. Pick huckleberries. Listen to records. Drink tea. I told my friend I could come spend a few weeks. Take over his old bedroom. I meant all of this. In that moment. There are few people you connect with instantly and deeply. I wanted to exist in that connection forever. It did not happen. I did go back a handful of times. Mostly to make sure my friend was still alive. Too many drives spent envisioning walking in to find my friend’s rotting body. Over and over. And over. It was just a matter of time.
I have lived too long; too hard to judge or condemn suicide. I have known many a broken person. I am broken. I guess all I can say or know about my friend is he lived a talented and tragic life. And that he was beautiful.” – 3 August 2013
There are three blogs I want to write. Two I have started – in my notebook, that for once is not in my possession. It is around the corner from my current location, at my parent’s house. I am at the island house and the sun, unexpectedly, is out. So, I’ll start with the third blog.
The spiritual books have taught me that we spend a majority of our time in the past or future. Self reflection and awareness have taught me I am guilty of this. I have read the books. Taken mediation courses (over and over through out the past decade). Attended numerous Sangha nights. All to serve as repetitive reminders to exist in the present. Be here. Now. Yet, my mind and writings wander. And in these wanderings lie dangerous happenings – I change a person or situation. It is more than looking at the person or situation through rose colored glasses, I transport myself into a world that is rose colored. And I believe that version.
As far as I am aware, the area in which this has been most detrimental has been in the realm of relationships. I convince myself the object of my affection is actually the object of my affection. And when the object is no longer there, I mourn the loss of what never actually existed. I have gotten better at seeing a person for who they are vs the fantasy of who I wish they were. It is not always easy to exist in reality, but it definitely makes it easier to let go and move on. Radical acceptance. Complete and total acceptance of reality. But to get to radical acceptance, one must see reality. See a person or a situation for how they/it actually are/is. Not the fantasy you have built up over time. To get to radical acceptance, you must break down the fantasy you have been spinning. And it’s not always easy to know what is reality and what is fantasy.
I just paused for a moment to figure out where to go from there. I zoned out, staring at the trees and water in front of me. Listening to the birds chirp. I keep going back to meditation or reading various spiritual books that all, ultimately, say the same thing because I know the peace and clarity to come when you can let go of past and future and exist in this moment. I am able to let go of the fantasy and see reality, because I know: in this moment I am content. And when I know I am content, I do not need to cling to the fantasy. And that is when I can start the work of radical acceptance.
I write daily. I have stayed true to this practice for the past seven years. Prior to that I have over a decade of substantial writing. Part of this writing is documentation. Since a young age I had this notion of reading through my life on my deathbed, in a hope of being able to piece together what happened and why. Having a blueprint of my life. I don’t know why exactly I have wanted this or thought being able to read over the day to day events of my life would help me see the whole picture more clearly. I do know, whenever I come back to NY, I spend large chunks of time reading through my old journals. I love my writings. I am reconnected with the Whitney of the past and am blown away by her wisdom. I have moments of insight and clarity documented for my future self. Those moments were the moments in which I existed in the present. I also have many, many writings coming from a place of deep pain and sorrow. These, too, I appreciate reading because they remind me of the great strength within me. How much I have had to endure and how I have continued to make it through. Stronger, wiser and more appreciative.
I am also struck with a longing for my “carefree” youth when I read through these journals. It strikes me that at 23 or 24 I write at length about how “old” I am. I laugh at those writings now, of course. But I have always felt older than I am. And I have always longed for the past. It has become quite clear that I need to reconcile my fear of aging with the reality that I am. And it is okay. I romanticize the past and idealize the future. Both leave me in a negative emotional place. I may no longer be young, but I most certainly am not old. I am exactly where I should be in my life – because this is where I am. And I am content. And exceedingly excited about all that still lies before me. Certainly some doors are closed, but there are still many open and I (finally) know the road I want to be on and am working my way down it.
I have lived a very exciting and fun life. A life of deep emotion and experience. In many ways the fantasies I have created cannot come close to some of the realities I have lived. I think this is an important point to meditate on. Fantasies tend to be one sided with a level of perfection that is not attainable. My journey that I have documented so well serves as a lesson for me that you do need the bad along with the good, as that is where so much of the growth and learning happens. I have been knocked down more times than I can count, but it has made me an incredibly resilient person who knows how to get myself back up. This is necessary for my work. It has all brought me here – and, looking around, here is pretty darn good.