- "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I would sit on the terrace with my coffee and journal each morning to greet the day. It was the first thought that crossed my mind when I opened my eyes. I had no inkling as to what it was I wanted to write, no grand story laid out in my mind, no elaborate tale waiting to be told. I had no idea what the day would bring, nor any desire to speculate on it. I reached for my pen.
The same man would appear each day with the rising sun to make pancake shaped patties out of mud. They lay on the roof of the hut below all day, baking in the sun. I had no idea what they were for, what creation he was planning to make of them, what their destiny would be. Nor did I have any desire to speculate on it.
The children made their way to school in their little uniforms and enormous bags clinging to their backs. The girls all wore little red bows in their hair. They looked like illustrations, perfectly drawn children who had wandered out of their storybooks and into our world, bounding down the dirt road in search of something more. I too, was on such a search.
And I can’t define it, what I was looking for, or what it is that I found. I can’t explain the journey of my life as though it were a storybook. The concept of time seems to slip from my reality. Everything in my life feels as though it were both yesterday and a thousand years ago, a lifetime ago.
I think about my friends who have come so far. So many of them are on the verge of deciding their futures. What will they do next? What will become of them? The musician who just stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime, the scholar who’s just decided there’s law school in her future, the travelers who are planning their next big adventure across the globe.
And then there’s me. It’s not that I feel as though I need some life plan. It’s not that I’d like to have some specific future I’m working towards. It’s just that, I’m not at all certain of what I want, and for whatever reason, I’m allowing that to define who I am. What do I want to be when I grow up?
In my mind, not having an answer to that question means that I wouldn’t even pass the first grade if I tried now. Why was it so much easier to think about where I’d be half way through my life at age 6 than it is at 21? Everything was so certain then. Everything was easy and possible. Everything was just the way it ought to be.
But maybe now, uncertainty is the way it ought to be. Yes, it tortures me, but it also allows me to dwell in possibility and a future filled with open doors and opportunities. It allows me to dream the same way I did in the first grade, allows me to change my answer with each passing day, allows me to believe, with all of my heart, that anything can be.
And I do believe that. Maybe my life isn’t meant to have a destination, and maybe I just need to be okay with that. Maybe I just need to be defined as the woman without a plan, to write my pages as they come, to surprise even myself with my ending. Maybe that’s my story.
Those final pages remain a mystery, a blank canvas to be filled with interesting tales and people and adventures. Those final pages are waiting and they don’t seem to mind how long I take to get there. I have no idea why they wait, nor do I have any desire to speculate on it. I am grateful for their patience.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Having dinner in Chinatown on Friday night with three of my favorite people.
Having one of them speak fluent Chinese to the waiters and waitresses.
That he's home in general.
Rekindling our youth in the Five Below store.
Spending Saturday night at a party with my best friends.
Meeting some of their new significant others.
The girls beating the boys at flip cup (and girl power in general).
The emails we've all been sending each other that have gotten me through this work week.
Being in charge of the company for the week and having it still be standing.
Getting to bond with her over cigarette breaks.
Getiing to bond with another over coffee and cigarettes at my favorite hippie cafe.
That even though her heart was broken, her spirit remains strong.
That she and Triple A saved me when like a fool I locked my keys in the car.
Spending Wednesday night with my mom.
The beautiful paintings of Philadelphia we saw.
The dinner and drinks at her favorite French restaurant.
The Indian music concert we went to at the beautiful Kimmel center.
That we laughed our heads off waiting for it to start for 30 minutes only to realize it was already happening.
That my mother is exactly who she is.
And that I'm her daughter.
Having drinks with more of my favorite people last night.
And that I'll be seeing even more of them tonight.
And hopefully a million times more after that.
That my life is as beautiful as it is.
Monday, July 24, 2006
"Every day, think as you wake up:
Today I am fortunate
to have woken up.
I am alive,
I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use
all my energies to develop myself,
to expland my heart out to others,
to achieve enlightenment for
the benefit of all beings.
I am going to have
kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry,
or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others
as much as I can."
~His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama
I was going to begin this post "I've been feeling uninspired lately," but that isn't the case at all. In truth, I think about writing in every moment of every day, and yet, something's been stopping me from blogging lately. There's no reason or rhyme to it. It's become this idea that taunts me, haunts me, hovers around me begging me to jump in. And I stand on the edge afraid.
What is it that I fear? Admitting to myself that I'm not living from the depths of me, that I'm not embracing the ideas of the quote above though I face it each morning on my wall, that I'm not who you think I am or who I want to be? The truth is, I'm perfectly content until I begin writing and discover I'm not. Writing has always been both a blessing and a curse.
It's not that I'm unhappy. What I'm feeling isn't sadness or depression, it's the sense that I'm only skimming the surface of life when my soul wants so desperately to plummet into the fullness of the world. I feel like I'm floating, drifting. I don't know exactly what I want, and what's even more frustrating than being directionless, is not knowing where to begin looking for some kind of direction, some kind of meaning. I don't know where to start.
And then I am reminded, "today I am fortunate to have woken up," and I am, and I know that. Maybe that's as good a place as any to start. Today is a brand new day, as tomorrow will be, and the day after that. Each one promises the prospect of a new beginning. Each one promises a chance to begin it all again. Perhaps my yesterdays have been filled with aimlessness, but my tomorrows hold up their cupped hands before me and invite me to crawl in. I will be safe in their custody. I will remember to breathe. I will cry and laugh and sing. I will suddenly find answers to questions that once seemed dauntingly futile to ask. I will have that epiphany, that moment of "ahh yes, this is what I'm supposed to do, this is who I'm supposed to be." And I will realize, finally, that even if that moment never arrives, I'll still be okay.
Because when it comes down to it, "I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it." I will not waste my days dwelling on yesterdays and hoping for tomorrows. My one life is far too precious for that. As is yours. As are all.
Maybe I need to drift for a while before I find my course. Maybe I just need to be content with that. Maybe life works just as this entry has, twisting and turning and ending up somewhere completely different than where it began. This is the blessing side of the bittersweet act of writing, for it is here that I feel better. For it is here that I am reborn. Today I am fortunate to have woken up.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
My internet has been very “iffy” lately, so I apologize for the lack of updates. I’d like to say that it’s fixed, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.
On my way home this evening, I passed a house on the corner with three blue towels hanging from the second floor window. They looked so beautiful swinging in the hot summer air, dancing like streamers against the empty white wall.
I thought of the enchanting Indian woman in her orange dress, hanging laundry out to dry beneath the palm fronds in Goa. We were in the hospital. Poor Claire had gotten the measles from one of the children we were working with, and as she slept away her 103-degree fever, I sat watching the quietness of the world outside.
The colorful clothes swung gently on the line, back and forth, on top of what appeared to be an abandoned building. By the time I had finished fixing Claire’s IV that had managed to reverse itself, and returned to the window, the woman had vanished. A dog ran wildly about, and I wondered how he had gotten up there, and more importantly, how he planned to get down. The clothes continued to wave.
They hung everywhere, those beautiful fabrics, and while I’d always noticed them, this was the first instance I could recall being truly moved by their eloquence. There was something about the simplicity of the scene that left me with a feeling of serenity I hadn’t felt in such a very long time. I remember writing in my journal that I’d miss the exquisiteness of those kinds of daily routines when I got home.
And I did. I missed them. But when I saw those blue towels hanging there this morning, I realized it wasn’t the fabric that I missed. It wasn’t the laundry waving in the Indian wind; it was the sense of calm I felt watching it. It was the peaceful feeling that can only come from true relaxation, from taking the time to breathe in the sweetness of life.
And it isn’t America that’s forgotten how to do that. It was me. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how to dance in the moonlight, to sing as though no one was listening, to stop and watch the universe float in the breeze. My life had once again become about money and schedules and chores. It had reverted back to what I had hoped to leave behind.
But magic doesn’t leave one’s life so easily. I can still feel it. I know it’s still there. It’s in the flowers I’ve planted in the backyard (in the picture above), and the visions of India I see when I close my eyes to sleep at night, and the blue towels hanging from the window on the corner. It’s all around me. It’s everywhere.
My life hasn’t reverted back to what I had hoped to leave behind. It can’t. It never will. I can only go forward, into today, into tomorrow, not knowing what any of it will bring. I can only continue hoping, wishing, longing, for a little more magic, a little more beauty to fill my every day.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Sitting beside him and his guitar.
That was all he needed on his journey.
I held my journal between my sun soaked fingers.
That was all I needed on mine.
The sun was setting
In the distance between an island and the shore,
As though they had separated themselves to make room
For the vibrant bursts
Of oranges and purples and pinks.
As though they knew how perfect
The golden sphere
Would look slowly dropped between them.
As though they were both
The painting and
We told our stories
Over the background of his songs,
And more people gathered around
To share their stories,
Soon we were a harmonious
Group of birds
Chirping and chattering in
The arrival of the moon.
He sat above us
In the hut next to mine
Smoking his corn cob pipe.
I watched him
For much longer than I had realized
Until he looked down to notice me
I nodded back
As he returned his gaze back out towards the sky.
I followed his example.
For I too
Longed to be
Both the painting
And the painter
Of my life.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
It’s been a strange four weeks. I’ve had so much difficulty adjusting to home again, but am finally starting to feel more at ease. My life is beginning to fall back into place, or at the very least, I’m beginning to fall back into it. No, I think it’s more than that. I think I finally decided to take control of it, to step up and demand from the universe the kind of life I want for myself. I think I’m making the change I’ve been passively waiting for.
I rearranged my apartment and at long last put up the posters that have been sitting in the corner for months now. It’s starting to feel much more like the home I had envisioned for myself. It’s starting to feel much more like a reflection of me. My living room is filled with Buddha statues and prayer flags and drums and all of the quintessential hippie wealth I’ve collected over the years. It’s a nice place to be.
Maybe that’s all I’ve really been needing this past month, just a nice place to sit and think and write. Maybe all I’ve needed was a little inspiration.
And I’ve found it. Somewhere along the lines I found it. This weekend is going to include a nice trip to Trader Joe’s, the plant store, and hours upon hours of work in my garden. I think I need that. I need to feel my hands in the earth, fill my kitchen with organic foods, find that connection with the natural world I’ve been missing so desperately. My frustration hasn’t derived from being out of the environment I felt so comfortable in. It’s been my inability to see that I can create the same world here. I can be the same me here, if I choose to be. I can be the me I was so fearful of leaving behind in India. I’m still her. I’m still me.
And I’ll always be. There is no turning back. There’s only this, this moment right now, and the moment about to come, and all of the moments to follow. The future is waiting and I’m taking control of it, even if I have yet to determine any kind of destination. That somehow seems a less significant decision. All that I know for certain is that I can only take what has happened and create from it something new, something extraordinary.
That’s the plan for now, to make of each moment all that I can, to take hold of life and enjoy it as best I can, to laugh and love and live to the fullest. What else could possibly matter?
My best friend has FINALLY returned home from China after ten months. It was so wonderful to see him last night, and I think it awakened within me the motivation I’ve needed to be joyful again. I was worried I had lost that somewhere along the way.
But today, the universe seemed to once again vibrate with the kind of magic I so often feel. The purple flowers on the hillside beside my car never looked so lovely. Life stirred within me and around me. Everything is going to be okay, I thought. Everything is going to be just fine.
And it will be. Because I am me. Because I’ll always be me. Because this is my life and I refuse to let it pass without enjoyment. After all, that’s what these moments are for.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The trouble with me is that
I keep looking for happiness in familiar places
Only to discover that they’ve become unfamiliar,
Like shoes I’ve outgrown but still try to force upon my feet,
Only to discover that they no longer bring me joy,
I don’t fit anymore.
Into my former shoes,
Or ways of thinking.
The change in me is palpable
Juxtaposed against the stagnancy
Of my every day life.
How did Alice return home after Wonderland?
How did she fill the void of the magic lost?
I’d really like to ask her
How it felt the next day
To walk by flowers that didn’t speak
And see cats that didn’t smile
And know that her un-birthday would pass without celebration.
I’d really like to ask her
If she spent the rest of her days searching
For another rabbit hole,
If she longed in every moment
For another escape.