- "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
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"Is THIS part of the earth?" She asked me, cupping a fuzzy dandelion in her tiny hands as though it was the most precious thing she had ever held. I nodded yes. "And this?" Another asked, picking up a handful of wood chips in his dirty palms. I nodded again. "Are WE a part of the earth?" Asked a third, with all of the shock and awe of someone who already knew that my answer would be yes. I laughed.
I laughed so loudly that the earth itself had no choice but to smile. I loved so deeply that every blade of grass stood up and took notice. I felt so happy that every tree in the world reached down into the depths of its ancient roots to search for the same kind of joy. I praised each child for their findings.
I like teaching little ones because the lessons they are newly discovering are ones I am grateful to be reminded of. Things as basic and necessary as sharing, and kindness, and forgiveness and acceptance. Things as natural as being open and honest and trusting. Things as beautiful as being affectionate and loving and recognizing in everyone the potential for friendship. Why do these simple acts become so complicated later in life?
Today is earth day, and so I spent the morning explaining why we don't litter, why we recycle, why we take care of plants. Most of it went over their little two year old heads, but I didn't mind. For today, I got to preach my love for this world, and even if none of them understood, I know the world heard me. I know the tulips lining the walkway to my apartment stood up a little taller. I know the birds chirping outside my window began singing a little louder. I know the waves upon the shore crashed down a little harder. I know this because I too, am part of this earth. I know this because I too, felt a little brighter.
When I went to go vote this afternoon, it occurred to me that I've never lived in a conservative neighborhood. Every place I've ever voted has only had democratic signs outside and everyone there has always assumed I was voting democrat. Rightfully so, but still it is an odd feeling to be handed a democratic voting card without even being asked. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I've never actually been asked by anyone, anywhere, if I was liberal or conservative. I am approached by political campaigners often and never once has it been for a Republican. How do people know? I'm sure a great deal of it is how I dress, but I'm not ALWAYS sporting my liberal attire. Sometimes I can look normal in a right-wing sort of way. So really, how do people know?
How do we learn to spot kindred spirits? I can do it. I can pick the people I'd probably connect with most out of a crowd. I wonder how this happens, how we grow to define ourselves in certain ways and then search out relationships based on those definitions. It seems so silly to limit ourselves the way that we do. Was there not a time when we knew how to get along with everyone? When we did it? Was there not a time when it was so easy to love?
Because it is so easy. My little students remind me of this each and every day. They prove to me the power and existence of unconditional love. They show me that we ARE all a part of this earth, and how that means something, and how that means everything. They cup the ground in their hands and hold up their discovery, that we are in fact, no better and no worse than the earth itself. That we are, in fact, one. I am grateful to learn, over and over and over, their priceless lesson.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
This morning the vibrantly vivacious tulips remind me that life is meant to blaze with beauty. The magnolia trees remind me to pause and consider their sweet intoxicating petals as they fall softly and solemnly upon the inviting grass from which they bloom. The daffodils tilt their thirsty faces towards the sun to remind me to soak in the light upon my own insatiably yearning spirit. "Feel it," they offer. "Let it devour you." I listen carefully to their advice, these wild and wise ornaments of the earth.
This morning I spent two hours at the DMV renewing my license. I was reminded of the first time I had stood in that very spot waiting to take my learner's permit test, an anxious girl of sixteen embarking on her first big milestone in the long journey towards adulthood. How different I was then. How different everything was then. Seven years later I stood upon that same square of sidewalk and reminded myself of how far I've come. Sometimes looking back is the only way to prove to oneself that things have moved forward.
Two geese flew over head, mirror images of one another, reminding me that no one should have to go through this life alone. I was the only one to look up, to follow them across the sky until they drifted completely out of sight into the unknown. No one else noticed this priceless flight, this precious moment of beauty and understanding and love. No one else even considered the depths of meaning rising and falling with their four wings flapping in perfect unison. I was reminded of how differently we all approach this world, of how minds made of the same matter can somehow work so disparately, of how flowers blooming from the same soil can hold such unique scents and secrets within the core of their blossoms.
It is my mother's 55th birthday today and so I went over to spend some quality time discussing life over coffee, a pastime I have inherited love for from my mother. We talked about my new house and my upcoming five year high school reunion. We talked about our old house and memories from my days in school. We talked about a history I can only know through my mother and about a present that we are learning to know together. We gleamed over thoughts for the future and giggled over anecdotes from the past. I was reminded of my mother's wisdom and her strength and the way her friendship means more to me than anything else ever could. I was reminded that I am my mother's daughter and of how proud that makes me. I was reminded of how easy it is to find heros in the people we love.
The scent of barbeque wafts through my open windows. I rub my naked toes against each other. It may just be spring, but summer is already beginning to tease us as only summer can. "Soon," she whispers on the soft wind. I smile at her flirtatious taunting.
I dream of things to come. In eleven days we go to settlement and the house will be officially ours, keys in hand, delight in hearts. I've already begun packing and thinking of places to set things. But more than that, more than the physical placement of inanimate objects, I have been thinking towards this new beginning, this new life for myself. A life filled with gardening and cooking and parties. A life with neighbors and a roommate and a home to fill as I please. A life brimming with opportunity and possibility and exquisite joy. I am reminded of how blessed I am in this life. I am reminded of how truly magnificent it is simply to be alive.
The flowers look towards the sky and remind me to grow. Two geese fly by and remind me to love. My mother holds me and reminds me to be grateful. I immerse myself in my dreams and remind myself to blaze with the beauty of life.
I stand under the sun, waiting and willing. I let it devour me.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
We got the house!! All that worrying for nothing. That's the nice thing about wishing and hoping and dreaming -- sometimes you get exactly what you want. Some people are just that lucky. I am grateful to be one of them.
Here it is, although these pictures really don't do it justice. I promise to post some of my own when it's officially ours.
I have less than no time, but I wanted to share this for those who have been inquiring along the journey. Thanks for caring about this little life of mine. For that too, I am so grateful.
I will post more later. For now, I just want to write, to sing, to shout HIP HIP HOORAY!!!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
It's week of the young child. It's not a concept I completely understand, but it involves a lot of giving thanks and free food, which are two concepts I ALWAYS understand. Yesterday we took a special field trip to the library. Today we had a delightful breakfast for the parents and each got a fifteen minute break to get a free massage.
We talked about our common love of Indian culture, and then how and why she learned to do this, and then how and why it is so easy to become stressed. Stress. It's not a word I generally consider. It's not a word that I've ever necessarily associated with my life. I'm too laid back to be stressed. I'm too optimistic. I'm, quite frankly, too ambivalent to a lot of things to allow myself to become stressed. I'm the girl who always chose sleep over pulling an all-nighter. I'm the girl who would rather get things over and done with than have them sitting in the back of her mind, festering. What's done is done. What will happen will happen. Que sera sera, and all the rest. Stress has never really been a problem for me.
But as the words fell from her tattooed lips, I thought, "yes, that's exactly what I am." That's exactly what I've been feeling, and I haven't really been able to define these recent ups and downs because it's not a concept I'm familiar with. It's not a sensation I'd necessarily notice. It's not a state of mind I've ever been in before, not prolonged like this, not coming and going so frequently.
Yesterday afternoon we fell in love with a house. In LOVE. It is the perfect size in the perfect location with perfect rooms painted perfect colors. There is a backyard and a front porch and a crowd of daffodils growing in the garden. Even the windows were beautiful. Even the pavement of the sidewalks was lovely, as silly as that sounds. Even the selling price we could AFFORD, which seemed too good to be true.
And it was, of course, too good to be true. The taxes are too high and we spent all of last night in our realtor's office trying to crunch numbers. We spent all night mending the rises and falls of our hopes, our hearts. And while we still have hope, still have several people working on it, the logical part of me knows that it probably isn't going to work out.
And an even more logical part of me knows that it will be okay if it doesn't, that there are other perfect houses, that there are perhaps even more perfectly perfect houses. Que sera sera. Still, I'd be lying if I said we weren't both upset at the moment. I'd be lying if I said I truly believed it when we told people today "there's still hope!" I'd be lying if I said this whole thing wasn't terribly stressing me out. We're just so ready to have a place to call our own.
And after a very long day of trying to release that stress, of trying to be more patient with children I thought I had lost all patience for, of trying to be more patient with adults I thought I had lost all patience for, of soaking in the beautiful weather, and pushing myself that much further at the gym, and stopping to take pictures of flowers on my walk home, I am so exhausted and drained I can hardly write, let alone write eloquently. So this is what you get.
I just needed to release this somewhere, and this seemed like the perfectly perfect place to do such a thing.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Thank you for all of your sweet and encouraging well wishes. I am slowly but surely recovering from the overwhelming whirlwind of illness. Today has been the first day I've woken up and felt like me, clear headed and enthusiastic about the arriving day. It is nice to feel somewhat human again.
I missed an entire week of work which I've only done once before to go on vacation. It feels strange to have been gone for so long. It feels strange to be so close and yet so far. It feels strange to be so far removed from my own life, but perhaps I needed such a pause. Perhaps my little meltdown last Thursday was my body's gentle reminder to slow down, and perhaps ignoring it forced it to take more drastic measures. Sometimes we need to refuel.
Having spent the week in bed, I naturally spent most of yesterday feeling both sad and guilty. Seven days of my life, gone, wasted. Seven days without writing, or reading (well, as much as I would like), or exercising, or hearing a child's laugh, or really human contact of any kind with the exception of a visit from my mother. Seven whole days of being and feeling very useless in the grand scheme of things. Seven whole days I will never get back.
A friend of mine sent me an email recently asking me if I thought that my emotional stress was a result of over-analyzing myself. I'm sure that he's right, a large part of it is. I'm sure that if I stopped thinking so much I'd be able to let go more easily and more often, but the truth is, I wouldn't be me. The truth is, I don't think I'd necessarily be happier letting the heavy moments pass me by. The truth is, I don't think that I'd behold the beauty of my life with such reverence if I didn't also embrace the darkness. It's just one of those things. It's just feeling purely and deeply. It's just allowing myself to be exactly who I am, darkness as well as light, simply and utterly human.
As I stopped in the street and opened my journal to record the way the slants of light against the buildings ignited my heart, she asked me if I wrote the same way I thought, or thought the same way I wrote, I can't remember which. I considered it for a moment and realized that I'm so very unaware of my thoughts unless I am writing them down. My mind moves too quickly. It's difficult to keep track of much of anything. But when I'm writing, I slow down. I pause. I hold onto those slants of light in my memory as though they were everything, because they are. When I am writing, I am conscious of my life. When I am writing, I am alive.
And so a big part of that is over-analyzing my every emotion. A big part of that is agonizing over who I am, why I feel the way I do in any given moment, where I fit into it all. The day I wrote 'Break,' my mom called and told me to go back and read what I'd written over the past three months. I've been through a lot. I'm going through a lot. I've been wrestling with some pretty big ideas. I've been "trying to fit years of therapy and healing into three months of blogging," as she put it. Which is exactly right. This is how I deal with things. This is how I work my way towards healing. This is how I grieve for those seven days, gone.
Maybe he was right. Maybe that's ridiculous and we all just have those bad days without any rhyme or reason to it, but I guess I take comfort in knowing that months from now, I can look back upon this entry and see the sadness of my loss reflected in these words. I guess I like and need to be reminded of these cycles, of the way highs become lows and then highs again, of the proof that happiness is never as far away as it seems. I guess I need to write it in order to feel it, and to feel it in order to know I'm alive. I guess it's just one of those things.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
......swollen glands and lymph nodes.
......a burning sensation in both of my ears and my throat every time I swallow.
......been in bed for four days straight (with the exception of an attempt to go to work and a trip to the doctors)
......spent those four days vacillating between sleeping and weeping.
......been paranoid, scared, exhausted and pretty much a nightmare.
......not been responding to calls, emails or texts for this very reason.
......promised myself to do so the moment I feel better.
......six different kinds of medicine by my side.
......consumed nothing but medicine, soup, tea, Gatorade and water since Friday.
......a renewed faith that my mother loves me even at my worst.
......a renewed faith that I need her.
......a renewed faith that I probably always will.
......the Werther's she brought me to ease my throat and brighten my mood.
......the memory of the day I stayed home sick from school and he brought me Werther's and a teddy bear I named Caramel.
......the memory of feeling so loved by you then, Dad.
......that bear somewhere in mom's basement, because I couldn't ever seem to let it go.
......not opened my computer once since Friday.
......not been in this much pain for as long as I can remember, if ever.
......missed you all terribly.
......just felt like saying so.
I'll hopefully be back soon.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
She sat on my lap and pinched my nose ring deep into my nose. My eyes watered and immediately I felt my right nostril fill with blood. Quickly I placed her on the floor and ran for the nearest box of tissues. "It's going to be one of those days," my friend told me.
I had gotten maybe a total of six hours of sleep over the previous three days. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Every part of me ached with exhaustion, my mind, my body, my patience. I lay in bed at night praying for sleep, or at the very least, some answer as to why I was not sleeping, some problem I could solve. I needed to be able to define my insomnia. I needed to be able to put a stop to it.
I was not the only one to shed blood yesterday. Over the course of the next two hours I tended to two deep bites, three scratches and a scraped knee. It was not the blood that bothered me so much as the fighting, as the maliciousness behind those two year old actions. It was watching the people I love tear each other to shreds. It was the feeling that perhaps we are, by nature, these angry animals. It was the feeling of my faith in goodness wavering.
I was relieved to discover that we were out of paper towels as it gave me an excuse to leave the room. I went into the bathroom, clutched the sides of the sink, and allowed myself, for a moment, to cry. For a moment, I let my frustration and anger and sadness wash over me. For a moment, I allowed myself to break. And when the moment was over, I splashed water on my face, composed myself, grabbed some paper towels and walked back into the classroom.
I cannot begin to articulate what it felt like to open the door and find one coworker gone and the other with her back turned to the children. I cannot begin to give a name to the emotional battle that has been my work life these past few weeks. I cannot begin to explain how the yells and cries and chaos of that jungle of a room yesterday broke my spirit in two, but I can say that even I didn't recognize the sound of my own bellowing shout. My voice was deeper and louder than I knew it was capable of becoming. My children stopped dead in their tracks, their eyes wide and alarmed, deer in the headlights right before their lives are cut short. They have heard me yell before, but had never heard such anger and sadness in my words. I'm not sure I have either. I told them to sit and immediately they submitted out of the fearful shock of unfamiliarity. I have never felt so awful.
At lunch I went into the office and asked for the day off. My boss said she thought she could cover for me. "Thanks" I said, "I just really need a break." My eyes unexpectedly filled with tears. I swallowed hard, hoping to subdue the rising lump in my throat. She started to say "I'm always here if you need to talk" but I was already halfway down the hall, wiping tears off my cheeks, beginning the descent into a complete and utter breakdown.
Two hours later, I left work and went to the gym to try and outrun myself, my tears, my day. An hour later, I gave up and came home. I couldn't seem to switch my mind off, to allow my anger to slip from me, to transform my breakdown into a break through of some kind. I couldn't seem to find my way back to happiness, a characteristic as unfamiliar to me as my own enraged voice. I couldn't seem to let go.
I slept for a solid seven hours last night. I awoke this morning and went for a two hour walk towards the rising sun. If my life were a movie, it would end here, a kind of hope for the future lingering on my face as the camera panned away. But my life is not a movie, and so despite my best efforts and momentary sensations of happiness and hope, I returned home to discover all of my feelings about yesterday still waiting for me.
And I'm not sure what it is they want from me, what it is I'm supposed to do, how I am meant to transform them into a break through of some kind. I'm not sure of how to let them go, or if I'm even supposed to. Perhaps they are the beginning of something important. Perhaps they exist to be written here, immortalized upon the page, a piece of my story. Perhaps I am to take from them an awareness of my own fragility. Perhaps I need to break completely in order to become fixed.
And as I write that, one of the people I love most in this world, the one who has helped to fix me so many times before, the one who renews my faith in goodness daily, texts to say he hopes that I'm well, and I break completely. And I allow myself to cry for more than a moment, for in fact, as long as I need to. For in fact, exactly as long as it takes to let go.