portland romance

Fall semester has begun.  I’ve been to the first  two of the three classes I am registered for this term.  That I am in art school at all is an amazing thing.  Often I question the reality of  my life right now.  It’s pretty good.  In fact if I really stop and give it more than a moment’s reflection, it’s actually pretty great.

Yesterday I found myself wandering through the Park Blocks headed to the Art Museum to purchase my student pass.  I have fallen in love in Portland.  Perhaps that’s evident in my previous posts. I wax on about my love of my neighborhood ad nauseam.  I know.  But the truth is I do love Portland and I often feel as if I am in the first stages of a romance.  All that is good is especially good…all that is quirky and weird is endearing.

My trip to the museum was cut short as I forgot it was Monday and the museum isn’t open on Mondays.  The news didn’t spoil my trip though.  I was one of many wandering those city blocks yesterdays.  The park benches were full. Dogs were being walked; musicians played for everyone who passed; an old man smoke a pipe.  It was a vibrant city, my city.

I have lived in Oregon for 16 years now, but only in the city for the last three.  It takes time to know a place, I have said this before, have lived it more.  Last year I thought about leaving, moving up to Bellingham to be close to family.  But the past year has brought me something I can’t describe.  I feel home here.  Feel it despite the fact I am alone.  Feel it even as my children have left, gone off to college to new lives of their own making.  Perhaps that is it.  I am living a life of my own making.  No longer is the pull of another or the gravity of societal expectation. No pull.  Just living.

A friend of mine told me a story of his life after his divorce a few years ago.  He was ordering a sandwich and was able to choose the ingredients of it without any influence from outside of himself.  He piled the sandwich with everything he wanted, as simple as that.  And then he marveled at how wonderful that was.  I get it.  I marvel too, constantly, at the discovery of who I am, alone.

gratitude

I am learning and I am grateful.  Today I experienced honesty and courage and I am changed because of it.  This past week I have come to know and understand a few important things about myself.  I won’t go into the details, primarily because they likely make sense only to me; what I can say is that I feel like I have grown up a little.

My life is small and simple.  I am filled with gratitude daily, even moment to moment.  I am thankful for reconnecting with old friends; I am thankful work I love.  I am thankful for those who have my interests at heart.  I am most thankful for honest communication and the bravery it takes.  I am thankful that I can and have changed.  I am thankful, very much so, for my health. I am thankful for opportunities I have right now.  I am thankful for the people who share their lives and time with me.

thank you thank you thank you all who is and are responsible..

lovely, simple

the truth is simple

the path to knowing it is often not.

my own truth too

“People sometimes ask me what difference practice has made in my life. The answer is it’s changed everything for me. And, in a funny way, it’s changed nothing.”

Lama Surya Das when asked about his yoga practice

recluse

such a homely word

I know I know. I need to make the effort.  I could shut myself off easily and never be heard from again.  Really.  But then again I’d miss connection.  I would miss the simple and greatest pleasure of being with another person, how terribly sad is that?

Recently I have been making an effort.  Reconnecting, making new friends; I can do this.  More importantly, I want to.  Every once in awhile a dear friend of mine who really knows me will call me up and say, “Deidre, it time’s to step out of the closet.” And I usually reply, “Have I been there that long?” It’s what I do.  Like biting my nails. It’s a ritual or habit I created long ago only the point no longer exists.  I wish I had an explanation, but there is none. Pathetic.

Somewhere between reclusivity and bacchanalia there is a lovely balance of work and play. In order to find it I need to step out of my closet.  My intention to say “yes” more often than I say “no.”  Just for a little while; see where it leads. If nothing else there’s got to be a better view.

Perhaps

Perhaps I am too nice or wish only to see the good in life.  I have been accused of such, as if it were such a bad thing.  I know this isn’t true though.  I choose often to view the world’s cup as half full because I’ve seen and lived in the empty vessel.  I know it…well.  It makes the fuller, the good, the effort so much sweeter.

I am irritated and I want to get over it but I am not.  I worked to today with girls who showed amazing resilience and courage.  Girls who advocate for themselves because so few in their lives have.  Girls who try and fail and try again and again. They are amazing and sometimes…today..the world fails to give them credit. And it pisses me off.

So today, in the quiet of my home, on the laptop of my computer I give them credit. I am amazed that you K have a kind word for anyone ever.  If I wore your shoes for just one day I would be still in my addiction.  And S…I don’t know how you held it together.  Confined to the chair behind your desk for hours with no clue as to the end of the tedium.  But you sat there, you cried, and slept, and stared into space and held it close biding your time.  And you J spoke your truth…hoping that once someone would listen.  I was listening…we were listening.

Life is often hard. For some it unfairly so.  I wish the world would remember this.

autumn

The fall light has come, and the rain.  I am not ready, as ready, as I would like to be.  But again I love the fall.  Love the way this earth give us permission to turn in, restore, and recover ourselves.  How can I be be anything but grateful?

Today I walked the blocks so familiar to me now and learned that everyday life changes.  Tonight I danced, moved by sound and rhythm of others..everything is in these moments.

Creation Myth

I have been reading Andrew Newberg’s Why God Won’t Go Away. It explains the neuroscience behind spiritual experiences. One of the chapters discusses myths, creation myths particularly, the stories we, as a people or culture, tell ourselves to answer those existential questions about life, death, and why we are here. Two cognitive operators play a role in the creation of these myths. The first is the causal operator, this is the mind’s ability to think in abstract terms; it is what drives our curiosity. And it is what motivates us to answer those questions we have no concrete answers for. Next is the binary operator. This is the brain’s ability to frame the world in terms of basic polar opposites..light and dark, above and below, big and small. It is one of the ways we make sense of our world. What is interesting is that Newberg says, “the binary operator does not simply observe and identify opposites, but in a very real sense it creates them.” So when we are faced with some unanswerable existential question our mind rearranges “the problem” into irreconcilable opposites “that become the key elements of myth: heaven and hell; good and evil; celebration and tragedy; birth, death, and rebirth, and isolation and unity.”

I can’t help but believe we do this on a very personal level every day as well. We create stories, myths, about our lives and identities, and even the lives and identities of others, to “understand” or make sense of our smaller world, however mundane it may be. When I am treated unfairly for instance, I try to figure out what happened…why would this happen to me? And when I can’t make sense of it in some concrete way, I “come up with a story” that I can literally live with. Only when reality sets in and my story unravels, I am again in search of a way to make sense of what I don’t understand. Sometimes we can only believe that which we are capable of handling in that moment. I want to think “A” is true, because “B” is too painful to believe right now. One day I will come to accept “B,” but maybe it takes a neurological change to make that happen.

God, Newberg believes, exists in our minds…not in a fantasy sort of way, but in “scientific” way. This isn’t really new thought, it is why people have been meditating for thousands of years; it is why Sufi mystics whirl, and others chant. God is within us. And if we want to experience God,we must let go of all our personal myths, and discover who we really are.

I have an insatiable curiosity about everything. It’s pathological at times…I want to understand the motivations of others, why people believe what they believe and do what they do. I always thought this was somehow helping me understand my own beliefs, but really it was only a distraction. Perhaps a distraction based a little in fear. I have a faith in God that I do not understand at times. It is the one constant in my life, it has sustained me, and driven me, and comforted me when nothing else has. But I do not know why I believe what I believe. In my neurochemistry is a faith, or really a knowing, that I was born with. I have returned to meditating recently, I am ready to give up my myths and identity; I am on a journey inward now.

written WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2008

maintenance

How I do this is like keeping up a house.  Day to day maintenance.  Just the little things that add up over time.  The changing of a lightbulb and the cleaning of the gutters.  Easy to let go for too long and the house becomes dark and the leaves pile up.  My grandmother changed the curtains every season.  Winter windows covered in heavy drapes to keep the warm air in, lacey white sheers to let the sun in in spring.

I do the same with home that is me.  Maintaining my sanity  day by day, constantly clearing the clutter of my mind and changing the curtains to let more light  in.  It is not easy.  The thoughts pile up bigger than dust bunnies, more like a house with too many dogs and no vacuum.

But each day, the simple things matter.  The walk to the park, the cup of tea in my pale green mug, a book and a blanket, the words of some poet or yogi, and if I am lucky the company of another.  Why it is this way I do not know.   It has always been this way.  The constant vigilance can be exhausting, is exhausting, but I have no other option.  Though often I have imagined it and wanted it.

So I chalk up a day as just one in line behind another.  Neither good nor bad, it makes it easier that way.  I wish sometimes it were different. I forget that sometimes it is.

Vincent