Posts from the ‘Love’ Category
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.
I took the day off yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to work and instead of filling up my day with chores and even adventure, I took a break. Save for watering the lawn, which required me only to move the sprinkler around the yard, and two walks to the dog park, which I most enjoy, I did nothing. Instead, I read, napped, laid in the sun, sewed a little, practiced yoga (twice), and……no nothing else.
It was lovely. And needed.
Too often even our days off are filled with things we must accomplish. “I feel guilty for doing nothing,” a friend told me yesterday. I often have “rewarded” myself with small bits of free time after hours, days, even weeks of labor. The scales of this trade are often unbalanced. In fact I’ve never known them to be even.
It would be easier if there were some official banker who recorded our efforts in a ledger and then doled out a fair amount of free time in trade. There is no one like this. We must look after ourselves.
Why this is so difficult I am not sure. Self care is a road I discovered accidently once, a long time ago, and have found myself wandering on and off it for years. A few suggestions that have helped me stay on the path are the following:
..learn to say “no”
..enjoy the company of yourself
..sleep is important, allow for it
..eat well, your body and mind and spirit will reward you for this
..laugh often and at yourself
..be kind, to others yes, but especially to yourself
and perhaps most importantly, remember
..no one needs you more than you do..
My daughter turns twenty one this week. Every year I retell the story of her birth, well I try to. Usually I get a groan, but I believe that my children really are interested in their story.
Today at work, one of the kids told me how when he was young, his father didn’t live with him and his mother. His parents live together now, but this boy doesn’t know why they lived apart. Perhaps his father had to work in a city far away, or maybe his parents were separated. His parents won’t tell the story..”it’s not important now,” his mother says. But it is important.
Our stories, our histories, however subjective they are, matter. Or do they? I have met people who are so invested in their story that they become that story, rather than who they genuinely might be. I have done it myself. The story becomes a role.
There is a place between the two..between the holding on too tightly to the past and the discounting of it altogether. I am not sure where that is, I feel as if we might float back and forth between the two. My Grandmother once told me that her mother, my Great Grandmother, never spoke of her life. My Grandmother knew none of her mother’s history. As such, I know nothing about her as well.
A few years ago, I sat with my mother and asked her questions I have never asked her before. Sometimes I forget that before she was my mother, she was someone else entirely. I wanted to know my mother outside her motherness. Just as I want to discover who my daughter is, outside of her daughterness.
I am not sure we can ever really know anyone. We seem to be conditioned to view others with the lens of their relationship to us. I would like to find a way to know someone with out that bias..but perhaps that’s impossible.
will spend the day painting. Some days I feel lucky to call myself an artist. I try hard not to let the words define me. What I do is not who I am. It is easy to believe otherwise, sometimes I even want to. I can imagine myself to be anything. Today I will not imagine myself to be anything. Today I will paint, drink good tea, finish my laundry, take care of my dog, make my son dinner, feel love, see what comes, and be..
Spent the day painting with watercolor, tooling around on my bike, pulling weeds, and eating precious bites of pesto…pretty lovely day.
My days have been very wonderful lately. Feeling a good calm peaceful energy…so sweet and so noticed and appreciated. I am feeling very loved…
I talked with my son just briefly yesterday. I had been trying to get in touch with him for a little while, just checking in, and he called me back just moments before I had to go into a class. He had many stories to share and was abuzz with excitement. He had finished a quarter and was hanging out with friends in Laguna Beach. He was getting a car and has a great summer job lined up. And best news, he might even be home for a week and I would get to see him.
Then this morning I got a call from my daughter. She shared that her physical, required for her summer job, had come back reporting she was in excellent health. The best of which was that her heart was strong and healthy. The news made me well up. Just yesterday I had received an email from the treatment center she had gone to last summer for her eating disorder. Life has moved on. She is recovering, we are all recovering.
I was struck by the settledness I feel. Momentary as it is, or as my mind allows it come. I had a talk with my father a few days ago. It is the talk we have often. He worries about my lack of ambition and a plan, that I have flitted from one thing to the next, never really having a career. And I remind him, painfully, that I raised children. That was my job…I chose to be a mother above all else. And then he back pedals, trying to make sense of my life if only for himself. And I am left feeling less than in his eyes…misunderstood and a disappointment.
The calls from my children reminded me of some greater truths. There is nothing that is more valuable than love. I have been very fortunate to have lived a life that allowed me to be a mother. I have worked hard and loved deeply, and there is nothing I would change about that.
Nietzsche said, “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”
Love what is necessary.
What is necessary Nietsche?
my likely incomplete list of necessary…in no particular order
-good yarn and knitting needles
-art…making and viewing
-walks through the neighbor
-talks with my kids, texts will do
-potato chips..any kind
-coffee(trying to make it not necessary, but have yet to succeed)
-a good friend
-love…simple, honest, truly unconditional..
-water…all kinds, but especially the kind that you can swim in
This is probably not what Nietsche had in mind, but I struggle with word “necessary” used in conjunction with the idea of “fate.” I think of fate as “what is.” When I think of the word “necessary” what comes to mind is the idea of something being needed likely for the attainment of something else. I need air, in order to live. I need to get a good job so I can pay my bills. I need to accept fate in order to be at peace…I can live with that. To say that I must love what is necessary, what I need, …it’s not the same thing.
What is the need? Life..living..the human experience? And here…here is the question that is always asked…why is this life, this human experience needed? To what end? Last year, I might have answered “to die well..” Today I answer “to no other end but now, so to do so, living, as peacefully as possible.”
My belief about God’s existence is…well mixed. What I know is nothing really. What I speculate is much. What I feel is whole other thing.
I was making my bed today and the thought just rose up in me that we as a God believing people are pretty arrogant to think that there is a God up in heaven judging our every action. It’s a scary thought on one hand if this is true. And I have lived with this being the truth for most of my life..so much so that I have lived in an almost constant state of fear and anxiety, acutely aware that I was being watched. I have wondered too much what God would think of me in this moment and the next. Wondering if what I was doing was good enough and waiting for some reward or punishment as the answer. Not a good way to live, and certainly not an authentic way of being. Every action done out of fear. Ughh. It makes me queasy thinking of this.
Why do we buy into this? I think it is because we like to be judged. Really. We want to know where we stand at any moment We want to believe that good begets good and bad begets bad…and by God, literally, we want to be told we’re doing well. We want it in school…working more for the grade than the actual understanding of a subject. We judge and our judged by our peers and strangers alike, as well as by those we work with and for. It would be nice to believe that we are not a judgmental people, but we are. I am. I compare myself to other women all the time…most I see as more successful than I am. But often I judge myself as better than others. It’s ugly but it’s true. I catch myself comparing myself to others all the time. How is this not judgment? Pay attention one day to your inner thoughts. I think you’d be surprised. I was. I had always thought of myself to be a fair and decent person; but the truth is I am pretty insecure and often judgmental. One has to look in the mirror sometimes and face the truth.
Just the other day I heard Obama praising the firing of an entire high school’s teaching staff in Maryland. Former and current students of that school spoke up last week criticizing Obama for making an such a statement when he didn’t have the facts. “He doesn’t even know us,” they complained, “how can he make a fair judgment.” Don’t we do this all the time? We see someone arrested for a crime and we assume guilt. If the person is found innocent, that story often doesn’t make the news.
It makes sense that as a judgmental people we would believe God to be this way too. The Bible even tells us there will be a judgment day. Enough already. Look at the universe…in the scheme of things we are a pretty insignificant part. To believe that God is out there somewhere watching our every action is too much for me to believe and seems incredibly arrogant. I think I have chosen to believe this in the past mostly out of fear, a tradition of fear that was passed down to me. What I have come to believe about God now is very simple.
God is Love. There is no fear or judgment in this Love…it is Love only and immensely. Our task on this earth is to accept it.