Friday, June 17, 2011

At Least I Smell Like a Mountain Breeze...

The last two weeks I feel like I accidentally was slipped into the dirty laundry.  There is the twisting, the churning and the rinse--o yeah.  And to finish it all off...a tumble dry with less lint than before. 

I am a willing sieve, constantly offering myself up to the World and watching how ideas, events and people get processed.  Always searching for connections, exploring associations and making most of it public.  Whether I am in front of a group of students or writing privately, I don't feel I have the luxury of cocooning.  Most days I am eager to be the Fool, stumbling loudly through the forest, waking everyone up with the snapping of limbs.  This last turn through the wash has made me question the wisdom of always playing the same role.  Habits are habits and what works in many situations doesn't work in all situations.

I have a right to mourn in private.  The last two weeks I am grieving again--for who I used to be, for my father, for my friend Cathy, and the dreams that will likely never find oxygen.  This is when one of my biggest character flaws--impatience--is actually a virtue.  No matter what space I find myself in...I know it won't last.

I owe my best, but always communicating outwardly is not my only tool.  When I am feeling tossed--I need to go dark and feel my way forward before I do anything.  As I am always saying to others..."Just because you can, does not mean you should." 

When I was younger and actively embraced Christianity, I was frequently being told that your "walk must match your talk."  How incredibly infuriating that this is true regardless of your moral is ultimately about credibility.  Modeling what you preach is no easier than it was when there was a long list of rules to follow.  Arguably, it is much tougher because you are in charge of the rules, the exceptions and what to do with gap between what you say and what you do.  There is no one to blame and nowhere to hide. 

If truth matters, then it does and that is all I need to know.  When I am between rinses, I am not always interpreting reality accurately and it helps to remind myself that I don't have to be extraordinary every moment of every day.

I heard an interview last night on the way home that became an exclamation point for me.  Emma Ruby-Sachs was the guest on a Canadian radio program ( She was discussing her new novel, "The Water Man's Daughter."  She is a human rights activist, a lawyer and has managed to write a buzzy novel in her spare time.  Listening to her articulate what animates her reminded me a lot of aspirations I had twenty five years ago.  I genuinely expected myself to have accomplished something similar by the time I turned forty.  Was this a realistic expectation?  Of course not.  Could you make an argument that I have accomplished enough on my own without making myself feel insufficient compared to a Super Achiever?  Of course. 

Part of what I am feeling the loss of in quiet moments are the hopes I had for my life as a girl.  Instead of allowing Emma Ruby-Sachs to be a bludgeon, I can celebrate her and keep aiming for a life well-lived.  Ditto with my obsession with Nellie Bly.  I'm sure both of these woman had/have moments of overwhelming despair and exhaustion.  And yet, ultimately they were able to use all the angst (or whatever you prefer to call the "funk") to propel them further into the thick of it. 

I've had no shortage of opportunities to perform beyond expectations and most that know me would find my stuckedness a little amusing...after all, I am still spinning lots of plates and not dropping anything yet.  But I know when I am weak.  I know when I want to quit.  I know what a relief sleep can be to a busy brain.  There is no rule that says I have to announce every weakness in order to manage it--in fact, verbalizing that which is not working usually serves to perpetuate the meme that I am flawed. 

Here's the thing:  I am flawed.  I struggle, I fight with myself and I never let myself be in limbo for too long.  There is no promise of tomorrow.  And there are some things, some people, some events that clog up the sieve and leave me feeling powerless.  It takes persistent back and forth to move forward.  And, if you are still alive post-mistake--you still have a chance to do better.  There are not infinite doors in front of you, sometimes you have to choose the one closest to you that has the least number of obstacles.  It is my humanity that makes me who I want to be and I deserve as much forgiveness and grace as anyone else. 

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