Friday, April 25, 2014

It's madness


Relationships. They're a hoot, aren't they?

Friendships, family, significant others.. they all provide their fair share of joy and angst. Sometimes the hard things that relationships bring tempt us to wish for one that was clearer, more consistent, less dramatic, or just plain easier. But the truth is that even at their most difficult, each unique relationship we get to be part of is a critical piece of us. At their best, relationships are profound sources of joy and comfort. They bring out the best of us and encourage our growth. At their worst, they tear us to bits, expose our weaknesses, cause hurt like no other.. But I believe C.S. Lewis said it best..

"Experience: That most brutal of teachers. By you learn, my God do you learn."

Humans in relationship with other humans: of course it would be like fireworks! They will clash and they will burn together, making light and exploding into gorgeous bursts of real love. But then sometimes that light burns out and there is smoke and there is fog and it's a haze and you're left wounded on the ground. What else would you expect when you put cosmic beings together with hearts and minds and bodies and spirits each ablaze in their own way? 

I do wish we got an instruction manual, but nevertheless learning to navigate our connection with others is significant work (and it is work, indeed). 

It is worth it. 

We may never understand the reason for those smoky, hazy times, but still, it is worth it. And when juxtaposed with the glowing rapturous times, it seems a kind of madness...

What a beautiful and important madness. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014


"Who am I?" is probably one of the most universally relevant and yet commonly misunderstood or hard-to-answer questions of all time. Of course this means it's also probably one of the most written about (countless psychology or self-help books have tried to help answer this question). But bear with me as I continue the wondering in this department..

I think the process of asking who we are is largely a process of boiling things down to our core, our deepest selves. One thing many people seem to struggle with is associating who they are inseparably with what has happened in the past (perhaps something tragic, shameful, regretful), or what job they have, or how they are perceived socially.. so it's easy to understand why we are encouraged to look past those elements of our lives in order to see who we are beyond those often unstable contexts.

Something I read recently stopped my mind in its tracks. It said that we are more than our history (which I have heard dozens of times) but also that we are more than our egos, our fears, our expectations, or even how we feel from day to day. Though this may not sound novel, it struck me. I've known that I needn't be defined by my job or education or by others' perceptions of me, but I've unwittingly been tethering my identity to other unnecessary weights. That I haven't accomplished as much as I would've liked by now, that I can be fearful, self-critical, pessimistic, over-analytical... I've been assuming these things were not just occasional descriptors, but that they actually were me. As a result, I've been functioning (minimally on some days) under the notion that I am only as good or as capable as these kinds of qualities. But considering the possibility that I may, in fact, be quite distinct from these things, is a bit jarring (in the best kind of way).

Of course my behavior and choices greatly impact my story, but they are not necessarily accurate reflections of who I am. How peculiar that the things I've often defined myself are in fact the oppressors of my true self.

So this begs the question: beyond those oppressors, who the hell am I?

The things I know for sure are few and simple, like:

I am a thinker and a writer.
I crave and seek restoration, of things tangible and intangible.
I need to live with a sense of meaning, and for something bigger than myself.

..but I suppose that's how the answer should be, brief and simple.

In the spirit of finding and cultivating our true selves as we cut through the dense fog of oppressive forces great or small, I think of the quote by Maggie Kuhn, "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes." May we live our truth as best we can, despite everything in life that says we shouldn't or can't.

De-throning oneself, relinquishing the need to figure life out, and creating inner space for something bigger than worldly worries is, in my opinion, The Great Relief.

Friends or foes

I believe one of the great challenges of life is achieving balance between ration and emotion. Honoring them both and interpreting their importance in a given situation is, perhaps, a feat no human will ever fully perfect. At times we choose ration because emotions are just too complicated to deal with. Or perhaps we choose emotion because we're in denial of what is rational. Different situations call for different aspects of discernment, so I suppose the best we can ever do is to practice in every circumstance listening and observing closely in order to authentically respond to the truth, not just to what is easiest.

Ration and emotion often seem at odds, but their coexistence (if peaceful) can be a healthy support for our decisions and behaviors.. to protect us from overly-brainy and robotic, or overly-emotional and irrational lives. These two foes, if made to be friends, compliment one another to create an important balance in life, but cultivating their harmony is part of the hard job of being human. Of course some of us are wired to be more rational beings, or more emotionally driven, or completely devoid of emotion (for all you sociopaths out there), but I do believe that no matter how you were built, it could do some good to consider both influences.. even (and perhaps especially) the one you find less comfortable.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Young reminders

I think if we all kept a photo of ourself as a little kid taped up on our wall we would remember more often to treat ourselves kindly, to value fearless curiosity, and to express our truest selves the way we did before adulthood got in the way.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Try very hard not to forget how tremendous a gift it is that your body can move. that you may interact freely with the physical world. that your hands are at will to reach, and to hold, and to feel.

Try so hard not to forget that it is a privilege to move and to play and to sense with our bodies. It's dangerously easy to get caught up in the feeling that we have to exercise, we have to work.. How different things could be if we thought instead- I can exercise. I can work...

These are reminders I need daily.. On most days, I wage a quiet war against my body, internally bathing in dissatisfaction, criticism, comparison, and disappointment. I forget that this body that I occupy is the only thing granting me access to the world around me and without it, I cannot perceive, experience, or participate in life. So although it may not look or function as I'd prefer sometimes, at the very least I ought to appreciate what it can do, rather than fretting about what it can't.

Our relationships with our bodies have a profound impact on the way we engage the environments, people, and opportunities around us. I think J. Sarano said it most simply and beautifully:

It is in and through our bodies [that] we ultimately witness 
to that which we are and that which we want in our most profound verity. 
It is in and through my body that I bear witness. 
It is in and through the body that one sees the man.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

With That Moon Language

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying, with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?