The oddest thing about being older is the not-give-a-shit-ish-ness I inhabit most of the time. Then there are those seconds that plunge me back into the self-consciousness of adolescence.
As a practicing stoic and a generally sanguine old broad, I’m usually able to go from reaction to internal examination to non-reaction. Then, I’m not hit with what the Buddhists call, “the second arrow”–the emotional sting of what happens worsening the wound entry to cavern from pinprick. Ouch!
“We are more often frightened than hurt and we suffer more from imagination than from reality” –Old Seneca wrote that like a zillion years ago.
The Tibetans call it shenpa and claim that meditation will give us the space we need not to get “hooked.” Pema Chödrön has a cool take on the hook–it’s the tender part of ourselves that will hurt, the part we’ve suppressed or pushed down because it’s too painful to look at. “We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief.” The tightening that adds to the row of Oreos, the unkind word, or the low-level malaise of not-good-enough that trails me through my days like a draining, moaning wraith.
I used to pride myself on emotional expression, as if every self-respecting artist or writer, painter or poet, should be hooked in to every feeling and translate them into the art of living (and fighting and complaining and feeling victimized and being unhealthfully attached to my children or romantic partner). Now the brilliance I can approach from time to time comes from how Wordsworth defined poetry: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” When I was an English major they made me study those Lyrical Essays (and tons of other old white guys in the canon, no disrespect) and, well, they left me cold. Wordsworth was a mindful dude–and tapped into the power of what is all the rage these days–“the present moment.”
If the world is at bottom presenting me with what I need to learn, then by extension, is everything that happens bee-you-tee-full–full of the ways I become ever and more myself, the only me that will ever be, with my particular lessons and loves, pains and wounds. To the tee?
Bee–They never said they would fly–physicists proved it! Also the state of being–tapped into the speck of love that we are, a “poor forked thing” of hopes, dreams, foibles and preferred Ben and Jerry’s flavors.
You–God you’re gorgeous! Look at you! You love, hate, feel, make all the damn day long–and then you get up and do it again–with little or no resources, or with a lot of internal ones and few external ones–each second is a work of art you are making in tandem with Life. Dang diggity I’m aghast!
Tee–Everything is “to a tee” exactly right on the money. Now drive that ball! Hundreds of yards or more. The one you’ve been given, that can’t be any different than it is because IT IS.
Full-GREAT-fullness trumps my puling whiny want-it-not King Babygirl every time. I may be full of shit (had to, sorry) but if I look at the abundance of everything available to me if I show up and stay awake and aware, I’m so down with life. I’m full of possibility and full of the ability to give and receive love.
About that moment of self-consciousness mentioned earlier: It went away. Not without a good amount of brainwashing in the form you see above. It was about making blessings out of my messings–like I messed up at work and I felt imposter syndrome kick in. Or I stammered during an interview and felt like that eighth grade girl forgetting all of her lines on stage during Meet Me in St Louis.
Still can’t watch the movie. It hooks me into that moment and then–bam–I’m right there in the trauma.
Today is June 14, 2019. Eleven years and four days since my son died in an accident on the highway by Last Chance, Colorado. He would have loved that name!
I’m grateful I had him for that length of time–18 years. I’m in pain because I miss him. But I’m also empowered by his life and the love that I still feel coming from him, wherever he is–and whatever form he is in–one thing is for sure. I love him and he loves me with pure, unselfconsciousness. That love is nirvana. I lose myself and my pettiness in it and it brings me back to the true, real, unsullied version of me and of life that I can prioritize in every second I have left. Thanks, Jake.