I have been reading past posts from my blog. I notice patterns and cycles. In the self examination that I seem to want to do fiercely, constantly, on the blog, in therapy, throughout my life, it seems that I return to similar themes each month of each year that I have blogged, these past six years or so.
Do we all do that?
In a sense, as everything seems to be changing, everything remains the same.
Joy and success, leads to self-flagellation and angst, and, even, illness. Feelings are hidden, felt, validated, justified, accepted, and hidden again. The need for acknowledgement and unconditional acceptance seems as strong as ever, and do I always strive to let things go, detach, and find peace? Only to find I am attaching, holding on, in a storm of sorrow again and again?
I was hoping that I might be edging, albeit as slowly as a tortoise, towards self understanding and peace of mind. Thought I was making a stand for me, setting new boundaries, feeling love and compassion more deeply than ever ... and yet, as I read back through the years I notice I am going around and around ... just as surely as the seasons turn ... in circles ... cycles ... changing ever so slightly, but yet also staying the same.
Perhaps I should stop working so desperately hard to change my Self so much?
Evening falls after a day of sneezing, wheezing and coughing. Eyes smarting and body aching, shivering and shaking. This woman has a cold! Slipping into the humble tub in the gold onyx tiled bathroom luke warm water rises up to greet me, lapping up against and around me. It feels friendly. Comforting. For awhile the spluttering and nose blowing ceases. I wonder, "Does an infant feel this comforted in her daily bath?" I was an infant once. A babe in a bath. This cold hit me right when I least expected. I mean I was on a roll! Commuting, working, computing, writing, teaching, professing, managing, cleaning, hair-cutting, therapy-ing, gardening, enjoying, planning, dreaming, walking, meditating ... and then ... my body said, "Stop!" I guess it wants me to listen to what it has to say. But I had been too busy to notice. And so, now, I stop. I turn off the computer and join the potted plants on the porch, surrounding my Self with: hoya, hibiscus, spider plants, ferns and such, christmas cactus, violets, orchids ...
I write with a pencil on a white sheet of paper, enjoying the texture, the feel of the softened lead against the notepad.
A hot cup of tea accompanies me as I sit in the settling dusk, and I write to listen to my body.
This is the time of my life, and I think that perhaps I am giving myself gifts of love.
As I allow myself more and more to experience all kinds of feelings (especially those that are most uncomfortable like anger or fear, for example), suddenly old emotions come to the surface. I mean ancient ones - from my earliest childhood days. They appear as if out of nowhere at the oddest moments when I am least expecting them. For example, all of my life I have been playing at gardening, trying to make do with nothing in order to create something always in temporary make shift yards. Now that we have moved to a permanent home, I decided to create a real garden of my own. After looking around and speaking to this person or that, I discovered a landscaper who understood exactly what I have been thinking about for the yard surrounding our new house.
On Monday, he started making it happen. Digging, composting, mulching and planting shrubs before the winter sets in, he has already transformed our yard. In March he will storm the prepared beds with perennials - 265 in the front and who knows how many in the back. And then ... I will be able to potter in my garden all the days of the rest of my life - adding to it and changing it here and there as my heart desires. I am ecstatic. Excited. An extraordinary energy seems to race through my body. Indeed I am as excited as a young woman meeting my lover for the first time, or like those indescribable moments giving birth to my son all those 37 years ago.
And then, out of the blue, I remember my mother gardening back in Africa when I was young. I used to love walking around the yard with her as she described this plant and that. She loved them all so much, and had such creative ideas about where to place or how to combine different species around the yard. I especially adored the fern garden she created under one of our largest shady trees down at the side end, towards the back of the house. My mother was never a conformist and I sensed it most in her gardening. None of those straight lines or ordinary bushes or flowers. Suddenly tears flowed down my cheeks as I described these memories to my therapist the other day. I realized that those were moments in my youth when I felt most bonded with my mother following her around the yard like a puppy - listening to, watching, learning, and loving her with all of my being.
Even while tending to the weeds, flowers and shrubs, I always enjoy the visitors that arrive. Birds, butterflies, squirrels, chipmunks, earth worms, beetles and bugs, even the little brown snake who first greeted me when I began weeding our yard the first days in June when we moved into this house. Usually I am terrified of snakes, and although I was not thrilled to discover it, I did not jump back or scream out as I used to. I spoke to it out loud, "Hey! Snake! This is my new house. I am weeding my garden whether you like it or not!" The little creature slithered back down into the soil into the old wall, peaking out only once or twice after that.
I asked Matt, the landscape fellow, for perennials that will invite and encourage all kinds of creatures to visit our yard. Like echinacea, for example. I know that butterflies and gold finches will love them.
Quote of the day: "... we have a very kind of strict day that we have to adhere to. And by doing that, that allows us to process everything and gives us the freedom to sort of improvise.
I'm a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don't know what to do with yourself, but when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it and feel confident enough to kind of come back to that." Jon Stewart on NPR yesterday
At the Edge - Anyone alive has had great suffering, if we are willing to admit it. Can you also notice the great tenderness at its edge? Tell me about it. Go. Ten minutes. (Natalie Goldberg, Page 182.)
I am learning to let go. It is not easy. It means taking those memories that are as vivid and as real as if they are happening right now again and again - and allowing them to vaporize into thin air - into nothingness. It means owning who I am right now.
In short. It means giving up the past.
Like a balloon slipping from my fingers and flying up and away into the skies. I remember a few years ago saving a stunned red cardinal that had bumped into our large glass window, escaping a large hawk, swooping as if from out of nowhere down to the feeder. I ran outside after I heard the dreaded thump on the living room glass pane. Kneeling down with tears in my eyes, I gently gathered up the small bird in a towel and placed it in a cardboard box lined with a soft rag. The cardinal fluttered weakly and I was sure it would be dead by the morning. Still, I laid out some sunflower seeds right next to the box in its secluded spot on the patio - just in case it survived.
Early the next morning I awoke and tiptoed out to see how the little red cardinal was doing. Peeking from the side of the glass door leading out to the patio I noticed the bird sitting on the edge of the box looking about as if waking from a long, deep sleep. The bird pecked at one of the seeds, cocked its head right and left, and then - just like that - flew up and away through the trees.
I gasped out loud to see it go. Recovered.
Letting go means taking responsibility for my Self. My Ego. Not taking everything personally. Allowing others their own responsibilities, Selves, Egos. It is detachment edged with compassion.
It is not easy. There are moments of great suffering as I release attachments that seem to have been tied to me deeply from forever. Indeed, it almost feels as if pieces of my soul are being gouged out with a knife and that I will not be able to survive the night.
And then, the next morning even before the dawn light, I sit at the edge of my bed, move my head from left to right, and rise to embrace the new day. My body is filled with an excitement that feels like an electrical surge down to my finger tips, warming the inside of my stomach and chest cavity.