I was at the blessing last night. The weather, as usual lately, was wretched. The leader forgot the music, so all we had was the crackling of the fireplace. The experience felt profound. It felt ancient.
That thought took me aback. How would I know what something ancient felt like? Why would it make a difference? I feel a certain willingness to do things that connect me to the distant past that I don’t feel when it comes to doing things as myself for today. Why?
Part of my attraction to orthodoxy was the oldness of its rituals. I seem to have a deep instinctual need for roots.
I can only be honest with myself. Perhaps this is my umpteenth incarnation. I cannot know, but I also cannot dismiss the possibility.
I am having a hard time. My phone started having problems, my check engine light came on, and then my laptop died. I am doing this for the first time on my new tablet.
I thought about getting a new laptop, but I cannot justify it. I don’t need Word, PowerPoint, or Excel right now. Getting a new laptop with all the bells and whistles would feel like techno hoarding. Just because I will need something eventually is not sufficient to invest hundreds of dollars on it now, Simplicity demands using what I need and no more.
“As other wise ones have observed, we who are now in service to our planet cannot know whether we are deathbed attendants to life on earth or midwives to a new age. Both callings have similar characteristics: a sense of awe, complete attention to each moment, a thinning of the veil between life and death. Whichever side of the coin we are enacting, we are blessed to be of service.” “Coming Back to Life” by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, p.87-88
This is where I am at. For me, the situation is also personal and stark: Barry’s eventual death is my rebirth into the next phase of my life. The end of my life in Michigan will be the beginning of my life elsewhere, probably Virginia. Letting go of Christianity in favor of Buddhism, should I choose any religion at all. The collapse of Michigan’s economy and the abundance of jobs on the coasts.
I’m neither here nor there.
I just want to be part of the solution.
Change always seems to come too quickly or not quickly enough. Perhaps it is good that things are slow right now.
My changes are internal, not external. My tolerance for white flour and sugar is dropping. It’s been going on for a while, but apparently slowly enough for me not to take it seriously. However, a few weeks ago, I ate a rich dessert and then felt miserable for the rest of the evening. I felt bloated and uncomfortable. Yuck. Last week I discovered I no longer really like barbecue potato chips, one of my all-time favorite indulgences.
I feel like I’m losing my friends. What good is “comfort food” that makes one uncomfortable? One of my friends said I should go to a doctor. I said, “And say what? ‘Hey, doc. I’m losing my tolerance for junk food. I have to actually eat healthy now. Can you fix me?’?” What will become of me? Will I end up eating vegetables? Heavens!
I think the same thing is going on in other areas of my life. This past election cycle, I got out of the habit of watching regular, network TV. The election is over and I still can’t make myself care about much of anything that’s on.
Barry watches the news every day. I’ve come to realize how useless 99.9% of it is. First, they tell you what they think will happen. Then they give live coverage of the event itself. Then, they tell you what happened. Then they analyze the result and its implication for possible future events. Think of 9/11. Even if you lived in a cave in Tibet, when hungry, you would go to the nearest temple for food and a newspaper would be lying around with a giant headline on it proclaiming what happened. Another example is the housing market. You can watch the trends on the news, but when it comes time to buy or sell, ultimately you will have to do your own research to find the market statistics relevant to you. All the rest is noise. That’s right: 99.9% of the evening news is noise. You still have to do your own homework.
Some of my distaste for everything may come from me having a cold. Buying groceries when nothing sounds appealing is a challenge, but the alternative is to have no food in the house.
But this feels bigger than that.
All of this means that I have zero distractions from my feelings. Every weird issue I can think of is rising to the surface. I have no means of avoiding anything. I believe most people have their pet addictions. I feel like I’m being robbed of mine. (Whine. Whine.) My papanca (ever-expanding proliferation of mental concepts) is kicking my butt.
I cannot expect my life to move forward if I am resisting doing things I know I need to do.
I have been slamming against a wall of internal resistance. For example, I sent a payment to my student loan lender, and they sent it back! Huh?! I just didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with whatever their problem was, so I put it in the place I put unpaid bills and there it sat for almost a month. So, basically I crawled up to it. I put it by my chair. Then, an hour or two later, I picked it up. Then I looked at it to find out why they sent it back. They said they were not the owner of the loan, which was the Department of Education. I looked at previous correspondence they sent me and it all said that they were part of the DoE. Their reasoning made no sense. I then wrote them a letter saying as much. You see, their new name is Navient, which replaces Sallie Mae, but they said they are my new Department of Education Student Loan Servicer. They are “transitioning” and apparently they do not even know who they are anymore. Such acquisitions and mergers can make companies unsure of their purpose for existence and create customer service nightmares. Welcome to the Student Loan Nightmare-land. This is why I avoid dealing with such issues: I can hardly organize my own life and yet I have to somehow keep others on track. Sometimes, it is just too much.
I don’t have a choice. I have to push through or I allow myself to remain stuck indefinitely. I can’t blame others for my lack of forward movement when I have so many ways of holding myself back.
I am realizing the importance of completing issues/transactions. When things are unsaid/undone, the lack of resolution taints all subsequent interactions with any subconscious similarity at all. I am unwilling to drag around tons of unresolved stuff to my next phase of life. I want a clean slate.
I am not going to do everything right, but everything needs to get done, one way or another. This may not be pretty.
Lately, I’ve been watching “19 Kids and Counting” and it has made me wistful. Normally, I think of the Duggars as freaks, bizarrely conservative and spreading the kind of religion I have barely escaped from. But Jill’s wedding got me thinking of what I have missed.
I remember being in my early twenties. I felt like I was thrown into the deep of a changing economy and expected to sink or swim. I almost didn’t invite my parents to my wedding because I was having issues with my dad. It was a civil ceremony. I cannot imagine my dad “giving me away.” I wasn’t his property to give away or withhold from anyone.
When asked at Jill’s wedding, “Who gives this woman away?” Jim Bob pipes up and says, “I do. Her mother and I do.” While sounding a tad medieval, it also symbolizes a release of his parental control. The torch is being consciously passed to the new generation.
Jill is not left wondering if she is an adult. She leaves the church a married woman and the entire church community acknowledges this new phase of her life.
My dad asked me after I got married, “How’s married life treating you?” My response? “Pretty much like ‘living-together life’.” I wasn’t trying to be snide; I just didn’t know what he was talking about. Was there supposed to be some sort of magical transformation?
Well, yeah, but I didn’t know that back then and would have had no idea of what it should have been or look like.
I was talking to my best friend the other day and told her that I suspected part of my wanting to move to Charlottesville, Virginia was because it is Virginia’s version of Ann Arbor: a college town filled with youthful, energetic people seeking new ideas and creative outlets (but not snow-bound!). I never lived on any campus while going to school. I was busy being married and a weekend stepmom, and trying to survive. I feel like I missed some stages of adulthood.
Can there be rites of passage without the inherently dysfunctional patriarchy and brain-sacrificing belief system? There need to be. I am understanding feminine spirituality more now, but find that some of it is just a reaction to the overly masculine spirituality so common in Christianity. It looks like the mirror-image of the problem, not a solution.
I am learning that participation makes things more real emotionally. I spent a few hours yesterday helping the Democrats. It felt so good to be helpful and contribute my time to being part of the solution instead of the problem. Most of our candidates didn’t win, but nothing substitutes for feeling like being a part of something positive bigger than oneself. I met a wide variety of fascinating people. I want this to continue.
All this makes me wonder how many problems people have are simply incomplete experiences. No one ever explains to the father of a new bride that his daughter will now start a new life outside of his control. A woman never grieves her sudden multiple losses and becomes a hoarder. A mother never gives up control of her son and becomes a meddling mother-in-law. These are simply a refusal to acknowledge that life has moved on, with or without us.
Problems do not get addressed and traumata accumulate.
I see our society spinning out of control. It has lost its spiritual rudder and it has not yet found a new, better way of handling the tough issues. Letting go of something dysfunctional is good, but not enough. We need alternatives. Going backwards is not an option. There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.
And I want to be part of the solution.
I have been dealing with a lot of things lately. Shrink appointments, creating an Advance Directive for Barry, taping plastic on windows for winter, bagging leaves, and other major and minor situations. It leaves me emotionally whipped. There is nothing left of me.
I feel like the only people I can relate to are other people who are also dealing with a lot or who at least know that a situation exists that demands their attention. Everyone has a lot to deal with, but not everyone actually deals with anything. Denial reigns supreme.
I find myself curious about rituals and safe/sacred spaces. I know that there can be no healing if people never feel safe or understood. I want to understand how to accelerate healing, my own and others’.
A few months ago, I went to a person’s house. The person was gone to California. That will again soon be the case. This house is fascinating. There is a big boy doll in the living room window, Tibetan singing bowls on the living room floor, and all sorts of strange New Agey items displayed everywhere. The boy doll seemed really weird to me. I could see the back of it from my car before I even went into the house.
But then I went in and was awestruck. The house exuded peace, serenity, love, and joy. We did the blessing as scheduled, but that feeling of wholeness (holiness) lingered for days.
I am overly left-brained and feel a need to know what gives that profound transformative atmosphere. Is it the objects themselves, or could the homeowner live in a bare-bones apartment with four walls and ugly carpet and still produce that sense of beauty and reverence?
The reason these things are important to me is that I now have the ability to make some changes. Getting the Advance Directive done for Barry is a huge burden off my shoulders. I feel like I am just starting to come through on the other side. This bardo is starting to end and the next one will begin perhaps shortly.
I need to find a way to help others, but they need to know they need help first. I can’t help people who think everything is someone else’s fault. I can deal with reality, but not pretense or living in the past. Everyone has been traumatized, but not everyone knows it.
Humanity is evolving…quickly. Faster than most people can keep up. It is traumatizing to deal with so much change at once, especially when other people are pretending everything remains the same as it was in 1974 or 1985. To be forced to deal with both change and other people’s complete refusal to acknowledge change is extraordinarily disorienting. This is what I am living with now. People need support in their efforts to direct change in their lives for the better. I need support. When I meditate, stuff rises to the surface and I am not convinced it is only my own personal issues. I think I have struck a vein of the collective unconscious. What do you do with issues from generations of humanity’s confusion and trauma? I don’t know.