Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh no, I'm a control freak

but I am horrible at it, in much the same way as a dog does not make a good cat, sorbet just doesn't cut it as ice cream or mosquitoes do not make loving house pets. I love order from chaos, but I tend to control that which is not in my power to control. Much like standing in front of a dam after hurricane Irene, there are those things that I am not meant to manage, like nearly everything. But I try to do so anyways. And it never works out, go figure. Wouldn't life be amazing if I could just sit back with a remote control, put in my orders and watch as things miraculously fell into place? Probably not. It seems when I give up the battle to constantly try and force a round peg into a triangular hole, I always find the round hole, or turn into a triangular peg. It just works when I give up the battle. So I have quiet time, time to sit and be with myself, not a fun filled activity, but it has been enlightening. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could just create the story line that my life was to follow? Probably not, because I am not aware of all the possibilities out there that are available to me. My human sized brain cannot comprehend the immensity that is God. I am told just to turn it over, but how exactly does one do that? Today I made a list of the things I could do, and I did them. I also asked that my will be aligned with God's Will. That for me is the act of turning it over, actually asking for help and when that help arrives, accepting it. This life stuff gets tricky sometimes. 

And they appeared, as if by magic

Autumn has slipped in, the leaves are already changing here in the Berkshires. This morning I took to the Appalachian Trail for the first time in a few weeks, and it was like slipping into a different world. Birch leaves covered the trail, roots seemed to have sprung (my feet had forgotten where they were.) It even sounded different, songbirds no longer called, here and there a word or two; instead the air was filled with the rustling of falling leaves. Light filtered through already bare patches where evergreens were absent. The woods smelled like wet dog in certain places, others, damp moss. Fungi grew, popping up overnight it seemed, bright red, brilliant white, round and bumpy, the mushrooms hinting at a world invisible to the eye that waits to explode when we aren't looking. I stopped at the stream to pray, the water rushing from our overabundance of precipitation these last few weeks. Cattails had started to brown. As I stood on the rock that crosses the brook I started to see spider webs appear, as if by magic. They hung from birch branches and spanned the distance between cattails and other tall grasses. The longer I stood, the more came into view. I have been forced to slow down recently, this morning was no exception. No calls to work were received, so I have a day, a brilliant autumn day to run and read and try to listen for answers. What is the next step? The spider weaves a web and waits. Has my web been woven? What is the proper mixture of work and meditation? I know that when I force situations to occur, the end result is less than desirable (I still regret the grammatically flawed resumes sent by the dozens.) Nature has her season of work and her season of rest. Now she is cleaning up, purging and preparing for a little quiet before the rebirth. Today the leaves fall, without any real effort, they are no longer needed to make sugar for food. The songbirds do not need to attract a mate. Today the webs come into focus, as long as I am quiet and pay attention. Is it my season to slow down, sit back and allow, or do I need to go out and grab for what I need, gathering nuts for a long winter? I am not sure. But I do know that if I take care of what needs to be done today, exercise, prayer, meditation, writing and a little grocery shopping, the next steps will appear, as the webs did, as the sunlight hit the morning dew. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taking Flight

This morning I set out for a run, choosing the trail behind my apartment which weaves through rolling fields, past a pond, over a brook and by some pine woods. I hadn't been running in a few days and my lungs felt it,  and my legs were a little shaky, but I ventured on, determined to add five miles to my running tally. As I passed the pond a Great Blue Heron took flight, he was invisible to my eyes until he made his move. It jarred me from my meditation. Herons transition between water, land and air, and although it appears that their bodies may be heavy as they take off, once they are airborne, their flight is smooth. It occurred to me that over the last few months I have been considering myself to be in a transition period, graduating from college, and waiting for the next adventure to begin, that new job or writing project. I have been focusing on getting someplace, finding that source of income, making a contribution to society. When that didn't happen this summer, my first instinct was to run away, to start over in a new place, because maybe just maybe I would actually get somewhere then. But today as my lungs reminded me to stay present and the heron reminded me to pay attention, I realized that I haven't been in a transitional limbo. This is a necessary part of life. Just as winter isn't the transitional period between autumn and spring, the last few months haven't been the transition between school and employment. Winter is essential. Without it there would be no opportunity for new life to sprout. Life is cyclical, each day is necessary, not just another 24 hours to get through in order to get to the good stuff. As westerners I think we value the active life, the workaholism, the doing doing doing. Meditation and quiet seem unnecessary in the scheme of life, because nothing gets done. But watch a heron as it stands completely still in the water. In that stillness is action, without it the fish would never be spied. When the time comes I will be called to action just as the heron will move to spear its prey, but just for today this stillness, this so called "transition" period is exactly what I need to be experiencing. When I ran this morning, what mattered wasn't my starting point (my house,) or my ending point (my house,) but the grass, the mud, the cattails and heron between the two points. That is the journey, that is the point.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It just might be time for a nap...

I have been putting off writing this post for a few weeks now, resistance is a powerful force, and is futile, as the Borg say. But what I resist is what I know I need to look at. On September 1, my son went off to college, leaving a very quiet, empty home. I am also no longer a student and at present have no job title. And this is exactly where I need to be at the moment. My person has been stripped of cultural markers, labels and identities. I am no longer a single working mom or a student and I am no longer (insert job title here.) What is left when we strip away the external words that identify us as legitimate members of society? I have had much quiet time lately, time to think (not always a productive way to spend time,) write, meditate and be with God. I am not alone and I am whole because I am spirit, but it is hard to force my way past the voices (don't worry now) that tell me I should be doing more, that I am not worth anything unless I am actively contributing to society. But when I force life to happen (such as sending out 40 resumes with spelling errors or frantically texting my child) God has a way of gently coercing me down a different trail, usually toward quiet, unplanned solitude. I have to allow life to unfold while taking the next right action. What does it feel like to be, without a purpose? Pretty scary to this workaholic, but that is what needs to happen. I need to sit in the unknown, without any answers and learn to feel comfortable there. My soul needs to just hang out, without my ego expecting her to perform, to do, to hustle through the day. Who am I without, labels? The question seems cliche, but is relevant because I don't know the answer. I have a feeling though, that if I just make peace with the quiet, some knowledge might come. And if it doesn't, at least I will have gotten a lot of use out of my hammock. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking at Myself

Today is a day of remembrance for all who died on September 11, ten years ago. I wonder though, if we could remember all who have died, period. Yes, violence was directed at us, but what about those we kill? Are they somehow not worthy of our prayers and love? What about the millions of people killed in senseless war, even the Native Americans we killed, either through malice and greed or via the introduction of illness? Can I look at the violence I put out into the world, the anger, the jealousy, the fear? Where have I contributed to the violence that seeps our beloved planet? Am I senselessly using more than my fair share of resources? Am I purchasing products that support repression of peoples? Am I eating food that has been treated inhumanely? Am I tailgating the driver in front of me? There are many ways in which I contribute to this already violent world. Just for today, can I suspend all forms of violence and send prayers to all who have died and acknowledge all the harm that I have done, either knowingly or in ignorance. Perhaps I can continue this ritual tomorrow as well.

Monday, September 5, 2011 wait, come back

I delivered my son safely to college this past Thursday and immediately plunged into an uncomfortable emotional experience. There is a phenomenon out there known by psychologists as empty nest syndrome. It is not actually an illness, but rather a certain set of feelings that accompany this transition period. Where once one's life is consumed by raising a child, now the parent must discover what it is like to be an unencumbered adult. After getting my fledgling settled into a room half the size of my bathroom (which he will share with two other teenage boys) I drove home, with a stop at the grocery store for the ever-consoling pint of Ben and Jerry's. I ran into another empty nester in the store and realized that I no longer had to buy three bags of chips so that I could guarantee that I would be able to eat six. I could put the chocolate milk back in the cooler, and one brick of cheese would suffice. My attitude was less than chipper and I spent hours lamenting the fact that I was a single mom, no longer a mom, just a single lady alone in the world. I had an empty nest. Thank God someone told me it was time to spread my wings and fly. And thank Goddess that I had friends that surrounded me, reminding me that although I do now have this empty nest, I have a full life. I will always be a parent, but I need to learn how to let my child learn to be an adult. And in order to do that I need to spread my wings, and show him how to leap. The Ben and Jerry's helped as did the nachos and Haagen Daaz (I am an equal opportunity ice cream eater, although read more on gelato in my other blog.) A healthy dose of gratitude was what lessened the symptoms of ENS, I have an amazing life and an amazing child that I will miss dearly. I will get to see him soon, and when I do he will be soaring without me. Isn't that, after all, the point?