Archive for the 'Ommmm. . .' Category

26
Oct
16

The being of nothingness

In an interesting coincidence, given what I just wrote about last night, I just ran across this in the NYTimes article about Bob Dylan’s silence since having been awarded the Nobel prize:

‘Bad faith, Sartre explains in “Being and Nothingness,” is the opposite of authenticity. Bad faith becomes possible because a human being cannot simply be what he or she is, in the way that an inkwell simply is an inkwell. Rather, because we are free, we must “make ourselves what we are.” In a famous passage, Sartre uses as an example a cafe waiter who performs every part of his job a little too correctly, eagerly, unctuously. He is a waiter playing the role of waiter. But this “being what one is not” is an abdication of freedom; it involves turning oneself into an object, a role, meant for other people. To remain free, to act in good faith, is to remain the undefined, free, protean creatures we actually are, even if this is an anxious way to live.’

And am realizing that all most of us really want is to live (and be loved, respected) exactly as we are. Sure, we could get all “but let’s help make people better people,” but, actually, unless they’re your not-fully-grown children, it’s really about learning how to live with each other, not about trying to conform them into being what you think they should be.

We all just want to live authentically, and maybe, when we don’t, is when we start hurting people, or ourselves.

Advertisements
25
Oct
16

Letting go of s#!t is hard

Have spent a large chunk of time over the past few days cleaning up piles and papers and organizing desks and drawers and cupboards, etc.

Finding myself also in need of shedding the burden of some observations I’ve been carrying around for awhile. Feel free to forward this on to anyone for whom one or more of them seems to speak to directly. I may do the same.

A new category: You Might Not Know This, but…

For example: 

  • You might not know this, but the reason some people don’t say “hello” in a loud and cheerful voice every time they walk into the office is because a secretary in a previous office may have sent everyone an email once, pointing out how busy she is, and how distracting it was for her to have to stop work and exchange greetings with every person who walks in, and could everyone please limit their casual conversations with others perhaps to a different area of the building; so maybe they’re just trying to be considerate.
  • You might not know this, but the day you said “Hell-O” in a very pointed way, I had already said hello, very quietly, so as not to interrupt people at their work.
  • You might not know this, but misspelling or omitting names of participants in programs or brochures or during the official “thank-yous” might make them feel their contribution is insignificant, or cause them to wonder why they work so hard to be so professional and conscientious all the time when so much of what they do will be attributed to someone else, or to no one at all.
  • You might not know this, but I had decided not to charge you for the recital we performed together, but when you sent me a copy of the publicity with your name in size 36 font and your 5×7 picture and your bio and made no mention of a pianist, no less no mention of me, I realized that you did not see us as collaborators and equal contributors, but rather that you were the soloist and I was the hired help, so charging seemed like the logical thing to do.
  • You might not know this, but forbidding an active, full investment from someone with whom you are “collaborating” (in scare quotes, since, if you’re not encouraging an active, full investment, it’s not actually a collaboration at all, is it?) will not only make them feel small, but will prevent you from learning anything from them, and may actually interfere with your own goals, as chances are they have ideas worth at least considering.
  • You might not know this, but in rehearsal, when a collaborator says “we’re not together” it might mean that you actually miscounted and came in wrong, and maybe they were being polite, and considerate of your feelings. And, in case this is not obvious, firing them on facebook is kind of a shitty thing to do. 
  • You might not know this, but the look on my face at that meeting was not impatience or animosity toward you for holding the meeting, but sheer embarrassment on your behalf that other people’s actions had made the meeting necessary.
  • You might not know this, but some people may not insert themselves into conversations or invite themselves along to social gatherings because they were taught not to intrude on others’ conversations, or to invite themselves, and does not necessarily imply a lack of desire for personal interaction or connection; and it may even be possible that your lack of welcome and inclusion had as much to do with a lack of connection as anything else you might want to blame.
  • You might not know this, but it’s not appropriate to pay someone half a salary, or hire them to work 15 hours a week, and expect them to make a 100% commitment. You wouldn’t do it, I can’t for the life of me why you would expect someone else to.
  • You might not know this, but people may not agree with how you choose to do your job, share your ideas (or not), gossip, post on facebook, manage your relationships, or even how to be. But realize that, as they show you respect in allowing you to make those choices for yourself, they probably long for the same respect to be shown in return.
  • You might not know this, but allowing the person who was hired to do the job actually do the job might actually lead to more consistent and professional results than if you encourage your spouse, who has no training or expertise in the area, to express opinions and influence on how the job should be done. Likewise if you replace “spouse” with “person who writes the huge checks every year as a donation to save the organization when yet again the deficit budget fails to miraculously convert itself into a surplus.”
  • You might not know this, but calling to yell at someone about a blog post you hadn’t even read hurts the writer’s feelings tremendously, maybe even more so if the writer was advocating for someone close to you. These feelings may continue to reverberate, including creating a hesitancy to write anything at all, and a lack of trust in your fundamental relationship, which is regrettable for all concerned.
  • You might not know this, but people who feel deeply and are always striving to improve are not necessarily pessimistic, but may in fact be exceedingly optimistic, but find their optimism harder and harder to act on, given the responses this optimism has met in the past. 

I think everyone should read Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly” (New Yorker, June 14 & 21, 2010) and pick which sentence best describes them. I used to think it was “You were too injured by things that happened in the distant past for anything to be effortless in the present” but now I think it’s “I was never indifferent to the children of strangers, just frustrated by my own unrelenting optimism.” 

Tomorrow: the linen closet.
P.s. An opportunity for catharsis for you, dear readers, in the comments section: You might not know this, but…

Or maybe a sub-sub-category for parents: …the dishes don’t put themselves away, …the cupboards don’t wipe themselves, …lights don’t turn themselves off, …sometimes it’s nice to do something just because you know it needs to be done not because somebody asked you, …it’s more polite to ask if there’s anything you can do to help with dinner than to ask what is for dinner, or what time it will be served, …the laundry is not actually done by the laundry fairy, …

10
Nov
14

the disease of busyness

Read this.

I believe it, I agree with it.

I also feel that there is too much time spent in “pursuit” of something, and not enough time left to create. People don’t sit and stare and watch the world and think creative thoughts — what happens to our poets and playwrights, our composers and artists, when every minute to spare is spent being entertained by our phones? Parents drive their children to take more and more AP classes and to be on every academic team available and to prepare for way too many standardized tests, but don’t support their school district’s music and art programs and, as soon as the child gets “too busy,” discontinues their music lessons, even though this is probably the ONE area of the child’s life that involves personal expression, investigation, long-term discipline and artistic creativity.

I’m aware of this almost daily when I contemplate how much more financially comfortable my family could be if I were willing to work more hours and realize that I really don’t want to. That my time for yoga and reading and knitting and weaving and sitting on the couch every night with my husband watching hockey or Netflix movies or worthwhile TV series on DVDs (currently The Good Wife, although we’re almost out of discs — any recommendations?) is as or more important to my and my family’s comfort and happiness than a few hundred more dollars a month in our checking account. And then I’m SO grateful that I have that option, that I get to make that DECISION rather than being forced to work 2 or 3 minimum-wage jobs just to pay the mortgage and buy minimal groceries — a situation I know is true for many.

But many of these choices that lead to what I’m going to call Diseased Busyness ARE choices. Even Only Daughter right now has 3, 14-hour days each week because of extensive Nutcracker rehearsals. She leaves the house at 7 a.m.; is home for half an hour and then at ballet until 9 (if they let her out on time, which they rarely do), at which point she comes home and eats dinner and does her homework. She’s not getting enough sleep, she’s stressed half the time, she’s probably not eating enough, but this is just for a couple of months, so I accept it. Even though I don’t think it’s particularly good for her in a short-term sense, I believe it is in the long-term, but only because it is short term. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I fear this lack of “down” will exact a cost on all of us, on society, ultimately on our success as PEOPLE (not automatons, not worker bees, but thinking/feeling/creative/compassionate people).

I believe it so much I’m going to do something I don’t usually do, but post this on BOTH of my blogs, and link to it on my personal AND professional Facebook pages.

Let’s start a rebellion. Let’s not over schedule. Let’s not pull out our phones when we have less than 10 minutes to wait for something. Let’s try to maintain a balance for ourselves and our children of work-, hobby-, and creative/artistic pursuits. Let’s leave our houses dirty and eat dinner together. And when we ask someone how they are, ask how their heart is — not about how many awards their child has won or how many committees they are on, but really ask — How ARE you? And then take those minutes (since you’re not going on your phone anyway, remember?) to really listen to the answer.

21
Jun
13

just lying there, listening

Had several sleepless nights this week; not really sure why for the most part. I have adopted a “move at least an hour every day” policy so I’ve been exercising more, and my legs get a little twitchy, but even when I take extra calcium and they aren’t twitchy I’m still kind of awake half the night.

Lying there listening to the whir of the ceiling fan and the really loud “tuck-tick, tuck-tick” of this new clock/picture frame Husband procured from somewhere and some nights the wind dances through the leaves of the trees over my house in such a way I’m not sure it’s not raining. There’s also this really resonant hoot owl in our woods and sometimes Dexter the Dumb Dog decides that he needs to bark at the grill or back to the owl or at whatever random shadows move outside the kitchen window; Second Son is also a night owl and home for the summer, (except for this week when he has been touring the midwest/east coast with his band, which is kind of cool for him and worrying for me while they drive from city to city through the wee hours of the night) so we hear him downstairs, or moving around in the kitchen.

Anyway, lots of time lying there in the dark, listening, listening, thinking, listening.

I start to write poems sometimes while I’m lying there, but I’m either too lazy or too sleepy to actually write them down, so then I lie there trying to devise mental tricks that will allow me to remember them when I wake up the next morning, but then of course I don’t. Some pretty good stuff, if I remember that much, which I probably don’t.

Stuff about the difference between being in love and loving and which is better and why sometimes you think one is better but then later you realize it’s actually the other.

Stuff about wishing you were better than you are — a better parent, a better pianist, a better person — and then realizing that you are actually usually pretty much doing the best you can (at the time) and that your parents probably were too and that all the stuff that you’ve been spending a lot of time being pissed off at them about you should probably just let go because it’s not doing you any good and it’s certainly not doing them any good and you sure hope that someday your kids will cut you a break and do the same for you.

Stuff about your professional disappointments and who stabbed you in the back and might even be stabbing you in the back still and whether your pursuit of inner peace and Happiness (rather than “happiness”) means they get away with it or just that you get to stop carrying that particular load of garbage around for at least a little while.

Stuff about friendships that didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, and friendships you’re grateful for; stuff about whether it’s worse to have been overlooked when one friend threw another mutual friend a party and you weren’t invited, or whether you were considered for the invitation list and then expunged; wondering why it matters and then wondering if maybe that can be just another one of those bits of garbage not to be carried around any more.

Stuff about whether it’s “fair” that I get to live in a cozy and humble but comfortable and beautiful home and cook whatever I want for dinner and sip gin fizzes at a cute little desk in the corner lit by a funky lamp bought for me for my birthday by my (now-deceased) mother in Nashville, Tennessee while we were celebrating her birthday, while elsewhere in the world women are raped on buses and child brides are married to men in their 30s in India and the people of Syria kill each other and those guys keep standing on exit ramps with their “Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” signs and what does “fair” mean anyway and why does that matter so much to me and everybody else?

(Sheesh. Is it any wonder I can’t sleep?)

But the funny thing is, it’s not like I’m lying there all twisted up with anxiety and unhappiness.

It’s just all there, floating around me, while I get to feel lucky and grateful and regretful and sad all at the same time.

So not a poem really. A rant? Maybe.

Maybe I should have just stuck with what I put on my “Not a Guru” blog yesterday.

I’m scared, but I’m grounded.
I’m sane, but I’m overwhelmed.
I’m lost, but I’m hopeful.
Yeah.

I’m sad, but I’m laughin’,
I’m brave but I’m chickenshit,
I’m wrong and I’m sorry baby.

But what it all comes down to,
is that noone’s got it figured out just yet,
but I got one hand in my pocket, and
the other is givin’ a high five.

19
Mar
13

maybe not cut out for it after all

A friend had posted a link to this article on her facebook page; an article which outlines 22 things that “Happy” people do differently, presumably from “Unhappy” people.

I thought about linking into it on what I have taken to referring to as “the guru project,” but after I clicked and read through all of the things I’m supposed to “do” in order to be “happy” all I could think was “Who has the time?” Exercise, meditate, dream big, keep up with my friends, spend significant time with my family, get up early???

I despair.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.

And no, I’m not one of those women who “want it all.” Who wants it all? I can barely keep track of what I have already. And I kind of wish we would stop being told that we can or can’t have it (all), when really all we want is to be paid fairly, have access to decent child care and affordable health insurance, maybe a school schedule that doesn’t have days off and two hour delays every 6 days, and people in the house who help with the dishes and clean up after themselves.

But get up early?

I had to be at a TV studio at 8:30 this morning, and at 7:20 still couldn’t find my black dress pants, and the coffee grinder was broken, and I realized a) how infrequently I actually have to BE somewhere in the morning and b) how much I really dislike having to BE somewhere in the morning. So I’ll dream big, as long as it doesn’t require me to be at a desk at 9 a.m. 5 days a week, and I’m not going to get up early. (Youcan’tmakemesothere.)

😛

 

 

12
Mar
13

The Why’s and Wherefore’s

Husband often asks me, when I’m about to initiate a difficult conversation, say, (or maybe even an argument,) with someone, if I have first figured out what I hope to accomplish. I guess that understanding this is perhaps a worthy goal for just about everything we do in a day.

Have been trying to figure this out myself, since three days ago when I decided that I really wanted to start a second blog. Why not just post these thoughts in the blog I already have?

I do actually hope that some of my current blog followers will follow this one as well. (Hint-hint-nudge-nudge-wink-wink)

But I want this one to be different.

So back to the question, worded in a slightly different way: Why bother?

What, exactly, does this thing I’m about to do (fill in the blank) accomplish . . . and I would complete that sentence . . .  that will help fulfill my personal/emotional/spiritual goals as a person with a short time on this planet and a whole lot of life I’d like to live?

And here’s what, why, how, at least, as best I can explain it:

I (like to) believe we’re all searching for what I, for lack of a better term, will call Enlightenment. To live, laugh, love, better and more fully; to find Happiness, by which I mean the inner state that has nothing to do with the outer circumstances, but which resides deep within, burning like an ember; maybe to do one thing every day that feels like we Made a Difference.

(It’s funny, but it reminds me of the conversation I had with Husband the other day about that tattoo I’m trying to talk myself into/out of getting: Chinese characters that say “Live the moment.” But then I thought, and said, “But what if the moment sucks?”)

Anyway.

I want to try to post one thing each day for a year that helps toward this goal: to live, laugh, love, better and more fully; to find Happiness, that inner state that has nothing to do with outer circumstances; to do one thing every day that Made a Difference. It might be something I read, something I observed, something I did or said or that someone did or said to me. Every single one of them could probably fit under the category I call “Grace.” Some of it might be obvious (Duh!), some hopefully insightful, some somewhere in between. Maybe you’ll have heard it before, maybe it will remind you of something that you would like to share. There won’t be the same type of political commentary, or feminist “propaganda,” or making fun of advertising. Well, unless they contribute toward my quest for enlightenment. Who knows, maybe I’ll find that it’s not necessary, or not getting read, and abandon it entirely. I suppose I could start a separate category, but for some inexplicable reason, I want it to be separate.

Maybe it’s silly to think we can find Enlightenment at all — it is the ongoing quest of some of whom I already consider to be the most enlightened people I know — but maybe we’ll all feel better knowing that we’re looking together.

The new blog can be found at: notaguruatall.wordpress.com. I’m going to post this same post as my “introduction,” well, except for this paragraph — that would be weird — so please read on. After this, I will not duplicate.

Hope to see you there.

19
Feb
13

Really? That’s it? My quest for “happiness”

I am, and have always been, someone who strives to find/feel “happiness” every day. To live in the moment — to the point where I, a 48-year old woman, (with a nose piercing, but only 2 sets of holes in her ears), have seriously contemplated getting this tattoo’d on my inner forearm to remind me to live in the moment:

Chineselivethemoment

(This does, actually mean “live in the moment,” not “one order of Peking duck, hot and sour soup on the side.” I know this because I’ve checked.) (Still trying to get up my nerve. Any suggestions? warnings? Anybody out there want to drive me to the tattoo parlor and hold my hand and hang around for the next 30 years and remind me of what a good idea it was when my skin gets all dry and wrinkly like paper and the tattoo ends up looking exactly like it it is actually an order for Peking duck, hot and sour soup on the side? I didn’t think so.)

Anyway. . .

As you all know, I am also dealing with the death of both of my parents, my father a few weeks ago, and my mom last August. As you might imagine, my relationship with them was probably much like yours is with your parents — I didn’t talk to them often enough, my mom was often “disappointed” in me being, well, too much like me, (I’m not making this up), etc., etc., but I loved them and they loved me and they were my parents, and now they’re gone. Despite knowing that my dad died exactly how he would have wanted to — peacefully, apparently in his sleep, perfectly healthy as-far-as-he-knew one moment, and gone the next — I am still so incredibly sad to have lost him. (And it doesn’t do much to reassure me that the same won’t happen to me? Husband? Heaven help us whoever next.)

I’ve also struggled with having to let go of some of my professional dreams, and am still struggling with trying to find time to do the work I need to do to pay my bills, be there for Only Daughter when she needs me to be, and pursue the other things in life that have always tempted or interested me — namely, I want to read more, knit more, would love to take a painting class, and a photography class, would like to try to write an actual book someday, etc. etc.

Yesterday in my yoga class, a class with one of my favorite yoga teachers, and one which offered exactly what I needed (hip openers!) after having missed yoga for two weeks, the teacher did the opening meditation on happiness. She started with the American Indian/Cherokee story a chief tells his granddaughters, about the two wolves which live and battle each other inside each of us. One of the wolves is anger, fear, resentment, frustration, disappointment; the other joy, happiness, contentment. One of the granddaughters asks which wolf wins the battle, and the answer is “The wolf you feed.”

I started thinking about how much of my energy is spent feeding my resentment towards the people who have wronged me, how I should stop feeding that wolf, but how their petty insecurities have interfered with my ability to really live up to my personal or professional potential, and how letting that anger go is like letting them get away with it, and how unfair that is, and how much energy do they ever spend thinking about me and so on, and so on, and so on.

By the time I left, I was all nicely warmed up and limbered up and felt like I had really had a good yoga practice, physically, and was an absolute mess emotionally; nearly in tears before Savasana, barely able to roll up my matt and depart at the end.

I came home, and Only Daughter was here, as it was still her schools’ mid-winter break. I decided that, rather than do our usual, which is her at the computer watching ridiculous ridiculousness on youtube (Dance Moms! Ugh!) and reading her books and me practicing and at my computer answering emails, etc., we would go see a special exhibit at the local museum. So I shower, and we grab a quick lunch, and off we go.

First I park near what used to be one of our area museums, but it’s now part of a local arts college. Of course, I don’t discover this until I’ve fed every single piece of loose change I own into the meter, trying to eke out 90 minutes. We then drive to the correct museum (which has the name of it clearly above the door, a name which does not resemble in any way the name of the museum on all of the billboards touting the new exhibit), and can’t find a parking space. After driving around the block twice we find that someone has departed, so I do an illegal U-turn, grab the spot, manage to find two more nickels in the bottom of my purse, (I’ll get change when we get the tickets), and in we go. . .but the line is 150 people long, and I have piano students in two hours.

Never mind.

The rest of the day is much like this. I won’t bore you with the details, but it did include driving a long way out of the way to go to an arts supply store, doing extensive research in books introducing painting with watercolors, selecting paints, and brushes, and paper, and getting overwhelmed and intimidated and putting it all back.

After a kind of restless but adequate night’s sleep I wake up with the decision (!) that this will be a better day; I will make it so if it’s the last thing I do, gol’darn’it. I will start this day by writing the name of every person who has “wronged” me on a piece of paper and burning it in a foil tray, and that will release me from their hold on me. I do this. And there aren’t really that many people. And I laugh and think, “that’s it? It seemed like so many.” I start to wrack my brain to see if I can think of anyone else, decide I’m utterly ridiculous, and that’s that.

Of course, it’s not really that simple.

I picture this ideal, where there is this part way down deep in the center of me that is strong and confident and good, like a little tiny diamond carat from which the rest of me radiates; and some days I know it’s there and some days I think it’s there and some days I hope it’s there and some days I just can’t seem to find it, or believe that it ever existed.

But I have everything I need, and my husband and children are healthy and smart and strong, and my problems, in comparison to the problems of the world, are pretty small. I know all of these things.  So I make these vows to myself, to be more present, to be more joyful, to be more that tiny little diamond carat and less the dark swirling shadows that engulf it. . .and then my students come and they don’t have their assignment book, or their Etudes book, or they were skiing for the whole weekend and didn’t practice until yesterday; or I will be a better and more patient mom and then I catch Only Daughter eating her fourth snack since school, at the computer, and three of her Tuesday chores not done; or. . .

But today, I wrote an eleven-page paper about a Bach piece that I love and that I will submit for publication. And I got a last-minute gig playing for two gala occasions in area cities this weekend. And I bought myself these boots:

redbootsHow fun/happy is that?

(Alas, I have to wait 30-60 days for them. Not sure why, but I think it’s important not to ask too many questions in cases like this. Of course, my credit card has already been charged.)

(And yes, I know retail therapy isn’t the answer to everything, and that it is not possible to actually buy happiness. But I’m thinking that it might sometimes help. I mean, did you see the boots? They’re red. And embroidered. And the toes curl up in that insouciant manner, almost like a smile. Did I mention they’re red?)




Reader Appreciation Award

Share This

Share |

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 178 other followers

Follow me on Twitter: sheriji1

Blog Stats

  • 110,554 hits