Monday, February 21, 2011

Fresh from the kiln...

Attempting to work effectively today has been hampered by a number of things within me that I feel I need to write first. I think the writers among you know what I mean when I say that there are times where you can't push out the "official" stuff because there are a bunch of proverbial sheep scattered about the proverbial road.

You're trying to get the car of work down the road.

There are sheep in the way.

They say "bbaaaaaaah!"

You say "Oh come on, move - MOVE!"

But, they're there, demanding to be recognized: demanding to be carried off the road one by one - daring you to ignore them (running over them would simply damage the proverbial car and cause work to suffer so that wouldn't be an option). Translating of course, can be difficult. Some days, all I want to do is sit there and say "bbaaaaah" like some semi-vegetative, over-sized, half dead sea slug. Some days, all the watery optimism in me is pressed out, as though I am a sponge. Then it's all hands on deck, trying to soak it back up before too much is permanently lost and has to be gleaned once more from other sources...

Lately though, I've felt alternately hopeful for new beginnings and then completely incompatible with everything, including myself. It's an extremely confusing state to be in, I can tell you. I crave stability. I can do all sorts of crazy, interesting things from a stable "base" but without one, I feel a little bit like one of those thin creepers that wind around trees and fences and other little plants. I need to change forms - evolve.

Bella is evolving too - thickly caught in the stranger anxiety that'll keep her safe; cutting teeth all over the place; beginning to walk more and more; discovering independence but worried that mama will run away and leave... It's got to be confusing for her as well. I muddle through each day trying to do my best to be a good mom, not really knowing if what I'm doing is "by the book" - just mostly instinctive. Instinctive and progressively more introverted, too, as I am aware that the responsibility will probably always just rest with me. I try not to think about that too much, because it makes me sad.

Sometimes, I sit here with my elbow on the table and stare through the screen, letting everything just slide for perhaps five, maybe ten minutes. I hear the cars go by on the road outside and the noise of the house settling; icicles falling off the roof; floorboards cracking as they move over long-placed nails in joints and timbers. I let my consciousness drift over to the other side of my desk and it sits there, regrading me with curiosity as if to say "are you a sad person, Jay? Are you that sad person sitting there?"

I'm not a sad person though. It's much more complex than that. Underneath, I am the long scar left after a potentially fatal wound has healed - the one people look at and whisper about because they're taken aback by it. When you peel the layers off, that's what I am. My optimism is only part of me - it's real, but it's like veneer. I choose to wear it on the outside because it's just better that way. I think I'm okay with it for the most part.

The thing is, I suppose, what bothers me is the possibility that what has happened in the course of my life has left me too...complicated (?) to really love. The outside is just fine, but it's not the whole of me, nor would I be happy with anyone ever assuming it was. I do wonder though, whether it's just too much trouble - too much to ask of anyone to actually deal with all of me. I wouldn't even know where to start anyway. Without trying to sound insecure (this is a different kettle of fish) perhaps what has changed is that before, as anyone with self esteem, I felt that doing my best would be enough and that I could give someone else a gift, of me. Now I almost feel as though that gift has changed into a burden.

As though I've been fired and am sitting here alone little a piece of hot pottery on a board, fresh from the kiln.

If that makes it sound as though I am completely depressed, don't be fooled - that I am not! I'm just doing a little soul searching. A little thinking out loud. I'm not the only one with these kinds of thoughts, I know. It's nice to write them down sometimes: get those sheep out of the road.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being a grown up...

Well, here we are in February 2011! In some ways it's amazing how quickly time flies - scary even, when you consider that once, you sat there thinking that there were so many decades in front of you to pursue any opportunities you might want to. Now it's all about thinking ahead and planning a little so that things don't totally fall apart at a moment's notice. It's all "grown up" stuff now.

So, what is being a grown up all about anyway? It's a difficult thing to really capture succinctly in a sentence or two. Actually I'm not going far enough there - it's impossible! That's probably why I keep a blog and not a spreadsheet of little quotes...

I suppose the easiest way to quantify it would be to compare me now with me at the age of eighteen and see what fits, and what doesn't. Like clothing. I weigh about 17lb more than I did at eighteen; thankfully some of that is in the "good" places... So needless to say, most of the pants from back then are now being worn by someone else or, probably more likely, decorating the inside of a landfill. Similarly, the contents of my brain are completely different now than they were then, so points of view, tolerance, understanding - it's all different.

At eighteen, I was still escaping from the primordial slime that accompanied me as a new person in the world. It had been rough so far - that is very true - but I'd only just picked myself up after shooting out into the brave new world at the age of sixteen. I ate pasta for pretty much six months straight - so much so that one day, I boiled a pot and sat looking at it because I just couldn't eat any more damn noodles! Thankfully my taste for Italian food has returned with a vengeance, but other things haven't.

Developmentally, things becomes more complex the longer you live - if you let them, though some people are afraid to learn and remain very much on the simpler sideline during their earthly existences. If you open up your mind, however, and let the fear flow in along with everything else then a myriad of meaning begins to reveal itself. Like an oil painting, the bare bones of the piece are there as you approach adulthood but it can take quite a while to get even the under-painting done. Then of course, you have the details and the many layers to go as well. Maybe the finishing touches would be Nirvana. I don't know.

People's lives can be so very different from one another though - some have the good fortune to coast through without a hitch (rare!) whereas others have a pretty normal mixture of ups and downs. You've got a sliding scale from the benign to the interesting. Some people spend years in a seemingly endless assault course being battered half to death by other people or themselves. Some completely give up and die at their own hands - I had a great friend who did this back in 2008, and the hole that event left was immeasurable. 

Others completely turn their lives around, no matter what's happened. I think they're probably some of the bravest people in the world because they're fighting a one-person battle against a number of different fronts, including their past deeds, their impulses, un-supportive people and often, tremendous guilt as well. To rise up like that takes a huge amount of positive strength, so in many ways it's got to be the ultimate indication of a good soul. The war takes place mostly internally, but it's an unwillingness to go down with the light that ultimately saves the day. 

In so many ways, perhaps being a grown up is the realization that we all have so much more power that we believe we have, to do good things. To change things around us for the better and create something incredible that will last so much longer than us. When we're young, it's night or it's day. As we grow into matriarchs and patriarchs, we slowly begin to realize that the dawn and the dusk have a huge effect on the passage of time and what is to come. So even if we are afraid, we sit down and watch. And we let the light open our hearts to love, since we're all delicate regardless of our defenses...