“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.
Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.
Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.”
– Marianne Williamson –
It sounds like such fluff. Such crap. Whimsy. I was reading through some old journals and I thought, who is this person. I recognize her. I remember her, vaguely. But like a dream that’s faded, or like an aging town, it’s only superficially recognizable. I can’t really make you out over the distance. I see you, but I’m not sure if it’s you. Your posture is the same, but your walk is different.
It’s always fun to look back and see what you knew then but didn’t acknowledge. It’s fun to see the words pop out of the pages and see, I knew it then. There’s nothing I know now that I didn’t know then. I’ve known it all, all along. Isn’t that strange?
But if that’s true then how am I different? How have I changed? I think I’ve found my meaning. The meaning has become more apparent to me. I’ve faced my fears, and I’ve survived. I think…I think there’s nothing you can do to me that hasn’t already been done to me. There’s nothing to experience I don’t already have an idea of. There’s nothing I can’t imagine. The worst that can happen will happen but I’ll still recognize myself. I’ll still have myself. I don’t know about spirituality. But I know about my gut. And I know when things make sense and when things feel right, I’m at peace.
I guess that girl– she was afraid, but I’m not. It seems silly, how afraid she was to acknowledge her fear, to meet it head on. To see it for what it was. To give it a name and a seat and a plate of food. The only way to get rid of your fear is to nourish it. To let it hang on for a little while. I called it a lot of other things, but never by its proper name. I was eager to confuse it for anything else.
Confucius says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”
I think by letting it be and letting it develop I was able to finally push it aside. By working with it and in it I was able to leave it behind. I had to let myself be afraid though. To pretend to be unafraid, to pretend that anything I was feeling was coming from a place other than fear…that was me being young, naive, precious. To be able to say now, I’m afraid. This is what’s happening to me and it’s freaking me out, well, that has been significant for me. That has made all the difference.
I don’t know why I thought I was so special before to think that I wasn’t suffering from fear, to think that I could rise above and avoid it unlike all the rest. To think that my experience was so complex it was beyond the usual terms and understandings. We are not unique. We do not exist in silos.
I want to write something beautiful.
Have you seen the way I look at you? I saw it once. In a mirror, in a glance, and the shock resonated.
I try to remind myself this is how I make others feel. But I forget.
It was the coldest winter of my life, but there you were.
Lying in bed listening to the rain blow sideways thinking of not thinking of you.
It’s not that I need to say what I mean. Why do we always have to say what we mean? Do we even know most of the time what we mean? We want the same things with the same people. It’s more of a sense we’re searching for, I think, that the right words cannot supplement. More of a sense of our souls rushing up to the surface than of expressing our every thought exactly right. But we need words to function.
‘I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.’
It’s the words I say that trip people up when in reality I want them to notice what I don’t. So the words I say are only a distraction, a trick of the light, a mechanism I use to test those around me. It’s the words I don’t say that are important…that are what I really mean. How can that be?
Why do I grapple with these questions? Why do I care?
Why aren’t I simpler?
I don’t know why I expect to live in a world where I am understood without meaning. Without context.
Because sometimes you meet people with which it is so and that is somehow worth more than the blanket of vocal ping pong.
You know when you read a book and the sentences just make sense to you. I don’t mean that you can form the sound of the words and understand the meaning which becomes apparent. The visual of the words. I mean when you get the feeling the words relay. I mean when the meaning isn’t literal, isn’t explicit. Can’t be picked up and shown, but has to be felt to be understood. You either have to be able to imagine the feeling, or more often than not, have had to experienced it to recognize the sentiment in the pages. You have to have the compassion lever.
The empathetic gene.
“What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
Thoughts while in a crowd:
Hair. Why do we have it. What is it for. Why do we do the things we do to it.
Clothes. Man clothes. Why is it so easy for dudes to get dressed. Why have we turned women’s fashion into like a living thing? I want straight cut slacks and leather shoes and collared shirts. End of story.
The very appearance of loneliness freaks people out. I’m alone a lot of the time. And not just at home or at work in my office, but in public, at the grocery store, at conferences, while driving, in the neighborhood. I see it a lot, young people, especially women in public alone. But when I’m alone in a crowd, that’s when I notice people’s reaction to loneliness and I notice it in others. They’re too busy thinking, “omg I’m alone” rather than taking the time to notice who else is alone or what it means to be alone or what ultimately is inducing so much anxiety. We always have a point to prove: look how many friends I have, look how many likes I get, looklooklook. Well what if there’s no one around to look?
The culture of the Big Me
You have to find the peace inside of yourself to find the peace outside. To be at peace outside.
I’ve been doubting everything. But in the midst of all that doubt there are not glimmers but shocks of hope. Beams like lighthouses across the coast. How do I list them all? In the midst of all of this there have been constant reminders of good of growth of love of potential. I feel better then. And I cling to that as the rest of the bullshit threatens to pull me down. Surges and withdraws and surges again.
I’ve been reading a lot of Jeanette Winterson. I only discovered her in the past year, but she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She writes how I imagine I would write, if I ever published. A part of me wishes I had discovered her sooner, but who’s to say I would have appreciated her as much before I found my own voice as a writer. Something strong and audible that I can hear above the rest of the noise in my head.
In her memoir, Why be normal when you could be happy, she discusses throughout her concept of home and identity: A nomadic people learn to take their homes with them — and the familiar objects are spread out or re-erected from place to place. When we move house, we take with us the invisible concept of home – but it is a very powerful concept. Mental health and emotional continuity do not require us to stay in the same house or the same place, but they do require a sturdy structure on the inside – and that structure is built in part by what has happened on the outside. The inside and the outside of our lives are each the shell where we learn to live…Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won’t help you.
I think about the blurry shaky lines of my homes growing up. I think about the structure I built for myself. I think about the way I taught myself to rely, to love, to expect. I think about the escape I couldn’t quite commit to. What is it to believe in continuity? I know now after almost 30 years in this body what it is to feel solid. Like I finally fit. Like my inner and my outer match up. Like Goldilocks and the perfect bed. Like Peter Pan and his shadow.