Breaking Down the Wall: Ten for Yesterday


September 6, 2016

The music never stops outside and inside my head. Sometimes the melody pounds in time with a pumping, thumping drum beat of a heart. Sometimes the violins screech and thrust me deep in a Psycho movie scene, stabbed over and over again with high pitched wails and screams, decibels higher than eardrum capacity.

But it’s just the neighbor toddlers yowling and the dog yapping. And that spinal column creep of approaching slippered steps of an interruption about to happen. My neck tenses awaiting the final knuckle knock knock, a rapid five or six in a row.

And all the while, the pings and bings of phones, IPads and computers tick away at flesh, flying skin chips scattered everywhere. My attention shattered in shard millenia. That’s what it’s like to write at home. Life music blasting me and my mind all day.

But my mind has steeled itself impenetrable against so much more than noise before this. My constitution has weathered barn storms and hurricanes far greater, like three, grueling, sleepless days of exams preceded by years and years of mind-numbing tedious study. And then untold hours, thousands upon thousands, invested in a slow-bleeding, fast burning career life-suckingly anchored, financially and personally, that eventually landed me inside the court house walls.

Dismantling a person brick by brick, thorn by thorn, thought by thought, nerve by nerve, takes a long time. I got away with a quick turn, only 56 years building and breaking. Some take a life time. And it’s not over for me—or anyone. We turn like the worms we are.

No lives matter, not in the sense that we think they do. They merely breathe and do and be—just like everything else. The rock and me, we stream steady, hold our ground and pass unnoticed by most. Human fate, being just another assembly of matter and particles. I don’t understand why it feels so different to be human than to be a rock.

Dualities not Duels

 
 

“Again, you know I don’t judge; I respect your relationship. I’m never here to tear you or J down. Who am I to do more than put myself in your place–even as I am merely me–and wonder? That’s all. I imagine your life in my body and mind. It does not work that way, but I cannot help but do it. You know I love you.”

“I do.” ((hugs))

“Drink up. I have to go back to work.”

While driving back to work, my thoughts cycle. 

“The shape of our relationships doesn’t differ much–this duality that appears like incompatability to those on the outside.”

You and I, you see, are so different, from such different worlds, you the straight and me the curvy, you the narrow and me the expansive. You like yours and I prefer mine. You know you’re right and I constantly doubt. To you, absolutes are real. To me, most everything is relative to time, place, and circumstance. You see global, while I see local, though sometimes we switch sides, me going long term and you going short. In the ven diagram, we intersect at the sliver overlap of our two circles. We meet in a horizontal world without borders, boxed and invisible, dimmed before each other, not in full light. Perhaps we must, or see the impossibility of us and kill the thrill. And yet, that divide, that delusion of polarity, opposition and contrariness keeps us interested, coming back for more. N’est ce pas?



 

credit: http://www.intermissionbristol.co.uk

Motherhood on Mother’s Day: Let it Be


My Dear Daughters:


   No letter, especially one to daughters, should begin with I’m sorry, but this one does. I’m sorry. Though regrets are a waste of time, I must apologize for your inheritance. No, I don’t mean money. In all likelihood, your fortunes are your own to make. And I know of no genetic medical challenges in store for you in this lifetime. No, this apology comes upon seeing the two of you drive off to lunch together, one tight-lipped and tense, the other tentative and earnest.


You see, dear daughter number two in birth order, you have inherited the portion of your mother’s temperament that ruffles easily when you convince yourself that another has acted poorly or unjustly or incompetently. You do not suffer lightly the effects of others’ actions on your life, irritated at the shortcomings of your fellow beings. You stew. 


To make matters worse, you can’t shake it off. When you decide to change teams and find the coach knows little more than the last one and your teammates are no different, no more skillful or intelligent or cooperative than the last, you simmer, aggravated after a game where the forwards hardly ever anticipate your serves from mid-field and so miss scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity, while the coach fails to instruct and the defense fails to adjust for the deflected offense. 


So you grouch for the rest of the day, angry at your teammates, your coach, but mostly at yourself for having chosen the team, or for even playing soccer in the first place.


And you, daughter number one, I owe you an apology for both your inability to fix your sister and your desire to do so. Like me, you feel discomfort when others display unpleasant emotions, even if  they are mere facial expression. Your sister cannot hide what she feels, though she speaks not a word or a sigh. Her face tells the story–sorry again, second born, for yet another trait passed on. 


And you feel responsible when you are not completely oblivious. Sensitivity is not your strongest attribute. You need to be hit over the head, spoken to directly, told what someone feels, unable to intuit. I gave you that obtuseness. Then when you hear the complaint, the source of woes, compassion turns to anxiety to solve the break, the mood, or problem. 


That anxiety leads to paralysis. Your mind turns foggy with the pressure to create, find an idea. And so you retreat, get disinterested and frustrated. You have no idea what to do to please her, though you try: bribe her with first choice of music in your car or chocolate or a trip to the mall. You try teasing and joking but the list of sorry-I-gave-that-trait-to-you includes stubbornness on her part as it does cluelessness on yours. 


But you know she unwinds in time, flexes her tension and exhales in release when she does, so there’s no rushing through it. The two of you cleave to one another as the best of friends, so you know.
  


Daughter born first, the days ahead bring many lessons about letting go, acceptance and boundaries, yours in relation to others. Your compassion will hold you in good stead if you never swallow it down in futility rather than acceptance: you can offer but no one has to accept. Perhaps she cannot. That is not your fault. Give, nevertheless, without the expectation of receiving. Help others because others need help, not to get results. You are not here to fix but to try.


Daughter born second, when you too learn to accept yourself, mistakes and all, your moods will calibrate, even out. Your expectations so high for yourself, you project those on to others who cannot meet them. If only you can merely see people, observe them without judging, and accept your strengths and weaknesses realistically without judgment, you may be able to do the same for others. 


The expanding pressure contracts and recedes in the exhaust of toxic release, the poison of fear–of disappointment, not measuring up, and not succeeding–whether aimed at you or others.


You both have a lifetime ahead of procuring patience, and if you get the jump on everyone else, you may discover the secret, the jewel of existence, of slowing down just as time speeds up. If you can, if somehow in cinematic slo-mo you can envision your two hands grab the big hand of the clock, just like when you were little we learned from that interactive picture book with the brightly colored spinning clock hands (blue for the big one and red for the small one) and hold that big boy back with all your might, you better the odds at beating the odds against you–your inheritance. 


Take time, my daughters, to be and let be. She who came after you needs time to work the inarticulable undulations of anger mounted on uncertainty overlaid on the foundation of fear that shift and morph like sea kelp ebbing and flowing with the tide. If you, my first born, breathe slowly, let every drop out before you sip another slow breath in, the extra seconds may allow you the focus, the time it takes for the words to come, the ideas to set you free:  “She is who she is, and I am who I am. Nothing more.”

I am sorry but have no regrets. You two embody the best I have to offer–and more. 

With all my love…
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I know you know.