A few days ago, when I was writing my last blog post, my mind was filled with plans about what I would be reading next, I had neat stacks of materials at hand: books, kindle, laptop. The organized stacks still surround the bed, but somehow, even though there is less physical distinction between my week and my weekend, the weekend was spent in more frivolous pursuits. Well, I did read some of the papers, but perhaps not in as much detail as I should. Apparently I just let my mind wander, dabbling in pursuits as I felt so inclined, playing around on the computer, watching the play of light and shadow on the ceiling, dreaming of possibilities rather than fretting about the future. I enjoyed some time encouraging a friend's 5 year-old granddaughter in a bit of dress up play, had a lovely lunch with another friend, knit a little, but not really more than a row or two. And here I am, on Monday morning, rambling along with nothing really to say.
I suppose some of my computer play was of a useful variety, searching out possibilities for a summer trip, but I actually spent a significant part of my time on various life-style websites, looking at pictures of food, reading recipes and dreaming of cooking again. I have always loved to cook and altthough I do cook for myself, of late it has been a very simple and utilitarian kind of cooking. Food must be eaten, and I'm rather particular, so I'm much more inclined to cook than to just grab something. But sharing food with others brings a sense of nourishment that eating alone can't equal. So it may be a good sign, this interest in food. Perhaps it means I want to be social again. Perhaps my rekindled interest in cooking is a reflection of a rekindled desire to share. Maybe I am ready to look at myself as sharing in the world instead of looking at myself and the world as separate entities, existing in bubbles that may touch each other but remain forever isolated.
Or then again perhaps I just have been in bed too long.
Or maybe this is all just part of the winnowing process. Too much independence is not so good. Too much isolation is not so good. I like having people around, I like companionship and conversation. I don't have to shut the door. But too much busyness is not so good either. I do need that contemplative time. I want to do everything and I know I can't. I've always known that, but I've also always struggled with this inner whirling dervish that just wants to run toward whatever has captured my attention at the moment. But too much spinning around makes me dizzy; I break down and everything stops.
Patience. It always comes back to patience and pacing. They are related. Why hasn't that truly sunk in before now?
The last time I was an independent person, with no one I was sharing my life with, no one I was sharing expectations with, I was in my 20s. At that time in my life, early spring always seemed like a transformative period. Perhaps the dreariness of winter would lead me to a period of introspection and spring would bring with it some sort of transformation or awakening to some new realization or understanding of myself in relation to the world. Of course I was young and finding my way. Now I am no longer young but am once again finidng my way. Spring and rebirth is a good metaphor for this ongoing process of renewal, as is Lent and Easter. To some extent its not the actual words that matter, although there are specific meanings and patterns in the traditional timing of feasts and fasts, of celebrations. Intention however, does matter.
This year I gave up cursing at other drivers for Lent. That may sound strange but it is a habit and not a good one. I don't get made at people I know or see personally, but other drivers are just that -- others -- in another vehicle. It is easy to dehumanize them and associate them with their vehicles, to not think of them as people. And I believe that even such a small step of dehumanization is an ugly trap. I'm not a perfect driver either. We all get distracted, we all have worries, we all just want to stop going and get someplace where we can just be. I've been successful so far, I haven't cursed at a driver in weeks, but I'm not sure that this is due to any conscious effort on my part but just that when I was driving I was more focused on just driving and getting myself home safely and comfortably. My focus was on the moment, and my main thoughts when they strayed from the road were more likely to be "please" as in "please just get me home". Now this is more extreme than I would hope would be normal, but I am hoping it is the interruption in the normal chain of thought that is important here, that once interrupted, the old patterns will not so easily be resumed.
I'm not in any bigger of a hurry than anyone else. I'm not more important than any other driver on the road. If I'm late, it is my own doing and I could change. But it is easier to blame others, outside forces, easier to condemn others as a way of comforting ourselves. Buckminster Fuller said "God is a verb". According to the Old Testament, God is "I AM". Well so am I. I am. Perhaps it is true that I can never "be" in the fullest sense of that word; I probably cannot even imagine what pure being would entail. But I also can't imagine what "I am" would be like if I let myself just be present and atuned to the world and people around me at all times. It may be impossible. But it seems that we humans have trouble with the present tense of life. We remember the past, perhaps hold on to it a little too dearly, and we worry about the future way too much. When I am cursing other drivers I am not really fully there in the moment, I am usually thinking of something else, thinking of where I am going, what tasks are on my "to do" list, fretting about having enough time. Perhaps I just need to learn to relax.
Perhaps what I am really doing is trying to spend less of my life worrying about who or what I will be or what I will do and more time just being present and aware in the moment. And this is where I get back to browsing the interweb, and pinning pictures of food, and clothing that inspires me and makes me want to sew. That sounds all kind of aspirational doesn't it? And it could be. Once upon a time, not that long ago really, when I was not happy about the changes that were taking place in my life, the internet was my escape valve, an avoidance technique. I was looking for something that was missing in my life, but I wasn't willing to do the necessary work that would enable me to actually get anywhere. It was like standing under the lightpost looking for your keys even though you dropped them 50 feet away in the dark.
This weekend, that was not the case. There has been more connection and intention in my electronic meanderings. Yes I clipped, yes I pinned, tweeted and checked Facebook. I sent a lot of emails. But I didn't dwell on it. I accept more things. I asked questions. That looks good. Would I make it? Yes? No? Do I want to remember it? Why? Do I care if I do it tomorrow or in 20 yeas or never? Does looking at this picture make me happy, remind me of something important? Or does this make me feel like I'm not enough, that I need to do or be something else? Does it let my imagination soar, or does it chain to false expectations? I do far less frittering on the internet than I used to, and I am far more intentional in my browsing, far more aware of the conversations I am having with myself.
And yes I did save recipes that I may or may not ever make. I don't really care about that. But I do like to look at the pictures, imagine tasting the dishes, knowing that someday what I've seen and imagined will materialize in something I do or make on that particular day, and that experience will be shared with others. And I hope I am paying enough attention be present and enjoy it when it happens.