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#selflove

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Death In The Family

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    Transmutation is defined as a change in state.

    A short time ago, I walked into the woods. White winter snow dressed the ground and the trees stood bare in the afternoon light. A frozen river marked the trail I walked along and the sounds of my snow shoes kept me company. Spring warmed the day with intermittent drips and the prints of animals that had walked before me settled in their melting space.

    I carried two carnations.

    An acting teacher named Stanford Meisner famously said that in order to grow, you have to kill your parents. It was never intended to be a literal quote, at least, it never came across that way to me. I understood that he was saying, in order to become my own person, the relationships that ushered me into life had to change.

    I buried my Father in a small copse of woods: pine trees ascended in clean lines to the sky, funneling a channel of light down to his final resting place and one white carnation. I felt good about leaving him here. I thanked him for the priorities he made in his life: the blessing that has been my life directly results from his choices. The week previous, I would not have had this perspective on him or my own life.

    I kept Mom close to him, so that they could continue on in the fashion they’d become accustomed to, caring for one another, kindly. One red carnation, she rests near a bend in the river, and with spring now in full swing, I conjure the sounds of its gentle rolling rhythm. She took care of me in ways that I never knew I needed and my every interaction with the world is a direct result of her influence.

    Entering these woods, I had wondered at the emotion that might arise from consciously uncoupling from my folks. Leaving these woods felt like the most positive thing that I could have done for our future relating. I experienced that in the letters I wrote: they expressed the most positive aspects of my relationship with each of my parents. Being able to gift these letters to my parents within the week of writing them is a blessing that has changed our way of relating.

    Much of my life I have spent judging my parents based on the information I gathered as a child. Today, I am able to see that that child had no frame of reference for the interactions of adults. As a child, the emotions churning through my being were incredibly powerful, hard to feel and difficult to communicate.

     The way I experienced my childhood left me thinking that distance over depth was safer. I knew that it felt better to not hurt others. I wasn’t so interested in getting hurt either. I have never been clear which was more important.

    In some respects, it hasn’t been much of a life. I have travelled to interesting places and spent years on the road collecting experiences, stories and skills. I have read great works of fiction and trashy novels. I have watched Love, Actually in three languages about twenty times. I have been in environments where all there was was water and I have been in places where not a drop of it was found.

    Through all of these expansive interactions with people, though things have been interesting, I haven’t always been available. For friendships and for lovers, things remained buffered and insulated. As an example, in Barcelona, I once lived in a Benetton ad: a mad Englishman, a lovely French woman, and a kind man from Mexico. We met while living in a hostel, where a con artist took a bunch of us out for hot chocolate on a day that it snowed. He then fled the city with a thousand euro of other peoples money.

    I felt so lucky to be living with these people that I made a room behind an armoire just to be near them. It must have worked for them too, for they invited me to do so. I used to marvel at how sweet these strangers were to one another, how they made a family out of each other. I tried to be one with them; often I was so hard on myself, it was probably the trying that left me feeling awkward. I haven’t been in touch with any of them for decades.

    In burying my parents, I was able to appreciate the moments they sacrificed for me, their gifts of character and value and the times I was too much to handle.

    I attended two more funerals in those woods.

    I buried this version of myself, the isolationist who prefers books to people. He died sad, and lonely, unable to acknowledge his responsibility: for the path he walked; the ways he choose to push people away; playing the victim. His goodbye was a somber affair in a cool corner of the woods with kind attendees who spoke of always liking him and yet, never really knew his heart. He lays there in the dark, still lamenting his being as some broken thing.

    The other burial was filled with celebration of a life well lived: that man I am birthing, is engaged with life and says yes to it. Nestled in sunshine that shone from the south, this plot of land overlooked a narrow island shaped by the raven river’s current. He appreciates opportunities presented with gratitude and curiosity.  His rudder is love and compassion and the expansion he nourishes will leave an impact to be felt for generations.

    These funerals created space for me to believe in myself. More than that, they crafted space for me to see my parents, not as my parents but as people doing the best they knew how to do, products of their own childhood. I learned compassion for them as human beings and in recognizing my old way of being, I freed the choice to choose a me that I believe in.

    I wasn’t born an individual.

    I was born a member of a tribe. I was raised with values and influences that have shaped the person that I am today. I pay my respects to each link in the chain of those who came before me. I learn many things at the knee of my ancestors and their influences thread through my life to this moment.

    Each spring is a time of change, of new births. Each ending itself, is a new beginning. Each gestation requires an act of creation.
    
    I trust the source of all things and receive a clear signal: take care of yourself; be kind to yourself.

    My work of becoming gives birth…

 


    
    
    
    
   

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Where you focus grows


I met someone recently that I thought I was ready to go down the road with.
I thought about all the ways that we could. Fantasized about them really.
We would support one another. Our business would be built off of our mutual interests and strengths.
We would change the way that people viewed health and their individual relationships with it.
I felt willing to risk a lot of my armor for the sake of being vulnerable with her.
I shared a lot of things about myself. Intimacies that it took a lot to reveal.
I appreciated her and I wanted her to know me. I was charging in, warts and all.
I was supportive and adventurous and affable, but I let her see my shadows too.
She didn’t talk a lot. I was ok with that. I was willing to share of myself until we could be present in person. The issues she was having with her skin, I tried to remain sensitive to and I didn’t push for FaceTime.
I knew that when it would come, it would be fine.
We would talk and laugh and play; Ann Landers describes love as “friendship set on fire.”
Would we that?
There were signs, now, that my blinders were on: topics that were off the table for discussion; communication issues; the distance that materialized when she learned ‘too much’ about me.
I thought that I could bare the weight of our shadows and lead with Light.
I thought that I could decide the course of our content by designing it.
I was not present.
I have friends that remind me that you cannot fuck it up with the one.
I trust in that. I think that relationships are sensitive early on and it takes a lot courage to get into them.
It takes willingness to explore another humans life and tether to them.
I don’t mean as a legal contract, thought I am not against it.
I think that as much as they are sensitive early on and benefit from tending,
Where you focus, grows.
I think about all those things that my parents were going through when I was young, and how easy it was to judge them for their frictions. I often thought that they were foolish to stay married. That amount of unhappiness…
But it’s awful to judge another.
I judged my parents.
I judged her.
I tried to fit them into small boxes of fixed dimensions.
And that is far from the human experience.
We shape our lives by feeding ourselves experiences through choice.
Receiving the sensations, qualifying them.
It is pleasant to fantasize but in the day to day, when the noses are running and the mortgage is to be paid, relationships require a deeper yes than words can fancy.
It requires a desire to be vulnerable and to lead from a place that does not know.
But wants to discover.
Together.
Alone.
There is irony in this.
She offered me the chance to see what it is I have done to many others.
She was available until it got real and then, shook, she head for the hills and the hard tack.
Hard to track.
I wouldn’t take any of it back.
Going forward, having all the experiences that lead to this, and the feeling what got me on that plane.
The choices I made to speak for my worthiness…
I shall not settle.
Where I focus grows.

 

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My Friend Ryan

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My Friend Ryan

My first memory of Ryan was on the playground at elementary school. I was a quirky kid, and I couldn’t tell you the why of it, but we got into a fist fight. Hearing stories about myself at that age, I was somewhat deserving. The reason he stuck just so in my mind, was that as he would punch me, he would name the body part. Kidney. Liver… I thought it was cool.

Fast forward a half dozen years or so and we had just graduated high school. The years had forged a bond, and we rolled random missions over the years: first smokes, first drinks, first download, first suicide attempts…

Ryan was a wickedly talented artist. He would draw these little pin head cartoons in english class. Skinny, he was the first kid I knew to have a modem. He listened to music I couldn’t even know existed (nitzer ebb anyone?) and we always hung at his house. His parents worked off hours so there was space there to be youthful.

One night, shortly after graduating high school, he came over to my house. My room had been in the basement for years and we sat around and had an atypical night. We spoke our fears about what the future held, laughed about the previous shared years and our versions of awkwardness, and looked through photographs, of which my house was never in short supply. The next day he was dead.

His parents had been away and left him the car. Having his license was new, and earlier in the day, before coming to my house, he had rear ended a rather nice car. I can’t recall the insurance issue, if there was one, but Ryan seemed to find the problem insurmountable.

That whole evening at my house, he didn’t mention a thing. He was funny, intelligent, easy to smile and faster to laugh. The next night he went to work, having hidden a shotgun in the field by his work. He worked the full shift, lots of our classmates saw him there, seemingly in a upbeat mood, but walking home that night he ended his life.

I thought that I should have been able to hear or see something during our visit. That 16 year old me would have been able to do or say something capable of reviving the part of him already walking in shadow.

A couple of years previous this night, Ryan and I had been at a high school party. We found ourselves beneath the stairs, making complex shapes out of electrical cords. We wrapped them around our necks. We robbed ourselves of breath. All the hormones of that age, and the gradients of who, what and such had pressed us into a particular head space. It was new for me. I thought neither of us were serious in our attempt.

It was hard to know how to shift, so long ago, feeling that way. I am surprised to be writing about this now. But feelings process through presence and the road to being a richer human being wanders. I miss Ryan and our friendship. I don’t know that I would change things though. He needed to follow his path. His journey inspired my own and I wouldn’t be the man that I am today without his contributions; having walked in the shadows helped me find my light, and helps me help others find their own. That says so much, because I love myself, and I am worthy of such love.

Share with your loved ones how much they mean to you. Make certain to share with yourself the same. You are so deserving.

 

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