Saturday, December 31, 2011

To Stay

I'm writing this in a little nook of our house that I like to call the "cafe."

We moved the dining room table into the greater part of our great room and have this little seating area now that allows one to sit in the sun, or gaze up into Rupert's branches, or read, or do puzzles.  It's quite lovely and peaceful.

Don't look out the window, though.  There are 60-mile-an-hour winds right now and everything outside has been strewn about the yard.  It sounds like our house is going to blow away any minute now.

I don't know why I'm writing about all this, except that I'm trying to figure out a way into what I really want to write about, which is mindfulness, being present.  I want to point your attention to this post, which is lovely, and also to this post from Amy at Sweet Sweet Life, excerpted here and titled "stay," which I've read several times now and keep thinking about:

I'm realizing how very, very important it stay.  To stay with our loved ones, to stay in the scary or painful moment, to stay in the tired and boring and dirty bits of life.  To not run, in one way or another, to a place where we can attempt to feel nothing.  For one thing, obviously, these types of moments far outnumber the prototypically joyful, beautiful, neat moments by far.  So if we were to run from them, we'd be running an awful lot of our lives.  More importantly, I realized from all my reading that these are the moments when love and growth and real healing happen.  If we're honest with ourselves when we're struggling, we can grow emotionally and spiritually as human beings, here to help one another.

Most of my problems in the past came from not wanting to stay.  And I say this as a very unadventurous person:  I almost never travel, have never left the states, have been married for 20 years with no plans to leave ever, I am and always have been a really good and present mom, I don't really enjoy new things and I will fight change with every bit of my being.  But not staying doesn't have to be physical--it can be emotional, too.  I can not stay by going shopping on the computer.  I can not stay by pouring a glass of wine.  I can not stay by holing myself up in my room with a really good book when my children or husband want to spend time with me.  I can not stay by eating another brownie, or two or three.  And I can not stay by going to bed at 8:00 in the evening and sleeping for 12 hours.  (I'm not saying that any or all of these things are not fine now and again, but you know and I know when we're running away.  We just do.)

Boredom, fear, pain, fatigue, anger and annoyance.  All things we feel when we are with other people, a great deal of the time.  Not just our families, but everyone, everywhere, all the time.  At the post office, at the stoplight, at work and at home.  So if this is the way it is, what can that tell us?  Is life supposed to be annoying 95% of the time?  Really?  Is this it?

I don't think so.  I think that these moments are teachers, and that we had better take good notes and learn the lesson.  It's about us, not them, and staying present with these moments in a non-judgmental way is the only path out.  When we are annoyed, we are upset because we aren't coming first for some reason.  But who ever said we would, or even should?  I don't remember getting that memo:  "Dear Amy, you are the most important person in the world.  You should be at the head of every line, have the least amount of trouble and pain, and never, ever have to suffer anyone you deem to be less savvy than you.  Amen."  Nope.  I believe the wording was actually something along the lines of "Love one another and don't be mean and selfish."  Or something.

But let's be honest:  why else are we here?  What else would be our purpose in life, really?  We are placed, somehow, on this earth together.  And it is only together that we will find a way out of the scary bits.  We are meant to be here for each other, through words and actions.  Not to run, but to be there, in the boring, messy moments.  And to work through them, to help each other, and that helps us.

There were times in the car, and more than a few hours during our stay in San Diego, where I did not stay.  Sometimes this was on purpose--I needed to take care of myself by checking out.  But if I'm really honest, the truth is that I very frequently and mindlessly do not stay.

I'm misrepresenting our visit.  Now that I've been out of the car for a few days (those last few hours coming into Colorado were murder) I can say that it was a really lovely visit.  E.'s family is welcoming and loving; we had some beautiful moments around Christmas trees and on the beach and in Balboa Park; the kids did great on four 9-hour days in the car.

But I did have a meltdown the first full day we were there, which necessitated me needing to leave my father-in-law's house for an angry and fearful walk, and a tearful emergency call to one of my best friends.  I won't get her words right, but she basically helped me to see that I have trouble being still--trouble staying--because there are some things I haven't wanted to deal with.  I've been running away so long and so persistently that my staying skills are quite poor at the moment.  My ability to "be" is fine when everything is quiet and I'm by myself; I'm not so good when there are things I need to deal with, or people to interact with when those interactions might be difficult, scary, or boring.  I haven't been able to see this because I work a lot and rationalize the heck out of a lot of my choices.

I don't have any of this all figured out, but I can say that something in my consciousness is shifting.  They are just little micro-changes, but I'm practicing talking to E. when I'm bothered instead of avoiding or hiding in sarcasm.  We may need more than this; we'll have to see.  My interactions with the kids are different.  I'm meditating, sometimes several times a day, and working to both physically and mentally stay.  This all seems cliche.  And also it helps.

I don't know how to finish this post.  I'm grateful to have had this time off and away from work to see things more clearly.  I feel vulnerable to getting sucked back in once work begins again.  The winds howl all around sometimes and I struggle to stay still, and to stay.

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