Following the Water

This is ornamentation in my friend Angela’s garden.

According to some lunatics tomorrow is the end of the world.  Sometime after noon.  Ish.  So today is your last day to repent and have a private talk with Jesus.  I suspect Jesus is going to need some serious coffee because, generally speaking, the day before the end of the world is the busiest one for Lords and Deities.  I was reading a Christian lady’s blog the other day and was struck by how often she dropped the word “Lord” and “King” and “Ruler” and “Liege”*.  It struck me how human, how mortal and un-deity-like the words “King” and “Ruler” are.  Like she was just talking about any other despot with a crown.  People really like to throw themselves at the feet of power.  Apparently, even though we live in a world where modern people are less and less enchanted with the idea of absolute rulers who are generally viewed as being exploitative, there are millions of people who really do want an absolute ruler.  They just don’t want to have to give their money to one.  But their soul?  Now there’s real coin.

Won’t I look ridiculous tomorrow when the great Armageddon really does happen and I’m left here in the jaws of earthly hell to die like a mortal human being?  I can live (or die) with that.  I’ve never expected anything else.  I wonder if the ascension will look at all like the northern lights.  I can’t wait to see what will happen with all the different factions of Christianity – will they all be swept up together or will some get first glimpse of heaven and first shot at a place in Jesus’ impossibly huge arms?  Will only the Christians who believed that Armageddon was scheduled for Saturday be taken up?  What about the Mormons who believe in Jesus but have a whole separate plan to rule their own planets when they die?  Will all Christians get exactly what they believe?  Surely there can be no disillusionment in heaven.

My dad always slammed me for being irritatingly literal.  I’m only literal-minded when it suites me or amuses me.  He never did get that subtlety.  I actually think being too literal with faith is seriously problematic but I do love to imagine people’s religions being just as literal as they take it.  In reality I believe that religion makes a lot more sense if it’s mostly metaphoric.  It becomes much more respectable and reasonable and believable (to me) when the bible is taken as a general guide, like Aesop’s Fables, where the stories aren’t literally true (mice and lions hanging out together?) but illustrate important concepts of moral and ethical conduct.

I am only just now realizing how switching between the literal and the metaphorical in my everyday language has caused others to misread my actual beliefs and observations.  I don’t do it on purpose.  I am scarcely aware that I do it at all.  My humor is sometimes lost on people who take me too seriously.  Because I’m such a heavy and serious person so much of the time.  I have said it before, it bears repeating, I am a person built of contradictions.

For years now I’ve been fighting hard for change in myself, forcing my own hand with such horrible self recrimination that it’s no wonder it’s proved so ineffective.  I’ve been fighting against the current and have paid with exhaustion and diminished self esteem.  In spite of that one accusation that I am narcissistic**, I am only as self obsessed as a writer has to be in order to see into the hearts and minds of other people.  If you can’t see into your own self you can’t see into anyone else.  I’ve spent so much time hating what calamity made of me.  That’s putting distance between me and my responsibility for myself.  I’m the one who’s made me what I’ve become, not calamity.

It’s so easy to shine a spotlight on the things I hate about myself that have been revealed in the past six years.  It’s easy to see how much I fell apart.  How I’ve become physically disgusting to myself.  How my self discipline in all things has become a ghost I try constantly to put my hands around and curse as it slips away again, melting into the shadows of the past.  How I’ve come so close to crossing the line into alcoholism in order to cope with all the uncopable stresses out of my control or that could be in my control if  I could only put my hands on my old strength, the same strength it took to crawl out of teen-hood into adulthood.   It’s so easy to count all those crimes against myself and punish and punish and punish.

Self flagellation is not attractive.  I have to give myself credit for having continually tried to make change in myself.  For never giving up on finding my strength again.  I haven’t been sitting idle for six years.  I’ve continually and exhaustively asked myself to step up to the plate and take control again.  All of this has helped me to grow as a person.  I have grown philosophically and mentally.  I have evolved.  These years have not been static or stagnant.  They’ve been fertile in ways I hadn’t let myself count.  Because I’m a shit.  I’m counting them now.  If I hadn’t gone through everything I’ve been through I may never have found the key that let me open up my own path to the fiction I always meant to be writing and previously repeatedly failed at.

Max is doing much better and that’s made a big difference, so that’s a huge stress that’s been lightened.  My mom has brought energy to our life and to our garden that we’ve been missing.  So that’s changed.  It doesn’t look like much on the outside, there’s still a lot of chaos here in our tangled up yard.  Quitting Kung Fu classes that require me to use up absolutely all my energy for maintaining my own madness in public has allowed me to relax a little more.  To be kinder to myself because I’m not subjecting myself to a big group of people every week who have, without meaning to, made me feel so awful for being so huge.  So I am exposed to less reason to feel shame.  I guess there’s been a lot of change.

I have not been sleeping so well lately but it seems indicative of other change.  Instead of being tortured by it I am just allowing it to be what it is.  If I don’t get any real sleep until 6am and have to sleep in until 10:30 am like a slob, it’s okay.  I have a job with the kind of flexibility that allows me to make my daily schedule how I need to make it.  So why curse and fight the strange sleeping patterns I’ve been experiencing?  I’ve been getting more exercise lately but I’m not letting myself agonize over it or hold myself to a specific goal.  “More exercise” is as specific as I’m letting it get.  I’ve been eating better.  Less cheese snacking late at night.  Less cheese in general.  Lighter breakfasts.  Less food.  Not starving or dieting by any means.  Just less.  Because it feels good to eat less.  I have no specific food goals except to not over-indulge.  I have been drinking less beer and changing up my routine, which for an OCD person like myself, is pretty difficult.

Except that when you let go of the fight and simply float down the river it’s amazing how far you’ll get and how close to what you’re looking for you’ll come without tearing yourself open.  Anyone who has known me a long time, or who has been reading my blog for a long time, will recognize this as part of my continuing cycle.  I forgive you if you don’t see anything new in these crumbs of change.  It’s not important that you see what’s changed.  It’s not important for you to be impressed.  Because it isn’t about you at all.  Except for how we all tend to mirror each other without meaning to and you may find that you’ve been following your own cycles and rivers and if you’ve been fighting against yourself, against the tide, against inevitability and against the suffocation of perceived helplessness, then this is about you too and you’ll see the small change I’m enjoying if you look in yourself.

What’s important is that I have been reclaiming self discipline during a time of stress, of change, of uncertainty, of Armageddon leering down at me.  What’s important is that I’ve been recognizing the small triumphs.  The inner victories.  The ones you can’t really see from the outside.  I have been drawing my boundaries in the sand and not crying when the water washes them away.  I draw them in the clouds instead.  Until the winds blow them away.  Instead of feeling futile I draw them in my spirit because no one can wipe those lines away without me letting them.  What’s important is that I’m not pounding my head with the same damn two by four every day.

If tomorrow is the end of the world I’m at peace with it.   How about you?

*Okay, not liege.  But with all the talk of Lords and Kings it’s what jumped next into my head.

**I only pulled that old insult up because it still amuses and confounds me.  It has long since lost its sting.  It’s just that it’s got a permanent place in my head now and though it no longer hurts it has become part of my story.


  1. Taj says:

    Angelina, I don’t know you know you but I feel a kinship to you. I am literal but imaginative. I just don’t find comfort or solace in other people’s imaginings. Religion is an organized set of pathological lies. How weird that we hate liars and love religion as species! Do we love religion because it hammers at our super-egos? I will happily share Armageddon with you as I’m sure I will not be miserable with all the stubbornly in-evolving folks gone.

  2. angelina says:

    We’re still on for meeting up in Portland, right? I was thinking the same thing about what it would be like if the people not interested in evolving went to heaven, where they’d be happy, leaving earth to progress as it’s been doing for millions of years already. I’ve been missing you- haven’t caught a glimpse of you on line in forever!! Miss catching you for a late night chat.

  3. French Knots says:

    Well if it’s the end of the world this afternoon I’m not going to bother with the cleaning or the washing.
    Will you go back to Kung Fu, do you think? Despite the pressure you felt, I got the impression you enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction and strength it gave you.

  4. angelina says:

    I will go back to the regular classes but I haven’t stopped doing Kung Fu, I’m doing a different class. Forms is what blackbelts do to get their second degree. So it’s not going to get me the regular blackbelt but it’s still super challenging and exactly what I need. Forms is a set of movements (and there are many different sets) in Kung Fu that simulate the movements you need to be able to do in battle. It’s very meditative while at the same time being excruciatingly muscle burning. Look up Horse Stance. Every form is based on horse stance. But I do want to continue with the regular Kung Fu training. I just need to have a break from letting people into my personal space. It’s an inward time. The cool thing is that I can get a blackbelt in forms separately from the regular Kung Fu but if I get a black belt in the regular Kung Fu then this will count as my second degree black belt. So I’m moving forward in my training, but not in the usual order.

  5. Taj says:

    We have our tickets booked for Portland. Thank goodness no planes fell out of the sky due to rapture related complications thereby complicating our trip. Can’t wait to see/meet you and the family. I miss you too. My life has been complicated recently but now has found a way to be emotionally exhilarating. Cryptic, yes.

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