Tag: spirituality

Silent Disclosure Of Imperfection


Before everything I say, before everything I think, before everything I commit to writing there is a silent disclosure of imperfection you should be able to hear with your heart: I’m a flawed passionate being. I’m in constant flux, constant evolution, a constant state of deconstruction and reconstruction.

I’ve got a broken set of keys to a shady universe. Your keys might look different than mine but they open into the same rooms of despair, of wild love, of earthly hellfire, and humiliation that shifts into peaceful bird cries cleansing dawn air. You might see saving where I see desperate loss in the same room. It’s okay. Hold your heart carefully, I’ll hold mine the same and we’ll find our way to fresh air together.

I know it doesn’t seem possible how I can not believe in God when God is so precious to you. How I can believe there is no divine purpose or plan when it is so vivid for you. I know it doesn’t seem possible that I can embrace your belief while not sharing it. All I can say is that if you can believe in any kind of divinity at all, in any kind of miracle, in the kind of magic that keeps a seven day supply of oil burning for eight days or a crucified Jew to rise from his tomb then you have a place already carved in your heart to  believe that an atheist can love and respect a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Mormon, and every kind of mysticism.

 But dudes, seriously, can we please show Jesus with brown skin as he almost certainly had to have? How is he not beautiful with brown skin? If you can’t love a dark skinned Jesus then you don’t get Jesus AT ALL.

I don’t care about faith. I don’t care about creed. Not when we’re stripped down to the bones of our humanity. When we stand naked and flawed next to each other we are equals. All of us. Doesn’t matter what our ethnicity is, our background, our last names, the schools we’ve attended, the color of our skin, the tradition of our beliefs – we are all equals in everything but in individual character we show through action.

I will drink at your strange fountain and I will invite you to drink at mine. I will lead you to this lean cot in my corner and I will feed you the last crumbs from my pantry because I have to believe that the most important thread of humanity is generosity. I will give you the shirt off my back even if it means I’ll be sunburned before dusk.

I will make fun of humanity, I will find humor in all faiths, in all human frailty, but I promise that when I hear your prayers I’ll grow quiet and let your belief blanket the altitudes, I’ll retreat so that your faith can find expression when you most need it without ridicule or interference.

I struggle every day to root for human beings. This is the hard truth. I rail and cry against the evil I see everywhere perpetrated by humans. I struggle to remember that we’re part of nature, that we’re animals gone feral but not evil, that there’s something good left in us.

I’m going to joke about Jesus. I’m going to joke about Mohammed. I’m going to fucking joke the shit out of L. Ron Hubbard because – there’s no religion or belief I won’t find the humor in. But this isn’t about hate or bigotry. I also joke about myself, my mental illness, my hippie upbringing.

I joke because finding the humor in the every day crap and the miracles I can’t explain and don’t particularly believe in is how I survive.

I am an incredibly flawed person working towards my own personal evolution. There’s no explanation for pure love and good will between people of wildly disparate spiritual and philosophical beliefs so let’s not even try.

Let’s simply practice loving the crap out of all human beings.

Let’s practice forgiving the shortcomings of other human beings especially when it costs us to do so.

Let’s practice forgiving our own shortcomings.

Let’s practice love.

Let’s practice peace.

Let’s see the universe through each others’ eyes and leave each other tiny gifts in the darkest corners.

Lemon Blossoms Quieter Than Me

lemon blossom

As a family we’ve started down a road of volunteering to help feral kittens become adoptable. I can’t speak for Philip but I can speak for Max and I: we care more for other animals than we do for our own species. We understand and empathize with other animals more than humans. Tomorrow we’re going to a foster training and may come home with a feral kitten to care for and socialize. I imagined I’d end up working a soup kitchen as my other deepest conviction is that my hands are made for feeding people. Yet this feels most right.

I don’t know how Chick, Penny, and Pippa will feel about it, but I think in some way this will work. If not, we’ll regroup.

My garden is in chaos. I have one whole bed of sprouted garlic and one that has yet to be planted. A month and a half late. I haven’t planted any favas yet. I find I can’t get that riled about it. My day job is draining, the way they are. I don’t know what I would have done if my mom’s surgery hadn’t gone so well as it did.

I have to stop and be thankful it went as smoothly as it did.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t gotten the job I did.

I have to stop and be thankful for that too.

I don’t have a hard time being thankful for the small things. There are so many.

I’m cleaning out my life. I spent this evening going through sewing crap. I’m at a point where I only want to have enough supplies on hand to make my immediate projects. I don’t want a life of sewing. I want a life of writing.

I’ve been trying to get myself to sit down here since the last time I did. When I sat down tonight I had two comments awaiting mediation on posts I wrote a while ago. Posts that have resonated with quite a few people. It reminded me why I started writing in the first place. People need truth-tellers. People who will sear themselves on the grill of life as examples. People who will throw themselves into the fray and report the pain, the pleasure, the weirdness, the resulting questions.

This time of year is MINE. I’m a winter bird. This is my season. This is my weather. This is the time of year I’m most alive, most alert, most happy. I haven’t been reporting much, haven’t written much, but I’ve been alive with possibilities.

I’ve been thinking a lot about coveting, about wanting, about bitterness. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much bitterness I sowed. That I used as my soap. I understand how easy it is to succumb to a path of regret, of envy, of darkness. I’ve been there. I was there for so long. I like to think I was constantly seeking light, but because I recorded it all in real-time, I don’t have the luxury of self-deceit. It’s all here in the archives.

But for all I have sunk so low, sunk to the turbid bottom, dwelt where the silt was thick and the air scarce, I tried shedding the psychic weight at every opportunity. It took a long time. But I did it myself.

I don’t believe in regret.

A belief that has been tested again and again.

Listening to bitter people reminds me of the fruitless tree that grows in that soil.

It doesn’t matter what other people have. What luck, what opportunities appear to drop in their laps. When you focus on other people you dilute your own power. Whatever that is.

My power may never turn to gold. I’m okay with this now. My life may constantly be filled with financial stress and struggle.

It’s okay. I’m going to meet it as best as I can every step of the way, as honestly as possible. Sometimes I’m crazy-tired but I won’t give up dreaming possibilities. No part of me is perfect.

Those experiences that brought the bitter to the surface enriched my life. I wouldn’t take them back if I could. I don’t want to go back to them, though. I’m still traumatized enough that I’m afraid of dreams that take me back. But I understand why I had to go through it all.

I’m not a quiet or complacent person but I want to be a person with peace in my heart. I’ve met someone so humble, so spiritually beautiful without actually seeing herself that I have been reaching harder and asking harder where my spirit dwells and what’s in my heart. She’s got no agenda, she’s got no evangelism in her at all. She’s Hindu and vegetarian and such a beacon of light to me. She shines. She’s a bright kindred spirit.

I’m not a quiet or a complacent person but I want to be a person with love in my heart above all other things. Love that comes not from blind observance but from empathy.

I have that much to give.

On a base level I know that the reason I got the job I did is so that I could be warmed by my new friend’s light. I needed to feel that from another person. A person praying to an unfamiliar deity for the same enlightenment I seek as an atheist. I needed to hear an intelligent woman, a rational yet empathetic woman shine herself through my uncertainty.

She wears no mantle of obligation to me. She has no idea the light she’s shining on my path and I think she’d be embarrassed if I told her, if I tried to explain to her her own light. She wants no glory, she wants no spotlight. So I keep her name to myself because I don’t feel I’ll ever have permission to throw it across this page.

Finding glory is nothing, it’s meaningless. Finding your spirit mostly whole in the rubble of your toppled house is everything.

ADDED THIS MORNING: I failed to mention that part of why I have been thinking about such things as coveting other people’s material things as well as their apparent good fortune is because of a few people I’ve had to listen to lately cultivating bitterness like it’s a righteous garden. Being jealous of other people’s cars and homes as though those things are every person’s right to have in life, and suggesting that the people who have the things you wish you had don’t deserve them as much as you do or thinking they didn’t struggle enough or work hard enough to have them – it’s an ugly and unproductive view. While listening to this covetous bitterness I was reminded of my own periods of bitterness and how hard I struggled against it.

I don’t want to be one of those people who is always looking at what others have and feeling envy. I’ve talked about how hard it is to see other authors get book deals and agents and to have actual careers writing. What I’m practicing doing is a) celebrating the successes and triumphs of the authors around me, and b) keeping my feet on my own path and asking myself what steps have I taken today to get closer to my own goals?

Lastly, I am focusing on recognizing my own good fortune when it happens. This month I sold 27 salves thanks to my bit of good fortune in being included in that post on The Kitchn. When Christmas is safely past me I need to properly thank the two people who made that happen for me. It’s been such a happy rush getting new batches of salve made and sent out. It has caused me to see my way forward more clearly. I took advantage of the fresh energy around my salve and came up with some inexpensive good ideas to increase my apothecary sales and grow this into a viable source of income that would allow me to also have time to write.

Maybe it won’t pan out, but that’s not the kind of thinking I’m investing my time into. Being me, the anxiety and self doubt is always close by pushing in at my edges but for the moment I’ve been managing to acknowledge that it’s there and yet as it pushes in, I step aside and let it pass.

It’s like being the water instead of the dam. It’s about using your adversary’s energy against them instead of your own. Apparently it’s a Kung Fu kind of morning.


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.