Tag Archives: choice

The great debates

It’s another glorious day in paradise – hot sun, blue sky, big ocean, sun setting and I’m eating chocolates dipped in peanut butter and drinking a blueberry Izze.  I’m in the honeymoon phase of a new love affair with life – serenading and writing poems to it, making dates, walking around all giddy. To this I credit a whole host of responsible parties – namely me, Cheri Huber, my person I talk to (I hate the word therapist), healers, friends, random path crossings with wise people… in some more meta way, everyone who has ever crossed my path ever. This is proving, once again, my circumstances have nothing to do with my happiness.  It seems it is the human condition to need constant proof of this.  We are slow learners. (Or perhaps I will just speak for myself.)

Just for kicks, let us paint the picture here.  In the external realm, I am recently broken up from a serious and wonderful relationship of more than 3 years, I’m homeless, my checking account balance today is -$347 (yes, that is a negative sign), my car is making one of those little “uh-oh” noises and the check engine light came on again, “catastrophic rain-related mud and debris flows” are predicted by all the experts to befall Big Sur this winter, this morning I spilled a mug of hot tea all over myself (again) and last, but oh no, not least, I am likely the proud new party to a frivolous lawsuit.**

**Indeed, a woman behind me when boarding the plane home from Colorado tripped on a bag I set down in the aisle while I was stowing my guitar and it seems she is rather enthusiastically tormented by her swollen ankle. Susan from Risk Management at US Airways has called me to let me know I should give my insurance company (which insurance?) a heads up about the coming claim.  Know any good lawyers?

This is not to say each of these hasn’t given me pause – it’s not hard to start ruminating on any one of these subjects and watch myself dissolve into a seething, sobbing or withering puddle of goo. I have to check myself constantly.  But the will to check myself, and to choose something different, now that’s news.  I find it’s not so much these arguably legitimate concerns that even bother me really, it’s the voice in my head that never ceases to remark on my culpability, unworthiness, righteousness, (pick your judgemental characteristic of choice.)  This voice sucks my soul out through the head of a pin and spends all day letting me know why I deserve it and offers me every situation I encounter as proof.

I have recognized this voice before, and been unable/unwilling to disidentify with it for long.  It’s powerful and wily and reasonable and convincing.  By even getting me to hate it, it has sucked me back into itself. Cheri Huber calls it self-hate, even when it’s directed outside.  I’m in a three month class with her via e-mail and phone calls and she wrote this yesterday: “Print it out and hang it on your wall–everybody! Self-hate, the incessant voices of dissatisfaction, leave you feeling frustrated/exhausted. THEN the same system talks you into doing something that will strengthen IT and leave you feeling WORSE!”

Indeed. (Flash back to so so so many lost days spent watching movies and eating sugar because “I deserved it.”) Perhaps even more poignantly though, she responded to a participant who was doing the “yes but…(bemoaning his/her terrible situation)” by asking simply “And, of course, you know the only way to address this problem is to stop, yes?”

I’m experimenting with this whole stopping business.  Just stopping.  Watching the train take off from the station, working me into a lather about exhibit A or B and just stopping.  If it takes zoning out for a minute or breathing or leaving or walking or temporarily distracting, whatever… just stopping.  And I must say, if this were a diet shake infomercial I would sign up to be spokesmodel.  I am deeply changed in my days.  The content hasn’t changed at all, but I am changed.  I’m waking up in the morning (early!) and writing and reading reassurances to myself, meditating, doing yoga, making breakfast.  I’m cooking really good dinners and walking on achingly beautiful roads being grateful.  I’m reaching out to friends because I want to, and receiving the love they have to give.  I’ve even set up my calendar to e-mail me things like “You’re Wonderful!” throughout the day, and who would have guessed I could believe those voices too.

Yesterday in my session with my un-therapist there was another touchstone moment of realization (it should be noted that as time goes on I’m finding epiphanies are less and less “my god!” and more and more “oh yeah”) – and that is: this isn’t requiring my familiar “muscle-through” approach to life. While committing to stopping does require some force of will that often feels like a strict parent or that coach who used to shout through the last, shaky push-ups – more than that it requires that I allow all my most deeply uncomfortable feelings of rage or shame or disappointment to just be there. Not doing anything at all.  I’m begging to do push-ups at those moments.  They’re just sitting out there for everyone to see, and there I am, just sitting there.

So here I am, hereby announcing this commitment to the world to keep stopping and sitting there, which at this moment feels like it’s giving more weight to the commitment.  Most of the time, that has felt like a bad thing.  But look at all I have to lose!

I’m going to go now and not watch the debates.  I’m a political junkie turned politically-inspired-but- non-debate-watching happy person.  They should talk about that.


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Saturday afternoon physics lessons

I asked a question on Facebook months ago that was something to the effect of “Why is it we so avoid (over and over and over) doing the things we know are good for us? ” I got a few answers from friends and from myself – none of which rang the bell of that internal “yes” that builds our sense of world and understanding of ourselves.

The question came up again inside me today. It’s one of those lost-feeling, whirly weekend days. I had plans, they changed, so now what… kind of thing. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m still sitting around in my flannel pjs. I made a little food, talked to a friend on the phone, talked half-heartedly over possible plans for the day with Yossi but the talk dissolved into each of us getting lost doing our own thing. All of it leading me into that moment of choice I’ve been somewhat hyper-attuned to in myself lately – do I follow the momentum of my energy? Or make a choice of will to send my energy somewhere new?

Today the momentum was rolling down the hill toward what one may refer to as “wasting the day”. Curling up in the sun and napping. Watching a West Wing marathon. Eating comfort food. Avoiding the work and responsibilities that are at my door. Without any plans or urgency enough to force me out of it, I sit right in the middle of that moment watching the process of my decision-making, or lack thereof.

A variety of options come up, in the form of fortune-telling, where the ultimate aim is to end with me feeling good. I scroll through imaginations…

A. my afternoon disappears but I’m refreshed and nurtured by the downtime,

B. I follow my energy down its lazy path and land in a soup of dissatisfaction,

C. I pull myself up by the bootstraps and go create or do something enlivening.

I feel again how strong the pull is toward the familiar and the comfortable. I feel how the dissatisfaction with following it has steadily collected in my consciousness over time and I wonder if maybe today will be the day that the dissatisfaction is big enough to push the ball back up the hill – magically changing the pattern without me having to do anything hard.

And it occurs to me – this metaphor – the ball rolling down the hill – is based on simple physics. An object in motion stays in motion. I’m no physicist – I never particularly liked nor do I remember much of my last physics class 15 years ago, but it feels to me – here in my bones – that this physical principle of the universe is true of energy too. I feel how the patterns of my being are just energy – energy manifesting this very basic, and probably obvious physical phenomenon. Neural connections following their well worn path of least resistance, blood pumping to muscles that just like to do what they always do, my body alive with energy – all pulsing down the river of habituation that was first cut in the sand when I was but a wee tot. When it feels like pushing a boulder up a mountain just to decide not to eat the ice cream or turn of the TV, it really really is, just like that.

But we’ve been given this gift of will, that saves us from our robotic fate. Will is a tricky one for me – in that it wasn’t particularly nurtured or encouraged and now it’s harder for me to come by. Or more accurately, it requires a more convincing invitation than your average party goer. Once it’s there though, you can bet it’ll the life of the party. I do know that.

I don’t know who will make an appearance at the party today or how the evening will turn out. To be sure, I give my environment a leading role in the play – it distracts me from setting intentions of my own and carries with it its own momentum. Yossi pops in the Netflix and grabs potato chips – now there are two West Wings behind me and it’s almost 5. I’m still in my pajamas. We talk about going for a walk, he falls asleep and I start writing. Maybe the writing is enough. However it turns out, I’ll know more, and I suspect that’s the whole point.

The universe has a momentum too. And it carries with it the ultimate irony. I only have to glance at the stars to be relieved of any sense of significance I’ve given to my Saturday afternoon, or to my entire life. So why does it feel – in my heart of hearts – like stopping a ball from rolling down a hill is changing the whole world?


Filed under life, writing