I have always disliked Monday. The weekend over, it’s back to routine and
schedules and for me, getting up early and forcing my body to conform to a
schedule it didn’t conform to without a protest. Yesterday, I woke up after a
few hours sleep and was convinced it was Monday morning. In reality, it was
early evening. I was thoroughly disoriented for over an hour until I realized
my error. A year ago, I got up, got dressed in a rush thinking I was late for
work, and raced to my office thinking it was Monday, when in fact it was Sunday
morning. I spent quite a few minutes sitting in my car wondering where the rest
of everybody else had been hidden. I literally wondered if a bomb had gone off.
Suffice it to say that I am not a morning person, never have been a morning
person, have no desire to become a morning person. Lately, I’ve been writing
mostly in the morning, but it’s morning on my terms, after a bit of lounging in
bed, visiting the bathroom at a leisurely pace, making and drinking coffee,
then copious interwebz surfing. Goofy routine, but it’s mine and I own it
proudly. The dog acquiesces with a treat and some cuddle time.
I just ran across an AP story on a police shooting of a Black man in Hawaii.
It’s an odd set of circumstances, where this seemingly responsible and
non-problematic husband and father of two from South Africa wandered into someone’s
home, took off his shoes, then engages in a physical confrontation with
responding police officers. Nobody understands what motivated this man to show
up at someone’s home, become aggressive, and wind up dead. His wife, who is
white, says they had moved from Denver to Hawaii, where she was born and
raised, believing it would be a better place to raise their biracial children.
She also said Hawaii is not devoid of racial bias; Blacks are a tiny percentage
of the population. This challenges many views of Hawaii as a paradise of
multiculturalism, essentially peaceful and handling difference in exemplary
fashion. Nobody knows exactly what happened with this man’s killing, and police
have not been entirely transparent, so we’ll see. However it went, it’s very
sad and shows that even paradise is not immune to the shadows of bias and
Lately, my thoughts are turning to joy and happiness, and what constitutes
either for me. Today, I am supposed to have a telehealth physical therapy
visit, which is always an interesting experience. The visits are with students
of a local university that has a physical therapy degree program, which makes
it free to me. They have a regime for me to follow, customized for my symptoms,
and they lead me through a series of stretches and exercises in my
kitchen…which I find hilariously funny. After that, I’m going to a late lunch
with my bestie, and we’re set to discuss some of my Beloved Conversations
course, and whatever else strikes us. I am really looking forward to that.
I wonder if I am simply spending way too much time alone. It doesn’t bother me
to be alone. I feel as though I have always been alone…the only child thing
and all that. In general, it doesn’t bother me, although I enjoy having the
option to choose aloneness vs. togetherness. Frequently, after I’ve had
togetherness, I am stressed and rehashing snippets of conversation and what I
should have said. This does not constitute happiness or joy for me. I suppose
the older I get, the more I crave smaller group, or one-on-one, interaction.
Even then, I often feel as though something was missing, and I’m not entirely
sure what that’s about.
Maybe I’d better identify what brings joy, what
causes me to be happy. I know that music brings me a great deal of joy and
happiness. Listening to good acoustic guitar players and singer-songwriter
types usually makes me feel warm inside. I’m not aware of very many venues for
that sort of thing, but maybe I should intentionally seek that out. I don’t see
very many public opportunities for that but will keep looking.
I love great conversation, and debate. There are opportunities for that, but I
often find that it doesn’t go on as long as I’d like because, well, people have
their own lives. Maybe that’s what FaceBook is for, I don’t know. What I do
know is I don’t find a lot of effortless conviviality, which makes me wonder if
perhaps effort should be made, if the effort should be more intentional.
I have never been one who finds talking about my hobbies interesting, My
hobbies are interesting to me because it’s they are entirely about my
experience with the endeavor, and I am not sure how to share that with anyone
else. Sometimes, those of us who share a particular hobby gain some enjoyment
from having that individual experience collectively, if that makes any sense to
experience individualism collectively. Seems a bit contradictory. But, I’ve
enjoyed playing guitar in pop-up jam sessions. Those seem to include
combinations of soloing and group endeavors to satisfy me and give me some of
that warm feeling.
I commented yesterday on how much sheer joy I had presenting my essay and
reflections on my friend’s contribution to our spiritual community, and to my
personal growth. I enjoyed that because I enjoyed writing it, and equally
enjoyed presenting it. Honestly, it wasn’t the act of presentation, but enjoyed
just as much – if not more – sharing that in performance mode with a receptive
audience. I loved that people enjoyed it, loved that my friend enjoyed it. And
yes, in all honesty, I enjoyed being the center of attention for those few
minutes, not for any other reason than I felt I was sharing something good that
I had done, and that was gratifying. When I feel that I’ve created something of
value, something well crafted, and it is well received, I love that feeling.
Absolutely love it.
When I’ve done solo musical performance, I’ve not been as comfortable as when
I’ve created and presented an essay that I felt was a good product. My musical
performance is always tempered with doubt that I’m not a good enough singer or
guitarist to present anything original or different from anybody else’s
offering. I’m not convinced that is entirely egotistical, because I (hope) that
I’m an honest judge of my abilities. If anything, I’m hard on myself and feel
that I write better than I sing and play music as a soloist. I can hold my own
in a combo and truly enjoy that even more than soloing. The prize is the
audience response, and if that’s not there, what’s the point?
It’s really interesting how much response from others can mold our behavior,
our performance as it were. It’s very clear with children, as they usually mold
themselves to please their parents and understand without words what is
expected of them. There’s a delicate balance in that, however, because if
parents press forward too much of their own expectations on a child, things get
goofy very quickly. Expecting a child to behave like an autonomous adult before
they have the reason or the physical and mental development, can be harmful.
Like other beings of humanness, their instinct to be free will outweigh all
else, and they will spend all their energy rebelling against nothing in
particular but everything in general.
I suppose expecting anything out of anybody is counter-productive. What people
can produce has to be willingly offered or the product suffers. If someone had
forced me to produce yesterday’s essay about my friend’s 20th work anniversary,
it would not have had the outpouring of affection and love that I felt, and
that seemed to come across to the audience in those words. I wanted them to
feel what I felt, and some reported they did. I cannot put a price on that,
cannot find anything more rewarding. It was somewhat of a high for several
hours, and that is probably why I slept so deeply that I had no idea where I
was when I woke.
Here I must say that knowing my feelings about these sorts of writing productions
makes me a bit nervous about seeking employment in writing. I don’t want to
have to do it. I had similar thoughts about music when I was in college, opting
not to major in music even though it would have been a sure shot for me and
would not have gotten in the way of my drinking commitments (and believe me, I
was committed to drinking at that point). I did not want to be forced to do
something I enjoyed so much. So, I didn’t major in that, and wonder to this day
if that was a good choice.
The issue I have with the formal study of something that comes somewhat
naturally to me is that it will be such a formalized endeavor, with
measurements and degrees of correctness and evaluations of conformity that it
will ruin the fun of it. It will become work, become a job, and where is the
fun in that? Some days I don’t play, other days that’s all I do. I want to be
able to keep that flexibility. On the flip side, however, I wonder if I missed
the opportunity to simply become a better musician, with even more enjoyment of
the product. I don’t know. Perhaps I am just far too undisciplined to ever
succeed at taming an inner passion.
I feel somewhat the same about writing. I don’t consider myself a stellar
writer, by any means, but I enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed it, even when I hated
the urge to do self-examination and write about it. I’ve always loved words,
always enjoyed words and the manipulation of words and the infinite number of
combinations one can employ from the same 26 characters of the alphabet (at
least in the English language – I have no frame of reference for any others). I
find that fascinating, that some people cannot write an intelligent sentence,
cannot seem to communicate a thought in writing, while others can produce great
dramatic works, novels, poetry.
Sometimes I wonder if shutting myself off from the world with only a keyboard
and a sometimes uncooperative canine is a way to hide. I hide really well
because I generally presume that nobody wants to see me, has no reason to see
me. Sometimes I don’t want to see myself. I have never been particularly fond
of the way I look, the way my hair does weird stuff on only one side of my
head, the way it curls on the crown and gets flat out nappy in the front. The
way my knees are too fat they can’t knock together when I walk, descending onto
these stalks of legs that seem entirely unwilling to carry the full burden of
the excess weight I have always seemed to have. But…this is what I’ve got,
and I would do well to accept it. It’s not a given that I can walk, and play
the guitar, tinkle the ivories, play the flute, drive an automobile, open
doors, go pretty much wherever I want. None of that is a given, and when I
doubt myself, I find it a good thing to be grateful for all of that.
I had a friend who had advanced Multiple Sclerosis and had only one hand that
worked. She could move her head, smile, and talk, but as she put it, she could
not wipe her own butt. A catheter helped with some of the body functions, and a
wheelchair gave her a little bit of autonomy, but she could not drive. Most
importantly, she was a gifted artist, and creating art was no longer possible
for her. She had some respiratory issues from the MS, and oxygen was available
in her residence. Even with a wheelchair, there were some places she could not
go. Someone had to drive her everywhere, in a van that was specially outfitted
for accommodating the wheelchair, but some places were simply inaccessible. She
was also in constant pain, she related and had some very good drugs to help
with that. The drugs, however, checked her out and if she wanted to interact
with people, it was best she didn’t take them. I cannot even imagine living in
My friend – Anita was her name – passed away a couple of years ago. The MS had
finally depressed involuntary functions enough that her body failed, and she
was gone. From what I understand, it was rather peaceful; she went to sleep and
fell into a coma, and then just stopped. Finally. Stopped. She had told me that
she had been ready to go for quite a while but literally couldn’t seem to die.
But she was tired of living that way, tired of being in pain, tired of feeling
trapped (quite literally). So, when she died, I was relieved for her. I miss
her, but I am a big believer that everybody who crosses my path does so for a
reason, so I want to be intentional about honoring what she brought to me. Some
of that is keeping up with your art, so that’s what I’m trying to do while I am
able. Who knows if something will befall that makes it impossible to do it any
So, recalling my friend Anita still encompasses the subject of joy, because I
got to see what happens when there is a dearth of joy. I sometimes wonder if
the joy had left her before the MS attacked, or after. MS is an autoimmune
disease, meaning that some part of her immune system had begun to turn on the
protein sheath that covers nerves in her brain and spinal column, the central
nervous system. I have always wondered if a disease like that visits a body
when there is some kind of spiritual conflict, some kind of mind-body-spirit
disconnect or imbalance. That sounds quite simplistic, but it has always been a
wondering for me. I believe quite firmly that our bodies often manifest what
goes on in our spirits and our brains, and if those don’t synch we have
dis-ease. Literal malfunctions of ease on an esoteric level.
Whether any of that is ultimately correct or not, I do not want to make it seem
that disease or physical dysfunction is our “fault” or that we have
done our lives “wrong”. Not sure I can make the disease a punishment,
although it seems that way sometimes. If it’s a punishment, what do we make of
infants with brain cancer, or born without certain necessary organs? If it’s a
punishment, what of murderers and rapists who are healthy as oxen and suffer
not even allergic reactions? Of course, I have no answer for that, and that’s
why I shudder away from considering disease or physical challenges as
punishment. I suppose I cannot imagine a Universe so inherently cruel that
mistakes are not allowed. I do, however, believe that we can punish ourselves,
and perhaps that’s how the mind-body-spirit connection becomes out of synch in
some of us. But, that’s just me.
Perhaps that is enough contemplation for this morning. I have a meditation
group in about 90 minutes, and a little critter at the foot of this bed is
going to have a morning constitutional alarm sound any second now. She’s really
in charge of this whole operation; I’m allowed to pay the rent and live here,
only when there are sufficient quantities of treats. I will never be able to
figure out how dogs of any size instinctually sleep diagonally on a rectangular
or square bed. In the middle. Without fail. I have to sometimes wrestle with
her just to stretch out my legs at night.
Today is overcast, a bit cloudy, kind of like my mood. I would do well to do a
bit of job searching today, for posterity’s sake. Something will happen,
eventually. Eventual is so annoying…eventually, the glaciers will melt. That
will eventually be a nightmare, so I despise talk of eventuality.