August 13, 2013 § 13 Comments
I know some of my struggles come from my thinking, not from my being. – Jackie Borland
Lately, I have been so inconsistent with writing. However, having been inspired by the discipline of Kristen at Motherese and Lindsey Mead Russell at A Design so Vast, I am going to try to put up something on a more regular basis, regardless of whether I have anything to say, or not. (You are officially warned).
We are on vacation for almost 2 weeks, just the four of us, sprung from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and set free in southern Oregon, where we all feel a bit more at ease and more at home. I swear, something happens to me as soon as I cross the Mississippi River, and if I had my eyes closed for the entire plane flight, I could probably tell you when I was officially in the West. There is a settling, an ease, a deep sigh of relief. We all spent five days with Scott’s parents where we were treated to a ride on a 1973 firetruck, hiking in Crater Lake, and visits from Doe-zer, a neighborhood deer who is more tame than the horses who graze nearby. Scott’s mom made numerous batches of snickerdoodles, homemade strawberry jam, and a quilt for our home that is so breathtaking I cried when I saw it.
Today and tomorrow, my husband and I are in Ashland, Oregon alone while Oliver and Gus stay with their grandparents in nearby Klamath Falls. At noon today, Scott and I checked into the little house we rented and caught up with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We went out for a hike and then came “home” and read our books outside in the shade. When we were hungry, we walked to dinner downtown, which was a tremendous treat after spending a year in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where the nicest restaurant is an Outback Steakhouse. It was a decadent day full of what I love most.
And yet, I was also a bit startled by the vulnerability inherent in vacation itself, whether it’s because the feelings we normally tamp down finally spread their wings in this new space or whether it’s the very raw aspect of traveling itself: the uncertainty, the risk, the unfamiliarity of a place that is beloved but yet unknown.
Yesterday, I shared an email conversation with a fellow blogger I greatly admire and we were talking about what Lao Tzu said about the great way being easy. We agreed that while our hearts often easily recognize the “great way,” our minds become confused about how exactly to get there. Like travel, it’s the logistics that seem to cause the most trouble. For me, the “great way” is easy, but keeping my heart propped open widely enough to see it is often excruciating. Today as Scott and I drove through the Siskiyou mountains, the windows of the car open – the smell of pine and cedar and cold wind – we saw an RV backing up on the opposite side of the road, and curious, we stared until we saw a tiny fawn lying dead on the asphalt. There was the bright blue sky and the tawny grass and the ancient green of the trees, and there was also blood.
Sometimes vacation feels like this too, as if it is dangerous to feel so happy, that even as our hearts swell with the deliciousness of life, we simultaneously remember that we are only here temporarily. At dinner with my husband tonight, I heard stories I have never heard before, and suddenly, this man I have spent the last decade with became new again, and I became as nervous and thrilled as I was on our first date.
Tonight seemed to be the epitomy of summer, of freedom, of joy and the long rays of the sun that extend far past an appropriate curfew. And of course my first instinct was to want to bottle it up or tamp it down. To jump off because it feels a bit scary to feel so magnanimous, so at ease. Perhaps this too is part of the great way: remaining open no matter what, which is what I find most terrifying and glorious about the whole thing.
Recently, a woman named Jackie, who reads this blog, sent me a note and a poem she wrote. I hope she too starts a blog, but until then, I will share her words with you. She wrote them on New Year’s Day, but for me, they capture what I want to remember during the entire year.
New Year’s Day – 2013 by Jackie Borland
What do I know now, as this new year dawns?
I know Grace and Gratitude are two of the most important words in my life and in my beingness.
I know I am very blessed in my life to be so connected to my children and grandchildren. Even though distance separates us, and I cry frequently as I miss them so very much, I am grateful for the gifts of their presence in my life.
I know how fortunate and blessed I am to have circles of woman in my life that are REAL friends. The beauty of this also brings tears to my eyes and wishes for all women to be so blessed.
I know I want to have more love for myself. By loving myself more, I will be able to love others better.
I know I love inspiring poetry, books, music and conversations that feed my spirit.
I know I am very sensitive and finally like that about myself. Not only does that enable me to feel my own sadness and joy, but to hold the world with much compassion.
I am also learning that I can only do what is mine to do and fix what is mine to fix.
I know small things I do matter. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
I know it is important for me to be authentic and true to my own beingness.
I know I cannot always say “YES”.
I know I will make mistakes, and that I can say I am sorry.
I know realizing my connection to God, the Ultimate Source of everything, is my purpose for being here. God is Love. God is Truth. God is Light. God is All . I can trust that the Universe will support me in this journey.
I know my life is short here. I do not always like the way I am living it. I know I cannot change the past, except by making amends where needed. I know that it is up to me to choose again. No one else can choose for me. Sometimes that is really scary. And I know that I am not alone, and that I can get help and support through the difficult times.
I know some of my struggles come from my thinking, not from my being. Some of my struggles just come as part of this life.
I know doing nothing is important- that listening is important-that silence is important –that speaking is important -that being in the present moment is important.
I know I can look back at my life and see the beautiful, the joy, the happiness, the passion, as well as the ugly, the sadness, the darkness; and I know all of my life is blessed.
“I know all that truly matters in the end is that I have loved.”
I love this, Pam. Love love love. Also love that you will be writing more often :). I have missed your words. I know just what you mean about the fear that somehow bubbles up when things are easy, and good. For me it manifests as a frantic focus on all that’s coming which of course takes my gaze off of what IS. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in what sounds like a truly magical place. xoxox
Welcome back Pam! We have missed your words and our presence, what a treat to find this in my email!!
Reading this post while on vacation myself, I completely understand! And how grateful I am that you took time, amidst all this fleeting joy, to try to write, too, about the currents of unease that tug at us even when the surface waters are smooth. Love this line in particular: “Sometimes vacation feels like this too, as if it is dangerous to feel so happy, that even as our hearts swell with the deliciousness of life, we simultaneously remember that we are only here temporarily.” Pretty much what I’ve been thinking since we arrived at my favorite place in the world on Saturday afternoon. Within an hour, I was anticipating the pain of leaving. . .a week later. xoxo
Pam, I really love your writing, and I’m so glad you’ve decided to post more frequently. I completely relate to the feeling of vulnerability that is inherent in the feeling of ease- it can be piercing at times. Loved the poem as well!
Pam, I love your writing, and I’m so glad you have decided to post more frequently. I completely relate to the feeling of vulnerability that is inherent in the feeling of ease- it can be piercing at times. I loved the poem as well!
We are about to go on a long vacation for the first time in almost a year, and I totally agree with the mixed bag of emotions that comes with it. The joy of being free from responsibility, the sadness of the temporary reality of it all.
But, vacations are such an incredible learning experience, aren’t they? And it seems like the positive effects last a lifetime.
In the midst of watching my mother-in-law die in Seattle this summer, my family and I were also experiencing one of the most beautiful summers we’ve had together. An extremely strange juxtaposition; I so relate.
I am so glad that you are planning to write more often. I made this leap myself a little while back and am so glad that I did. There are lots of days that I feel like I have nothing to say but when I look back, I am always glad that I wrote something, anything.
I know you feel this all so deeply. I know that because I can feel so much as I read your words and Jackie’s words. And this makes me feel a bit destroyed, as it seems we all do, but also appreciative of the idea of being together, bound and blended by forces that confuse and liberate, teach and teach again, spill and spire us together into love big enough to hold us all and soothe our troubled junctures.
I love the first line of the Hsin Hsin Ming: “The great way is not difficult, if you have no preferences.”
The Zen Master Lewis Carroll said as much the same:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
I like the hopeful last line, “if you only walk long enough.” Perhaps on your hands?
What a gift it is to know that you might be writing here more often! I think you know how much I value your words and your ideas – today’s not least among them, when you write about something I wonder about often: how to hold fleeting joy gently enough to be bolstered by it and not to smother it with anticipation of it coming to an end. Always such a pleasure to be here, my dear. xo
we’re in the same state! wheee! enjoy. 🙂
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