Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Balancing Deja Vu

I scoffed at things like MySpace and Facebook for quite a while. I thought it was something for my single friends, but certainly not something for me – married with two kids. But then one of my old friends from college sent me an invite for it right when I had a bunch of time of my hands so I started playing with it. And now I check it several times a day and have reconnected with most of my high school class and many friends from college that I had fallen out of touch with.

While it’s fun to compare pictures of our kids and catch up, it’s also brought a strange sense of déjà vu. It’s taken me to long buried memories and old forgotten feelings. It’s fun and sad and weird all at once. I am so different now than I was then.

I’m happier, more stable now. But I’m also so much tamer. I was adventurous and daring and often, shocking in my audacity. I’m domesticated now. Which is mostly ok. I adore my children and I’ve found a level of contentment and peace being a mother that I had always dreamed of but couldn’t realize. But I miss the drive to be different. And I miss the escapades that come floating back to me as I reminisce with these people who were once such intimate parts of my life.

My life is in a crazy state of upheaval right now. There is a distinct possibility that we will be filing for bankruptcy before year’s end. I still have no idea what is happening with my son as his headaches continue and the emotional outbursts plague us all. I take each day as it comes and try to stay as present with myself and my family as I possibly can. But I find myself stuck in a memory slideshow in my brain as I cling to some of the emotions I had then and the people who inspired them.

One friend in particular inspired a feeling of absolute trust and safety and I find myself thinking about him every day. Wishing for that feeling again and trying to figure out how to re-create within myself and for my children. Another always made me feel absolutely adored and ravishingly beautiful. Which is not something I’ve felt since my wedding day just about. I miss the confidence being looked at like that inspires.

It’s interesting to compare the reflection in the mirror of who I am now with who I was then. And I guess the real trick is to superimpose the me of now with the me of then and with any luck, I’ll get a glimpse of balance, which would be such a lovely change of pace.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Rant for the Sake of Nostalgia

Summer time with the kids usually means that I might as well live under a rock when it comes to news and current events. So you can imagine my surprise when I was watching the MLB All Star Home Run Derby last night to learn that they were going to TEAR DOWN Yankee Stadium!!

Shock is an understatement. I was so upset I wanted to cry and throw things all at once. How could anyone possibly think that was a good idea?

I mean there is no love lost between me and the Yanks. I’m a Red Sox fan in honor of Brian, so the assumption that there exists a grave dislike between me and the Yankees is a good one. But Yankee Stadium is hallowed ground and exists outside of any team rivalry, ego or Steinbrenner. Almost all of baseball’s greatest moments have happened in Yankee Stadium, or had some connection with it. It is the pinnacle of baseball history.

And that is what makes me so angry. The absolute disregard of that history, which is in and of itself a grand reflection of our own American history. Discovering a place of hope during war. The people finding a forum where they could put down their racist tendencies and acknowledge greatness in a man regardless of color. Or, last night, a man overcoming three years of heroin addiction to come to the Homerun Derby and hit 28 homeruns in the first round.

Baseball is the great American pastime because it allows us to celebrate and hope and cheer as if time has stood still. Walking into a baseball game gives you permission to make each at bat, each play and each out your number one priority regardless of what the stock market or the politicians are doing.

Ultimately, I can get as mad as I want, but it’s going to happen. They are going to tear it down. So I guess in the end, it’s really the inevitability of it all that makes me so sad. That we can devote a season and an All Star game to remembering the history this stadium has seen and tell ourselves that it’s enough. That because we remembered it all for a few months, that gives us permission to do away with it and build something new and shiny in its place.

I guess I just want to hold onto the comfort that comes in knowing that a place exists that bore witness to so many of America’s best and most hopeful moments. Because I think we all could use a little inspiration right about now.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Thrill of Discovery

I just finished reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Finally. It only took me several years to pick it up. And holy cow am I glad that I did! I spent the first quarter of the book just reading a few chapters at a time before slipping into sleep. But then a couple of days ago, I had the chance to read for a solid 90 minutes or so and it was over. I was completely, totally and utterly sucked in and the chance of return was nil. It’s a good thing that my husband was home because I went AWOL into this book and didn’t come up for air until after midnight.

Every time I pick up one of these books – the kind that suck you in and become an obsession – I’m reminded of why I love these escapist stories. Of course I admire the years of research that go into writing such an amazing tale and the author’s craft of writing is also a thrill. But ultimately what sucks me in the most is the fleeting chance to pretend I’m someone else for 400 pages. Whether that be a brilliant symbologist in search of the Holy Grail, an artist with an amazing ability to paint an alternate reality, Christ’s bodyguard or so many others it’s the chance to live through another character’s eyes, to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Ten years ago my path was laid out before me, ripe for the taking. I was going to be a constitutional scholar after getting a PhD in Political Philosophy and a JD in Constitutional Law. I had great dreams of bringing the glory of the constitution back, renewing its relevance to everyday life. I had dreams of being an expert in something that mattered. Not realizing that has haunted me for years now. Falling by accident into an 8-year long career of nonprofit fundraising and grant writing made me an expert in that field and has been alternately rewarding and failure-ridden.

But there is still a part of me that longs to be an expert in something that is valued and thought of highly. Perhaps that is my ulterior motive for writing. Because, especially while writing on a blog, there is no counterpoint. I get to be the one and only expert on whatever topic I’m babbling on about at any given time.

I think mostly though what really reels me in is the adventure of it all. Not that I’m hungering to be chased by the police or assassins, but the thrill of discovery through thought and detection totally gets my blood pumping. I’m such a research nerd at heart. That’s why grant writing was so attractive to me, it’s just writing research papers that you get paid for.

The other side of the coin however, and it’s the same question I asked of all my academic friends wondering when I was going to go back to my passions after I was the first of them to have children – why isn’t being a mom worthy enough to satisfy that need? Isn’t being an expert in my children more worthwhile in the long run than pulling down a paycheck I only sort of care about?

After all, everyday truly is an adventure full of my thrill at their discoveries.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Everything I've learned, I learned while hopelessly crazy

I seem to be having an onslaught of epiphanies as of late. Some of them come as welcome awakenings and some are hard to swallow, but regardless I thought I’d write them down before they get lost in the morass that is my brain as of late.

1. My egoic attachment is to people not things (see New Earth by Tolle). This is one point that I’ve always had a hard time with integrating into my Buddhist upbringing. The whole idea that suffering originates in attachment to the material. But I’ve always just translated that into stuff, i.e. cars, clothes, jewelry etc. But I’ve not ever really had that sort of attachment to stuff, I always tried as I saw my friends getting attached to things and thought it was the right thing to do, but it never really took. But people? That’s a whole other story. I get completely attached to people and that attachment always brings me pain. Mostly I think because once I let myself get attached to someone, that person becomes a part of my heart for always. Regardless of what happens with our friendship or overall relationship, I will always hold that person dear, unable to let them go.

2. Apparently I have abandonment issues and because of those issues, I’ve essentially been waiting for my husband to leave me for the last 10 years. This has stopped me from letting him completely into my life and heart and soul, which makes me so completely sad I can’t quite express it.

3. I haven’t the faintest idea how to be kind and compassionate towards myself. And this lack of knowledge and ability is what makes it so hard for me when people in my life do things like blowing off my birthday or not staying in touch. Because I don’t know how to be nice to myself, I look to the people in my life to make up for that in whatever way possible. So when my birthday goes by without notice it just compounds my feeling that I don’t really deserve to have it acknowledged in the first place.

4. If I keep asking for the same thing long enough, I will eventually find a way to realize it in my life. For years I’ve been saying that all I really wanted to do was stay home with the kids and write. And because of my son’s health issues, here I am this summer, staying home with the kids and trying to write. The biggest realization here is that even though we may be facing bankruptcy before year’s end, my life is truly a string of choices. I chose to put our financial health first over the last few years and have been working for the entirety of my kids’ lives and we have all suffered for that choice in one way or another, but we’ve been relatively financially stable. Now I am making a choice to put myself and my family first in front of money and my children are thriving and I actually don’t dread waking up in the morning. So the pendulum is swinging back and forth from one extreme to another, hopefully my next step will be to be able to recognize balance enough to swing reasonably close to it.

5. Throughout all of the adversity and successes in my life, I’ve tried to learn something from every experience. The knowledge (or lack thereof) that I’ve gleaned from each experience is what I try so very hard to pass on to others in my life. My passion for knowledge and the passing along of that knowledge can be off-putting and I think can make people feel judged or feel that I think they are weak for doing things differently or for not taking my advice. But in reality, the sheer act of passing on what I’ve learned is enough for me. The opportunity to share my compassion, intelligence, experience and passion with others is enough to fulfill me entirely. Ultimately I think my aim in life is to gather knowledge and share it through compassion. That is what makes me truly feel alive.

In the end, I think all of this just allows me to recognize that when I allow myself to be utterly and authentically true to who I am, without self-censorship; I am closest to living the life I dream. Now if I could just figure out how to not let the daily grind addle my brain into forgetting all of this, I might actually accomplish something.