As someone who writes her heart out, I sometimes wonder if I may be giving an altogether incorrect impression about my life, my family and relationships, my loving partnership.
We see our lives as perfect not because they are perfect in a literal sense, but because we have swallowed them whole… and now, all perfections and imperfections reside fully within us.
My partnership is perfect because it is complete, and I have oriented myself entirely to it. My relationship with my parents is perfect because I have imbibed it whole. My relationship with my sister is perfect because I have eaten her up, fully. Indeed, none of these exist outside of me.
Meaning, there is nothing objective about any of this. It is entirely subjective, so what you see (through my writings) is what I see.
Wrote this a year ago on Facebook, and I thought I’d share it here as well.
The last couple of posts of mine have been… a little sombre, sober, sad. It is important to understand, though… they were written in a particular state of mind. And no state of mind is constant. This lockdown has also been a period of beauty, enthusiasm, loving joy, humor, even bliss. And there used to be a smidgen of guilt as well. For not contributing, for not sewing masks, for not supporting, for not donating, for not volunteering, for not being enough… in any way, in many ways.
Not that any of this is a competition. And I have never been a good competitor. I hardly ever feel invested in an end goal, a final prize… not even myself. This idea of doing something/anything as a means to become more evolved, more benevolent, more generous, more wise… doesn’t fully gel with me. I AM evolved, benevolent, generous and wise. I am also fearful, anxious, stubborn, and detached. And everything I do emerges from this unique, multi-colored space.
I have enjoyed this lockdown period immensely but I have also been rattled in strange, little ways. I have experienced dull evenings of scary, gaping emptiness, and I have savored blissfully cool, sunny mornings when my garden smiles back at me, and little seedlings happily unfurl their true leaves on the bathroom window sill. I have happily eaten every dish my creative husband has rustled up in our kitchen. I have had rough nights with dreams of chaos, restlessness. And then there is that rare morning when you wake up feeling weightless, so light and transparent, like a feather.
(I tend to believe that a LOT of how I feel is directly linked to the state of my digestion. So I attend to it as best as I can.)
My husband is a beautiful mirror, meaning he reflects what he sees without projecting. When you are a “blank canvas” type of personality, it is immensely helpful to have a partner who doesn’t splatter paint all over you. Perhaps that’s why this period of forced enclosure has not altered the quality of space in the relationship.
Contrary to what anyone (friend, partner, parent, media, president, prime minister, queen) says, our experience of life is fully and unequivocally our own, and it is an internal phenomenon. Life actually occurs on the inside, so no one can tell you what THAT is all about, and that includes the pandemic/Corona experience also.
This is a special book. Full disclosure, I haven’t read it fully yet. It was originally written in German, and although I think the translation is faultless, it isn’t easy to read. It feels like a poetic exploration in parts, and yet the message is unmistakably clear. Life is an eternal romance, or perhaps, it is a lot of sex and death.
“In Matter and Desire, internationally renowned biologist and philosopher Andreas Weber rewrites ecology as a tender practice of forging relationships, of yearning for connections, and of expressing these desires through our bodies. Being alive is an erotic process–constantly transforming the self through contact with others, desiring ever more life.”
The book isn’t talking about propagation of species, or survival of the fittest. (Or maybe that’s exactly what it’s talking about.) It isn’t talking about me becoming food for the ants, and the ants becoming food for soil bacteria. It’s far more mundane; it’s about our everyday interactions, and the absence of any real boundaries.
This book beautifully describes how we are constantly and continually changing (and being changed by) the other. The transformation isn’t an active or conscious choice; it is the nature of this organism. And the change occurs at the so-called boundaries, where “two become one,” as the Spice Girls sang. This is the tiny space of melding (or melting) and merging, of absorbing and being absorbed, of the little death of the individual (where a piece of “you” wears off), or of a sea change that begins at the outer edge and travels inward. That’s the sex, and that’s the death. All of Nature willingly submits to this play (except humans, maybe?) without any thought toward self-preservation, boundaries, individuality, or self.
(This dovetails nicely into ideas around boundaries and vulnerability, no? I have little to contribute to these conversations because one, I have highly “porous” boundaries AND two, I have been “vulnerable” all my life before I even knew what the term meant. Not to say that I overshare my feelings, or dump my stories on everyone around. “Vulnerable,” to me, simply means that I present myself to the world largely as I am — sans barriers. That I have little to hide, or protect.)
Yesterday, on a whim, I wrote: “When restless or bored, DO NOT seek entertainment.” A number of people responded: Then do what?
To reach for entertainment, to seek to be entertained—when you feel restless or bored—seems totally natural. What else is one to do? Watch a Netflix show, browse dance videos on Instagram, munch on a handful of raisins—all fun, harmless options that engage the mind and give a little bit of pleasure.
Here’s the thing, though. Pleasure and entertainment are entirely opposite in nature. To derive pleasure from an activity requires keen participation and active engagement. Entertainment only asks that you sit back and watch.
Does anyone pick gardening, or cooking, or dancing as entertainment options? I imagine not. These activities require YOU to do the “work.” Ask any gardener, or cook, or dancer… and they will probably tell you how pleasurable these activities are. We watch gardening shows, cookery shows, and dance shows with a lot of enthusiasm… because they are entertaining. (Not necessarily pleasurable, though.)
When I feel restless or bored, entertainment serves as a filler… but it doesn’t alleviate the boredom. And I am left feeling vaguely unsatisfied. In fact, I think seeking pleasure may be a better alternative… at the very least, I will be keen, attentive, engaged. The other option is to do nothing, obviously. Be still, silent, quiet and watching.