Originally posted on April 23, 2015…
Like Kwan Yin, (the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion) I hear the suffering of the world. I do what I think I can, volunteer work, starting and facilitating some women’s groups, supporting good causes, signing petitions, voting, random acts of kindness… It never feels like enough. Maybe I need to think bolder, or more humbly.
Though I often feel disconnected, I know my joys and sorrows are intimately connected with those of the world. Writing a blog is one way of connecting with myself and hopefully others.
Currently I’m straddling middle and old age. Straddling loneliness and feelings of connection. Straddling affection for my comfort zone and a strong desire to move beyond it. Straddling fear and bravery. Straddling fine and not fine.
When someone asks me how I am, if I answer right away, I say Fine! If I delay my answer by two seconds, checking inside myself to see how I actually am before I answer, I’m in big trouble! Inside I’m chock full of fine-ness and not-fine-ness — weather systems of the most contradictory natures. Mostly there is wind, as in butt-kicking tornadoes. Gentlest breezes are my best days, or hours, or minutes. Inside me skies can be leaden gunmetal grey or the calmest and soul-warming of baby blues with wispy white cloud puffs purely for delight. I’m learning to live this way, weather being what it is and apparently outside my/our control. (except when it comes to global warming, but that’s another post). It’s not always easy to offer a weather report, when someone says How are you? It’s probably not what they’re asking for. They’re probably just saying Hi! But still the question provokes; sometimes I hear it as a real question. Answering How are you? with Fine often feels mechanical, even dishonest. I want a real conversation. I want weather reports! of the human and global-warming varieties, of the here’s-what’s-on-my-mind and here’s what-I-fucking-care-about-today variety. I have no interest in Fine.
That said, real conversations take time and energy. They bring out the best and worst in me. Sometimes I lack grace and clarity in expressing myself. Sometimes I state my feelings too strongly, other times, too timidly, overly ready to apologize. I’m always ready to apologize. If I bump into you, or even if you bump into me, I’ll probably give you a double apology. “Excuse me, I’m sorry”. I’ve noticed mostly it’s women that do the double apology. Rarely a man. I almost fell over the other day when a man gave me the double apology for a minor collision with a grocery store cart. It might not have even been his fault; it might have been my fault. It was just a small collision. I didn’t know him but I wanted to stop and have a whole conversation telling him what a unique guy he is. Instead, I just looked at him with silent awe, and said, “It’s ok”.
Clearly I’m a work in progress. We all are. This is how life goes, never finished until it’s finished. Dead, I mean. I need to keep in mind both strengths and vulnerabilities. Yours. Mine. Our Fine. Our Not Fine. The Listening needs to get deeper. The Offering of kindness and compassion also deeper. It’s not easy. Sometimes the “deep” I’m going for turns out to be a hole I’m falling into and then have to pull myself out of. Yep. Right on course. Fine. Not fine. Sorry, not sorry. Still, the real conversations are needed.
The other night I went with my dear friends Lincoln and Lisa to see/hear this comedian Sherry Glaser performing in Berkeley. I laughed for 2 hours straight, all three of us did. The whole audience did. By the end we were also crying. It wasn’t the kind of crying that happens from laughing too hard. Sherry was hilarious, off-the-charts funny. But the material was Real, and that meant it was also Sad, Tragic, Poignant-as-hell. Fine. Not Fine. It was like gaining access to all one’s internal weather systems at once. I wish you could have been there. The conversation was as real as it gets. The next time she performs, I’ll definitely let you know.