“When walls are in place, how is anyone ever going to to see me as I am, not as I appear?” Dave
My reading list on the left of my laptop screen has gotten long. I can’t seem to keep up, or maybe it’s just a natural winter hibernation bio-rhythm thing? my cerebral fluids running more viscous than usual? or the slightly-decreasing-in-number-but-still-kazillion neurons cat-napping more often?
After 15 years, I let my New Yorker subscription lapse for the first time. The magazines were piling up, increasing numbers unread on the small bathroom table, visible evidence increasing anxiety. It’s not that I don’t love The New Yorker. I do. It was my lifeline to my daughter when she moved to Manhattan in 2001, to a world I was born to, but never inhabited. I needed some context to understand her in. The New Yorker gave me some of that, and more.
Is it winter? Nature’s winter? Or the metaphorical one? This slowing down? This bit of overwhelm? I keep coming back out of my corner, like a punch-drunk boxer, not ready to admit defeat. I’m swinging my arms, slightly flailing now, and bouncing on the floor (of my mind) like a younger Mohammed Ali. But the feet don’t lift as high and my balance is not what it once was.
Slowly I’m reading The New Yorker July to November issues. No December issue arrived. At last they stopped sending special-deal-if-you-renew-your-subscription-now pleas. Maybe I’ll renew next summer.
The world, young as it is for 2016—only a few weeks old—is also troubling, to say the least. Increasingly overwhelming and bewildering. Didn’t I feel this way when I was a child? Shouldn’t it make more sense now? Now that I’m an adult? This world of adult creations — myth making and believing, manipulations, us-and-them-ing? I watch “other-ing” of every kind. Which really just points to underlying fear unattended to, don’t you think? Not that I want to, but I can… go there. Fear-driven thinking and all that.
Personally I want and need to be inspired. Which is exactly why I should make it more of a priority to read what’s on my reading list — the On Being and Brain Pickings essays and a few others that make the grade. Instead I get distracted by my Facebook feed — my attention span ADD-ish.
Is the issue winter? or too much world? or just how Facebook is? Always there’s another “feed” (as in nourishment I guess) more-or-less fascinating — Bernie, exquisite nature photography, the life and death of David Bowie, an important petition to sign, topical articles posted by FB friends, signs of life from my daughter — a video of her singing or a mini-essay she wrote, some precious kittens or dogs or inter-species videos. Sweet and tender and soulful. An endless supply where I can disappear hours.
This morning I tore myself away from Facebook to read an On Being essay that’s been sitting on my reading list for several days. This one, “The Membrane Between Us and Oblivion” by Jane Gross. I love this kind of writing, these sorts of essays, where people get down and honest. Seeing the humanity of others inspires me to want to engage, to come out of my boxer’s corner, even if I am bloody-nosed and ragged, to go another round.
(I’m not sure about that metaphor; I’m not really into boxing or other violent sports, but somehow it worked for me this morning. Maybe I’m channeling my Grandma Anna, a Russian Jewish immigrant who came to Brooklyn via Ellis Island in the 1900s. There was always chicken soup on her stove, and Grandma saying, kum aher, esn. come here, eat. And there was her favorite sport – boxing. Maybe that’s my connection to a boxing metaphor?)
Anyway, I love what Jane Gross wrote in her essay. Deeply unique to Jane, yet universal (who amongst us hasn’t gone to our barber and given the instruction to “cut it off!” as an attempt to jumpstart a more important change in our life?). Jane’s writing resonates and motivates me to, what? to write? Yes. to continue to have faith in my fellow person? Yes. to feel something that my own fear knows about, but is more than my own familiar loop of fearful storytelling? Yes. Jane’s essay is courage I feel enlivened by. Doesn’t courage always enliven?
I also loved reading the responses, especially the ones from Peggy, Pam, Renae, and Dave. It was Dave’s thoughts that actually triggered my writing today. His words echoed the title I chose for my blog “As I am…” and helped me remember why I chose it, after considering a zillion others.
Dave wrote “When walls are in place, how is anyone ever going to to see me as I am, not as I appear? Each and every one of us possess gifts/talents that are unique to our being — so if we cover and protect those special qualities by giving them a new coat of paint, a wall is still a wall.”
So, thank you Carol and Dave, and all the brave people I know, and meet, or only know by reading your words. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your self as you are. It gives me strength to continue doing my own work. On my blog and in my life. Even if it is winter, or maybe because it is.
Sometimes life is just about being brave enough to come out of the corner for another round. Maybe with a little more compassion and self-compassion than the time before. While we figure out how the beauty and terror, the doing and being and healing all happen at the same time. And for some reason, all this makes me think of this song.