Archive for January, 2012

January 22, 2012

Deb Margolin inpires me AGAIN!

Can I tell you something?

Every time I write something, I have this fear. I have this fear that it will be the last thing that I ever write. I am afraid that I will run out of ideas. Or, that my ideas will become a THING. I do not want to be part of the next big thing. I want to operate outside of that whole framework, outside of that flow of flashiness that comes and goes and before you know it, it’s on to the next big thing.

So this is not “shit writers say” or “shit widows say” or “shit mothers say” or even if it IS shit, it’s just shit because it’s shitty, not because it’s “the shit.”

Again, I am deeply inspired by Deb Margolin. Again, I have heard her play, “Good Morning Anita Hill It’s Ginni Thomas I Just Wanted To Reach Across the Airwaves and the Years and Ask You To Consider Something I Would Love You To Consider an Apology Sometime and Some Full Explanation of Why You Did What You Did With My Husband So Give It Some Thought and Certainly Pray About This and Come To Understand Why You Did What You Did Okay Have a Good Day.” (Yes, that is the full title.)

Only this time, instead of seeing her perform it in person, I just listened to her perform it on the radio. Live on wbai.org, just a few minutes ago. Just her voice in my headphones over my i-phone, taking me through this journey of frustration and yearning and bittersweet loving and aging and lamenting and poetry (oh, the poetry), while I washed the dishes, my son watching his cartoons in the background. And I didn’t think I could wait until the end of the piece to sit and start writing this. And at first, I tried to do both things at once, listen and write, but of course, I couldn’t.  So I settled instead for the listening and the warm water flooding over my hands, which seemed to make so much more sense.

Because you see, the words are flooding out of me. I am writing, then breathing a sigh of relief, and then a few minutes later, I want more. I need more. Like a sex addict, I just can’t be satisfied. I can’t get enough. I must put down more words, I must trace another path, another journey, another story, another wave of release, of sharing, of comparing, of touching you, whoever you are, just to connect, to know that I have been heard, to know that you know, that you recognize, that maybe you also feel what I’m feeling.

And I’m afraid. Deeply afraid. Afraid to want this so much, to need it so much. And yet, more afraid NOT to do this thing which frightens me deeply. Because really, when I take a little step back, I realize, I have already survived some of the most frightening things imaginable. Terrible losses, shocks, tragedies, disappointments, frustrations. And of course I have imagined even worse. And I know that there are people who suffer so much more awful and unthinkable things every single day, so really, what could be so bad about writing down what I feel and letting others read it?

Really.

What is the worst thing that could happen? You might not like it. You might not like me. You might not think I am a good writer. You might not enjoy my style. You might think me self-indulgent, maudlin, sarcastic, or even irrelevant. You might feel bothered, imposed upon. You might say, please, stop torturing me with your damn feelings, FEELINGS, blah blah, whatever. Shit, tell me something I don’t know.

Deb Margolin is brilliant with this play, because in it, she says so much of everything, but in a very particular, specific way. It’s a story about the experience of this one woman, Anita Hill, in this one moment in time, but it’s also the story of all women who have been harassed by men and then been powerless to have their voices heard and then ACTED UPON in the right way! And then it’s the story about her, Deb, but it’s also the story of mothers, who watch their children grow up and become their own people who don’t need us anymore, and then must contend with this world where terrible things happen. And other stuff about too many gadgets and dead birds and Bristol Palin…

I experience a strange thing when I hear this play of hers. Part of me is so filled up with the completeness of the experience. And yes, it is complete – this play is solid, and it is thorough and tight, and I can hear that it has been tightened up even more since I saw it performed in person (kudos to Deb and director, Merri Milwe). As I listened to it this morning, I felt as though it was saying everything there was to say. That there was nothing left. And I cried for being touched like that. For my own experience (yes, I identified with it so deeply) being so heard and so well articulated for others to share.

For example, “I don’t have time to dream things; I just need to do them. That’s how late it is…”

This speaks to me in a deep, deep way.

And so here I am writing about writing, and about Deb Margolin AGAIN. Because when something inspires you, it’s OK to let people know, so they can also be inspired. (Please listen to her play. I am sure it will be archived at wbai.org. If I get a more specific link I will post it in the comments.) Because I am realizing that I can write whatever I want, and that it’s OK if I posted something yesterday and now I’m posting something again today, because if it’s too much, or you don’t like it, then you won’t read it. And it’s OK if I put my feelings out there for you to share, because you might actually feel something similar.

Oh, and I think I’m going to change the name of my blog soon, because I’m pretty sure that this is original.

PS – The broadcast of Deb’s play has been archived! You can hear it or download the entire program from January 23rd, 2012 here.

January 21, 2012

Snow Time Inside

I love this winter snowstorm today. It is soft and gentle, like snow is supposed to be. Not so cataclysmic that I couldn’t go out if I really wanted to or had to, but enough of a motivation to make me want to stay inside at least for now. Somehow being enveloped in this white swirling cushion from the safety of my warm home gives me permission to let my mind wander and the thoughts flow unobstructed…

Life is so mysterious and complicated. I don’t know of any easy way to make sense of it all. Formulas that wrap things up in 10 easy steps, later seem more like platitudes, perhaps incomplete, vague or even empty, devoid of any meaningful resonance. Rules are broken, patterns become erratic, and contradictions upon contradictions render even our most solid assumptions doubtful, at best.

So what do we rely upon for guidance and truth when even our most reliable sources can fall apart under scrutiny? Even seeing is not always believing. Eye witness testimony is hardly considered dependable evidence, pictures can be photoshopped, video can be morphed into anything.

I suppose wisdom is an especially idiosyncratic body of thoughts. One person’s gospel is another’s blasphemy, and everything is completely subjective and relative.

That being said, there are a few things that I have learned from my peculiar body of experience. They work for me.

For example, I know that it’s OK to learn the basic rules and then go off and experiment. Once you hit a wall, you can go back and learn some more to facilitate your continued growth. I studied the flute for many years, and at a certain point began to enjoy just improvising along with recorded music. I would find new harmonies, countermelodies… much of the time I was stumbling along, but sometimes I’d find something that resonated rather deeply, and it would be so very fulfilling.

My son is just learning to play the recorder in school. He has learned a few basic tunes, and is still getting a handle on keeping his fingers on the holes to maintain clear notes. He’s so excited to be playing the same melodies over and over again. This morning I heard him playing along with a song from one of his favorite cartoons, Phineas and Ferb. He has the rhythm down – the melody not so much, but he’s slowly finding it. I did notice that his notes were very clear, and his tone is so much smoother. He seems to be gaining facility in keeping his fingers fully covering the holes. Progress.

Broken plans are not the end of the world. This is another one I have learned. When my husband was alive, we cancelled plans on a routine basis. The impermanence of scheduling was drilled into my head. He might have every intention of attending this party or that engagement, but on the day of the event, his body might have other plans. Sorry, we won’t be able to make it. And then we deal with the disappointment and reshuffle our expectations and move on.

Now, I make it a point to keep my commitments to the best of my ability. I might be a few minutes late (a different story altogether), but I’ll make it there. I will often go over and above to show my loyalty. Again, I may show up late, but I will bring everything I have when I do arrive. The fluidity of time and the ability to fulfill an intention in an unconventional manner are concepts that seem particularly suited to the complexities of modern living.

I sometimes think that my rapidly expanding universe only serves to confuse me – new people coming into my life all the time, with their opinions, perspectives, emotional needs… so many forces pushing and pulling at me, begging a response.

Then I remember that I have lived long enough to trust my heart. It’s not all chaos. The constant wash of information that I experience on a daily basis need not buffet me against ragged shores of resistance. I am actually learning to love the joyful chaos of random input. It’s as though my theory of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks has been reversed. I’m now the wall, and spaghetti is being thrown at me. I trust that what is ready to be received will stick. The rest I can let fall away.

Sometimes, I become so responsive to things around me, I feel as though I will explode with emotion. I will hear a song, and all I can do is dance around. Music has always had that kind of effect on me. Sometimes a particular piece will make me cry. (The other day my son and I were listening to a piece of guitar music and we both found ourselves wiping tears away.) Or I may feel overcome by desire, or happiness, or excitement about an idea. Perhaps it is just the thrill of being alive, of knowing that I have choices, that so many things are possible.

When I was a young girl, I used to particularly enjoy going to school on rainy Mondays. I would always pick the brightest clothes in my closet to wear, and some of the kids would look at me like I was crazy. Somehow it always felt like an obvious choice. Why wouldn’t I want to brighten up a dark and gloomy day?!

This blog post was not on my agenda. I have a long list of pieces, many already in progress, that I want or need to complete. Some of them have been assigned, while others are just burning their way out of my brain. If I don’t get them out, I will suffer a painful sensation, a kind of mental/emotional constipation. So when something jumps to the front of the line, ahead of the others, like this, I know better than to block it.

And it’s a good way to start the day. Despite the snow, we have several parties to attend today. It will be fun to get out of the house. We might even wear bright colors, and we’ll try not to be late.

 

 

January 8, 2012

I Lost My Voice

I lost my voice. A cold moved into my chest, and I lost my voice.

I wonder at the timing and the symbolism. Am I sad, overwhelmed? A bit confused as to what should be  my next steps? Yes, a bit.

Don’t be alarmed. We’ve all been there. It’s normal. I’m not afraid to share this, because I know it’s not unique. You all know what I’m talking about. You know, those times when you look around and you wonder, what am I doing every day? How am I spending my hours?

Sometimes I wonder, how do we not have these thoughts every single day? Forgive me if I sound cynical, but really, doesn’t everything seem so ridiculous when you stop and think about it? The financial worries, the petty annoyances, the grudges, the deeply held beliefs and opinions that propel us into heated arguments… What really matters at the end of the day?

Do you love yourself? Are you loved? Do you find meaning in your life? In your work? Your activities? Do you contribute in some way to the life of at least one other person? Do you appreciate the beauty in the world? Can you embrace the sadness that is on the tail end of every happiness? Can you fully appreciate the depth of your own spirit?

Sometimes my heart gets so full, I just begin to cry. Today it happened when I was driving in the car. I had just dropped my son off to spend the afternoon with a friend, and the song Harvest Moon by Neil Young came on the radio, and before I knew it, I was crying out loud. The sweetness of the melody and the lyrics just seemed to break open this melancholy that I didn’t realize had been building inside me, and it felt good to feel the tears come out of my head…

I have known deep love and sorrow and yearning and disappointment and great joy and contentment. I have recently entered a new phase of my life, and now I am knowing love again, in a different way.

While I embrace the exhilaration of the new, I am also connected to the turmoil of that which resides inside me – memories, anticipations, frustrations, fears, concerns… Those who know me well also know that I am relentlessly optimistic. If you read this blog regularly, you will see this pattern emerge in my writings. I won’t shy away from difficulty, but neither do I allow myself to drown in its power to overtake me. If I have to make things up, trust me, I will. I will live “as if” until “it is.”

So when I become ill, and my voice disappears, I know that my body is actually talking to me. It’s telling me, slow down, stay inside, stop talking so much, shut up for a minute and just listen.

I hear the droning of a thousand bees. I hear the dazzle of a million stars. I hear the regular pumping of my heart, and the blood, pounding in my ears. I hear the crying of a little child. I hear the splitting of my head as too many thoughts jockey for position near the front of the line. I hear the turning of the pages as another day slips by me.

And yes, I hear myself, crying, too. Sadness? Joy? Relief? Is there really a difference? I cannot tell you right now. My voice is resting…

 

Photo by Foxtongue

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