Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We interrupt this program

Colitis flare. Going underground for a while to get myself sorted. See you in a few.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm baaaaack

Amidst an intensive napping schedule this past weekend, I managed to perform a personal annual ritual, that of setting my yearly goals. The urge usually overtakes me in the fall. By this point last year's goals and plans have been through the ringer and have come out pretty scathed. (Sorry, guitar skills. Maybe another year.) Generally my priorities and routines have shifted and settled, some snuck out in the middle of the night while others are skittering around in the attic like uninvited guests.

I use this book as my guide and this is, I believe, my 4th year. My successes have certainly not been unequivocal, but the book encourages you to appreciate your accomplishments each year and, indeed, I find each year when I write them out I end up with a list I'm proud of. (The list of accomplishments is not always long. I think for '09 it was like, Item 1: survived. End of list.)

In any case, so far I can tangibly feel my new yearly goals working - because my muscles are sore from yoga class, the re-commitment to which has been reaffirmed. Good for the mind and the body! Strengthens the muscles, quiets the voices.

I won't bore you with the ins and outs of my goal setting but suffice to say, it was good to remember to make my daily actions match my values. The more of your day that can be spent doing things that correspond with who you really are deep down, the less of a time-waste those activities feel like. Pour example: I'm listening to an "inspirational" audio book during my hour-long commute. I only have turn it off every once in a while to give myself a fake NPR interview about an astounding yet appreciably vague success I've had. ("Well Terry, you know, it's a funny story..")

I tend to get this urge to self-assess and goal-set in the fall because it feels like either a beginning or an end. Back to school, or else batten the hatches. Shape up. Winter's coming.

What about you? What do you get the urge for this time of year?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Surrender, surrender but don't give yourself away

I am dragging. My reserves have been depleted by a cold, not-enough sleep, and some important but difficult and thinking that I've been doing this week, and too much Doing and not enough staring at tree branches.

So I am raising the white flag. This weekend I am retreating, both in the sense that the enemy forces have gained too much ground and in the getting-zen-on-a-mountain-top way, except in my case the mountaintop is my bedroom.

This I pledge: I will turn off internet and TV. I will pull out notebooks, art supplies, walking shoes, my favorite jammies, my fuzziest socks, good music, yoga mat, just so they're ready. And I will make no plan, doing only what I feel like doing at a given moment (I'm thinking sleep will be right up there. No alarm! No agenda! Just me and the blankets and pillows, oh boy!)

Just thinking about it makes me feel perkier already.

Any suggestions? What makes for a restful, restorative weekend?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Would you like a little cheese with that whine?

It's raining. I'm up early. My eyeballs are tight and my nose is running from allergies. This is a day when crawling back into bed seems like the only compassionate option.

But we go on. We have projects, goals, ideas, classes scheduled, trips planned, futures to arrive at. We keep marching forward, the cuffs of our jeans are wet, our tissues are balled up in our purses.

I've been pushing hard lately. The old impulse to do everything perfectly right now!!!!!!!! has been rearing its ugly head and paralyzing me. I have to remind myself to do just one thing at a time. That work is not a life-or-death situation, unless you count your own life and how you're choosing to spend it. I have to remind myself to look at the yellow leaves fluttering on the tree outside, the umbrellas passing by.

What are you reminding yourself of today?

Monday, October 25, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog

Part 1 of ?

It’s a deceptively mundane question. After all, what can a blog accomplish, really? What is its purpose? A time-passer, a soapbox, a means of expression. An occasional receptacle for tirades, streams of consciousness, mindspew, rants (probably outnumbering raves).

Blogs are casual and democratic – any old chucklehead with an internet connection can have one. They are frequently unedited, unplanned, instant, grammatically incorrect. The medium allows flip-flopping, landing all over the map, run-on sentences, long absences while you’re on vacation. It is personal yet public, a diary on a flyer.

You often hear about blogs as a means to an end. Social media, people cry, so often and so loud that it begins to lose its meaning. You gotta promote yourself, you gotta get your jingles into their heads, gotta flog your product on your blog, not to mention tweet and twit and twat and get the handbook on the facebook.

But if I’m here, I’m here as an ends, not a means. Can a blog be an end unto itself? A little internet nugget of whatever it is we look for. These days it’s all about the Search and the engines, those things that power and put structure to your pursuit of all sorts of things… Am I the only one who has googled “the meaning of life” to see what the great white oracle will reveal?

Blogs represent the urge of us squalid, huddled masses toward something greater. A megaphone from which we may broadcast amusing things our cats did, the latest techniques in crochet, gossip from the world of technology, or manga, or book publishing, or the apocalypse, or whatever it is we care enough about to throw some words up on a screen.

For me, it’s this question of happiness, which in my scattered and highly unscientific studies I have learned is not a great question- the better question being the living of a good life, or the good life.

So here I sit, pecking away at the keys for reasons only moderately clear, for a devoted readership of 3 (Hi, guys!).

But also for an audience of one, that is, myself- that is, this nagging part of me that won’t put a sock in it already, no matter how many times competing factions insist that things would go more smoothly if I did.

What about you, Gentle Reader? What blogs do you read that works of art and ends unto themselves?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life and Other Questions

Today I drove by a plastic sign stuck into the ground by the side of the highway off-ramp informing me that Judgment Day is coming on May 21, 2011. The end times, apparently, are upon us.

It would be easy to believe. To hear the airwaves tell it, the days are dark. People are struggling. Talking heads predict fiery collapse at any moment. It is easy to point to evidence. In the last few years, I, and many family members, have experienced the kinds of crises that force you to look life square in its spitting, frothing face and see what’s there. Physical illness, mental illness, destruction, deformity, natural disaster, plain old garden variety despair. Unemployment, the deep and profound and random unfairness of life, not to mention not-nice people and gridlocked traffic, can quickly take the shine off life.

And yet. When you look the unfairness of life right in the middle of its fat face, when a moment of reckoning is before you, when you are forced by circumstance to decide whether you will, literally and/or metaphorically, get busy living over get busy dying, to quote the Shawshank Redemtion…there is something that makes you return to that “and yet”.

Somewhere, somehow, you are not ready to give up on the strange beauty of life, moments funny and serene, an image of the moon framed in a window that you remember for no good reason, the force at once both within you and beyond you that makes you gasp for air coming up from underwater, hunger for food and sex, fear a drawn gun.

The will to live. The life force and the force of life – force, like strength, as in, you have no choice.

Like the Desiderata poem they print on things they sell at the Hallmark store: with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

There are things that make life worth living, and there are ways to live a worthy life, and I’m just speaking for myself here, I want to discover them and do them and see what they are.


Update: Per the below comment, I have revised the mis-remembered date on the sign. And also, Ed. Note: Wow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Night Visitor

Last night my dear departed Grandpa came to me in a dream and said "I'm a big believer in the Grand Scheme of Things."

We were on the farm, standing by the barn, which was unpainted, peeling white and gray. His eyes were that sharp blue, but with a cloudy part. I had been talking and talking, trying to give him ideas for an essay he was writing, and he had to interrupt me and say "No, Listen--" and that's when he told me about the scheme of things. I woke up with his words loud in my head - I usually forget my dreams quickly but not this time.