16 April 2011

Thunder Saturday

Today is Thunder Over Louisville - our annual kick-off of Kentucky Derby Festival and an awesome display of pyrotechnics, synched to music - put on in our fair city.  I am not attending this year, but in the few years I've gone it's been an energizing, pride-filled experience of what Louisville can do, how a half million people can behave in celebration (without the "public drunk" behavior that often occurs at such large events).  The full hour of fireworks places one firmly in the body, in the sensory experience of explosion of sound and color that overwhelms, that draws (at least from me) screams of approval, dancing in abandon with a half million others - an experience of joyous joining together.

Then we all walk to our cars, or catch the bus to get to them.  People are tired - some having camped out the night before - some having been there all day with children, too close to the folks next to them - and ready to go home.  It's after 10 pm and some carry children, nearly empty coolers, lawn chairs.  But still most are courteous, or at least civil, even in the knowledge that it may be after midnight before they get home.

I've found it to be a changing experience - one in which there's a glimpse of what we could do all the time, with a little joy in experiencing our neighbors, with a modicum of civility toward each other, with cooperation in our endeavors and our creative impulses.  And I've often wondered if others have seen it the same way, if there aren't more like me - who feel to bring back to daily life and daily actions more light than we had before.

I feel this experience in the same way I feel the  Zen Buddhist Proverb - "Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water."    Before changing experiences we do what we gotta do.  After, we still gotta do the daily thing.  But maybe it doesn't feel like such a chore.  I don't know.

What I do know is that we need the glimpses of what's possible - be it through mountaintop enlightenment - or be it through screaming and dancing with a half million others to light and sound.  Maybe that's all we get in this daily world of chop wood and carry water - glimpses.  Maybe it doesn't feel like enough, at times.  Maybe it can be.


05 April 2011

Put it on a Post-it

When I can't locate my emotional compass, when what seems to have taken over is lethargy and ennui, when all I want to do is wear sweats, eat chips, and watch every episode of 'West Wing' from all seven seasons, it's as if I've been locked in a solitary cell to serve out a life sentence.  Yeah, sentenced to life, that's what it feels like, with no possibility of parole.

Of course I want to blame this on external events - on being surrounded by death lately, on a too-long car ride two days in a row to and from the memorial service for the first relative of my generation, on the sinus drainage that wakes me up at night, and especially on the need for continuing to search for and secure a job so the rent will continue to get paid.  All this stuff is real, and each has contributed to a wearing on body and soul recently - even though I've truly made every good faith effort to provide self-care, to watch for signs of overwhelm.  

When I feel this way I think there's something wrong:  with me, with my attitude, and I fear letting people know.  They won't want to be around me, I think, will think of me as a downer, a buzz-kill, as too broken to deal with.  And it's in writing it out this way, in telling you (whoever you are out there) that I see the error of my thinking.

It's in confining myself to NOT sharing the sadness I've felt about the recent (and more distant) losses, in not discussing my fear of having to settle for a job that will only provide money and nothing else, in not allowing myself to bitch (even a little) about feeling worn out by seasonal allergies that I place myself in prison.  It's in admitting that I've a right to shut down and watch all the damn 'West Wing's' I want for a while that I accept that sometimes life is just hard, and each of us needs a break at those times.

It's trite but it's true - where there's life, there's hope.  And as much as I've often wondered why I survived a heart attack, an alcoholic marriage, a childhood that wounded - the only truth I get in wondering is that I did survive them.  That's the hope.  And I not only don't have to, but truly can't answer the why questions - for those are God questions.   

Of all places and times and situations that teach me, teach all of us, it seems that those that feel the worst are those from which the most important lessons are learned.  Maybe I ought'a write myself a reminder of that, put it  on a post-it and stick it to my bathroom mirror.