Well, it has been some time my friends.

Sometimes it is.

I am drinking a Zarabanda, listening to Ryan Adams at Carnegie Hall. Forty-two songs, three hours and 36 minutes. His strumming guitar and wailing harmonica, and his soul, will make you laugh out loud and break your heart. If you’re anything like me, that is.

And, I know you are.

Excellent! Here appears a blog post topic: how we connect.

I once asked a friend the meaning of life as we drank at a local dive bar. Death, he said. The conversation tilted into the fact that life is what we make of it. We are all connected. The meaning of life? It’s all in here, I thought. It’s all there, he said, pointing to a wood fence next to us.

It made perfect sense at the time. It still does.

 

“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly

let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you

as few human or even divine ingredients can.”

Hafiz

 

There are many more telling poems to show how we connect – how we are all the same – but, this one resonates for me right now.

Just like Ryan Adam does. Breaking my heart, into such beauty, and such sorrow.

That, I know, we all feel.

 

A Diary

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Anne Frank

 

For some reason, I never had to read Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, for English class. I recently picked it up, in hopes of putting some perspective on my own life and remembering what is more important than myself.

Little did I know, how much it would take me into myself.

 

“I don’t think then of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

 

Anne records “all the kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart,” including “extraordinary things [that] can happen when people go into hiding.” Her Jewish family and a handful of others were secluded in a secret annex during the Holocaust of WWII. She questions, “I wonder whether you can tell me why it is that people always try so hard to hide their real feelings? … Why do we trust one another so little?”

 

She writes of difficulties with her parents, falling in love, hopes for the future, fears of the present, air raids, burglars, and politics they hear on the radio

Near the end, she talks about how she has two sides to her, how she is a “little bundle of contradictions.” Her “dual personality” is jovial and cheerful on the outside, and deep and introspective on the inside.

This has been on my mind too of late – reconciling my “happy” and “sad” sides, my “good” and “bad” sides, my “wanting” and “trusting” sides.

I recently learned that suffering happens when we are on one side or the other – when we think in sides. I am happy right now, and I am afraid of losing this happiness. Or, I am sad right now, and I want to be happy and afraid I won’t get what I want. When we live in these extremes and sides, in this dualism, there is always somewhere to get or stay, so we are continually striving and living in fear instead of just being where we are.

The two sides are one: yin and yang, polarities, a duality. There must be a whole in order to have opposites.

When I live in the whole, knowing both sides are in me and there is nowhere to get to because they will always be there, it somehow appears less stressful. It sometimes feels more real, more me, more loving.

But, this often seems easier when I am by myself.

Living in sides is frequently activated when we are in relationship with others. For a host of reasons, which I am only beginning to understand.

 

Anne’s last entry:

“A voice sobs within me: “There you are, that’s what’s become of you: you’re uncharitable, you look supercilious and peevish, people dislike you and all because you won’t listen to the advice given you by your own better half.” Oh, I would like to listen, but it doesn’t work; if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks it’s a new comedy and then I have to get out of it by turning it into a joke, not to mention my own family, who are sure to think I’m ill, make me swallow pills for headaches and nerves, feel my neck and my head to see whether I’m running a temperature, ask if I’m constipated and criticize me for being in a bad mood. I can’t keep that up: if I’m watched to that extent, I start by getting snappy, then unhappy, and finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and what I could be, if … there wasn’t any other people living in the world.”

Fifty Shades of Something

Seventy million copies of the trilogy sold worldwide. The motion picture will be released in 2014. I have been involved in numerous discussions about the plot, the “bad” writing, and the romanticization of control and abuse.

So, I finally read the book.

Surprisingly, it hit me on unexpected levels. After participating in a destructive relationship of my own in the past, I had to put the book down for days or weeks until returning to it. Here are a few pull quotes that made me pause (and apologies for getting a little soap-boxy here…)

“So you want to possess things?” You are a control freak

“I want to deserve to possess them, but yes, bottom line, I do.” Pg. 12

It falls back to self-worth; we reach to external answers to mask our internal holes. Things are not our identity, and more things collected for that reason begets more holes. Traveling in Jordan years ago, one of the girls in the tour group bought two paintings that hit her heart. After leaving the Roman ruins and dusty gladiator show at Jerash, she noticed the paintings were not on the bus. Understandably she was upset, but then someone commented, “It’s ok. Easy come, easy go.” True. We are gifted things and people in our lives, and when they leave it’s because we don’t need them anymore. It’s rather freeing, to release the fear of control and impermanence. As my boyfriend commented the other night, we can just hold on tighter somewhere else. We can be grateful instead of wanting – that might really close those holes.

 

“My worst fears have been realized. And strangely, it’s liberating.” Pg. 510

Right now, for some reason, my worst fear is death. I worry about it. In my 20s, I thought I could die happy at any time – I have been lucky to lead an amazing life full of love and dreams coming true. But, at 30, I notice that there is a whole new level of living I’m just beginning to touch on. I have more to lose now – a future that is not just mine anymore. Maybe I am worried about this transition, the death of my old self and reaching into the unknown again. Hmmm…that is rather liberating.

 

“All those decisions – all the wearying thought processes behind them. The ‘is this the right thing to do? Should this happen here? Can it happen now?’ You wouldn’t have to worry about any of that detail.” Pg. 224

Free will is the basis of America, Christianity, the human condition. It is sometimes a relief not to have so many options, not to think there is always something else that is better. I totally get that. But I found my answer about it (thanks mom – I know you’re reading this): It is the right thing to happen, because it is happening right now.

Bottom Line? When we tap into our true nature – devoid of ego or want or stories or man-made suffering – then we don’t have anything to question.

 

 

(Just a gratuitous picture here of a gladiator and I)