Thursday, May 27, 2010

Radical Acceptance.

I reached a point over the last year where I looked over my life and rather than taking an inventory of everything that needed improving, I stopped. And breathed. And asked myself, What if nothing about my life changes from the way it is right now, in this moment? Could I live with that? Could I find joy in this life, the one that is right here, right now? And I waited for a response.

Within moments, the cacophony of my mind became very loud. This lasted for quite some time. All the different voices began chiming in: But what about your health? Can you really live with chronic pain for the rest of your life? And what about your writing? What if you never get a book published? Or what about love? What if you never get to spend your life with a man that you love so completely and truly? What if you never get to have a child? What if your financial situation never changes? What if this is as good as it gets?

Of course, we all know that the nature of life is to change. Constantly. But I needed to face all of these different scenarios in my mind. What if I never achieve what, in this moment, I feel I want to achieve? Can I find a way to get up every morning and smile, even if I'm in pain, even if my heart hurts, even if the page remains blank and my womb remains barren? Can I find joy in the living of life as it is, without the impositions of my will? Can I meet life as it is, right here, right now?

I was surprised to find a cascade of grief flow through me. The whole process was akin to confronting my own death, because the reality is we can be here one moment and not the next. There are no guarantees any of us will get everything, or anything, we really want. The great cosmic joke is that there never was any guarantee. We are just told stories early in life about what we can achieve, along with the unspoken promise that we will achieve them, that life and time will allow us the means to have, do and be everything that we want. It is a lie. A sweet lie. A glorious lie. But a lie nonetheless.

And so, my mind, my heart, my body, took its time with all of the stories I'd lined up over a lifetime. All of the "I can't be happy until..." stories I've weaved across my 35 years on this planet, along with the "If I just improved this about me or my life..." and the "I can't wait until..." I questioned each of them to their very core. And found stories within stories within stories. None of which had any basis in the reality of this moment, right here. They were all constructs of the past or wishes for the future. And as I've discovered time and time again since leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses five years ago, the mind is capable of weaving elaborate stories that appear so very real. But they are not real. They are stories. Stories of heros and heroines. Of love and hate. Peace and war. Highs and lows. Stories with happy endings. And stories with sad ones. All great and amazing stories. But stories nonetheless.

As I let these stories play through my mind, I laughed and smiled, cried and grieved, wondered and watched. All so very entertaining. And then, one day, a smile came upon me, the smile that creeps up from somewhere you can't define, as if you've been kissed by the sun while the rest of the universe looks on. And I accepted this life, all of it, exactly as it is, right now in this moment, not looking ahead, not looking back, just filled with complete joy. Here. Now.

And suddenly



Is okay

Just as it is.

tall penguin

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


At first,
I thought
were better
than questions.

I thought
were better
than statements.


tall penguin

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I haven't been writing much lately. Not on this blog. Not anywhere. Everything has taken on such an absurd tinge. I go to write something and this odd smile comes across my face. There is this feeling that it's all been said, it's all been done, it's all been experienced time and time again. There really is nothing new under the sun. And I'm not sure where to put that or what to do with that feeling. So, I'm just being with it as it is.

I stand back from my life, watching. I see myself as this character in a movie. I am still her, but not her. I am living her life, but not living her life. I am here, but not here.

I spend more time deleting than I do creating these days. It seems I have become bored by my own story, by my own existence even. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suicidal. For the first time in my life, I do not crave death. Instead, it feels as if I'm dead already, as if all the tools I've used to define myself, all the experiences, all of the story is no longer relevant. And yet, I still feel the love and joy and grief associated with this life's story. I am still present to it, aware of it in all of its intensity, more so even. But the absurdity of it all, the bittersweetness of it all is ever present, always lingering to remind me that consciousness is the greatest gift and the greatest curse that humans possess.

tall penguin

The Joy and the Grief.

All of life is bittersweet. One single moment can contain all the love and joy in the world, along with every bit of grief and sadness.

I was sitting yesterday in a Starbuck's waiting for my girlfriend D to arrive. And out the window, I saw him. He had just come out of a restaurant across the way that is under construction. White shirt and paints, covered in drywall dust. He'd had silver gray hair as long as I could remember, but his skin always reminded me that he was younger than his hair made him look. He was talking and laughing with some co-workers. I could hear his laugh in my head. He always made me laugh.

It was M. One of the Jehovah's Witness elders I'd known since my Mom first started taking us to the Kingdom Hall, when I was five. M was one of the good ones. Not far in age from my own father, I looked at him as a second Dad.

I remember at some point in Grade School, I and three other JW girls, including S, who would later become my best JW friend and, later still, scorn me for my decision to leave, formed this club called OSK (our version of the cute sound) all to do with how much we loved babies and kids. We would fawn over the babies at the Kingdom Hall and make this OSK sound whenever we saw a cute one. When we were lucky enough to babysit one of the kids in the congregation we would get together at the JW meetings to talk about our experiences.

We also had a secret greeting code. We would touch our fingers to the tips of our noses whenever we saw each other. M noticed this happening one meeting and asked us about it. We told him it was our secret greeting. At the next meeting, Mike showed up with his finger pointed to the tip of his nose. And from that moment, he was one of us. Every time we saw him, it was a race to see who would get their finger to their nose first.

I recall one of the Kingdom Halls we were in when I was young. It's a double Kingdom Hall so two congregations can meet at the same time in separate rooms. Sometimes M's congregation would be meeting across the hall from ours and he would sneak into the back of my meeting and stand there with his finger to his nose until I'd turn around to catch him standing there. Then we'd start snickering. A few times he'd be our visiting speaker on a Sunday morning and he'd stand on the platform giving his talk and stare right at me, casually brushing his finger across his nose and smiling, leaving me in stitches in the audience.

On the day of my JW baptism at the age of 15, M was there with his finger to his nose. On my Wedding day, the same. Five years ago, at my last JW event, a friend's wedding, there was M, finger to his nose. He'd beaten me to it this time, which just made me laugh more.

Yesterday, when I saw him out the Starbuck's window, I felt this rush of intense love. There was no thought of what would happen if he shunned me or how I'd answer any questions about my current JW status. There was just love. I flew out of the Starbuck's and walked towards him, my finger on my nose. As soon as he saw me, his finger touched his nose and we both started laughing, tears welling up in our eyes. We embraced tightly, kissed on the cheek and just stood staring at each other for a moment.

M asked me where I lived and worked now, but didn't ask what JW congregation I was in. He must know I'm no longer one of them. In that moment, it didn't seem to matter. We laughed about our secret greeting having lasted all this time. He told me how now, S' daughters, the children I was Auntie to, one of which I witnessed being born, have now taken up the tradition. I could only imagine what those girls look like as it's been so long since I saw them. And it pains me that I am missing seeing them grow. I'm missing those moments of seeing the similarities between them and S and the moments of our shared past. I'm missing giving them advice and steering them to be strong, vibrant young women. I'm missing the moments. All those missed moments.

As M and I embraced to say goodbye, I brought my hand up and brushed his cheek. Somehow I felt as if I was now the adult and he was the child. And I wondered when that change had happened. And in my heart, there was this deep ache in realizing that I may never see this man again, never again see his face smile with his finger up to his nose.

I know that my leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses was the best choice I could make. The only choice I would ever be able to live with in my soul. But damn, it just hurts so much some days.

tall penguin

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life Lesson #33: Those aren't potato chips!

I've been trying to replace my obsession for potato chips with a more healthier addiction to rice crisps. But sadly, rice crisps are not, and never will be, potato chips. And eating them just makes you spend an hour searching the kitchen cupboards, eating anything and everything in sight (including that whole bag of rice crisps), attempting to satisfy your real desire for the potato chips. But, instead of satisfaction, all you get is a bloated belly full of more calories than you ever would've consumed if you'd just eaten the damn chips to begin with.


tall penguin