In my yoga practice today (and every practice that I can remember), we were asked to set our intentions while in Warrior Two, a pose of strength and power. I’ve listened and set half-hearted intentions before, but right now, at this point in my life, I’m going to set bigger intentions. So, here they are.
I intend to be kind and patient with myself and others.
I intend to recognize and let go of envy.
I intend to feel sorrow and let it go.
I intend to move forward.
We cannot go through life without making decisions. And we make some without thinking, we make some based purely on emotion, and we make others with the best information that we have at the time. And those decisions are made and acted on and start a chain of events and they can’t be undone. We can’t undo what we’ve done in the past, much as we’d like.
I made decisions to live my life, not just simply let it happen around me. I made decisions to make goals and to achieve things and to aim for a life that looks for joy and happiness. I like my job, I like my field, I love all of the options it gives me. I love my home and my boyfriend and the small zoo of animals that create the family I’ve chosen, and I have wonderful friends and family and his family has sucked me in so now I have two. And it’s wonderful. And I worked so hard at it.
But to get here I made decisions that can’t be undone. And now there are things that I’d like to do but can’t. At least right now. And by the time I can, it may be too late. So I’m in this battle in my mind, to know that I made the best decisions I could and they can’t be undone, and to know that those decisions have created a situation that is not what I’d hoped for. And in this space I have to remember that I am happy with the decisions I made and the life I’ve created and everything that is in it, even if it means I am still deeply disappointed in some aspects of it. Disappointment is hard, but it isn’t a deal breaker.
Life is funny and hard and bizarre and things can change. I haven’t lost hope. And I’m still fighting that battle.
I’m on the board of a small library whose mission is to preserve and excite the literary passions of our community. It’s a pretty kick-ass little library, and it runs on the dedication of a part time librarian, an even more part time communications person, a board, and a slew of volunteers. The things we are able to accomplish together are pretty amazing. And while it can be SO MUCH WORK, it is so very worth it, even when I’m complaining and grumbling about it.
After a meeting the other night I was chatting with another board member about our writing program, and mentioned that her co-chair on the writers committee was one of my professors in college. And it all came tumbling out that I had been a professional writing major as an undergrad, and had learned from four or five of the writers she works with today. And this board member, co-chair of the writers committee, also happens to be a New York Times best selling author. We had begun our conversation talking about a potential author speaking at an event over the summer, but finished the conversation with her bright eyes blazing into mine and saying “And you? What of your writing?” And she is so kind and lovely and well meaning, and I explained that I’d turned into a librarian and reader and supporter of writing and authors and lover of all things literary, but hadn’t thought about writing in ages. I mean, I have a bright orange poster of the Dewey Decimal system hanging in my office.
But her words got under my skin, so here I am. I’m going to start here, and I’ll see what happens. Because maybe I don’t want to be a writer with a capital ‘W’. But I used to write. And I used to love it. So maybe this next version of me is a librarian, reader, supporter of writers and authors, lover of all thing literary, who sometimes writes. And maybe once in a while it’ll actually be good. And maybe then I can turn to this board member after a meeting and say “Hey, I’ve got something to share with you.”
There is a cabin
Hillside winding river to open blue sky lake
Creaking pine amber waters damp moss wood smoke
Worn down by love and family and generations
Children now adults and their children, soon adults
Tilting into the mountainside undeterred by working summers
New screens, jack the foundation
Tin roof rain songs at night
But before the cabin, the bridge
Before the cramped car ride ends
Let me out to cross the footbridge
Spanning the river slicing town in two
I’ll walk the rest of the way please
White paint taught silver cables old smooth wood
Step lightly breathe deeply hear the river below
Lean over the rail watch the river flotsam and foam
Think Poohsticks and feel the sway of suspension, the long drive slides away
All of the years, all the of songs and bike rides, flat tires, skinned knees
Glorious slivers of bridge just under the skin, sunburned shoulders and dirty feet
Canoe under, look up, marvel at the magic
All of the bridge’s time in one flash
These are the thoughts in the depths of winter and long school days
The bridge, the cabin, the sweetest days
Across the highways, up the mountains, around the lakes and
Over the bridge
Note: I wrote this post a while back and didn’t publish it because of safety concerns. I now feel that I can share this. I’d also like to add that there are many organizations that can help women in need of safety. I have since signed up to raise money for a local organization that does this. Be safe, be well, and be kind.
I’m having a bit of a moment over here. The moment seems to have started yesterday morning, and shows no sign of letting up. And I’m feeling all of the feelings: sadness, anger, anxiety, despair, hopefulness, and right back into sadness and despair and anger. For once though, they’re not for myself.
I’m feeling these feelings because someone I know, an acquaintance, is having a shit time. And she had no one else to ask for help. And we are doing all we can to help while keeping ourselves safe, but I cannot stop feeling. Because she never should have been driven to ask almost strangers for help. Because the services provided to women in need should have been enough. But there needs to be more. Because she knew she needed to be somewhere else, and was strong enough to make that happen. Because in helping, we are now in the middle of a shit situation.
And I cannot not help. I don’t have it in me. I am smart. I am wary. I am kind. I am hopelessly giving. I will do everything I can without endangering myself and those I love. But it’s been pointed out to me that every action, even in helping, has a consequence. But the consequences of not helping are far worse. Right?
We need to be better. The world can be such a terrible place, but it would be so much worse if we didn’t help. I need to find a way to do more. So much more.
I’m still here, crawling out of winter. It is Easter weekend. Passover begins tonight. Tomorrow there is a full moon. A time of renewal, of coming through. It makes me think of some lines of poetry by Carolyn Kizer. It is the imagery that has been stuck in my mind for years, that I come back to again and again. From The Great Blue Heron:
As I wandered on the beach
I saw the heron standing
Sunk in the tattered wings
He wore as a hunchback’s coat.
Shadow without a shadow,
Hung on invisible wires
From the top of a canvas day,
What scissors cut him out?
Bring me the beach. Bring me the birds. Let’s begin anew.
Over the holidays I was chatting with a writer at a party. She asked if I was a writer too, and I told her I used to write a lot, but that I’d become more of a reader. And then she asked me a question I’ve been rolling around in my mind ever since. “What do you do with what you read?” I stumbled then, and said something about internalizing the stories and escaping in them. What do I do with the stories I read? Why do I read them and why at such a voracious pace? And again, what do I do with the stories I read?
At the moment, between listening to an audio book on my commute to and from work, and reading print and e-books, I’m averaging two to three books a week. I haven’t always been a reader. As a child I pretty much refused to learn how to read and didn’t really, truly become a reader until middle school. I read some phenomenal things, and I read some things that I could have passed by. But even when wrapped in a story that isn’t what I was looking for, oh the joy. Even a mediocre tale can give me joy and sadness and every emotion in between. For a time, I’m somewhere else. And I guess that’s the why – I love to be engrossed in a story that isn’t mine. It’s my form of escapism.
But the what. I’d like to think that if I’d chosen a different path I could have been some sort of professional reader, to do something bigger with my reading. Alas, I’m here. I do use what I read to help me as a librarian, but in my current job not as much as I’d like. For now, I’ll have to answer this question with hope. What I do with what I read happens entirely in my mind and soul. I hope that I learn and grow from the people between the thousands of pages I consume. I hope that my mind expands and becomes more open to the variances of life. I hope that reading helps me to be a better person.
So. What do you do with what you read?