Oh, so many thoughts, and no way to corral them — that’s not true, I have this way to corral them and what on earth do people do who don’t have this to steady them? Even when I’m not normally journaling as I have been for the last three months, I write. Really, what do people do? Talk on the phone? Post on Facebook? Seems like we all need to be heard, and to me sometimes it’s enough to just be heard by myself (though then I ruin it all by posting my morning pages on my blog, which is something of a nervous tic—I post, therefore I am).
Went to see Hilton Als speak last night. I’d originally wanted to cancel and stay in and be sad some more, but when I offered my tickets to my sisters, B said she was already going and C said she wanted to go, so then I wanted to go, too, to be with my sisters. It was great, and he was wise and funny and sweet, but there was something missing from him. C said he felt somehow empty, or flat, and I said that he didn’t seem quite authentic. I figured out what it was in the middle of the night—he admitted no flaw that I remember. He showed nothing broken, and therefore, he didn’t feel quite real to me. I like seeing brokenness next to patched repairs. I think it might be one of my favorite things about humanity—when we meet each other and display the cracks. I lift my shirt and show you my scar, and you lift your shirt and show me yours. Hell, even if you don’t show me yours, I want to tell you about mine, so that I feel less ashamed and perhaps you feel emboldened at a later point.
And I’m so broken, in so many ways. I fail and screw up and land in the wrong places over and over, and if I keep all that secret, then I choke and drown in my own shortcomings. But if I show them, I own them. I am given empathy (not the scorn we naturally expect when rolling over to show our bellies) and then I can show more. I like using the belly analogy because my own belly button is like a saloon’s swinging door—it’s been opened and shut by various surgeries so many times I can barely stand to look at it.
So therefore, I look at it.
Which is EXACTLY what I’m doing now, what writing often is.
And that’s interesting—it’s one of the things new writers are scared most of. “Am I navel–gazing by writing this? Am I just solipsistic and annoying and self–obsessed?” Well, hell, yes! We all are! I think the more we can admit the automatic narcissism that lies within us the easier we can feel about it. It doesn’t make us narcissists in the clinical sense of the word. I’d argue it does the opposite—it gives us empathy for everyone else around us, each of whom thinks they are the center of the universe. And that’s fine. They should.
I’ve said this before, but when I meditate I take a moment to notice how I feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. I try not to judge the answer, just to notice it.
Spiritually, since I’m not religious, I like to inhabit for a second the awareness that I am all that matters in my solo world, the only person living in this body, and then I like to immediately think about that the fact that I’m one of over a hundred billion people who have existed on a planet that is in one of a hundred billion solar systems that is in one of a hundred billion galaxies. I’m literally nothing. I don’t matter—this can be argued empirically. But maybe what I do and say and who I touch matters a little bit. I let myself have this small hope, and it feels large. The knowledge that I’m so small can be frightening, yes, since this body is all I know, but it’s also comforting. No matter how much I screw up, it’s not that big a deal.
And I still get to stand at this desk and look out my windows and see the sunlight on the green, grassy hill that hangs just under my porch eave. I look at a couple of dozen houses on the hillsides, their windows shining in the sun, and think that in each of those houses live people who are exactly as tiny and as huge as I am, with all my same emotions, all struggling to avoid pain and find love and connection, and that in itself makes me feel like this life is sacred and shared.
This idea lets me get excited about tiny things like really excellent backpack zippers, and also about really huge things like birth and death, the universe’s creation and its annihilation.
And I’m allowed to get super excited about the fact that I get to sing Xanadu’s Magic at band practice on Sunday. It’s little (huge) things, of course, that matter.
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