I don't like schedules. They deny spontaneity and stifle flexibility if you stick to them, and if you don't, what’s the point of having one? The other problem I have with schedules is that it's rare that life, the universe in particular, rarely respects the orderly progression of tasks that you’ve so carefully laid out so that everything gets done in a timely manner. This can manifest in things not working out the way you intended, or other people asking things of you that mean adjustments be made, and if you’re anything like me you’ll put whatever it is that has been asked of you ahead of your schedule, ahead of the things you’ve planned (read want) to do after you’re done with the chores on your list of things that must be done.
Inevitably, those desired activities/tasks remain unfulfilled, initiating a stress response, leading into a spiral of negativity and resentment - unless you’re able to embrace true selflessness… a fully enlightened state of being that few of us, myself included, reach in our lifetime.
So what’s the solution? What are the answers or the steps to strive for at the beginning of our golden solar path? I believe it’s a matter of learning how and when to say, “no” or, “not right now,” and not being afraid to take care of self while adhering to the schedule you made; recognizing when you need a moment of and for you, and not feeling guilty for doing so.
Day before yesterday was the Winter Solstice. Mir and I were travelling on that day, back from New York City where we'd been visiting with good friends, and stopped in on the National Museum of the Marine Corp on the way back to visit the statue of Sergeant Reckless. We were surprised also to see a piece of the WTC that we'd seen transported to the museum along the New Jersey Turnpike a long while past now… and remembered the Firefighters on the bridges paying their respects as it passed. To lay my hand upon the concrete and steel was a profound moment… one right for the introspection the Solstice and winter season invokes into a life.
Perhaps that's where my coming journey begins… like a seed, buried in the dark earth, sheltered from the cold and the wet and the external pressures latent in the unfolding year, held together by the protective pressures of my own internal thoughts, like the arms of Mother, holding Her child, who has wandered.
There are three women, wisest in the world.
They live beneath a vast spreading ash-tree.
One is Urth, the second Verthandi, and the third
is called Skuld, the elf-queen. They are the future
and the past, they are the present with its potential
and its history. They are fate, they are fortune,
they are the laws of cause and consequence.
Our lives are bounded by these laws. Your fate,
my fate, the fate of nations - all are in their hands.
--Scandinavian Poetic Edda
Similarly, we must continually sift through our experiences, determining which patters we will find productive to continue and which should be eliminated. At any point in time, we have the power to conrol the future.
Except that we don't - not always... and rarely to the extent, or in the directions that we often need - otherwise there wouldn't exist such phrases as, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,' because if we had the power to conrol the future, we wouldn't have lemons in that... unless of course we chose the lemons, which begs the question... Did I know how tough this was going to be and choose it anyway? There were things I knew and things I didn't know going into the experience, that's for sure... and I've found that my experiences were matched by another colleague's, in almost the same way. One thing that makes 'dealing' with everything that much more difficult is feeling like I'm not understood, that my feelings are not valid somehow... *shrug* I don't know; that it should all be someone easier. Not the first time I've been 'away from home' right?
So I examine the experience, one thing at a time and in all honesty, put it out there... take what you will, or not:
Uploading my CV to the website was something I did, but didn't expect to hear anything from anyone. These websites work for other people, right?
The first time the guy called, I turned him down out of hand. Yes it was because of the commitment to Cruisetrek. When he called back five minutes later, to give the news of the short term of the contract, I was still afraid to consider it. But many irons in the fire, and something had to turn up... and I was at a stage where I was desperate to work. I was struggling for money, my reputation with people in my family, people who cared about me was suffering. Patience and the ability to help me; support me, by those that love me was suffering, wearing thin and my own self esteem was right at rock bottom. So I said I would consider it - and there began the roller coaster ride that led me here.
The interview wasn't like anything I'd ever experienced. Hindsight tells me the decision had been made on the strength of my CV alone. I don't think I was asked a single question you expect at interview... educational practise, classroom management, underlying Philosophy, nothing... and was practically told on that occasion he would make the offer. That was Tuesday. The offer was made on Wednesday.
Thursday I spent so very much of the day back and forth in a state between indecision and panic, certainty and tears because I couldn't do it. I must have swung back and forth between whether I was going to accept the job or not. Obviously I did. And then the real fears set in. And I didn't want to let anyone down by changing the decision, by going back on what I'd said I would do, and all of the postitives it would bring.
I had four days. Four day to decide what I might need in a place I had no clue about - to decide what was important to take and what I could leave behind, and a limited amount of space to take what I needed. Four days to prepare mentally, and emotionally for being away from everyone I love, everyone that gives me strength, and not knowing when or how we would talk to or see each other. I buried all of that... tried to embrace the experience instead of acknowledging and accepting that fear, and working through it in the best way possible in those 4 days. Was it pride? Did I not want to appear weak?
I flew to Cairo. I was told that I would be met by someone from the school. In my naivety I was expecting someone from the SLT... even another teacher, no... it was a driver. A strange Egyptian man who spoke little English. To contextualise this also - it was 11 at night. I spent over an hour believing I was being kidnapped - sold into slavery or something. Of course I wasn't. I was taken to the hotel where I was being put up for 3 nights... while I got 'settled' with the person that the head teacher had said would share with me.
It. didn't. happen. Not that way at all. Because the housing agent the school uses to find the apartments couldn't find us one where we wanted to be. The girl and I that were going to be sharing were left to fend for ourselves. Okay for her, she was already in an apartment, I was nowhere. Another staff member whirlwinded me along, took me under her 'wing' as it were, helped find somewhere for the girl and I, and things I needed - a friend to a degree, though that's another story. The other girl decided she didn't want to move from her original apartment into another one in the same area. She'd wanted to share because it was a different area. I was left in the lurch again. It turned out all right, in a way, as I have my own place, and the girl I was to share with left in a hurry only a few days later, but that's not the point. The point is, my early experiencee was less than ideal, heightened the fear and left me defensive and closed off - to everything and everyone, and I don't think I've ever truly come out of that. Sure I have moments... moments when I dare to do things, and in those moments I feel almost almost normal, but they are few and far between. The rest of the time I'm stuck in this... twilight zone of just throwing myself into the job at work, coming home to talk to the one I love in the evening, and knowing that I'm doing at least something for our family... I don't want brownie points, mostly because I hate the way I've been with everyone. The way it's all affected me, I feel that weakness that I never watned to feel in the first place. I should be better than this. I shouldn't be affected by this. And I know that's a hard line to take as well, and there will be people out there saying I should give myself a break, but when something like this has changed me in the way it has I can't accept that. I won't.
And just in the spirit of open honesty, to have everything out in the open, there isn't a week gone past where I haven't cried on at least three or four days... sometimes crying myself to sleep. Not for sympathy or 'poor me' do I say this - just because it is. I cry for being lonely, yes, self pity, but worse - I cry because I am hurting the one I love instead of making her feel loved. I cry for her pain.
The real voyage of discovery
Consists not in seeking new landscapes
But in having new eyes.
How often do we barricade and fence up our lives against hurt and loss, thinking we're keeping the painful things out, when they're already trapped inside us eating at our roots, and what we really need to do is to open the gate and let them out?
The real question is how do we open that gate?
I know that my biggest 'barricade' is that I don't open my mouth and speak when maybe I should. I don't do it because in the past (talking about long past), whenever I did I always ended up getting hurt, which I fear happening again, but in not doing so, I end up hurting myself... nicely vicious circle there... no? The pain is already trapped inside with me.
The thing that bothers me is that back at the beginning of our relationship, I always used to talk, so... what's the difference, what's changed? Was I more fragile in my confidence than I thought and maybe one time I said something, I perceived a slap, and that one – probably small and insignificant – moment underlined that 'I shouldn't open my mouth'? The trouble is, I don't know. I can't figure out where the barricade went up and when I stopped talking... and I can't figure out how to open the gate to let the rabid bunnies out.
I want to talk, and I try, but it hasn't been helping, because I still don't feel like I can, or should, without devaluing others opinions and feelings in favour of my own. I'm told it's in the 'way' I speak when I do that is the problem; that I need to make the language less accusatory... apply less blame. I can try, but I try the same as the next guy, and if I'm hurt I'm not necessarily going to be composing the award winning speech about how I feel. I'll be hurting. It really does worry me, because I just want to be open about everything... I also don't want to sound like I'm just whining. I just want an open line of communication.
I'd also like to stop translating 'you' to 'me' all the time... and have it stay as the universal 'you' that I'm sure it's supposed to be.
Those who drink from the one water
gaze at the same stars.
…if he let things in, he could share more easily than if he kept breaking things down in order to get them out.
I'm going to be honest here, well, I mean I always am here with these things, but… it's just a phrase. I'm being honest in explaining that most of the time I try to break things down because I'm afraid that if I don't do it – other people will. I let people in all the time, see – in my own way at least – and that's all they seem to do… break things down.
But then I get to wondering, (second guessing myself the whole time), if that's what happens, if that's what people do… if that's how people think to help me with stuff, then maybe I'm wrong; maybe it's my perceptions and expectations that are wrong, and that what I'm receiving from people is right. I'm not being criticised, I'm being helped. Maybe this goes back to the personalising and projecting thing again.
But then, in another flip of thinking – or maybe it's just bloody mindedness again – I think, 'but wait… am I not being asked, yet again, not to feel what I feel, but take a step back and think what I feel – against all other advice – against all other honesty, to think an emotion to death to stop myself from feeling it?
Mum does this to me all the time, and it's so frustrating. She'll notice something's wrong, so she'll ask me what's wrong – so then I tell her what I'm feeling, or what's happened that's made me feel the way I do… and then off she goes on some explanation of how and why I shouldn't feel the way I do… I end up feeling criticised, lectured at and told off, rather than understood and comforted… and it's got to the point now where I don't feel I can talk – or I'm afraid to, and that makes me feel sad. But how much of that is just my perception…? Would I still feel that way if I stepped back and heard the words without the emotion they were supposed to be 'comforting?' I really don't know… I know I censor things that I put on Facebook because Mum reads that, and I can do without the hassle. And I feel terrible for being so critical of the way Mum is with this stuff too, because I think she's a great person, a wonderful Mum.
I want to be able to talk to people and start sentences with things like "I'm worried because…" or "I'm sad because…" or "I'm happy because…" or "I'm angry because…" I want to let people in… let the warm water in, and let the ice melt slowly – not be chipped away – coz that hurts.
For example – today I feel like a damned hypocrite because I had to teach about the story of Adam and Eve and the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I know as a teacher I have to follow the syllabus and don't really get a whole lot of choice in the things that I have to teach, but… really… not comfortable with teaching so called 'Christian Values' in the way that I had to. So I've ended up feeling very uncomfortable within myself.
Incidentally, while we're on the subject of Adam and Eve – since when did it become unacceptable to call it an apple ffs? Why do we now have to refer to it as 'the forbidden fruit' or 'the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's a damned apple in the bible… and Eve was tempted by a serpent… how long before we have to change that too… until that becomes un-PC.
Okay, I'm going to stop there before I blaspheme any more… right now I have visions of apple trees lobbying the DFE and SACRE about the misrepresentation of apples in religious education.
Do not seek any rules or method of worship.
Say whatever your pained heart chooses.
-After a time, give direct voice to the particular feelings as they rise, saying simply on each outbreath whatever moves through you: sadness, fear, confusion, peace boredom, joy.
Tiredness moves through me today... has done all day as a matter of fact, but it's the kind of tiredness that feels as if somethings coming... I don't know if I can explain that.
It's only Wednesday, and it's been quite the week already as far as feelings go... ups and downs. An ordinary Monday, and ordinary days always make me feel nervous - like a rabbit sitting in the meadow waiting on something happening, and the longer it doesn't the more uncomfortable it gets. I know it shouldn't be like that... I should relish ordinary days as a chance just to ground, but - I guess it's just a product of the tension in me. Tuesday at work I felt intimidated by the teacher I was covering for. I think it was just that he was physically very big, and his presence was very loud. By the end of the day though we were joking together, so it wasn't too bad - and then came the long walk home... Don't get me wrong I wanted to walk, it was a lovely day (would have been a better walk if it were countryside not roads, but it was still pleasant), but physicall that was very demanding. Only three and a half miles... uphill... *shrugs* I need to wii more.
Today an attack of hayfever and I took piriton, which made me want to sleep - actually had to keep getting up and walking around the room while the kids were working because otherwise I would have fallen asleep, and they were supposed to be non-drowsy, but they definitely weren't... they wore off by lunch time, and I felt much better then. Spending the morning feeling that way wasn't pleasant. It rained. It was supposed to, but it rained longer than they said it would. I worried that I'd get wet, because I didn't have a coat, but by the time I was coming home it had stopped. The air was damp, but there was that nice 'after the rain' kind of smell. Good that. Came home to sadness, learning that the doctors and folks with my grandfather don't expect him to live more than a couple of more days. Dad's going tomorrow, but I don't want to... and I feel guilty for saying that. Who wouldn't want to see their grandfather one more time, right? But he's not my grandad any more - his spirit left a long time ago, and I'd prefer to remember him as he was - the man that taught me to waltz, the man who would tease me and tell me 'no' I couldn't come and spend the summer with him and grandma - never serious of course. The man that jumped into the river without a moments thought to save my brother when he fell in... the man who used to take us places in his camper van, let us experience nature and everything She holds. That's the man who is my grandfather. That's the man I want to remember.
I took a nap. Tired from fighting with the computer... tired from fighting with fighting my feelings. It didn't help. I'm still tired.