Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some Thoughts.

After weeks of life that needed to be lived in different ways, with different routines to accommodate sick days, I finally sit perched at my desk, in my office. Today feels more predictable and usual. Comfortable. I feel good sitting in this space that I created. The calm hue of the buttery cream walls, the simple furniture, smiling faces of those dear, a framed copy of my first published article. My windows providing unobstructed views of trees and their nascent, fragile buds promising that Spring will in fact come. And my thoughts.

My thoughts seem to meet me here.


I love opening books of beloved writers and seeing what words the page delivers. Today I opened A Year With Rilke (translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)--it is an exquisite book, rich in Rilke tidbits and wisdom. These words greeted me:

Let us be complete in ourselves. Let us drink ourselves empty, give ourselves fully, extend ourselves outward--until, at last, the waving treetops are our own gestures and our laughter is resurrected in the children who play beneath them... (Early Journals)

and then...

Here is the time for telling. Here is its home.
Speak and make known: More and more
the things we could experience
are lost to us, banished by our failure
to imagine them.
Old definitions, which once
set limits to our living,
break apart like dried crusts.
(From the Ninth Duino Elegy)


A time for telling indeed. I will offer this: two very divergent set of thoughts interspersed as I lived the sick days. I realized, quite disappointingly, that a nagging sense of embarrassment resided just below the surface of my exterior. A self-critical judge issued verdicts of:

I should be doing a better job of keeping us all healthy.

If I kept my house cleaner then we'd stop getting sick.

If I could get my kids to eat leafy, raw vegetables, they wouldn't get sick. And they'd heal faster!

(Apparently, during these moments of self-flagellation, I choose to ignore the informed opinions of doctors and schools that this has been one really sick winter. Really sick. And that as much as I'd like to think I can control the germs and keep them at bay with hand sanitizer, Clorox and Lysol, I cannot. Sometimes the germs win.)

I shouldn't feel sick for so long. I should bounce back quickly and return to the gym. Start writing my book! I should be a superhero!!! (Alas, I do not yet feel fantastic. I feel a hell of a lot better than I did last week at this time, but my brain still synapses slowly. Small jaunts to the grocery store leave me needing a nap and laughing makes me cough.)

Should. Should. Should.

The divergence came from this epiphany, seemingly from another reality: As I trudged through the various infections and illnesses that comprised the last month of our life, I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be, sitting in the mess. The pain of bruised ribs. The tears of middle-of-the-night ear infections and rubbing of fevered brows. The mess of cancelled outings and play dates, missing a dear friend's wedding. The stress of asking for help continues to rankle me; I'm still working on doing this while jettisoning the guilt and antiquated belief that asking for help equals weakness. (Geesh.) Sitting with the piles of laundry and antibiotics, the realization dawned that I was indeed living. Right then. The strep throats, coughs, the multiple dashes to the doctor's office, bronchitises, fevers and runny noses forced my hand, expertly navigating me to right now. A messy concoction in flawed abundance.

And so, I sit with the conflicting tides of my epiphanies and try to calmly, lovingly and sweetly tell the self-bitchy judge, and her old definitions, to take a hike.

I try, with varying levels of success, to understand my many realities and be complete within myself. Sometimes, I belabor the very dichotomies that define and assure my place in this life. Others, I gingerly hold these nuanced, shadowy gulfs with amazement, desperately hoping to comprehend.

I try to let the old, stale beliefs and shoulds break away and fall out of my reality. Their very departure creating space for the new. Creating space for consideration. For living. For dreams and possibilities. A place where my imagination runs freely--encounters fear and proceeds anyway, marching right up to a future of possibilities.

This is life. Acceptance transcends the bubbling dichotomies--the confounding and conflicting emotions--and the variegated grace sits, patiently awaiting me.


I'm glad to be back here in my space. Where my words meet me. And I, them, as we go forth together.


ayala said...

Denise, don't be hard on yourself. It's not easy juggling life perfectly all the time. You are doing a good job by being there nurturing everyone through the sickness and rough spots. I am sure that you have the house clean enough and that you take care of everyone. So take a deep breath and accept the confounding and conflicting emotions.

Alita said...

It is exquisite to have a space where thoughts meet you. Clean, safe, and thoroughly your own. And you know that masochist thoughts about your parenting are not healthy in a emotional way. Don't do that to yourself chica. Try your best and then screw the rest. Just as long as you come with it. :) ... now I just have to mention that you spoke to my soul. Rilke is one of my very favorite poets.

"over her opened face, almost opaque there, never to be lifted off again, and somehow giving to all her questions just one answer:
In you, who were a child once-in you."
The Grown Up-Rilke

Justine said...

I am glad that you're back in this space too. I've also been knocked out for the past two weeks with the worst cough-cold-ache-pain, and everything feels like drudgery. Even writing.

But reading makes me smile. Especially your words today. Here's to hoping we'll be back to 100% soon.

Woman Loving Life said...

Wonderful words and emotions.

Cathy said...

A couple of things:

Why is it that you feel like you are "living" when you are a mess, but in heaven when you're on vacation?

Second, most seriously, it's the KIDS who make sickness. I keep telling mine to get their fingers out of their mouths! And I haven't been reading your blog that long but I also know that once the kids are in school for a few years, the sickness really dies down. Less frequent, more tolerance.

Christa said...

Just lovely. So glad you are feeling better, finding comfort, settling into writing. And Rilke. What would we do without Rilke?


Lindsey said...

I'm familiar with both of these voices, the flagellating one and the one that says Just. Sit. Still ...
don't have anything to offer than thank you, beautifully expressed. xox

Kelly said...

Good to hear you're letting go of The Shoulds. They are no good for anyone, and definitely not good when you're trying to be everything to and for everyone.

Wishing you rest, wellness, and words!

Anonymous said...

Confounding and conflicting, what fantastic works to explain the life of a mother!! But I'm so glad to read that things are settling down for you. You have indeed had a difficult go. I for one, hope to read more of your words as things settle into the pattern that is normal.

Also...I've been working on my very own writing/creativity space. It's almost done, so I enjoyed reading about yours. I just had my first paid writing gig! Just a little token, but so important to me nonetheless. A sign I dare to hope. I used the money to buy a frame, and I framed a designed version of Jen Lee's poem Don't Write and placed square where I can see it when I sit at my desk.