“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” ~JOSEPH CAMPBELL
My inner world, this place inside me that is sometimes filled with self loathing and angst, finds peace, finds a serene place to rest in which the warm winds blow and the sun is warm, and the moon rises over quiet small lakes, and streams flow over broken rock, dragon flies dive float at eye level, inspecting me and finding me worthy. These moments of quiet, these days of learning, this life of self discovery, I am held aloft by the arms of angels, how lovely I am here, in this place where no one else’s love, or absence seems to matter.
We walk each morning up the climbing hill, and down again. He panting old and reluctant behind me, but never really leaving my side, loyal friend, best friend, I could never leave you, you with your salt flavored fur, you with your joyful smile upon my return, you with your charming hugs upon my knee, I could never leave you, just as you would never leave me for long, not for long. The other dogs thunder up to me, the scouting dog cutting in front of me and him repeatedly, you dogs whose DNA is so similar to his. The other, shyly approaches, shy affection, and I can see, a degree of loyalty, which I will have to work hard to continue to earn, when I rise you are the most excited as you leap in the air and spin in circles. And she, the scout, chasing turkeys cutting back around to me, but on the way home, my own stands by me, she goes ahead, and he peeks around curves to make sure I am there, before journeying forward.
And this is all a salve, an ointment, made of air, and abiding friendship, of laughter, of years of loyalty, of going away, but coming back because we must, because the love is too strong to leave behind. It smells of rosemary, for truth, of rose geranium for mental clarity, of citrus lemon, or grapefruit for refreshing quality, and juniper berry for some unnamed spiritual purpose, something akin to being deeply ones self in this increasingly homogeneous culture, a salve to sooth all the broken places, to replace all the empty places or perhaps to make the emptiness bearable.
A moment of quiet here, with its rustic gardens, its mountainous vista, its island of cool, its balm of loving loyalty, friendship, acceptance, its quietude of spirit and centrality of purpose.
I am not an artist in residence so much as a spirit in flight.
I wake earlier than I should for the late night, watching the ball drop as I rested in his deep embrace, his firm masculine kiss warm on my forehead, telling me how good I am at hosting guests in our home, how great I did taking care of everything, how pleased he is with me, in some ways it makes me happy to hear this from him, but only because it confirms what I already know, I don’t need someone else to cook and clean for me to make people feel at home and there is nothing special about it, it is part of who I am. I make coffee and take out the dog, feed the cats and start a load of laundry before I sit to check the internet. The strings of the cuckoo clock are low near the arm of my chair so I reach up and wind it. At some point many months ago, he stood over me in this same spot, and in his gruff and grumpy way, informed me that he should not be the only one to wind it. In other words, you can wind the clock if you want to. Ordinary.
Mary Shelley said something about life being an accumulation of anguish, and I think as I hear it that though she used it to justify life, it is a statement in and of itself. Life for me has never been about the accumulation of joy. The joy has been highlights and nothing more. But the ordinary, yes that has accumulated as well. We come back from lunch with his aunt who in her way is showing the kind of meal we should eat while we try to lose weight. Our mutual resolution, I suppose, though when I ask him what his is, he says, drink more water. And I adopt it immediately, it solves so many problems. You can say, I am giving up soda, but still be putting cream and sugar in your coffee, you can say, I won’t eat sweets, but fill up on diet cola, or cola, or carbohydrates, you can say I will eat less and exercise more, the highlights, and the darkness, but the ordinary, yes that is it. Drink more water. Ordinary.
We work together scraping ice and shoveling the dusting of snow off the front driveways, and then together he shoveling off the back deck as I shovel a path around the yard for the arthritic dog, who cannot hump across the drifts as he once did. He grins at me periodically, I think he likes this, me outside helping him do the work of the two houses. And I know I like the fact that I don’t have to ask him to help, the bane of the American male, he doesn’t need to be bossed or told what to do, he does it. The dishes get washed and the vacuum run and his bills paid, and I have nothing to think about. As I lay in bed earlier I thought of this, how we have separate accounts and neither one of us would have it any other way. I don’t have to think about how his bills are going to get paid, I only have to think about mine. What a gift this is, one I appreciate more than I would have ever imagined. The the dog and I do a lap around the yard, he calls out to me, wait up for me and he does a round too, smiling at me and wrapping his arms around me, the brim of his hat burning a line across my forehead as he rubs noses with me. He goes in, the dog and I go around again. Joy.
Inside again I finish hooking up my Wii fit to his Wii console, don’t break it, he hollers, in other words, what is this thing and how does it work, will it somehow damage my console? Then begs a Mii for himself, and tries ski jumping, besting me right away. Though I love it best of all the games. I spend the next 40 minutes trying to shed my midsection of extra weight. I resolve to start walking again, though the injury to my foot has been preventing it, okay, then maybe the bike, the dog stands in front of me, between the Wii and the TV, he knows when I am using this, it means less time in the woods for him. My heel hurts after. And I click my teeth annoyed. Getting old really sucks sometimes. Anguish.
And in the late hours after he has gone to bed I spend several hours loading music onto my ipod. Surfing the internet for the biggest CD wallet money can buy, and dream of the day I can get rid of this CD tower, and make room in this house for space. Yes, space, there is a great gift in making space in a home where there was none previously. Slowly bit by bit, I open up the space in this home. I open up space in his heart. He sat on the sofa and lifted his hand to wave at me, in that cute way he does, his curly hair standing on end and smooshed from sleeping, his face tired and his eyes sleepy. I wave back and blow a kiss, which he laughs in way that says he likes it and cannot believe I did it, then he pushes it away. Hey! I say don’t push my kiss away you are supposed to catch it, I do it again this time he puts it in his pocket. Okay seriously, I say, you are supposed to smoosh it on your face. He reaches into his pocket takes it out and smooshes it on his face, then he says there is the other kiss, its a boomerang one, and smooshes that on his face too. Then he yawns really big, and like a little kid rubs his eyes. Go to bed, I say. You just want the remote, he says. Yeah, I do. But I don’t really, I really have no desire to watch TV rather I am looking forward to the quiet of the ticking clock and my thoughts. I look up and see its weights are hanging low again. I reach up to wind them. And then reach not for a glass of wine, but instead, for a glass of water. Ordinary.
“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” ~ Hamlet via Shakespeare
I wake early and blissfully watch a new episode of the BBC version of modern Sherlock Holmes. After an hour I got up and went to him, are you hunting?
No he says, annoyed, I guess not, I didn’t set my alarm right.
I know some women complain when their men hunt, and others join them. I was looking forward to the time to myself. The treasure of several days running of guiding the course of my day without encumberance
The day is cold and full of November, the grey swept away to blue and swept back to grey again as I lounge about all morning. He comes in cold and cheerful, but before long he begins to find things for me to do, though the activity of not being busy has occupied my morning.
Are you going to rake the leaves?
No, it’s too wet.
It’s perfect for raking leaves.
I will do it tomorrow, it is supposed to be nicer.
What are you making for dinner?
Do we have hamburger?
What meat are you putting in it?
I am making vegetarian chili for dinner.
I want meat.
Why are the lights on in this room.
Sorry I forgot.
Why is there paper towel on the floor?
Because the dog stole your napkin.
Listen. I am going for a walk now.
Because you are bothering me.
It is damp, the leaves are wet, the rocks slippery, the path slick with mud. My thoughts are on the life of another as I gaze at my black boots taking one after another step. Concerned I looked for her in the list of the dead. Instead I found her mugshot. My mind has not left her since. Though someone suggested it four years ago, I did not let her into my home on that snowstorm cold night out of some misguided attempt to win anyone’s favor. As she stood on my step, stricken, shivering, I saw her as a person first. All else came after. My sister said she would have told her to get the fuck off her property. I told her come in, it is freezing. It was what was to be done and nothing more. But here my mind is caught as I look around me at the bare trees; her personality and character are cold and stark, like an arctic desert. Her company is like uncombed sheep’s wool against a baby’s skin, awkward, uncomfortable. Her judgment of me, always left me feeling angry, hateful. But nonetheless, you do not throw out the known self, no matter how distasteful, in a snowstorm. For she was at the very least safe with me, and trustworthy to her own degree. I never expected to get anything back from her. I am caught though snagged as though on a branch, I wrote that story exactly two years ago. For a class. I called it The Squatter. I am like a hand with an eye drawn in it’s palm. That story came out of me nearly whole. I am filled with the shameful disgust of it. And you see, it is like a record skipping in my mind. How can we know these things? Just as I knew other things, things that no one told me.
I think on this notion that though I would have told you my heart was broken, I see now that it was just the egg shell that broke. Inside was this tiny soft yellow thing, how can you crush such a thing with it’s tiny egg tooth, softly peeping for sustenance? It is a gift of some strange knowledge, the magic, I think, as I clamber up a slippery slope, of all that unknown magic of the physical world. The proof that it exists only anecdotal.
I decide to leave her here on this wooded path. And as I walk out into the field the rain which is falling with a crisp snow sound, chickadees singing, a hawk piercing the sky with its hunting call, I stop to touch the dried grey head of a Queen Anne’s Lace, so beautiful at least to me. I notice the wind moving the leafless trees, they sway gently, I have this comfortable warm inside heart beat feeling of homeness. I listen to my breath and feel the cold on my bare flesh, though parts of me are sweating in my loosened sweater, hat now in the pocket, scarf open and softly moving in the wind. I am dressed as a romantic, as I make my way up the steep embankment, like a character from an Austen novel. Soon my romance will be replaced by a practical thing, ensconced in down and soft wool, layers bulky against the cold. The practicality is a survival technique but best of all to me flying birds soul is the romance of it all. I can bear the Novembers, only practicality makes the colder months bearable.
On the long path he steams ahead forgetting that I exist, I call him back, he reluctantly returns after much persuading. On state land again, I releash him. He pulls wanting his freedom, though he also stops to rest his head on my knee and smile up at me. Hey buddy. I say.
I relish this time, this place. There is something so sacred to me. Zen Buddhism ignores the sacred, says all of this is ordinary, that one should not yearn for the extraordinary. I feel sacred though, on the inside, as though this is all a gift.
Sacred. I whisper to the grey trees. Sacred. I whisper to the wet leaves. Sacred I whisper to the goblin rock. Sacred. I whisper to the egg tooth chick inside my heart. Sacred. I whisper to the homeless, mentally ill woman, whose tragic face I cannot forget. Sacred. I say to the birds that fly from the tops of the branches, into the windy, drizzly, cold, damp November day.
I sit on the back porch, magically cooler than anywhere else in or around my house. There is a slight breeze and I can hear a cardinal singing, the cicadas buzzing, and the cheep cheep of some other bird. It is quiet, I am exhausted from 3 solid weeks of hard labor, my joints ache, and all I want to do is sleep.
I now have all this open space, the last work now hired out to various laborers, the roof, the last bits of painting where I cannot reach, the plumbing, the electrical stuff. My money is more or less gone too once all are paid.
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ~ John Wooden
Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~ J.C. Watts
I am in this place mentally really chewing over some ideas of what it means to be called a bitch. Men often call women a bitch as a means of controlling her, if she expresses her feelings of anger or disappointment, she becomes a bitch. But if a man expresses feelings of anger, he is justified right? I don’t like being called a bitch, because frankly I am not one. Yes, I do get angry from time to time and I express that anger justifiably, but does that mean my very nature is that of a bitch? No, because actually I think the vast majority of the time I am a genuinely kind and caring and loving woman. I have every right to express emotions that are not all positive, happy and cheerful. I am not a doll, or a fake person, I am not the kind of person who will play all nice nice to your face and then behind your back say all the things I wanted to say to your face. But yes sometimes I express feelings that are not all charm. Its okay. I am allowed.
Now here is the thing, who exactly is allowed to call me a bitch? Sometimes my sister calls me a bitch, but usually she is joking. My Mom has called me a bitch on numerous occasions, and frankly sometimes I am rather a bitch to her. She tends somehow to bring out my worst fears and concerns, she has a way of pushing certain buttons that bring out the frustration and ire and anger in me. I know I am responsible for my own actions and reactions, but man she is an expert at it. It is almost like she is a 100 degree day with 90% humidity. Yes I can smile cheerfully and face it, but man it has me on edge sometimes. No one but our mothers. I am sure I am this way to my daughter as well. Who else is allowed to call me a bitch? I don’t know. But I do know that when someone calls me a bitch, because I am pissed off and I speak my mind, that is not allowed. Nope. Sorry.
How do you judge another person’s character?
According to the Free Dictionary, the definition of integrity is this:
1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
Look at definition number 2. Are you a person of integrity if you spend the vast majority of your life impaired in some way, say on drugs or on alcohol? And if in fact your number one priority in life is to be in the state of impairment are you then able to uphold definition number 1? And is not your dependency on drugs and alcohol precisely because you do not feel that you are definition number 3 and therefore you must numb yourself to your perceived lack of wholeness? Your feelings of emptiness?
I think of my father, who was an alcoholic, or as my friend Drew who is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic would say, a drunk, because an alcoholic goes to meetings. Though my dad was a drunk, he was an ethical man, mostly. He did drink and drive from time to time, and towards the end of his life he drank and often slept at work where he was a shift foreman. As he aged, as his dependence on alcohol increased he became less of a an ethical man, his ethics were no longer about feeding his honor, but about feeding his addiction. My sister told me once that in his hospital bed, he told her there was beer behind the seat of his truck, because sometimes he just needed it. It is sad to think of this man, who was at one point in his life, a man of great integrity, being at such a weakened state of being. His boss and the owner of his company said, that he had noticed some subtle changes in my father’s demeanor before he became ill, changes that called into question the very character on which his reputation was built.
I like to think of my father as a man of his word though, if he made a promise, he kept it. He was a give you the shirt off his back kind of man, he wouldn’t charge you a dime for his time if you were family, or a person in need. My friend Bill is a shirt off the back kind of man. He has literally taken his shirt off and covered me when I was shivering cold. But he does not make a promise he will not keep. He doesn’t promise me one thing and then later hold it over my head, if you don’t do this or if you do that I won’t keep my promise. And if he did do that I would begin to question whether he ever intended to assist me in the first place.
And what of thinking a person is not observant enough to notice what is done and what is not done? What of a person who says, I am giving you a bargain at this price, but don’t tell anyone that is the price I am giving you, because when you do tell, you realize it was not a bargain at all. What of telling a person I have your back, but instead you are sitting in your hobbit hole, with your metal full of beer, and you do not fulfill your promise, yes we all need a break from days of hard labor, but you cannot speak of integrity when you do not do as you promise. When you lie to cover your addiction. When you alter things to pay for your addiction. When you treat others in a way that is unacceptable because they dare not only to question, but to be angry at your addiction.
You know the expression, thou doth protest too much, a quote I believe from Shakespeare. When you start hollering and swearing at someone at the drop of a hat over a matter that is small, that the other party in the situation is thinking, yeah I thought so about their own suspicions, rather than acknowledging and accepting those suspicions as being in error.
If it makes it easier for you, continue on. But I think the universe may be trying to tell you something.
The morning dawns despite my restful sleep, more than once I awoke crying and whimpering in my sleep. The dog coming to kiss my face. I go for my morning run and it feels good, the day will be warm.
“Chaos is inherent in all the compounded things. Strive on with diligence.” ~ Buddha
And why do I forget in the darkness of my soul that all it takes is noticing and letting go. I know what I need: meditation or therapy again. But therapy only brings me to the realization of what I already know for myself. After about six visits I start feeling like I don’t need to be there anymore, I start say, yep, I know that, but when the tired creeps in and I forget. The say there is no rest for the wicked, there seems to be no rest either for the weary.
Maybe meditation would help me with the letting go, with the not biting the hook that reels me in and leaves me despairing in the shallows, I watched yesterday as a small mouth bass heard the plunk of the worm and then saw it on the silted rocks and bit it. I marveled at how he had no idea that the plunk and the sharp object and then the viewing of the worm meant capture. He was lucky to not be in season. But I am like that bass, I know what exquisite torture will follow, but I do it anyway. Maybe meditation will help me in recognizing the symptoms of my exhaustion, sometime before I hear the plunk of the worm, or that I will notice it and ignore it. It occurs to me that I do need to fish more.
I think of my coffee mug that says Peace means to remain serene despite what is going on around me, perhaps peace too is remaining calm despite what is happening inside me.
There is alot of darkness, but I know I am like a light house. I can be a beacon if I only let it shine. Must I wait for the fog, for the stormy weather?
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” Buddha
I found a journal in the bookstore, in the clearance book section that has a quote on each page attributed to the Buddha, I bought it with the intention of using it to take notice of the presence of Buddhism in the serendipitous progress of my life. (although I have not been formally practicing for several months (the excuses are endless but of poor quality) So this is the first post from the book.
The first day of the week, I write, “SORRY” is word that could bring peace.
Later in the week I start speaking about truths and lies and how it is better to speak a thousand truths than one lie.
The day breaks bright and sunny. I am up early with the dog, it is crisp, but if it is anything like yesterday it will be warm, my sunburned face and arms tell how unexpectedly warm it really was. I did not sleep well, my thoughts were full and deep, I think it was the pull of the giant moon. Take me fishing, I tell the pirate before breakfast. The breeze over the reservoir is chilly, particularly in the shade. I cast out long over the water, then sit to wait for the tip of the pole to bob up and down. The kildeer are skimming the water, I can hear a woodpecker laughing, and two red winged blackbirds are calling back and forth to one another as I sit between them. The kid who tried to fish in the same spot as us, before the pirate politely told him to leave, is talking to his dad somewhere around the corner, I can hear them but not see them. The wind is making the waves lap, but here where it is more secluded than the first spot, it is not bouncing the pole. For the briefest of moments I feel whole, at one, complete, I am not doing yoga as I should be, and didn’t go to the Zen Center as I should have, but I am meditative as the sun shines on the camo jacket I bought last week at a flea market for five bucks, the cuffs are not even worn, so it is like brand new. I am sitting in the grass as the dog whines over by the pirate, he is tied to a sapling but he wants to be set free. When the pirate lets him go the dog runs to me and back to the pirate and then he goes in the water and comes out and shakes it off on the pirate’s gear, goes back in the water and shakes it on the pirate, and he does it several times, making him holler; a feeling I know well because later as he mows the lawn and I weed his rock garden I leave the dog’s poop in the yard just to make him yell. It makes me laugh out loud when he does, but back at the water the dog keeps looking up at him and smiling shaking that swampy muddy water off on him.
As I sit waiting for a fish to bite, I think the purpose of fishing is not to catch a fish, rather it is an opportunity to commune with nature, catching a fish is good, but sitting quietly along the bank of some body of water, that is even better. And when I think this, I realize that sitting at the Zen Center may not be the answer, it is formal, and obeisant; there is something to be said for this informal recognition of the connectedness of life for being present in the everyday, to being able to move if my hip hurts, to being able to pet the dog if he comes to say hello, to be able to toss words to the man I love, though we do not talk constantly and we are just as comfortable with the silence. Maybe I have it wrong though, perhaps formal sitting brings some other great reward that I cannot fathom. But honestly, I would rather sit and fish than and come to the revelations, than to sit formally. Catching the fish is not the point. It is the waiting for the bite that brings serenity.
I realize that sorry isn’t the word, the only word that can bring peace is forgiveness, with or without the sorry.
All one needs to be at peace is the ability to forgive, others, ones self, the world, the events that occur, the suffering, the pain, forgive it, forgive.
After running errands in the morning the Pirate and I decided it was too warm to spend the day indoors watching TV and vegging out, so we grabbed the dog and went on a road trip. The wind was really cold, but the air was relatively warm. We drove to one of the lakes in the Fingerlakes Region and did a little walking in the woods there, the lake was really choppy but it was pretty even in the grey and wind of the day. After I snacked on Venison jerky I did some Tai Chi by the water. My hands were freezing, so cold that they hurt.
I saw this wonderful quote at a shop we stopped in at on the way home….
“Working with clay is not just making pots, but also a kind of music in my mind. Real audible music is often a distraction from the inner melody.”
~ Jim Kozlowski
This quote is exactly why I never use an ipod while walking or hiking or being out in nature. I love to listen to the sounds of the world.
Poem that came to me in my state of wakefulness on Friday.
For once it seems to be fiction.
Your icy fingers
grip my throbbing heart
it freezes instantly
cracking like the mud
when the desert sun steals its wet.
I exhale in a cloud
the wind whips
the breath out of my mouth
and carries it across the chopping lake
it moves like waves
on amber grains.
I do not breathe again.
I cannot breathe again.
My heart is cold
like a stone
and no chisel
can crack it open.
I was listening very briefly to NPR this morning. I do not even know who was speaking but he something I loved.
I must paraphrase:
When we write even with so much negativity, even about the ugly and hateful things, the horrible things and the bitterness and aching inside of us, we can only see that as a positive, it is beautiful and creative way to open ourselves up and make something real out of what is happening to us. It is a way of healing, it is a way of making something good out of the bad things that have happened. In that moment, I felt that any negative karma I may have accrued for pouring my guts out for the last three and a half years, may have in fact not have been so very negative. I did truly try write and write and write in order to heal. And now that the healing is so close to being done, I am ready to move on and write about other things, because now it is a habit I never want to break.
I love writing, it is another way to paint the richness of my soul.
“The pain never goes away, you just learn to make room for it.” ~ Andrea on the Walking Dead
This series is great! Last week there was this one moment when the character Lori is talking to her husband, Rick about the other character Shane and how Rick needs to intervene before Shane does something dangerous and it is so Shakespearean. I also loved the scene where Daryl is yelling at Carol and it is literally like he is just saying out loud everything she has already said to herself, I absolutely love that.
I want to write so much more, but I have this filter on right now, I just don’t want any more drama in my life. I don’t want to write about shit that I have been writing about, I don’t want to get negative feedback from anonymous strangers that just makes my stress level climb I just want to write because it helps me, it helps me to heal from my own pain. I am tired and for a while I am going to keep the writing light. Good quote above, struck me as I heard it because it is so true, like a dream where you are living in a house where you lived before but suddenly there are unexpected rooms, and ghosts hiding in them. That is where the pain lives, you can shut the door, you can put up wards, but it never really leaves you.
What makes it nice is that you find yourself making relationships with new people and new rooms are added, that help you to forget the ghosts living in those other places inside of you. This is exactly what is happening the show, new relationships are formed out of the necessity of survival, and people continue on, because they have to.
The room I am looking for, the room I have always wanted, is a cozy warm single room house, with a fire, and a warm thick colorfully draped bed, soup cooking on the fire and the smell of fresh bread in the air. Preferably without Zombies.
Respect is defined as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability” by dictionary.com.
“To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge.” ~ Erich Fromm
“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“On a practical level respect includes taking someone’s feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences into consideration. It means taking all of these seriously and giving them worth and value. In fact, giving someone respect seems similar to valuing them and their thoughts, feelings, etc. It also includes acknowledging them, listening to them, being truthful with them, and accepting their individuality and idiosyncrasies.” S. Hein
I don’t know how to write about respect. I look for clues, about it, why do we come to respect someone, how does someone fall out of respect. What does it mean to behave respectfully, what is the role that fear plays in obedience, and what is the role that respect plays in it? Is respect always tied to submission? Or if the respect goes both ways can both sides be willing to submit to the will of the other? What must I do to get respect?
I spent the whole afternoon thinking about this, about respect, about how to write about it. I think about the significant men in my life and what respect means to me in regards to them. Men who cheat on their wives, or leave their spouses out of selfish disregard, low on the respect pole. Men who openly look at porn, less respect. Men who hide out of fear and anxiety, low low low on the respect pole. Men who abandon their children (and then blame it on the woman, no respect whatsoever). Men who will raise another woman’s child as their own, high respect, but will hit the road and never look back when the going gets tough, sinking down again. Men who treat their woman well, high respect, men who treat those weaker than them badly, including animals, low respect.
And what of women? Does a woman who has a baby out of wedlock deserve respect? What if that child turns out to be well raised, is her esteem then re-granted? What if, the woman does not value her children’s judgment, intelligence, and choices? Or her spouses? How does a woman earn her partner’s respect? How does a mother earn her children’s respect? Does a divorced woman deserve respect? (this comes from an article I read in the Huffington Post at Thanksgiving about how divorced adults are forced to sit at the children’s table during the holidays, because they are now an unmarried – GAH!) Once lost, why is it hard to regain respect? Or is it? How does a woman get the respect of her man?
You see, I find it hard to write about it because I have so many questions.
I have been rewatching Firefly the last couple days, and I think Mal is an excellent example of a fictional character who behaves respectfully (in some ways) and is respectable. It is a thing about honor, keeping your word, loyalty, and looking out for those who are in need, less fortunate, down trodden, there is also a strength, the ability to stand naked in front of those that know you, an absolute unwillingness to hide in the face of fear, the ability to return to those in your charge, a bold faced up frontedness. I say sometimes he behaves respectfully because he always calls the woman he is in love with a whore, which ultimately she is one, but it shows a great disrespect to call her this, and she lets him know so, but when a “client” grabs her arm and orders her to his side like she was his dog, Mal stands up to him, and demands that he treat Inara with respect.
So what of me, am I deserving of respect? There are those who have treated me with no respect at all. I find sometimes that the whole single parent thing is looked on as though I am not deserving of respect. We have what we call the divorced women’s club at school, and when we hold ourselves up to the long list of Catholic women at our building who are still married to their high school sweethearts, we feel as though we are not respectable, though mostly it was the men who behaved badly, far more than us. (one’s husband cheated numerous times, one’s husband is a man whom I have no respect for whatsoever for reasons I cannot go into, but trust me he doesn’t deserve it, and then me, my story told a million times. Man “doesn’t” cheat on wife, with woman he knew since he came to this country, man “doesn’t” leave her for someone else, but miraculously is in a relationship with this woman days after leaving wife, man allows the wife to suffer forever with the lies completely lacking the balls to admit his infidelity, and don’t even get me started on her stalking and bothering me, man is such a chicken he cannot ever speak to wife ever again. No no no respect.) and the fact that it still makes me angry after three years, can I ever get over it? God do I even deserve to be respected at all?
I respect myself though. I am strong, I am smart, I am creative, no I am not perfect but I try, I am kind, honest to a fault, loving, genuine, giving, have a great integrity, try to be peaceful, and green. And here I am thinking of all of my faults, maybe a little lazy at times, not generous enough, sometimes insecure, although far less so than in previous lifetimes. Creative but not much perseverance on self promotion, nor on maintaining a strong work ethic when it comes to making art, though a strong work ethic when it comes to work. I arrive on time, I do my best to be a good teacher, I don’t take a lot of sick days, I continue to learn and grow, my plan book is a disaster, and disorganized. Yes, yes, see always back to the faults. Do faults make me less deserving of respect? According to one of the quotes above, acceptance of idiosyncrasies is part of respecting a person. Are not my peculiarities of personality, my quirks, all additional definitions of idiosyncrasy? And am I not worthy of respect simply based on my honor, integrity and fortitude? Without regard to say talking in my sleep, or belching, or unwillingness to dress like the way someone else thinks I should?
And what of the pirate? Speaking of idiosyncrasies, of which he has many. But respect, long in coming, built nacre layer on nacre layer, on the grit of who he is, respect is there. The more I see, the more respect I have, and here it is, for me laid out bare, like naked Mal, right in my face, bold and unafraid, more than I have ever had for any man. Ever. Yes more than my father, because there was fear mixed in there, and more than my Grandfather, who though a respectable man, did not actually earn respect from me, over time, it was just there by the time I became aware, and he carried it. That’s it. It was just there. And here I am face to face with my pirate, and I find myself noticing that the respect is there. it is like a smooth stone that I have just discovered in the pocket of my jeans, I reach in and find myself touching it, and turning it over, and trying to get a feel for it. And suddenly I think, I am too, deserving of his respect. And I find myself expecting it, not in a bossy way, but in the way of my actions, of making it clear when I don’t feel respected, and his honest and forthright response, engendering even more respect from me. It is a cycle, now self powered, the more I respect him, the more I feel I deserve, the more I expect it, the more he gives it, the more he warrants mine.
I like this. It is working for me.
But I still have to think about it more.
It is a challenging thing to ponder, particularly in this world, where respect, and respectability is so rare.
I am looking out the window onto the windy day, I hear the pirate walk in……
My daughter was watching an episode of Rescue Me, while I sat and drank my coffee, the scene is he and his wife in a nice upscale restaurant, wine glasses, limited menu, waiter with an accent. He begins to act like a buffoon, she tells him put your napkin on your lap, wha? he says, put your napkin in your lap. The usual bickering goes on as it always does, but throughout it, Tommy, played by Denis Leary, is trying to pretend like he understands all the fancy stuff on the menu, and what fork to use, but he doesn’t.
I turned to her and say, that is me, not on the outside, but on the inside.
I so much prefer the local hole in the wall, or the tavern food, I am most comfortable in my jeans.
The flaxen leaves of the corn stalks tenderly caress the prickling stems of the pine shrub.
I am laughing to myself about someone asking me for my snail mail address, and me sending my email, the second request, and my I am such a dope sometimes response elicits a “welcome to the human race”. Yes indeed. Here I am people.
“A chapel is where we hear something and nothing, ourselves and everyone else, a silence that is not the absence of noise but the presence of something much deeper: the depth beneath our thoughts.” ~Pico Iyer
My chapel is Clark Reservation, my chapel, should really be my body, my inner self. What is it saying? It is silent, no it isn’t, it is silent, no it isn’t, do you not hear that sound?
And when I leave like a storm, I am annoyed by you. Months and months and still we are here in this cold place? My floor and walls may be cold on bare feet, but the heart that beats here is like a volcano. Your floor and walls may be warm, but your heart? It is cased in cold steel, I grow tired of banging on it.
Later I drive, music cranked around the outskirts of the city, God’s thumbnail hiding behind some clouds, the wind whipping, familiar roads not driven for many years, through the long straight onion scented mucklands, the light flashing like a beacon miles ahead, suddenly I just want to be home. A single tear falls from my eyes, like a falling star, God’s thumbnail emerges from behind the clouds.
Home brings my daughter sitting on my bed laptop next to laptop, me giggling at a conversation with a man I have never met. He is asking me to design something for a party, and quizzing me on show tunes, of which I know but one, I’m just the girl who can’t say no, I’m in a terrible fix.
…What are you looking at? the pirate asks.
The corn stalk blowing in the wind, I answer.
What are you high on your cold medicine?
An aside: If you only knew I just saw the whole universe in the briefest of moments.