Sunday, March 27, 2011

It is what it is

There are some people that we love no matter what. Even if they disappoint or hurt us. I don't exactly go around throwing out the words "I love you" to just anyone. In fact I find those three words pretty difficult to say, even to family.

Those words are there in my brain waiting to be spoken. Sometimes they're shrouded in an invisible urgency that ends up forming a lump in my throat. But they get caught there, those three words. Stuck. Unable to escape through my lips only to end up in a swallow of shameful regret.

Maybe it's because I've never been keen on conforming to the traditions and ideals of societal standards and customs. Perhaps growing up with dysfunction erased my capability of fully experiencing anything good. Or it might be the fact that the experience of feeling something is so vague and indescribable that I can't quite assign language to it.

I think love is a mixture of feelings. Confusing really. One minute you're as high as a kite and the next you're ready to self-destruct or commit borderline psychotic acts. There's joy, fulfillment, happiness and a sense of warm fuzzy intimacy. But then there's also excruciating pain, loneliness, despair, regret, sorrow and self-doubt.

When my father was dying of cancer, lying on the bed barely able to move or breathe I told him I loved him. Despite everything. The words came out almost effortlessly through the tears and the mini-hug that we somehow mustered.

In those moments of human frailty all the bad stuff doesn't matter. It gets erased as though that one last piece of togetherness you have is all that is. Because you know in your heart that this moment is all that will be. You won't hear the voice again or see the face, except in pictures and grayed-out memories. The good parts won't be around anymore. What guidance and protection existed will only play out in forms that we can't be quite sure of yet.

It's kind of like this aftermath of uncertainty hanging over us. A bag full of changes we're forced to choose from and then suffer the consequences. We're not sure of where we're going to end up and we're even more uncertain of how we're going to get there by ourselves.

Yet everything turns out somehow. We end up surviving. We end up in a whole lot of "somewheres." We ride the full spectrum of human emotion only to look back in admiration, laughter or resolve. We end up discovering that we were never alone and that love never leaves.

As far as love is concerned, there are no questions, wrongdoings or evil consequences. It's the invisible torch that provides us with the inspiration to keep walking and the stillness that tells us we are worth the journey. Love simply is what it is, forever.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beginnings-Part Two

I told myself when I decided to resurrect this sixteen year old idea that I wasn't going to worry about the outcome. It was enough to flirt with the notion, walk a few steps, step into a different plane of reality for a moment, and to at least try. I can honestly say that after I submitted those three applications to those three top tier MFA programs that I didn't. We won't talk about the moments before. I believe that's documented in an almost year old blog post somewhere on this website.

I didn't worry because I knew I was about to graduate with my MBA. Accomplishing the goal of getting a master's degree was already in the bag. And if I really wanted to pursue writing or move to California, those tickets weren't necessarily going to be printed on an acceptance letter from a Los Angeles writing program shrouded in award-winning famous authors.

Prior to last Friday, I had already turned in my resignation at work. My "month" notice, since my supervisor already caught wind of my intentions. Not a big deal. She and I understand each other fairly well. It's enough to say that she's a Gen Y right-brained creative who decided she'd take the "practical" route as well; at least for now. I gave her some advice last week and I hope she takes it - from one creative in disguise to another, it's better to study what you love than try to become something that you have no passion for.

I was perfectly content with the idea of freelance writing full-time while I searched for something that might put my $30,000 MBA to use. I was even perfectly content with the rejection letter from a certain school whose program I suddenly realized wasn't right for me anyway. I knew there were still two answers waiting, but I told myself that this feeling I had about another certain school didn't matter. I might not want to spend another $30,000 and put myself through all that work again. Grad school is a killer - even if this time it would be about literature, aesthetics, making a difference in society as an artist, writing a novel, and one 20 page paper instead of 16.

Yet intuition is a funny thing. It can start as a slight pull before you even step foot on any campus, settle into "I think my best shot is with U of X," grow into "I have this feeling I'm going to get in," and end with a voicemail from the chair of the department offering you a spot in the program.

To be honest, I consider that last part a true miracle. How I've managed to gain a spot in one of the top five low residency MFA creative writing programs in the nation without a solid writing or literature background is beyond me. But that's the key, I think. It is beyond me. The entire process I took to get here, the nudges from the universe I had along the way and the beginning of something that I'm obviously being called to do.

After the screaming, the disbelief, and the permanent emotional high comes the hard part - maintaining that sense of trust in an invisible outcome as I leap from one staircase to another.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nobody has it Perfect

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”-Edith Schaeffer

Humans aren't easily satisfied creatures. We look. Sometimes we leap. But mostly we do a lot of wishful thinking and complaining. I include myself in that last sentence. If any personality type is a dreamer, it's the INFP.

Yesterday I ran into a friend from elementary school while I was shopping. We were kind of inseparable when we were kids. She was one of my first friends after we moved to Colorado. We were in the same class, in the same Girl Scouts troop, and she lived on the street behind us. I was quiet, reflective and a little unsure of this new world I had to somehow navigate myself in. She was outspoken, a bit of a free spirit and obsessed with Madonna. Perfect match.

I'm not sure if she's still obsessed with Ol' Madge, but even now that we're old and all grown-up, we're still opposites. She's married with two kids. I'm single with none. While we waited in the check-out line, she had to discipline her daughters as they got a little fussy. Her husband stood by and didn't say anything. Clearly she's the one that does the whip-cracking in the household.

On Facebook she has this glossy picture of her life and her family. We all do. Every single one of us does it. We create an image for others to see. There's our public self and our private self. Our public self is that picture of perfection that might cause others to get swept away by the idea that our lives and choices are somehow better than theirs.

As I stood in the check-out line listening to her two girls whine and scream, I thought "hmmm, nobody really has the picture perfect life." If there's one thing I can't stand it is screaming children. It's one of the reasons why I don't have them.

The thing about visions is that they're always perfect. Nothing ever goes wrong and they somehow become responsible for our happiness. The plane of reality we're in now just isn't cutting it. It's making us miserable since we don't have the career we want, the house we want, the right amount of money in our bank account, or the relationship we want. If only we'd made a different choice we would've gotten that vision and that happiness.

The reality is that even if we'd made that different choice and lived the life that we'd hoped for, we might still be unhappy. Not a single choice and its corresponding life path result in a state of perfection. Even Dorothy learned that lesson when she suddenly found herself in the colorful Land of Oz.

A lot of people complain, but don't do anything to change what they're unhappy about. It's easier to just keep complaining and not take the risk of finding out what life would be like if you stepped into a different reality. The pain of same isn't greater than the pain of change. Those of us who do dare to step into a different world discover that it isn't about what's there. It's about growing into who we are and appreciating those lessons that have helped us become someone beyond our imaginations.

Even if the picture that we see has returned to its original fabric of black and white.