Saturday, May 11, 2013

Stay Soft

You know, I haven't been updating this blog as often as I had hoped in 2013, but I've struggled this past fall and winter with a variety of things that have made being creative and positive and (hopefully) helpful kinda difficult: the past showing up uninvited, the present weighing me down like too many layers, the immediate future hiding, not even a square on the calendar yet. So much unsettled and up in the air can bring a girl down, and the stress of these types of everyday moments has caused me to batten down the hatches, as it were.

My primary struggle has always been to be open; my life has always been focused on simple survival, the barest of exchanges employed to move forward from point A to B. I am blessed to have cultivated a support system that allows me a great deal of latitude, that understands and recognizes my need to pull away and refocus from time to time. My secondary struggle is with patience. I have it in spades, my Co-dependent Brethren, except for when I finally figure out what I want, and then whatever that is becomes my singular cause, my whole life. And sometimes I build really tall walls to keep out interlopers, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

In short, I allow myself to be hardened.

It is not intentional, really, I just don't actively try to stop it from happening.

Every morning after I drop Blonde Daughter off at school, I drive to the lake with a big cup of coffee and I walk out on the sandbars (although these past few weeks, it's been more of a wade than a walk). I love taking note of the minutiae of changes along my path, snapping photos with my iPhone, sharing them on Instagram or Facebook. Or not. It is a routine that helps keep me centered. Every day, however, on my way back to the FJ, I recite a mantra. Sometimes out loud for the birds and clouds to hear, sometimes just to myself. And I send out intentions to the Universe- requests, I guess, or prayers. What I say to the Universe out there on the sandbars, in the middle of the lake each morning? What I ask for, hope for, what I must believe will be granted me? What propels me forward despite the overwhelming sense some days that staying put would be so much easier?

Those words are none of your fucking business.

Anyway, sometimes I'll get back to my Dollhouse and waste time on Pinterest, creating my Fantasy Life through design and fashion and food inspiration, pinning quotes that make me think or laugh or cry. A few weeks ago, I came across this quote:

Be soft.
Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let the pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
- Kurt Vonnegut


I'm a big believer in Fate, in things coming to us exactly when we need them to. I was in a bit of a funk, and so I sat with this quote for a few days after I found it. It made me pause and recognize that my walls were being built up again.

And sometimes when I need to clear my head and just not think so much, I go shopping.


So, I'm at the grocery store (honestly, you don't think this single parent has disposable income, do you?), walking around kinda dazed and lost, and as I moved from produce to meat departments, I saw a man standing in front of the meat cooler, studying the different cuts of pork. From the back- all long legs, bad posture, stocking cap, bad shoes, rough hands- I thought it was my Wasband. I didn't want to deal with him right there in the grocery store. Or at all, frankly. It wasn't him, despite the fact that this man had on the same windbreaker I had bought years ago. It wasn't him; as I moved over towards the poultry and then beef, he moved toward the lunchmeat and pickles. I moved to the eggs, he to the sliced cheese.

It wasn't him, and yet it was him, the future him. This man's face was etched with the weather of hundreds of days working outside. His beard was scraggly and only there because he didn't have any razors to make it go away. His eyes were blue. His eyes were defeated and half-closed. His eyes looked right at me, then past me, not hesitating to move on.

We played hide-and-seek among the aisles. Toilet paper, frozen berries, bread. I stopped to check my phone, and have lost him, I think. Iced tea, trail mix. Gone.

I got home and it was dark. I was in my own world, still a bit disturbed by this blast from the past/glimpse of the future. There was so much brought up in my mind when I thought the Grocery Store Guy was my Wasband; all of the issues and emotions (and the confusion that comes with them) made me a bit numb. And then I got sad. And angry. And onward through the stages, wall getting higher bit by bit, until I heard a voice in my head say: "Stay Soft."

I listened again: Stay. Soft. Stay soft. Some things cannot be undone. Some emotions will keep at you until you acknowledge them fully. Stay soft. Instead of looking at your Life So Far and shaking your head, wondering why you put up with what you did or how you managed to make it to this day, be thankful for that life and the lessons you've lived through and for the ability to apply those lessons in a way that will help you become who you've always meant to be, who you've been destined to be. Sit with that.

I felt incredibly calmed then, there on my couch in the lamplight glow.

Seeing the past and the future at the same time, presently, is most surreal. And the emotions that can bubble up can't be ignored. Those walls you've built up? Your suppressed emotions are going to overflow them, and then you'll have to mop that shit up. Ain't nobody got time for that. But-

But if you stay soft, if you recognize a bit sooner what you're doing to yourself? That emotional overflow can be soaked up, and like a sponge, you can choose to hold on to only what's necessary. It doesn't matter what triggers this emotionality- what's important is the validation and release of those feelings. At least, that's what I took from the quote and that voice in my head.

The next day, I went for my morning sandbar walk like always. But on my way back to the FJ, I stopped myself from reciting my usual mantra, and instead repeated to myself with every footfall: Stay, soft. Right, left. Splash, splash. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.

Since then, I've gone back and forth between this mantra and the other, always on the way back to the truck, always using the words to signal to the Universe that I'm ready to start the day, that I'm ready to leave my intentions out there for Fate to find and answer. Or not.

Either way, I've taken this discovery to heart. I'm more prone to think about a situation or person or possibility through a different field of vision, one blurred around the edges, only the most important things in focus. I'm getting more comfortable with being open, with being okay with embellishing the path from point A to B, with living a bit more and not just surviving. I'm not saying its easy, or that I don't still catch myself building walls; I'm saying that I'm not allowing the hardening to be complete every time.

Until next time, friends.

No comments: