Search This Blog

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You're Epic..Really!

Blogging: dumping the contents of my brain, and guts, onto paper, then sorting through the mess in order to find something worthy of showcasing: last night’s supper, my dog’s skin condition, my friend’s obsession with frogs. These are all in there but hardly worth framing and hanging on my online wall.
Pushing aside the above mentioned debris, I dig deeper; spotting a little tidbit that has had me inspired for nearly a week now. It’s the words from a simple little book that seem to have awakened my soul to the expectation of something more…something real and permanent. This is why I love words, and books, and people, because you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a treasure excavated from the heart of a fellow sojourner.
This something that I found is still vague, in that I have mostly given mental assent to it, and haven’t practiced it for long, but I like how it feels. It fits. It’s epic. No really, that’s the name of the little book. Epic, by: John Elderedge. Drawing from such classics as the Last of The Mohicans, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and Gladiator, Mr. Elderedge explains how our lives are an epic tale much like the afore mentioned movies.
From cradle to grave our lives are rocked with unexpected events where we must push against insurmountable odds to survive and succeed. Comedy and tragedy, good and evil, heroes and villains, all are randomly peppered into our lives while we struggle to love, and live with bravery, compassion, and dignity. Of course not everyone struggles to behave in a noble way; some actually enjoy causing misery and pain to others. I guess these would be the villains.
Our lives are the epic tales in which we have found ourselves. Like the great Gladiator, Maximus, we stand in the arena of life fighting against all that seeks to slay our spirits, hearts, and finally, our bodies. It's easy for me to visualize the stands, packed with cheering pilgrims who have gone on before us, chanting encouragement and channeling might.
Viewing my life as such has ignited a bit of bravery in this overly anxious suburbanite, causing me to confront the smaller battles in my life with boldness and wisdom, and helping me to mentally prepare myself for the larger attacks from the evil villains that await me. I want to beat the odds, stay true to myself, while offering kindness and compassion to others. And then, when I close my eyes to this arena, I intend to open them to my true homeland on the other side; a land where my epic continues, only the villains will be silenced and living happily ever after is my reward.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isolation Sickness

I think our society is suffering from isolation sickness. We live in our private homes, drive our fast cars, and work in our tiny offices, insulated from distractions and isolated from the happy chaos of life. If someone visits unannounced we grab the mace, and peek through the dirty little peep hole in our doors shouting “Who’s there!” like we’re expecting the Gestapo.
When I grew up we had an open door policy and friends were always welcome. There was usually a pot of coffee on and a card game in progress. Laughter was the sound track for most of these scenes, (unless my step-father was in a sour mood, then we would take the party elsewhere.) and it didn’t take an act of congress for us to decide what to do next. “Want to go for a walk?” was met with an eager “Sure.” Then off we would go with no particular destination in mind. We would walk in the sweltering heat of a city summer, or the stinging snows of a classic northeaster. It didn’t matter because we were always game for an adventure. We’d collect a friend or two along the way, and eventually wind up in a booth with a drink in front of us and our mouths full of interesting chitchat.
We mingled with people….real people, with skin on. Not muffled phone voices sandpapered with static or abbreviated messages texted in haste. There were real friends to hang out with and they were usually our neighbors; making them conveniently accessible. You could walk up a flight of stairs and be at a different kitchen table engaging in new rounds of conversation.
There was a certain tribal vibe to the old school way of hanging out. You belonged to a neighborhood and the people in it. If you didn’t like your neighbor you simply ignored them to their faces, and talked about them behind their backs, making sure that all the members of your tribe hated them as much as you did. But you didn’t stalk them, shoot at them, vandalize their cars, or steal their identity. Okay, so maybe you left a bag of dog shit, set ablaze, on their front porch and rang their doorbell, then hid in the bushes and belly laughed while you watched them frantically stomp it out.
But who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Any way, I miss hanging out with friends without having to set up an appointment a month in advance. Am I alone in this?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Binge Bonk Beg

Last night I phoned my sister and casually mentioned that I wanted to see the movie Eat Pray Love. Well, my older, and often wiser, sister exploded! I was totally startled by her reaction. “What a crock of shit.” She said, and then she spewed out a tacky shopping list of what real women do to find their true selves. “They should have named it Binge Bonk and Beg,” She said, “because when a real woman finds herself face down in the mud puddle of life she binges on carbs, goes out with her friends and gets shit faced, then, against her best friends advice, winds up in bed with a pot bellied braggart sporting a bad toupee. In the morning she realizes that her life, and husband, weren’t so bad after all, so she goes home and spends the rest of her life begging God to forgive her.”
I held the phone away from my ear, and blessed myself against the blasphemous spew of venom that was pouring out of the receiver. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, and now movie, it’s the story of a woman who has it all…job, husband, house, looks, but decides she still isn’t happy, (now that I look at it closer it does seem a bit far fetched) so she leaves everything, including her dishy husband, and travels the globe (okay….really far fetched) in search of the true meaning of happiness. She then gorges herself with pasta, flirts with hot young guys, meditates for days, and then finally travels to paradise AKA Bali, and falls in love with a hot, rich, and sexually talented older man.
Alright, although a true story, it REALLY is far fetched. Nobody that I know could afford to do that. But hey, maybe I hang with the wrong crowd. Either way, a girl needs her distractions from life, so I intend to see the movie as planned. Unfortunately I'm jaded, because I have my my sister’s sarcastic laughter stuck in my head, which I'm sure will distract me from Julia Robert’s sincere attempts at inspiring me to eat pray and love. Yup.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tantrum Yoga

A friend of mine talked me into joining a beginner’s Yoga class with her, so I in turn cornered my friend Susan and bullied her into going too. For some reason I felt I needed numbers to do this because everyone knows…..there is safety in numbers!
This was a huge step for me because I hadn’t engaged in any real exercise for a couple of years, unless you counted my frequent trips to the refrigerator and the bathroom.
My knowledge of Yoga was zero, and except for the mental visual I had of Gandhi sitting sedately in the Lotus position, I was clueless.
The entire concept sounded, well….boring. I like dancing around, shaking my giblets to hard driving music. In my mind the prospect of going to a Yoga class was the equivalent of going to exercise church.
This was an early evening class, so I was forced to eat my dinner on the road, woofing down a steak and bean burrito that my husband had lovingly prepared for me.
I met the girls in the parking lot so we could all walk in together.
The room was quite pleasant, decorated in an eastern style, with the slightest scent of bamboo lingering in the air. The floor was draped with yoga mats of various colors, like towels on the beach, and an exotic instrumental was being mysteriously piped in from somewhere….maybe heaven.
We found a corner of the room with space enough for us to spread our mats. An easy task for most people, but we fumbled and bumped into each other, giggling like fools and fitting in like Larry, Moe, and Curly.
The room was crowded with poker faced women all in various stages of stretching. I eyed Susan, and mouthed over to her: “We don’t belong here.” She intentionally ignored me while gracefully assuming the mad cow position. Traitor. Sitting nervously on my pink mat, with my chubby legs painfully crossed Indian style, waiting for the class to begin, I felt the first burrito bubble seeking the easiest exit. Never again! Yup.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Social Anorexia

So I went out last night to a friend’s house, something I haven’t done in over a year, and I had a blast. I’ve been so busy with work, my book, and my always present mystery illness, that I just haven’t had the time, or desire, to socialize. At the last minute I almost cancelled, but I forced myself out the door with the intentions of being home by eight. I think I’m out of practice when it comes to socializing. When stowed away too long in the dark cave of self-absorption I tend to lose my social appetite, making going out seem as appealing as a cup of meal worms. But I forced my self out the door and ended up staying until midnight. If you know me, midnight is unheard of. I’ve grown accustom to being in bed by ten and then reading myself to sleep. So midnight was a huge step for this social cripple. Anyway, I had a blast floating about on a pink noodle in the pool, catching up on important life events, and chatting endlessly about everything from the meaning of life to our favorite songs. Last night my favorite song was Midnight at the Oasis, and I proved it by singing it karaoke.. solo! Having never sung karaoke before, my nerves had my stomach in a choke hold. I’m not showing false humility when I say I can’t sing. I have a voice fit for the shower. But I did it, and the girls all fussed over me, showering me with compliments. “All you need is more confidence.” They said. Ha! What a load. But they meant well. Actually singing karaoke was on my bucket list, so now I can scratch that one off the list without having to actually do it in front of a bunch of critical strangers giggling and pointing at me. Whew!
We also raided my friend’s wig collection, trying new looks until we laughed till we nearly peed our pants. We decided to have a wig night. This involves each of us choosing a wig and wearing it out in public. I can’t believe I agreed to that…. and I wasn’t even drinking!
Going out last night with the girls taught a couple of things.
One: I often resist the things that I need the most.
Two: One good night of laughter with friends can erase a month of melancholy.
It’s important to stay connected with friends and have a life outside of all the obligations and have to’s. Without meaningful contact with my tribe of friends my soul tends to wither like a thirsty house plant. I’m going to make an extra effort to stay connected. But I’m certain I’ll fight it all the way. When was your last night out?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ready for the Next Journey?

I’ve been contemplating my own mortality lately, which I blame on a run of unexpected deaths within my small tribe of family and friends. Since the beginning of time people have come and gone. It’s as natural as the sun, and the dirt, yet it still seems utterly barbaric to me; particularly the way some of us die.

Truth really is stranger than fiction, and if I were to write a book about a planet where people mysteriously disappeared, without a trace… forever, it would be considered an eerie science fiction novel. Yet, this is our reality. Nobody really knows where we all go when we die. I like believing in heaven, no more tears, like that baby shampoo, but I’m rather clueless as to what heaven really means. I comfort friends when they lose somebody, telling them how natural this cycle is, but I’m ashamed to admit that inside I’m really relieved that it wasn’t me or my loved one. This dying thing is totally unnerving.

The young seem nonchalant about death. Of course their bodies are still under warranty, just needing fuel and tires, but my warranty has long expired, and each morning I suspiciously eye my body in the mirror, hoping it will get me where I need to go for the day.

Some people live with death in mind, taking their vitamins, and avoiding the proverbial cracks in the road of life. Others dive in and tempt fate, trying such stunts as bungee jumping, or driving during rush hour traffic. Me…. I defy death in my own timid way; like ordering the double mocha choka latte in lieu of the skinny one.

My mother used to tell me that I was here to learn how to trust my God, love others, and be nice to mean people. Good answers. But when I’m lying awake at 2 am, rehearsing an argument that I will never have with my neighbor, because his dog won’t stop barking, these answers seem irritatingly cliché. Why go through so much trouble learning all of these lessons if I’m not going to use them for long?

Perhaps I’ll be using my acquired wisdom in some place more evolved? A heavenly place, not contaminated with the rage of hate, or selfish indifference. A place where acceptance is not based on appearance, or wealth, and love is spread generously, like butter on bread, and shared with every hungry soul.

Our planet is awe inspiring. It’s alive with creatures that move to a set rhythm, working toward the common goal of survival. When I see a tiny humming bird hovering at a bloom, carefully navigating a sip of nectar, it moves me to tears.

I’m fascinated at the nervous hesitancy of a gray squirrel approaching an open field, cautiously surveying the danger level, and then running like hell with its tail all wild and fluffy, until it’s safe again in the refuge of a great tree.

All of these things speak to me about the cycle of life. I often feel superior to the creation around me; perhaps because I can walk on two legs and have the ability to use hand tools, but in reality, I am small, and I must follow the same natural laws as the squirrel and the humming bird.

Right now it is my turn to walk this planet and then the next generation shall replace me. My footprints will fade as the tide of years washes over them, but I believe that my spirit will venture onward, strengthened by the harsh lessons of this journey, walking an unknown road to a distant land which some have named heaven. I want to live big, and from my heart while I’m here, so that in the end I can smile and say, “I’m ready for my next journey.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating Life Raw

Life is a messy thing, sometimes slapping me in the face with a wet hand (dripping with suspicious fluids), kissing me on the neck while I’m scrubbing grimy pots and pans, and ignoring me when I need attention the most. Sounds much like my husband, although he has never slapped me in the face.
Yes, life is a daily crap shoot with the odds being about even for fate to dole out grins or grimaces. Each day I rise to an inner dialog that goes something like this: “I have to get up. What for? Coffee. Yes, Coffee. Coffee and I have to go pee. Wasn’t there something I was looking forward to today? (Long mental silence) Nope. Arg!”
I then haul my vulnerable butt out of bed and let life have its way with me.
Television makes life seem too pretty. Like life is supposed to be served up on a fancy dinner cart, pushed room service style up to my bed. Silver domed lids protect each gourmet entrée, and crystal goblets wait, thirsty for the red wine that is currently soaking in an ice bath, and breathing with ease. The last time I breathed with ease I was being slapped on the ass by my mother’s gynecologist.
In reality, life is more like one of those survival shows. It must be pursued and hunted, like wild game in a dense forest. And once caught, you must wrestle the thing to the ground, choke the life out of it with your bare hands, and then tear it apart with your teeth…. and eat it raw.
Sounds disgusting, but it’s the truth. Life is real, not airbrushed, edited, or even made-over. Real life is having to drag your reluctant ass to a job that you hate. EVERY DAY. It’s being cornered by a neighbor’s piranha toothed Pit Bull while you frantically dial 911, or watching the transmission fall out of your car on the first day of your vacation. Actually those are minor compared to death, war, and famine.
Okay, I don’t want to sound too jaded so I’ll throw in some of the benefits of eating life raw; like falling in love, belly laughing with your best friend, and being bold enough to pursue your dreams. You might even learn how to love the unlovely, help the down trodden, or live like a king in Fiji.
I guess the sum of life is this. Life must be eaten raw….daily. And we must trust that whatever dose of shit, or roses, that life gives us, there is a deeper reason for it; a reason that will make sense to us. Someday. We also need to remember that flowers grow in war fields, and ghettos, as well as meticulously tended gardens, and every time it rains, the sun is boldly shining behind the clouds.
I don’t know if we signed up for this life, or if we were drafted; either way life must lived. So be sure eat up because there’s plenty of life to go around.