There was a band of bright pink and gold at the eastern horizon when I took Boxnoggin out for his first loo break of the day, and a waning moon tangled in the lilacs’s bare branches as well. I prefer to be going to bed as the sun is rolling out, but decades of kid- and dog-schedules means it hasn’t been an option.
Maybe someday soon. In the meantime, there are bits of beauty to be found even while my body grumbles.
My health almost broke completely last week, but things are a tiny bit better now and I’m trying to be as gentle as I can. Plus there’s all sorts of purging and spring cleaning in the works. I can’t recall the last time I did a good old-fashioned Kondo-ing–I have to wait for better weather to put a “free” pile at the end of the driveway, but that just gives me time. I’m breaking tasks into tiny chunks, arranging them like mosaic around the large stones of two projects on the grill.
At least those are going well. I’m within striking distance of finishing two zero drafts at once. Maybe when that’s done I can arrange the surroundings for my usual productivity, because if I’m not juggling three-plus projects at a time I don’t know who I am. I need that third slot in my working schedule open, dammit.
The biggest thing is trying to be kind to myself, a skill I have very little practice with. I tend to hurt myself before anyone else can get around to it, a purely protective mechanism. Trying to be friendly with the person in the mirror is difficult at best; on the other hand, difficulty is what practice is for. The purging of physical space will also help me let go of habits which aren’t serving me. At least, that’s the theory. We all know how vast–and instructive–a gulf looms between planning and execution.
One of the quandaries I’ve been struggling with lately is the paradox of being completely free to decide who to be, and it generally ending up with being who one actually is. I could not wrap my brain around it, no matter how accustomed I’ve become to putting a few contradictory ideas in the old skull-case and just…letting them sit there. There was something in the tension I just wasn’t seeing, and I kept picking at it with every invisible finger I could spare. (Like a scab…)
A couple days ago Boxnoggin was busily sniffing a thorny bush he always tries to get his harness hooked on while voiding his bladder into its tangle. I was occupied with keeping just enough tension on the leash to make sure he didn’t get gouged like a prince attempting to hack his way to a sleeping castle, and it hit me. Right between the eyes, in fact, and I gasped with relief like a breaching whale.
I’d overlooked preferences. Choosing what one wants to be can be boiled down to a preference. For example, I prefer to be kind, it’s literally the easiest state for me and has the benefit of feeling good as well. And what are preferences but part of who one is? The paradox is not neatly resolved–it never is–but the signpost goes up and that’s all I need.
Just point me at it, and I’ll start moving.
Of course, some of my wants and preferences are a little less than ideal–frex, I would prefer to be in bed right now, and to stay there while the books write themselves. Alas, such is not the world we are given. But even those non-ideal wants make me who I am, and I get to decide which of them to indulge and which to gently chivvy myself out of. I suppose that’s the “absolute freedom” part of the bloody paradox.
Life has mostly been about what I can endure rather than what I like. Philosophically it’s been great training; emotionally it’s been a rough patch. Now I have a little breathing room to do something else. Sorting through a midlife tangle (because I’m sure that’s what some of this is, just a function of getting older) is proving most enlightening. A few parts are even fun, but mostly they’re deeply satisfying, plenty amusing, and occasionally painful enough to provoke tears.
I never used to cry, either. Nowadays it’s safe enough to let a few feelings show. A great and lovely change.
Anyway, the coffee is almost done, and there’s feathery bright clouds over a layer of darker grey as the sun rises. The daily balance has been tipped past dawn into actual morning, and soon the dog will need his ramble. I might even have another meditative untangling while he’s busy sticking his nose in something foul; they tend to happen when life is simply so absurd a deeper meaning can slip through the cracks. And we all know dogs are great at absurdity.
See you around.