Reservation is Not a Weakness.

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In this digital culture of everything-on-display-with-immediacy, we can say anything we want and it might reach a million people in a day.

We can and do express and create and share ourselves freely, completely.

With so much information available at all times, with so much coming at us, we are easily overwhelmed with a million things to react to.

These screens simultaneously connect us and separate us, creating a fictional, two-dimensional world where we can “see” each other but not really be there.

I think it’s simultaneously freeing us and fucking us up.

I’m such a proponent of authenticity. But when it comes to sharing how we feel, I think that we sometimes confuse vulnerability and openness with reactivity and emotionalism—maybe even a little bit of narcissism.

I’ve certainly been this way, and I don’t judge people for it, nor am I asking people to suppress emotions or accept abuse.

We’re learning how to be open and honest, vulnerable and real, but we still need to understand when to choose our battles and how to step into them with grace.

But what if it’s sometimes in ours and others’ best interest to shut up and maybe even fake it a little until all parties are willing and able to have a reasonable conversation?

Expressing emotions is healthy and necessary, but we also need to know how and when it’s best to just take a step back while still facing the problem or issue (person) in question.

This offers space and objectivity in difficult situations—basically, a break.

Then when we’re ready we can step back in with fresh ears.

We now may more easily have an audience, but the flip side of this is that we have more responsibility to participate as attentive audience members as well.

A negative consequence of this sharing and connection economy is that we tend to talk more than we listen.

Or maybe we have always been that way.

Either way, reservation need not be seen as a weakness. It can be an act of grace and a tool of empowerment if we approach it in it the right way.

What the Threat of Death can Teach us.

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Yesterday I thought a lot about death.

It began with with the news that Brittany Maynard had chosen two days before as her own death. I’d only just learned (and edited and shared this piece) about her plight for the right to a dignified death on the same evening I’d published and shared.

The post was popular, the conversations vibrant.

The opportunity to dig deep into that piece (on behalf of the writer, Molly Ruby) really shook me awake. It made me remember how a close friend had told me about her experience with death, once, and how I have vowed since to do everything in my power to make sure that people have an opportunity to just be comfortable when the time comes.

To just be at peace.

I don’t think that peace should be too much to ask for in life or in death, but somehow it is for so many.

Later that morning I found myself with windstung cheeks and open, wondering eyes, walking through a maze of leaf-littered paths in what could be one of the most morbid of places: a cemetery.

Moving through that restful and sad place somehow woke me up; while I was respectful and solemn of the context of the place, it’s beauty fairly stunned me.

There was a certain gentleness about breathing it all in, of the grace and oldness of the beautiful statues that stand as gravestones.

Sadly the bigger the statues, the more money the deceased (families) probably had (have), which means their graves will rule over the rest for a longer period of time.

But the statues give life to the place, a community of sorts. I imagined all of the ghosts (not just the rich ones) dancing together in this peaceful park on the side of the mountain, some maybe escaping to haunt earthly places that they love or could not let go of.

I’m not even a superstitious person; many close friends have experienced ghosts (and I believe their experiences) and I have not. But I’d like to believe that death is not the end. Just the choice that we have to use our imaginations in that way is a thing that can keep us light.

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So I was transfixed by the way the stillness of the statues was highlighted by patches of sunlight and contrasted by whirlwinds of leaves and distant city sounds.

I wrote recently about breathing out to balance all of the inwardness. And this is part of finding a reflection in the dark goddess 

The reflecting made me think about the little deaths, the way that we die to each moment, that we have to leave the past behind every day.

It made me think of the reasons we are so scared to morph out of the things we are defined by: I am (we are) not that ‘person’ anymore.

I want to leave a lot of it behind but I loved it, for real. And don’t quite know what is filling the space anymore.

Change happens anyway—we can’t stop it. Big changes, loss that seems out of our control is the biggest. So I want to change now and move into a new way of being but the patterns that I’ve held onto for so long define me, too.

My skin feels cool and papery, now, suddenly waxy and wan. I don’t feel young anymore. This feeling has been sneaking up on me for a while, I guess but it’s finally hitting me: I’m aging. I no longer feel the warm fullness of youth in my face-skin but a fallen, cooler feel, like a blue-grey filtered photograph that not so long ago was warmly tinted, immune to gravity and time.

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Or maybe I just thought that.

And that’s not really important.

What is important is that we see beauty in death, in the fight for a meaningful legacy.

But we can also surrender to forces beyond our control.

Maybe the beauty in Brittany’s fight was about surrender, how she was not fighting death per se, but resigning to it (as we all have to, really) in the way that was most peaceful for her.

In this, she will stand the test of time gracefully, like the statue-gravestones that I so love. They seem to say Surrender. Peace. We are still here, still valid, still marking the space and place and lives of us and our loved ones…but maybe, just maybe, the acceptance of loss means it’s not an ending.

Maybe marking the reality of (the threat of) an earthly death is exactly what keeps us going.

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emptying out

space is the breath of art

Two months. Two months I’ve been on leave.

I’ve turned my life in exactly the direction that I want, creating space to know that I am valued professionally, that I’m enough in demand that I don’t have to worry about unemployment, that people see my skills and want to work with me.

Having this space has given me a bit of wiggle room to just learn that others know what I do, what I’m about. This is huge, and was missing in my last job.

And also: I have my dream job. Not just a job, but a huge ground-breaking career move that I’m so ready for. I feel that I *should* be writing this post like this: “I have my dream job!!!!!!!” Complete with a gazillion exclamation points.

I am honoured and grateful to be working at elephant: I’ve never felt so right about anything in my life. This is where I belong. So I’m excited, yes, but calm.

But the rest of the space…well, it’s strange. I don’t feel like myself. I think that I’m transforming, shedding layers.

And there is this other part of my life that I am letting go of too. I am having heart- memories of many moments of bliss, as close to perfection as I’ve ever felt.

Goddess moments.

I write often about embracing uncertainty, about understanding that discomfort and fear are to be faced and acknowledged instead of run away from.

And I’m uncomfortable, sure. But beyond that. I feel really strange.

I feel like-well, not like me.

I’ve decided that it’s because it’s another level – layer – of transformation, something that I have to go through. This is the most intense part – not the worst (there is not a good or bad), just the most extreme. I think that it will level out in a couple of months, that this new skin might feel more natural and grow a little thicker.

And thank goodness the people around me have been/are so supportive and patient.

I’m so sure of my heart but the rest of life feels upside down. I feel totally lost but I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m okay, but I feel so different. Kind of disconnected.

Sometimes it feels a bit like depression, anxiety, sickness. But I think it’s different than just some sort of diagnosis.

I think it’s just the next level of that in-between state:

“Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender.” ~ Pema Chodron (The Places That Scare You)

Anyhow, I’m letting go, emptying out, dropping a lot right now.

‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ I guess (same idea, only minus the LSD).

Releasing a lifetime of thoughts and beliefs about what is supposed to be, and creating my own is.

Sometimes the emptying is coming in tears, but also in things, thoughts, relationships. Judgements, loves, fears and moments.

I have this habit of writing in ‘big’ concepts, of just pouring out the big picture all at once, a big complex and unclear and abstract set of thoughts.

As all these things fall I hurt, but I get better. I shed layers. I clear clutter. I fight every day with myself, with other people…well, people go pretty easy on me, but I still feel it. I still feel the judgement.

But the thing that makes me feel right, in the end, is that whatever this is, it’s not really about me.

It’s about interbeing, exchange. It’s two-way.

And this weird ‘not me’ kind of feeling is a part of what has to happen to come to a fresh start. Starting smaller, simpler, clearer.  

Creating, producing, giving.    

Oh ocean of thoughts. I love you. But you are so big and full and complex and swirling.

A need to write like the desert.