Unable to rouse my mother from slumber, I quickly became a virtuoso of the breakfast vignette: aged kitchen table awash in rosy morning light, blackened toast atop white plate, dabs of melting butter, knife glistening with jam. Pile of pithy clementine rinds. Milk glass, butter dish.
Slowly, over time and broken hearts, I learned to engage stillness purposefully, finally grasping its value in a harried world. For too long I had clung to my own fretful flaws, muddled and spent by repetitious self-defeat. A still life remains an aspiration, even today; I’m more drawn to the itinerant moon, always heavy, if not always full, distracted by the night’s brightest company. But I identify less readily with restlessness, I recognize it as a passing mood instead of a way of being.
Way #2: Strut to the neighborhood crossroads in slacks and a button-down with tall, spring green palm fronds emerging from the collar, encircling your head and framing your face, like that fellow from last Wednesday around 4:00 pm. Go about your business at the local shops as though it were customary to sport fresh flora. Be regal, be purposeful, carry conviction. And make swift turns so that the palm fronds echo your movements like back-up dancers, or a loyal school of fish.
I’d learned the basics, how to guide the boat up and down the lake, and how to get out of irons. The instructor announced that our next lesson would be the climax of the series: how to right a capsized boat. I had come to adore sailing, but I thought he was crazy–we would capsize the boat on purpose? Create a catastrophe in the middle of the lake just to (try to) fix it? Was this some kind of Navy drill? Had I been drafted? Was this necessary? At my desk this week, hands shaking uncontrollably above my keyboard, I likened my state to a capsized sailboat; I’d tipped over a bit too far, it seemed, and now found myself somehow upside down under water, trying to figure out how to right myself again. From underneath the surface, without oxygen, light filtered through brown muck, every normal thing is pressurized, every mundane task, every movement a thousand times heavier, a thousand times more difficult. Everything is scary, and the accumulation of fears starts to hurt, and starts to wear, and takes its toll.
I’m living for the weekends lately, for the deep breaths and slivers of free time. It’s Wednesday in Hargeisa, so we’ve got one more day until we can relax (work on side projects). Here are a few links to get us all through!
Hopefully when you read this, I’ll be somewhere in Kenya, fresh covfefe in one hand, bagel with cream cheese in the other, and sushi in the… other? Below are a few links to see us both through the rest of the week. Here’s to Rest & Relaxation, or getting nearer to it, anyway.
One strength that comes with age, to my utter satisfaction, is the diminishing of Fears of Unusual Proportion. Those situations or conversations that years before might’ve rendered you weak in the knees with stomach in knots are now set in relief against such a breadth of life experience that their power over you is a fraction of what it used to be. That’s not to say the fear is eviscerated. I think that only comes after a lifetime of transcendental meditation, or the sudden bequeathal of super hero powers; I’ve achieved neither. In fact, I’ve noticed that old fears are simply replaced with newer ones, the latter more concerned with community than ego, with inner well-being than with outward presentation. Nevertheless, difficult conversations and weighty responsibilities are more and more the things I push through, small prices for a career, or growth in relationship, or simply growing up. Yet when it comes to conquering one particular fear, I may be a late bloomer: The fear of disappointing others. Last week I had a triple-threat lesson in this particular theme, …