List of Lists – or – Emptying My Head

Card list
Shopping list
To Do list
To Be list
To See list
To Know list
To Taste list
To Feel list
To Dream list
To Mourn list
To Appreciate list
To Scream Of list
To Thank list
To Let Go Of list
To Embrace list
To Find list
To Release list
To Purge list
To Avoid list
To Understand list
To Remember list

There. I feel lighter now.


Learning is Doing

My mom always says to me, “I need to learn to do all the things you can on the computer.” She says it like it’s a project that lays ahead, one that must be committed to and planned for. But today, as I looked at how I manipulate my machine to make cards and gifts, to edit movies and create DVDs, I realize that learning is doing. I never set out to know these things. I didn’t one day say, “I must figure out how to make a photo book.” I just did it. Trial and error. Navigating through screens and tools, mistakes and successes. Had someone taught me how to get the results I wanted, I wouldn’t have gotten the results I wanted because I didn’t know what I wanted until I saw it and built it and lived it.

Maybe I need to remember this when I grow frustrated with the progress – or apparent lack thereof – in my life. I always come back to fighting the process and longing for the results. I do live by doing, but the doing can feel slow and tedious. The doing can hit serious ditches in the road that fling me from the seat I ride in, toss me in the air with no way to navigate. I flap my wings, but I’m no bird, so I hit the ground hard. I stay prone and cry a little, secretly, into covers pulled up to my eyes so no one sees and no one knows. After all, I have my pride.

Pride. My other demon. Pride and Success laugh at me because they know I hold them in such high esteem. They know that as long as they are my goal, they will dine without me. They know to get to sit at the table with them I must take a circuitous route. A smarter tack would be for me to turn my back on those beasts who taunt me so.

So I called up Process and asked if we could have coffee. Process smiled knowingly into her end of the phone line. She’d been waiting for my invitation. She doesn’t know how hard it is for me to be her friend, to even want to be her friend. She doesn’t know that even when I want to appreciate her, others plant fear in my mind. They tell me that I may go broke. They tell me with their eyes that I am being foolish, that I am a sweet dreamer. Those looks activate my inbred fear, give life to what rests buried within, bring to the surface what I must struggle to shove down again.

Over our steaming brew I ask Process how to better embrace her. I ask her where to find Trust, a necessary companion for the journey. Process tells me that she can’t tell me, that the answer lies within her and is only accessible to me through our friendship.

For a moment I feel cheated, deprived of instant answers and the comfort of knowing. I tell Process that everyday I try to believe in myself. I try to quiet the dissenting voices of Security and Instant Gratification. I try to not need.

But I do need. And needing is hard. We live in this vast community of fractured ties. We come together in times of real trouble, but I don’t know how much we’re there for each other when only simple questions arise, questions that may seem personal and specific. We don’t slow the way the support demands. We talk about this and we know this, but we don’t know how to climb off the treadmill. We have become addicted to our habits. We don’t know how to break loose.

Except when we do, when we pause and say, “I can do this differently.” Those are the glorious days. Those are the nights that we go to bed not exhausted but exhilarated. Those are the times we most dream of. This is when we find our true selves.

My true self needs to work hard on my relationship with Process. A casual coffee is not enough. It needs to not let you scare me with your words of concern, with your “How will you earn money now?”

“I don’t know,” I whisper gently into the wind, hoping my words will float to the land where what I say and do matters, where the images in my mind have meaning and value, where I can be me and live and flourish and appreciate Process. If I see it, perhaps it can be.



x & y

By definition it was inevitable that she and her son would end up in different generational classifications, but it didn’t mean she had to like it. So when she sat him down to discuss the gap between them, she had all her points carefully inked and bulleted on a lined index card for clarity.

“We need to talk,” she started, sounding more like a woman about to end a relationship than one trying to speak to her own offspring.

“Um,” he responded in perfect teen pitch that signaled obligation rather than interest.

But before she could continue, she flashed on her childhood of wonder, the time of bb guns and endless bike rides, of games of ditch in hotel corridors and shoplifting at the local five and dime. Hers was the more disobedient generation, the one operating outside parental observation.

Be home before dark’ was the extent of adult guidance. That and ‘The Golden Rule.’

What if she could shift right now in this precise moment and offer her son those few words? She could tear up her list and allow him the freedom to encounter error and hurt, to walk his own path and learn his own way. She could give him that gift, if only she could do so and still breathe.


The Water's Edge

I’ve been away. Mostly inside myself. Today I venture back to the water’s edge, dip my toe in, see how it feels. I don’t exactly know what took me away but it was potent and strong, like a demon who shows up in your dreams without revealing origin or motive.

Hidden in the folds was crisis of confidence, now replaced with glimmer of belief and a willingness to see what unfolds. New documents opened, stories combined, word counts and page clicks. Walks down avoided paths, a loosening of the tongue, a maybe.