Just as there can be no light without darkness, just as blinding whiteness could not inspire awe without the power of blackness to make us tremble in the face of our own insignificance, just as our eyes would not shine in gratitude without having first gone blind with despair in the sterile hallways of inner poverty, just as a place cannot be home to a heart that does not know the pain of diremption, yes, yes, just as all things require their opposite to exist fully, eventually bad hair days give way to an excellent hair day. Order has been restored in my universe. Thank you, Redken.
Proposed rough schedule starting December 24:
|8 AM||Wake up, brush teeth, etc.|
|8:30||Journal about the process, what it’s like, and how it’s going. (Some of this will get included in the final product.)|
|9:30-ish||Shower, clean house, get dressed, feed and walk dog|
|11:00||Go get a smoothie or something really light to eat. Since I’ll be so sendentary and writing about the hunger for union, I’d like to stay just on the hungry side of full the whole time.|
|12 PM||Read and meditate until I’m bubbling with ideas, then start the more academic part of the writing.|
|6||Make dinner or go get dinner.|
|7:30||Catch up on emails, phone calls, etc.|
|8:30||Tango or catch a movie or play piano. At least, move my body or do something totally right-brained. But if I’m on a roll with an idea, then let the muse have her way. Don’t torture myself if it ain’t happening.|
I haven’t decided yet how much I want to undertake feeding myself (I don’t usually cook since cooking for one is a waste of leftovers) or if it’d work better to have my little retreat catered by Whole Foods and Qdoba.
You don’t know it but I’m almost famous. Starting tonight, I’m like second or third degree away from famous. Just watch F/X and you’ll see one of my favorite people doing what she is really good at. What you won’t necessarily know by watching is that that very same person doing her thing on the screen is also incredibly insightful, witty, and self-aware, and knows how to put the words ‘good’ and ‘friend’ together in a way that makes a lot of people feel lucky just to have her in their lives.
And that makes me cool by association. I’m as pleased as punch for us both.
Today, I am wearing a sports top, comfy sweater, running shoes, jeans, and earrings I could sleep in. All blue. I’m not going for pretty today–although that’s a lie, some part of me is always going for pretty. Today, I’m going for energy efficiency. Something tells me that I don’t know it yet, but I need reinforcements. My shoes are squeezing my arches, telling me, “Get on with it already.” Sometimes it’s just a zit-on-the-nose-curls-going-the-wrong way sort of day. You work with what you’ve got. And I’ve got comfortable, color-coordinated active wear. I think I’ll go get myself some fresh carrot-apple-lemon-ginger juice and pay off my credit card.
[OK, my mind is getting oriented for my writing retreat. I woke up this morning and had the idea that, at the front of each section of my thesis, I might like to write an autobiographical journal piece about the process of sequestering and writing this thesis. (For those of you that haven’t heard, I’m writing a big, ol’ piece on the transformative power of loneliness. So, here’s a first practice pass …. ]
Last night was the last night of meals on the run. The last night of status reports and water cooler conversations. The last night of commuting along the familiar groove in my psyche that shuttles me, 5 days a week, past the recycling dumpster, overflowing on Tuesday nights, through the welcome left turn light at the church, past the bakery whose early morning efforts make me breathe as if breaking the surface after a deep dive, and up the hill alongside students laboring on bikes, their breath forming twisted question marks in the cold, winter air behind them. My easy link from the comfort of cursory encounters with familiar faces and places to my solitary existence in this too big house has been cut.
With the sunset now a recent memory, the front door closed behind me, and yet I lingered there, just inside, with my hand on the knob, surveying the hallways and corners of my future. Protected from the unpredictability of the world outside, my momentary relief morphed into a low-grade dread. There was nothing here in this place either, except for more aloneness. It was as if the warm air around me, so briefly comforting, suddenly filled with dangerous smoke; my vision blurred, sounds disappeared behind walls of cotton balls, my legs itched with the urge to run for my life. I was choking on the quiet.
I reminded myself, “OK. It’s OK. You chose this, you chose this. There is nothing here that can surprise you.”
Today, I am writing to you from inside a jar. A jar I’ve borrowed for 40 days. I’ve been here before in this terrifyingly insipid hole. But this time I brought shelves full of books, a blank journal, open eyes, and the promise of an end. I am at the bottom of this empty beaker and I am writing my way out, filling it with my words until I become lighter and lighter and rise to the top like a buoy dancing on adverbs, similes, and past participles, until at last I am the one who is empty and my inner world has spilled over and washed me gently on to your lap.
A couple months ago, I found out about a workshop series that covers pretty much exactly what I want to do a PhD in. But it’s in California. And I’ve been debating about whether or not I want to get back into the commuting once-a-month thingy in order to go participate in something that won’t actually give me any degree. But I’ve found myself more and more drawn lately to opportunities for me to start covering the basic ground for what I’m gonna need to know in order to survive (much less excel) in a Religious Studies PhD program. And, so far, this sort of informal preparation by osmosis is working pretty well and is really enjoyable.
Well, last night, I sat down to sort through piles of old junk mail and such and there was the flyer again for the California thingy. And this time I was dead sure I wanted to do this and I’d be crazy to pass up the opportunity. So, starting at the end of January (which is when I should have everything but piddly revisions of my thesis done), I’m going back to Pacifica. The program is a 5 long-weekend dealy outside of Santa Barbara called Beyond Traditional Religion: Spirituality, Depth Psychology, and Nonduality”. And I can’t wait!!!
It also means that between January and the end of July, I’m gonna be in So Cal for 6 long weekends (5 plus another weekend I’ll be out there in April) and, if I plan it right, I can hang out with my L.A. friends on some of those Sunday afternoons/evenings. Looking forward to seeing you y’all, , , , and . And maybe we can coax out to play too. What do you say, ? Anyone else? Am I missing anyone?