I love new beginnings and fresh starts. Morning, preferably dawn or pre, is unequivocally my favorite time of day (dusk is second). From when I was a kiddo and on through college I relished the start of the new school year/new semester. In grammar school it probably had a lot to do with the requisite batch of pristine, gleaming supplies, pencils pointed and nary a dog-ear on my Pee-Chees. In college it was a brand spanking new reading list and a crisp syllabus and the certainty that this time I'd exhibit superlative time management skillz and would escape my usual end-of-semester fate. Never to be so--I inevitably found myself crushed by the inexorably advancing wheel of deadlines. Ah, I remember it well--the months of avoidance (I would read anything except what was assigned) and then the onslaught of last-minute 4 a.m. writing frenzies and the literal sprints across campus to turn in papers before the hard 3 p.m. cutoffs. And the over-arching sense that I could have/should have done better, read more, read harder, taken more from it, that if I'd started my papers earlier my concluding paragraphs wouldn't have consistently read like I'd expectorated my sloppily-masticated thesis statements back onto the page. I didn't pay the piper most times grades-wise, but I wished I'd been better.
I think it's only now in my overripe twenties that I've felt a small loosening re: the vice-grip of compulsive procrastination. I've never known the why behind it--one of those blind spots. I think partly it might have served as my good-grade, good-girl, people-pleasing rebellious outlet. I think I made another, secret self, one that said "fuck all y'all" and fostered a private recalcitrance when it came to choices I calculated would affect only my own happiness. Maybe they call that self-destructiveness. It's hard to Be.
I still don't do well with "the shoulds." As far as personal growth shiz goes, if I tell myself I "should" do any thing, I won't. I've learned I need to deep-down want to do a thing if it's going to get done. I've become better at boiling down what fulfills me, and I'm thankful the things that make me feel truly good have begun to align with the things that feel good to do, so I have driving desires to do the beneficial shiz. A few years back I grew the true need to run, and I think I will continue to, regularly, as long as I'm able. Peeps mention marathons, but for me that goal-driven energy is antithetical to the sustainable meditative continuum I value in my running habit.
This vibe applies to other things. Lately: writing. I've got the urge to. It sounds corny, but I treasure this itch. Throughout my scholastic life I was told I was a "a good writer." That sounds like a brag, but here's the thing about praise: it can be paralyzing, especially when you're nascent Play-Doh. I remember listening to some This American Life that talked about the old-school way of talking to kids: "You're smart. You're talented" vs. the more growth-oriented encouragement: "You worked hard on this." Over the years I started to simultaneously require and mistrust this first sort of praise. I felt breakable, like a possible sham, like I'd been fooling people into thinking I was a good writer and this static "quality" of mine might shatter like glass. Throughout college I felt incommensurate anxiety receiving grades on my papers. It became too intense for me to do more than skim comments on even "A" "Excellent" essays. I never re-read a single paper from Berk, including my seventy-five-page honors thesis. I probably could have improved it significantly if I'd had the stones to edit it, after the too-soon deadline and the grading, when I was still in the world of its material. Writing became a choking thing, and after I graduated I mostly stopped.
I don't know what exactly has changed that I feel okay about it now. I think taking a break (or a fallow period if you will) wasn't the worst thing. I think taking pictures and expecting from myself no ability allowed my creative impulse to flicker back into being. I think my big break-up helped too.
I was in a six-year relationship from when I was twenty 'til a final and definitive New Year's Eve conclusion (the end of 2012, the eve of 2013). That relationship, which spanned so many formative years, was of course in many ways complicated and unclear, and I don't want to retrospectively put a too-dark cast on it, so if my tale is tall forgive my scrambling. "It's hard to see what you're seeing with, to see what being is as an activity through the instrument of whatever-it-is we have being in" (Hass). My ex-bf struggled with loving himself, and as the person in his life he was closest to I was on the receiving end of a lot of flak from that. Without meaning to I believe, he put me down a lot. Some unhappy part of him fixed a relentlessly critical eye on me, because if I wasn't the source of his unhappiness he was going to have to get down and dirty on his own soul, and he wasn't ready. When he was in a good place he was very good to me, but when he was in the dark he could be very cruel, even emotionally (and I use this charged word with reservations) abusive. I know that he loved me in really pure heart-filled ways underneath the shit, but he dragged me through the mud with him several times over the years, and when you're navigating the ups and downs of an unstable partner it's difficult to yourself feel grounded enough to branch out overmuch. I don't know if I even know what this means, but I think we had some kind of karmic imbalance. Or phrased another way we were in different places capacity-wise. Anyway, in our discords and in our peaces we cheese grater-ed and whittled each other, and I regret none of it as I know I wouldn't be me without that time. At the end of that relationship though I experienced a palpable lightening and freedom--it was very liberating for me to be out of that heavier energy's orbit.
In the aftermath I had the space to take myself to task and to work through sorting some of my own bits and pieces. When you're not focused on navigating someone else's fluctuating feelings all the time you get to examine your own. I've done a lot of work around my internal self-critical voice, which I think has played a big part in my procrastinating. While the work's ongoing I've reached a peace I didn't expect. This was as simple as realizing it was a fearful voice, one that had sustained trauma, that didn't actually wish me ill despite its put-downs, but was trying, in its own damaged way, to protect me from further pain. Learning to pity the limited-ness of my inner drill sergeant took its (the voice is sexless) power, released me a little from my perfectionistic paralysis. I felt freer to try things. It was a massive turning-point for me.
So was meeting Rama, though that was dumb-luck. I don't want to tackle the topic right now because I'm getting very snoozy, but I love him more than I can say, and all the good there has extended itself into many other parts of my life.
It's already way too late as I'm writing this (Rama's conked, upside-down with his feet on the pillows--very bad), but I wanted to post my New Year's entry January 1st. That didn't quite happen, but I was writing around some funtimes. For the log: Rama and I rang in 2016 last night over take-out pad see ew plus bub in the Berkeley hills overlooking the SF fireworks. We hit the sack barely buzzed and not too late. Today Maddy and I ran in Golden Gate park while Rama and Tim and Esan surfed, and then we all, plus Nicole and Maddy's firefighter friend Nicky, lunched at the Beach Chalet. Back to the East Bay (Tim came along), and Rama made two incredibly tasty pizzas, including his "signature" Pear & Parsnip (featured ingredient on both: our hedgehog harvest). We mohss def started 2016 out right.
I have a lot of things I want to keep doing and developing this year. As far as proper "resolutions" go, I've shared my feelings on "shoulds," but here are my tops:
- Use eye cream (my mom's religious about it and you can tell).
- Read 24 books (I think two a month is reasonable).
- Make Dad a website (in progress).
- More frequently integrate stairs and sun salutes into my runs.
- Buy a camera.
And Rama made us a couple joint ones:
- Massage each other more.
- Learn a language together. (We haven't decided what we want to focus on. He's dipped into French and Spanish. I've stuck a pinky toe in French and have a decent grasp of very basic Spanish. We'll see.)
Anyway I have a bunch of Christmas pictures to post, but that will have to wait as it is now well past bedtime. To wrap it up, a regurgitation of my thesis: I'm excited for this new year and new start, but I also am wishing for a continuing. I hope to take into 2016 a sense of expansiveness. And to be loving to myself and to others, in my thoughts and in my actions. Amen.