Today, someone in a work meeting told me that I have “the most amazing mind.” It’s the best compliment I’ve gotten since this one, and I want to remember it.
Here’s what happens:
I open wordpress, sign into my account, and roll my eyes as I run all the required updates. And then I click the plus sign for a new post. A new window opens.
Then I stare at it.
There’s power in a blank page, but there’s also the intimidation of wide open space, the exposure of standing alone in an untouched snowscape.
Just about a year ago, my life changed dramatically. San Diego was never a fit. I tried to love it, then tried to like it, then tried to tolerate it. I still wonder if I should have tried harder. And San Diego was a problem, but it wasn’t The Problem. The knot of everything that wasn’t working began to unravel, until one day it came unwound and there – at its core – was a seed of truth that I’d always feared finding, and always suspected was inside.
I’m not going to tell you who said or did what, but in the end, we divorced. Just after the decision was made, a golden parachute billowed out over my head, and I jumped out of the mess and into a new life in Portland, Oregon. I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I feel like I’m among my people. I’m doing work that feels important. I have a home – a sanctuary – that is all mine and that I love. And though there are always lingering questions, the ones I’m sitting with are finally my own to ask and answer.
It’s a blank page, and it’s powerful. It’s also intimidating, exposing, and filled with the kind of possibility that gives me analysis paralysis.
But it’s my blank page. So is this one. And here we are.
I was given this assignment by a board member, a fun project reflecting on a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, Possibilities.
I prefer optimism.
I prefer to believe the best.
I prefer to look on the sunny side, though I sometimes prefer overcast skies.
I prefer being cozy.
I prefer the soft scratch of dog toes and the pillowy underbelly of a cat.
I prefer the warm breath of companionship.
I prefer to sometimes be alone.
I prefer mountains.
I prefer the ocean.
I prefer Big Sur over almost any other place.
I prefer the scent of eucalyptus, rosemary, and cedar.
I prefer to love.
I prefer empathy to sympathy.
I prefer to sit in the front row in classes, the back row in concerts, the middle in theatres and busses.
I prefer sweaters and incense.
(In summers, I prefer linen and flowers.)
I prefer that my mind remain changeable.
I prefer being myself.
I prefer a small, quiet room.
I prefer to let myself fill the nooks and crannies, to take up space.
I prefer doing to thinking.
(But I like thinking, too. Sometimes I prefer thinking, either silently or aloud.)
I prefer kindness above everything.
I prefer peace.
Have you ever swum in the ocean where it’s just a little too deep or there’s a little rip tide, and you’re a little too tired, and you try to keep up, but you just can’t, and finally you lean back and realize that you can just float?
That’s me. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.
I spent my first 18 months in San Diego paddling for dear life, feeling like I was getting nowhere. And finally, in November, I tilted my head back and started to float.
What a difference it makes to float! Why did I resist it for so long? I suppose it felt too passive, too inactive. And yet, I forgot that floating engaged your core. I forgot that it lifts you and soothes you, but that you still have to actively participate. And I’m not working so damn hard to stay above water.
And I guess it feels a bit like I could actually start paddling again, but maybe not straight against the tide. Maybe sideways.
So, here’s to paddling sideways, and maybe floating a little more. After all, the water’s fine.
He prances around, his stubby tail contrasted by his crazy long legs, shimmying his booty like a total pro. He’s mostly figured out peeing outside, and is starting (KNOCK ON WOOD) to hate his crate less. He chases the cats, much to my chagrin… we’re working on it, and trying to divide our time between the two Tiny Animal Factions. He’s adorable, and awesome, and totally exhausting. I accidentally dropped some roasted chicken on the floor tonight during dinner prep, and he has been INTOLERABLE since his first taste. I think we’ll keep him.