Friday, April 2, 2010


I figured out the source of the intense cravings of the last few weeks relatively quickly. Shortly after writing about it, I had a little ah ha moment, sat with it for several days, and then conceded the truth of it, clear and unavoidable because it carried with it a familiar feeling of inescapable pressure in my chest. Truth sometimes sits on me - very heavily - until I acknowledge it.

My hesitance in writing about it stemmed from a sense of shame, or maybe embarrassment (which, let's face it, is shame with a different tilt of the head)... so then I sat with that for several more days. Why the fear? Why the assignation of negative names/thoughts/feelings? What exists between thinking and saying (in this case writing) to generate such distress?

I'm still not sure of the why, but I'm tired of carrying the what around like an elephant - because my guess is, for those who really know me, it's not like any grand sort of epiphany. More like, "Yeah... I kind of already knew that about you."

Intimacy. The craving is intimacy. More specifically... my willingness to be vulnerable, to be open and completely present in an undefended way with those around me. Because, as I came to see in my chewing and mulling and waiting, I hold myself back from everyone. I stay separate on a fundamental level - more observer than participant in the shared human interactions of my life.

This is especially true of my relationships with those closest to me: my husband, my daughter, my family, my friends. I am there but not there. Present but not available. With them but apart. Loving but not risking. Not really.

I am a brave person in a lot of ways. There are areas of my life within which I am fearless, empowered, and willful. But when it comes to letting people in, I fail - over and over.

I act like a wallflower and then blame everyone else for leaving me isolated and alone... and in the grandest moments of my self-deception, I scan my life for escape hatches and new routes of promise - knowingly pinning my discontent upon external sources to avoid looking at the only one who really has control over my experience: me.

Today I sat in the park and watched my beautiful little girl play with a boy she had just met in the sandbox. She of princess pink and tomboy strength - of shy charm and trumpeting love. She clearly liked him, and kept glancing at me to be sure I saw her courage and friendliness and open, whole-hearted being.

I felt such love for her. She is my hero and my teacher and a constant reminder of how to choose joy. Her humor surprises me, her tenderness delights me, and her tenacious bravery inspires me. She and my husband are the two most important people in my world, and neither of them knows how much I love them because I fail to make it clear - and I choose to pull away when I should move toward.

This is a big one - this act of hiding. It shows up in career, motherhood, marriage, family, friendship, creative freedom... all manner of places. My experience of life, I have come to notice this week, can be defined largely by processes of retreat and avoidance. This is not a legacy I wish to pass along to my daughter, nor has it been a particularly positive fact in a space of mindful attention and intentional practice.

Buddha said, "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Which is sort of a nice way of saying, "Stop your whining and do something about it." Either way, the message is the same.

May you love and be loved without fear. May you embrace the opportunity of the present moment.

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