Category Archives: Human Nature

Breathless

Lately I’ve felt so emotionally vulnerable and quite frankly volatile.

 It’s not a feeling I like…

I don’t like that at any moment, my breath leaves my body and I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s like to breathe. I can’t stand being in public when the tears threaten and my mind just wanders aimlessly to the point of exhaustion. 

Life is ever flowing and constant. If only I could flow continuously and flow past these moments that make me not feel like me. Such is humanity I guess: Always reacting to the human condition.

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A Little Universe Therapy

Hello Universe! It’s been a while but right now, at 1:30 AM, it feels like the right time to write another post. Doggone you inspiration and desire-to-write! Why not choose a better time in the day?! Ohh. Right. There is no better time! February has been such an incredibly busy month and we’re only a week in! It feels even more hectic because it’s one of those months where our brains are wired to go “holidays passed, the first month of the year crazies have happened, so February is the month to ease into the new year!” Well, maybe that’s just my train of thought, but all the same, the reality of February is especially garish compared to the dreamy montage I had in mind where we calmly and romantically sauntered into spring and the possibilities of the new year.

Airhorn blast

Okay, thanks, I needed that wake-up call. I don’t even want to think about what’s lined up the rest of the month but I do have to because there’s a certain level of planning and anticipation that we all need to devote to certain aspects of our lives and schedules for them to even happen. Just being real here. My sisters and I dance hula at gigs here and there and we have a few this month, I have people coming into town, a trainer I’m paying for that I need to make sure I’m prioritizing my workouts when we don’t have our sessions, rehearsals, assessments, reading assignments, teaching for my church calling. I’m working on expanding my small business and I’m trying to iron out all the business and creative logistics of that, it’s an incredibly important month for stats at my day job, I’m wanting to spend time with my friends, take some time to follow-up on some long term goals of mine… I haven’t even talked about the regular day to day things like meal planning, laundry, etc.

Gah! As stressful as that was, hashing out all those things and confronting my to-do list is actually therapeutic. I’m the kind of person that needs to know what is going on and what the next steps are so I can keep this wagon moving in the right direction. I set things up on a timeline and I work on what’s going on now, set a skeleton plan for the rest, and wait until I get there to execute the plan. Great? Crazy? A little bit of both? Yeah, I’m not sure exactly what category my energy and time management skills fall under but all I know is I take it one day at a time and I’ll sure be needing your prayers and a really nice calendar or agenda book! (Also ice cream won’t hurt! Wink, wink!)

Thank you for being such a good listener, Universe!

I’m off to share my thoughts to my Heavenly Father in prayer, and then to my pillow too!

Fight or Flight?

Fight or flight is a real thing. When it comes down to it, I like to think that when it matters, I stay and I fight. I fight for my family, I fight for friends, I fight in situations when I have to be level headed, I fight to get things done.

However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I choose flight. Mostly I choose flight when it comes to things that seemingly only concern and affect me. It must be the same for many, if not all of us, as members of this imperfect human race. I can’t help but think as I consider upcoming days and events that I’m already feeling the anxiety, the panic and wonder if this time I will lean towards flight.

I feel as though sometimes life is like a speedway. I remember the first race I went to. An hour drive out of state, a chilly night spent sitting on cold seats with the chill seeping through my clothes, and so much noise! You could barely hear yourself think let alone speak, and it was absolutely exhilarating! Fast cars, dust, and a boisterous crowd all focused on the speed and continuously steering to the left. It sounds funny now that I think about it but I could definitely see why people liked to come and feed off the energy and just have a good time. The only change now is that I’m thinking of those races differently. I’m picturing myself starring in this nightmare of a scene, pulled from the benches and forced into a car and told to just go. No training, no warning that this was going to happen, no nothing. And boom. There I am in the driver’s seat forced to make the drive, bearing left and left and left and left… at stomach-churning high speeds. Trying to control myself, trying to not hit others, trying to get out of this alive.

Certainly a lot of things in life are consequences – good and bad – of our actions, and we know some outcomes as we go into the decisions. Other things are thrown at us and we’ve had to wing it and just fight to survive the speed. The crowd on the side can watch and cheer or call for our downfall, but regardless of the spectators, this is something you have to experience firsthand. And while sitting on the sidelines has a certain kind of rush, it’s nothing compared to the combined fear and euphoria of our own personal races on the track. Nothing will compare to your feelings as you sit in that driver’s seat fighting and wondering how to best survive the situation. Wondering when will the race end, what had you done to deserve this, when will you be safe, where was the “opt out” button, hoping that you won’t spin out, and hoping that the occasional jaws-of-life scenes you saw as a spectator wouldn’t apply to you.

Sitting here, chewing my nails, worrying about certain things in my future, I start to the feel the flight urge. Sometimes, you’re forced into the driver’s seat with no warning. Other times, you will inexplicably know it’s coming, especially if it’s happened to you before. So I sit here and contemplate whether to tap into my bank account and book a flight somewhere I’ve never been. No ties, no associations; a nameless stranger on unfamiliar paths. I’ll be choosing my own consequences, I think to myself. I’ll spare myself this part of the anxiety. I get the chance to walk away. “Unscathed” is the word I think of, but I know whatever I decide, there are always consequences. I can’t sit here and write that in this case, I’ve chosen one of the other. I can’t piously allude to not choosing flight. But I also can’t rule out my chances for the fight. In some ways I guess that’s what the phrase means anyway. When it comes down to the moment, will it be fight or will it be flight?

As for this idea that I mostly fight when it concerns the welfare of others, maybe I should start fighting for myself too.

Photo by John Westrock

A Heart Found in Full Circle

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller

Here’s a quote to serve as food for thought.

Picture this… Tonight I watched The Little Mermaid, live theater, via beautifully set central staging, or theater-in-the-round. Seated in front and slightly to my right was this young boy. He’s probably between the ages of 12 and 15. I had noticed him come in and take his seat, but for the most part didn’t notice him much until my two girl friends pointed him out just as the show was about to start. His excitement was very plain. He was clapping and grinning. Surely you haven’t known the definition of “grinning from ear to ear” until you’ve seen this boy. His reaction at first was downright commical. He reacted to everything! The fog machine starting, the lights lowering. He even raised his arms and started conducting the prelude.

He didn’t get any calmer during the show! He was entertained by the show details as much as I was entertained by him, and something about him stuck with me. Something about the pure joy and unrelenting happiness called to the deepest and darkest part of my heart.

Not that I knew. I came home as the sun was setting, crawled out of my fancy “I’m not just going down to the gas station to return my Redbox DVD” clothes in the dark of my room, and went surfing online. That’s routine these days. I’m not wallowing. I don’t want to call it that because I don’t know what there is to wallow about. My life is pretty much great, so using that word is unjustified. So I’m lying there, “not-wallowing,” scrolling through countless articles, statuses, location tags, trending hashtags, and I stumble upon this article. There’s a pretty picture and a vague enough title that would suggest it applies to me and my life.

“Why Finding Yourself Doesn’t Mean Hurting Yourself.” The article wasn’t quite what I was expecting so at first I just started skimming. There were no bullet points accompanied by relevant GIFs, witty captions under said GIFs…. Whatever, I’m about to give up on the article when I see the words:

“We imagined that hurting made us clean and that aching made us pure, and we thought that the only way to find ourselves was to do it on our own. …

There is nothing magical about being haunted, and there is nothing beautiful about being sad; in fact, the only sweet things about sadness is that it may end. …

When you are older, you will have faced enough adversity to have earned battle scars without looking for them. Challenges don’t make you stronger or more mature if you wallow in the limbo that is not overcoming them, and often, there is a strong support system of people who will help you get through the tough times. Don’t turn away from them; they are part of the fine line between what constitutes feeling lonely and being alone, and the latter is an experience that no one should have to suffer through.

It is okay to be sad; every emotion has it’s purpose. But if looking for company means looking for those more miserable than yourself, remember that they will only be there on those bad days, feeding you a bleakness that you don’t need. You need to turn on the lights, open your door, and head downstairs to talk to the people who can celebrate you in your happiness and your spontaneity and your life; not just in your sadness.”

It was after reading these words that I realized why that little boy stuck with me. I wanted his joy. I wanted his unabashed love for life and the moment he was in. I wanted to borrow even an ounce of his pure heart, because the aching doesn’t make me pure. It’s the beauty of light and the lightness of bliss that makes my heart pure and strong and true.

We’ve now come full circle, back to the Helen Keller quote:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller

Give me back my heart, world. Give me back my heart, emptiness. Give me back my heart, sadness.

Give me back my heart, me.

I’m feeling blind and deaf and want to be given the opportunity to find the best and most beautiful things again.

Heard

Hands. She felt hands. Hands that were covered with satin gloves. She felt them on her shoulders, gently guiding and pushing her forward in the dark. 

Her feet, shod only in mismatched socks, padded gently and hesitantly across the wooden floor. She stepped carefully, each time expecting a precipice from which she might tumble. So far, there wasn’t an edge or a cliff in this darkness, only the occasional squeak. Wherever she was, it was old. 

The hands never wavered and there was never a voice to accompany them. Aside from the squeaks, this journey was a silent one. 

The hands press down firmly on her shoulders, making her stop. Finally a voice spoke. “Up,” it said simply, and she noticed a tall stool in front of her. At some point a dim light had come on and illuminated this red stool. How had she not noticed? Were her eyes closed the whole time, or was there really all that darkness she walked though with the mysterious guide at her back? Her thoughts were only faint and she didn’t have the energy to care about an answer. She got on the stool, pulled her knees close, and sat there waiting, now alone, for something to happen. 

She didn’t have to wait long in her solitary spotlight; as dim as it was, it was so much brighter than the surrounding darkness. The first thing that happened was she heard a sound. She closed her eyes and listened to the sound. A scraping and scuffing of shoes. A person was approaching and she didn’t care who it was. She had lost all sense of herself anyway, why would someone coming toward her shell matter anyway?

The sound stopped and a spotlight clicked on, illuminating a young man. She hardly noticed because her eyes were still closed. He cleared his throat and that’s when she opened her eyes and her gaze focused on him. Her recognition was instant. Tom.  She squeezed her knees closer as her heart started pounding, the first active sign of life she had felt in a long time. 

Tom started speaking, slowly and quietly at first, then grew in volume and confidence. He started by saying her name; the same way he used to say it when they would lie in the grass, shaded by leaning shadows of evening light on the side of the red brick house, the lilacs scenting the air. Then he apologized. The very same Tom who had grown distant was now apologizing, the first time she had ever heard such a thing. He apologized for not being ready and asking to marry her anyway. For marrying her for the wrong reasons; a modern day, one-sided marriage of convenience. For not loving her enough. For not being brave enough to let her go until it he had taken years off her life. He apologized for leaving, and for loving her but not quite loving her enough to care to stay and care for her. Then Tom was finally silent. 

She had loosened her grip in her knees some, and now felt her heart slowly beating. 

Before she could say anything, another spotlight appeared on the opposite side of the room-no, the stage, for she could now tell where she was. This time, standing in the pool of light was her sister, Vera. She, too, called her name, “Aviva.” She told her she loved her. She had never meant to push her away all those years Aviva was younger. She said she had felt too lost to help her younger sister find her way too. She realized now, it would’ve been easier on them both if she had let Aviva in as they learned about life. Two separate saplings leaning and twining together. Only growing stronger and stronger as the winds shook their young lives. Finally, she ceased speaking. 

Aviva, for that was her name, let her legs down but transferred her tense grip from around her knees to the stool.

Like before, another spotlight appeared, yet again in a different location on the stage. Nell. Her mother, although she couldn’t recall ever calling her “mother or mama.” “My baby,” her mother began, again, not a term she recalled hearing in her childhood. “I’m so sorry baby. I was never there. You deserved my care at the least, if not my love.” She went on for a while, apologizing, almost begging for forgiveness. She finally ended with “I loved you and I still love you, more than I ever showed you.” 

Aviva’s hands were now loosely clasped in her lap. Every spoken word was a release from a the darkness inside her. 

Aviva’s mother stopped speaking, with both her hands placed over her heart. 

As soon as she stopped, another spotlight came on, another monologue followed. Then another spotlight, and another, and another. People who had been closely associated with Aviva her whole life. One by one, words were spoken aloud that had previously been quieted and hidden away. It made no sense. She had felt wronged and neglected by these people all her life, yet with each word, her shoulders lifted, her eyes widened, and the hardness that had consumed her heart progressively throughout her life, softened. As each person spoke, the stage brightened and Aviva was surrounded by people who wanted to pull her out of her despondency. 

The words they had never said were finally being heard. 

Something I Must Acknowledge

It’s nearly 3 AM and the wheels in my mind and the strings in my heart are turning, pulling. Isn’t that always the way it goes: over-active minds going strong at inopportune moments.

I’m having one of the moments when if I don’t acknowledge something, I’ll be kept up for a long time.

Within the past, say, two years I’ve learned to appreciate a lot. But I’ve also noticed that I’m more bitter about certain things and sometimes it just eats away at me. I try not to be bitter because I feel like this huge festering sore. Or an annoying itch that has decided the best place to appear underneath my skin where I can scratch all I want but it’s not going to get much better.

How do I get rid of the itch and cure the sore? I can walk around all day and all night, month after month, year after year acting blasé and nonchalant but what I really want to do is just…get better.

I’ve decided that bitterness doesn’t become me, but I also know it’s also flabbergastingly hard to get rid of.