Friday, December 19, 1997

Stability and Routine

The past several days I’ve found myself contemplating the concept of stability…as it applies to my emotional state, the world of material goods around me, my family. In my view, when it applies to the world of objects around me, I tend to think of that as my "routine." The other morning I was fixing my morning tea to have with my breakfast after my morning workout…the repetitiveness of these actions and choices slapped me clear in the face. And for a moment or two, I thought to myself "oh how boring this is Amy…you usually have the same breakfast, the same routine, day after day." And then I hopped into the shower, this vein still present in my mind. I decided that having a routine, while I wouldn’t call it a rigid one but which is still unmodified from day to day, isn’t boring at all. In fact, I decided that it was one of the best things about my world that day, and on many other days as well.

I recall days when I didn’t have any idea what the day ahead would hold in store for me. Would my family be self-involved in yet another crisis? Would that crisis result in an ultimatum to "shape up or ship out" as so many crises did when I was a child? I lived in terror that I would screw up somehow, misbehave unknowingly, and piss off my mother so much that she would throw me out. This was a common threat from the time I was around 5 until I was an adolescent. During those younger years, I had no confidence in my ability to survive if I was forced to be on my own. I know for fact that there are youngsters who survive under such conditions, homeless and without family so to speak, but at what cost to themselves and their development?

I wondered how I would eat, where I would sleep, how I would stay clean, how I would get an education, how would I survive. And because the expectations of behavior were never clearly defined in my house, or perhaps because they changed at random (on the rare occasion they were given), I became (or maybe I already was???) clairsensitive. You’ve all heard of a clairvoyant; well, I’m not clairvoyant. I can’t perceive things I can’t see; well, not exactly. But what I can perceive are feelings. I have extremely acute sense of the emotions churning about in another people. It’s as though I can hear a tuning fork's hum in my ears that tunes me in to what’s going on with someone, even when I'm not with the person. Some of you reading this may understand what I'm describing and some may not. I am not talking about hearing voices, or hearing someone's thoughts, merely being highly "tuned in" to their emotional state. And as a child, I wore this sensitivity like a shield, to protect me from my family by warning me of what would be appropriate behavior at any given time.

On the rare days when I let my guard down and failed to "listen" to what that sensitivity was telling me, the days when I actually indulged in being a child, the days when I laughed and talked about boys and music and playing with friends, those were the days I felt I had betrayed myself most horribly. Those were the days when I tuned out the emotions coming to me…and those days were mistakes.

I’m not sure I really know how to play…I’ve always wanted children but been desperately afraid of having them. I believe that children need to be allowed to be children. And that parents need to allow and encourage their children to enjoy comes but once and lasts just a few short formative years. What if the parent never knew how to be a child? How in heaven’s name can that parent advocate for that child’s childhood? In order to teach a child to frolic and play and laugh, doesn’t the parent need to know how to do all those? At the age of 29, I find myself questioning how easily I can laugh and play and forget the worries of the world—not irresponsibly, but temporarily clear my head to enjoy the world around me and all it has to offer. I need a teacher myself. I know I'm a serious person, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I'd like to learn how to "play."

In any event, how does all of this pertain to routine you ask? Well, I figured this much out the other day. My routine may seem very boring to others who might like to see it shaken up a bit now and again. To me, the routine is comforting, it is stability. That stability allows my mind to not obsess about how I will survive, what I will be doing tomorrow, I can let those things go somewhat because of the routine. The obvious result is that my mind is then open to explore other thoughts, entertain new activities, attempt to indulge in life. I battle to love live…I struggle daily to want it. I know that I desperately need to want and love life. And some days, though not all, I can actually see glimpses of the joys life has to offer. So, if my routine seems boring and mundane to some, I no longer feel the need to defend it. I know what purpose it serves for me. It’s value to me is inexplicable.

Tuesday, December 16, 1997

Work is Love Made Visible

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the grate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy." –Kahlil Gibran