Tag: fear

When the 13th of Friday is also a Full Moon

I just finished a book about the magic and mystery of the natural world and it thrilled my soul like all good books do, especially when the story has to do with forces we humans don’t understand.

Today is Friday the 13th. And not only that, it’s a full moon—two weighted events in many people’s psyches.

The full moon’s effect has entered our lexicon: lunacy, lunatic. And Friday the 13th is considered unlucky—13 being the number outside of the whole number of 12. I’m not sure why Friday, although I do know that sailors will not start a trip on a Friday—I know we didn’t in my family.

But I don’t consider the full moon an adversary and I certainly don’t think Friday the 13th is unlucky. I’ve written about the full moon before Full Moon Dreams and you know that I pay attention to what is shown to me during this time, because instead of being half or fully buried it has now been brought up to a place where I can work with it.

As for Friday the 13th:

I was born on the 13th and I turned thirteen on Friday the 13th. And the day I turned thirteen on Friday the 13th was the full moon.

I think “unlucky” is a way to describe events that happen to us that we don’t know how to process because they are not what we think we want to have happen to us. My personal belief is that everything that happens to me is for my highest good—that the natural world, of which I am a part, has my compassionate evolution in mind, not my destruction. So with that belief firmly seated in my soul, I gratefully take what the world gives me, trying to learn what I am supposed to learn.

One last thing: my Buddhist name, given to me by my teacher, the late Peter Matthiessen, is Tsu Ki. It means, The Moon.

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Get Down There and Wallow In It

One of the things I appreciated about my vacation last week was the perspective I had when I came back. Right now I’m going through something. It’s a growth (aren’t they all) phase, and I call it that because it is so darn uncomfortable. My insides are all churny and I feel as if the old structures that I set up to define me and protect me—the scaffolding and armature of my identity—are breaking off and falling away. The me that is growing bigger than my old façade feels unsure and vulnerable as it is being exposed and it doesn’t have the protection I think I need, hence the uncomfortable feeling.

And therein lies the rub, as they say.

Because the whole point of living is not to protect and wall off yourself, it is to feel your life. Feelings of vulnerability and lostness are part of life. And if I don’t let myself go down there and wallow in it, not only am I missing out on experiencing my life, but I’m short circuiting my process of growth by not acknowledging the feelings that herald that particular growth.

I really don’t like the feeling of not being in control. Trust is not my strongest suit. So guess what, it is trust that I have to learn to grow into. And life, in all its profound wisdom, presents me with opportunities to trust by making me feel vulnerable. I could fight it, and I have, in the past. But that only leads to a stronger, shall we say, nudge, to grow. So now I try to get what life is asking of me. I go down there and I wallow and I feel what is asking to be felt. And then I discover, to my surprise and gratitude that vulnerability is just that—a time of openness and trust. And in truth, it is filled with the joy that is the foundation of life.

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Honest Writing/Honest Life

All appealing writing has one thing in common–it is honest. I struggle with that. It’s not that I’m a dishonest person; I’m about average in the honesty department.

Now that line right there—“I’m about average in the honesty department”—that’s dishonest writing, because first of all, how do I know how I stack up to everyone else in the honesty question–I don’t. And second, what is that line really saying? Nothing. It has a mushiness to it that is warning me—not honest writing.

I do know when my writing isn’t honest. But I try to get away with it anyway. Why? Laziness maybe, fear mostly. Honest writing is sharp and clear; it lances through an idea, spearing it and leaving it quivering in resonance. Dishonest writing, on the other hand, doesn’t reveal; it hides.The whole point of writing, however, is to reveal.

I started this blog to teach myself to write honestly. It is a sink or swim idea, since if I’m not honest, I’m wasting everyone’s time, including my own.

So each week, I struggle against the urge to hide behind pompous or vague phrases and safe ideas, to instead open myself up by honestly communicating something I believe in. To do anything less is disrespectful to the reader. The vulnerability that honesty demands is scary. But scary as it is, I think it’s crucial for perspective.

Ann LaMott, in her hilarious book on writing, Bird by Bird, sums it up perfectly when she writes about the fear of trying something new: “The worst that can happen is that you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake.”

That sentiment knocks some perspective into the effort or situation. It’s just me, and my little sense of who I am and what I think I am worth and what I can contribute.

It’s not that big a deal.

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Choice

I live on a pond. A spring fed, well-behaved stable kind of pond with one outflow near our house. When it rains a lot the pond level rises since the outflow can’t compensate fast enough, and that’s when I start to panic. Since our house is right on the water I fear flooding. Or do I? It would have to rise a biblical amount to flood the house and even in hurricane Irene, we were fine. So why do I get all tense and sleepless? Obviously my overreaction—I would call it terror—is not normal. Then one morning during yoga, a snippet of memory flashed.

I was on my dad’s sailboat and we were heading for Bermuda. A storm was settling on us and I was steering–my dad standing next to me. As it rained harder and the wind picked up, my dad said “I don’t know how much more of this the boat can take.” At his comment, my knees buckled, and it was only my hands and arms gripping the wheel that kept me upright. I thought; if my dad thinks we’re going to sink, we’re going to sink. I’m going to die.

Obviously I didn’t, but it was a fierce storm, made worse by my belief in my dad’s words. Now when it’s raining and the water level rises next to my house, my emotional memory is screaming at me to get this situation under control even as my intellect knows it’s impossible.

How do I sort this out? I think the answer lies in choice. I could blame my father for saying that thing that scared the bejesus out of me and left me with the emotional memory, but I could also choose not to. I could say: I do such-and-such unhealthy behavior because of the way I was brought up. But now I’m fifty-five and an adult, and if I’m still doing that behavior, it’s because I am choosing to.

Acknowledging choice creates space. And creating space gives us some objectivity. There are aspects of my childhood that taught me unhealthy behaviors. But in order to see that I had a choice to be a different person, I had to create space—I had to get away from that ‘normal’ to see other possibilities. It’s like clearing a garden in a tangle of forest. We clear it inch by inch until there’s enough space to realize we can plant what we want rather than accept what is there by default. So that ‘s it. We have choices. Always.

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