Archive | September, 2012

An Ode To College Drinking

28 Sep

We drank because we were happy because we were confused.  We drank because we got an A, or because it was football season.  We drank because we didn’t know what we wanted to do with our lives, but we knew what we wanted to drink.

We drank because it was Friday and that’s what you did on Fridays, we drank because it was fun.  We drank because our boyfriends didn’t love us; we drank for courage, for the hope of meeting someone.

We drank because it was snowing, it was Christmas or Thanksgiving and so we drank to celebrate.  We drank because it was time to graduate; we drank because we were going to get paid.  We drank because we were scared, and alcohol was always there to remind us of what we shared together, we drank to forget.

We drank for the memories of drinking; we drank because we’d never have this again.  We drank because we were turning one year older and now we were allowed to.  We drank to welcome one another to each other, we drank for community.  We drank because it was over, we drank to new beginnings.

We drank in the dark by the fire, we drank for Sunday brunch.  We drank because we were free to drink whenever we wanted to; we drank because we thought that’s what we were supposed to do.

We drank so that we’d have an excuse; we drank to take off our clothes.  We drank because we were going dancing; we drank because we didn’t want the night to end.  We drank because this was the only time in our lives that we could drink like this, we drank because it was the only time in our lives we were publicly permitted to.

We drank because it was cheap because we were sitting by the pool because that band was playing and we drank to enjoy them.  We drank because someone got engaged, because someone was going away, we drank because it was there.

We drank because we failed because drinking was the solution. We drank to be funny, we drank to fall down.  We drank to stand up on bars and hang from the lights strung up on the ceiling, we drank to get caught.

We drank to see if we could have one more, we drank because we had nothing to do the next day.  We drank because we had too many choices; we drank because we were overwhelmed.  We drank because we really weren’t sure of anything except drinking.

We drank because we were young because it was simple because we could do it with anyone at any time and find a reason for it.  We drank for whatever we were in that moment; we drank for what we were never going to be and what we might have.  We drank for expectation, for hope, for the whole of life that was cheering us on, saying, “yes, please, another one.”

Why I Think Art & God Have A Lot In Common

18 Sep

If there is such a thing as a soul, an intangible gathering of energy that lives on no matter the body (young, old, male, female) then I believe Art is the way it lets itself be known, compelling our bodies to create the inarticulate – whether with paint, clay, words or music.  Our ability to create objects that hold no purpose, other than to sit and be stared and wondered at, is what makes us human, as opposed to all other beings.

No other animal expresses itself through color or uses instruments to create harmony.  To me, this is our humanity: our compassion, our communal connection that weaves us together as people, and at times, I worry that art is no longer valued as it should be; that we will forsake ourselves because it is not logical, solves no problems and has no answers.

It just IS; Art is an is, yet it is an Is because as people we just exist, we don’t understand; we deep down long to know our purpose, but it is forever unknown to us, so on some level we will always be unknown to ourselves.

Art opens up our inner doors, and at times artists only intuit what they’re striving to express, and if asked, “Why?” some would say, “just because,” or as Monet famously responded, “I am trying to paint the air,” or, “I am trying to take what I know is all around me yet cannot see.”

Does that even make sense; that a living, breathing mammal chose to spend their life focused on a task that has nothing to do with their survival?

I believe that this is our gift; that it can elevate us to expand beyond our own selfish ego and pin-pointed, center-of-ourselves universe perspective.  This is why Art must be honored because all gifts are made up of honor and responsibility.

No other animals are offered such luxurious choices (to creation & expression), and while I’m not posing that other animals cannot have souls, maybe we are the only species lucky enough to be gifted with a purpose that is more than just survival.

However, I believe that if we do not honor our gifts, then a price will be paid, and (at times) I believe it is already being paid.  How many people are happy with the way the world is set up now; with constant communication coming from every corner, filling up all the silences that are a natural part of life?

How many people can connect with their soul in this current noise?  And to those who say, “But this is progress,” I say, “You are a fool not to acknowledge progression’s shadow,” for all light-bearing things cast them.

We, as humans, are so caught up in our own structures and systems that we forget what is divine within us, and I use divine consciously because Art requires the same devotion as God, to have faith in the illogical, to an activity that cannot be explained, but one that provides comfort, evokes emotion and breaks us out of our language, which is structure itself.

For what else is God-like, present yet unseen, sitting at the bottom of us, asking to be worshipped, asking to be honored and heard? What else helps us forgive ourselves for our humanity’s imperfections, what else can live on, telling our stories, speaking to others, representing us once we are gone?

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Whenever Writers Doubt Themselves, This is Here to Reassure

13 Sep

Behind Every Great Novelist

How I Learned The True Meaning of the C-Word

12 Sep

Someone recently told me that compassion was something that I could work on, and I thought, “what?! I am an expert in this.  I do Yoga.  I am good at forgiving

After the conversation, I looked up the definition of compassion, to make sure that I was correct about the opinion that I had of myself, which was that I was a compassionate expert, and I came across this: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

“Of course I want to alleviate others’ suffering,” I thought, “I am reading Giving 2.0 so that I can decide how to best volunteer and help others.”

However, the definition and conversation stayed with me, floating in the back of my mind as I went throughout my days.  I began to become acutely aware of how I interacted with others, as well as that inner voice inside my head; the one that we all have that pushes us forward, constantly telling us how we should be.

I saw myself not only being very hard on others, but also myself.  I realized that I was more judgmental and evil to myself than anyone else, and that this stopped me from having compassion toward other people.  I had an unseen fist in my mind, gripping onto old anger, current stresses, and all the ways that I felt shame and disappointment.

During this time I was got laryngitis, and while some would think that was just a coincidence, I wasn’t that surprised that it struck me.

I spent days, alone in my room, berating myself for the evil person that I truly was; for all the mistakes I had made; for all the shame I felt over my depression; for every single wrong choice I had made in my life.

And it was here that I began to cry, to almost everyone (much to my embarrassment) and that’s when people started to surprise me: friends forgave me, co-workers understood me and still believed in my work, and my Mom unexpectedly responded to me needing to borrow money with, “that’s ok, I understand.  I know how hard it is on good days.  You’re a great daughter.”

So then I sobbed to myself, at the end of a very bad day, with guilt because in my heart I knew that so many other peoples’ problems were bigger than mine, but I couldn’t help it.  I turned in on myself, and saw my own suffering, saw how I often created it, saw that I had more weaknesses than I would care to admit.

Saw that I was still hurting over a lot of tough stuff that happened to me in the past, and more importantly saw that I never found myself good enough for my own self; that this often created my own reality.

Then I began to forgive myself, without even being conscious of it, I started to say, “I’m sorry,” again and again, and my heart began to open to my own imperfect humanity.

I had been told that, “we are so much more than our own and others definitions,” but at times it is near impossible to get outside of your own language; impossible to break impression you didn’t know you possessed.

What I’ve learned is not that we all suffer, I knew that already, but that to truly be compassionate, or to begin practicing compassion, one must become alive to the personal sufferings within.  These are difficult to see because they are the ones that are cloaked in shame, hidden deep so that we don’t have to feel their pain.

It is an excavation process, so that there’s room in the heart to possess an empathetic understanding toward all people because you know that their spirits are so much greater than that imperfect humanity you both share – and to be forgiving toward those who are trapped in their own sufferings.

Compassion is important even to those that are cruel because they’re the ones that have to live with their own self and actions – that is the ultimate punishment, they don’t need us to punish them (though that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in jails, boundaries are important too).

We have a choice, as people, to contribute to our inner pain, or to face it and help others carry theirs.  It doesn’t have to be grandioso gestures, or a lifetime of giving, but just space in the heart for all the messy, beautiful, imperfect beings that are encountered throughout life.

I believe this is a lifetime practice – all of my revelations won’t immediately turn me into the most compassionate person that anyone has ever encountered, but I am committed to beginning with myself; to see myself as I am, and to work on being my own true friend, so that I can give the same to others.

Labor Day Weekend!

3 Sep

Right now I’m in hot and sticky Austin, sitting in a coffee shop, catching up on a few things before I make my way back to the West Coast.

These past few weeks have been full of travel, work and the unfortunate case of laryngitis and the flu, which has impacted my blogging frequency.  However, I’m grateful for this moment of quiet because when I do not blog I miss it.

I didn’t expect to enjoy blogging so much.  This might seem surprising for those who are familiar with my love of writing, but blogging always seemed like having a public, personal diary.  I secretly laughed at those who publicly broadcasted their private thoughts.

Now that I’m one of these people, I can understand the compulsion to share; to have a platform to stand upon, even in the digital.  Especially for me, a writer, I have found the discipline or knowledge that I need to produce content keeps my creative wheels greased, and my writing has been the better for it.

Though the purpose of this post is to share what I’ve taken in over the past two weeks, in a very personal kind of way J:

1)      Being sick as an adult is not nearly as much fun as being sick as a child.  Not that one should ever desire to be ill, but staying home from school with a juice box and your Mom’s chicken soup is something to be desired.   Dragging yourself out of the house to buy your own chicken soup, and then having to work from home when you’d rather be napping is something to avoid.

2)      I love Palm Springs and the Parker Hotel.  I would recommend it to any couple who wants to and can afford to take a luxurious and romantic weekend getaway.

3)      One great thing about having a bunch of friends getting married is going to places that you’d never choose to visit; there is a lot of our large country to see.

4)      Austin reminds me of a Southwestern San Francisco with a bit of LA sprawl, and people actually wear cowboy boots out to the bars; something I might adopt.

5)      Having your car die in the middle of the desert is not as bad as one would think; this is the age of the cell phone.  However, those don’t save you from the awkwardness of having to go to the bathroom behind a cactus.

6)      Everyone with a car needs to be a member of Triple A, seriously.

7)      Time management is absolutely one of the most challenging aspects of life; that and discipline.

8)      My bank account cannot handle all of this traveling, but I don’t regret a minute of it.

Alright, more lofty thoughts for later – hope that all who reads this had a very nice Labor Day weekend!