It’s never about the fucking garlic bread, and I knew that the other night when I became suddenly so irritable for no reason (literally internally fuming about an excess of garlic bread that I discovered sitting in the fridge past its expiration date) that I forced myself to take a short break away from the family to be alone and journal, meditate, and lie in shavasana while imagining myself as a pancake on the earth because that’s how I was feeling – flat, drained, limp, lifeless. I knew something had to be going on below this irrationality, because wasted food—though a shame—is never something to get deeply angry at those you love about. So I sat with this, and tried to be curious, and then realized that underneath were feelings of disappointment, sadness even, over something from earlier in the day that was just one of those things…pain that can’t be solved but perhaps needed to be internally recognized and validated. And so, seeing this, I suddenly felt better. My pancake self felt more like a waffle now or even a scone, vital lumps and ridges rising back into me. I went back downstairs and asked D to takeover making dinner and I had the privilege to curl up with J on the couch and read Harry Potter together, while C “helped” dad make dinner (which involved the little guy sitting quietly at the table munching on tortilla chips). All felt peaceful again and it was a good reminder to look deep when enraged by stale bread. This reminded me of the idea of using potentially painful emotional experience as motivation and information (Sandra Buechler, 2004), and so perhaps a silly example of exploring what is resiliency.
Here’s something else I’ve also been thinking about: my wallet went missing this week and my body kept taking me back to the car, like one side of my brain was remembering something, but the other side wasn’t going to let me know just everything yet. I had no recollection whatsoever of taking it out of my purse, opening the middle console, and throwing it in there. As if that would ever be a good idea. I keep a tidy car to the point you might call uptight—there’s no clutter on the seats or the floors or even the cup holders. However, the truth is that inside the middle console is a sneaky pocket of total mayhem—mashed up post-it notes, tic-tacs, pencils, chargers, a baseball, bobby pins, permanent marker, eye-liner, a bottle of cuticle oil—all clacking around, having a party in there. It was just so weird that part of me must have known the wallet was in the car somewhere, as I kept returning there to look for it, but the more specific memory of actually putting it into the console was MIA, as if my daydreams could be so powerful, I went vanishing to other worlds while my body decided strange places for critical items to be placed. Embarrassing. But also amazing.
I needed to laugh at myself this week because there has been so much sadness in the air, in my body, in so many people’s bodies. It’s hard to write. I’ve cried more than once in response to the news lately, and I’m not alone, of course. The other morning, I cried when I read about Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor who has visited almost 100 schools to tell her story, despite being called a liar and a whore, standing up so bravely to educate about an issue that has so much shame, so much confusion and darkness, sacrificing her own privacy and wellbeing and healing in order to initiate a greater shift—spreading understanding, empathy and change in a culture that continues to be so fucked up to live in. So back to the wallet situation, I guess I had to play a trick on myself to lighten things up, or had to check out for a bit, lose a few things just to find them again. I might recommend this to everyone, as it was so satisfying to find the thing that had gone missing. But, of course, there’s also that chance of not finding it and then we’re just left stumbling through that middle console, hating the madness of it all—sifting through everything only to discover nothing at all.
“Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn’t hard to master. Then practice losing farther, losing faster: places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel…” I love this poem, “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop, as I feel like moments of disarray and confusion in life are unavoidable, no matter how hard we try to understand or keep things in order. I think this speaks to change too, because its inherently flustering this traveling into the unknown, without knowing exactly where everything is and what is going to happen. I love that Sandra Buechler mentions this poem at the end of her book, Still Practicing and writes, “I want to become a really good loser. I practice every day. ” This makes me think that, perhaps, this constant losing of what we know is what makes us motivated to keep going and keep growing. We “lose” so much everyday—our youth, our kids as we knew them in their youngest, most innocent versions. How do we do this gracefully? Without gripping? How do we see what we are also gaining? And then I go back to that thought about resiliency—as motivation, taking in new information, constant change forming new layers of age, pain toasting our outsides like a crème brulee, making us at a loss for words or reasons or understanding, and yet, somehow, more complete than we were the minute before.