Friday, April 27, 2007

A Renaissance Soul

Have you ever found a tangle of string or thread or yarn that looked hopelessly tangled and tried to wind it back into usable order again? Some people, perhaps most people, when faced with that sort of challenge would make the easy, practical choice and just chuck it in the garbage. Not me. I'm always determined to untangle and salvage that type of mess and most of the time my efforts are successful.

The last few months, it's been my thoughts that are so snarled and knotted and confusing that I just want to pull them from my brain and toss them into the nearest trash can. Alas, thoughts aren't as easy to dispose of as a tangled ball of yarn. Instead, I've been stuck. I am completely frustrated at the circles I seem to be wandering in but I haven't been able to move forward until I can find some way to work through the confusion that masquarades as thinking and that fills up most of my waking thoughts. And my dreaming thoughts as well.

And before your brain tilts (you have to be old enough to understand that last as a pinball reference - and if you're really young you are now asking "What's a pinball?") I'll explain that the confusion and circling all revolve around a few simple questions - Who am I now? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go in my life? How do I get from here to there?

See, easy peasy! Nothing philosophical, important, deep, existential or anything!

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"” - Winnie the Pooh

That quote pretty much sums up how I've been handling it. I try to think and all that happens is my brain starts to hurt. So instead I tackle something easier like "Should I go out to lunch by myself or with a friend? Should I eat Mexican food or Chinese food? It turns out I'm very good at coming up with answers to this sort of question. It makes my brain happy. And my stomach too.

But not my heart. Not my soul. When I go to sleep at night, my brain tries to deal with the whole mess without me being awake and trying to be in charge of things. Every morning for weeks I have woken up to find a few remaining scenes from my dreams still lingering about. Recurring themes I have always used when what I'm really dreaming about is me or my life. I dream I'm in a big house that has rooms I've never been in, doors that I'm afraid to open, or I find big sections of it that need to be remodeled. Or I'm traveling, trying to find or reach a certain location. I drive from one place to another only to arrive and find out that I'm not where I'm supposed to be or I now want to be somewhere else. I refer to maps or see my progress as little lines moving about like the footsteps on Harry's Marauder's Map. (and speaking of Harry Potter, what I really need is the ability to take my thoughts out and put them in a pensieve, like Dumbledore's, so I can look at them more objectively. Wouldn't that be great!)

The good news is that in the last week, I'm finally making some sense of things. Somehow I found the two ends of the tangle and I've pulled the whole mess apart enough so I can see smaller, more manageable little knots instead of one overwhelming confusion without a name.

I won't try to explain how this happened, or why. I can't say that I even know myself or if I could explain it. I think sometimes given enough back and forth between gentle prodding and tugging, and letting things rest, things just finally fall into place. I mean, isn't how even scientists solve problems most of the time? They work and work and work but often the solution comes to them suddenly, in a dream, or while standing in line for a cup of coffee one afternoon.

All I know is that at last I've got a direction. Or rather, I finally feel like it's okay that I don't know what direction I'm headed or who I am at the moment. I no longer hear a giant clock ticking away the minutes to some unknown deadline. I'm not feeling like speed is of any particular concern or that hurrying is going to get me there (wherever there is, which I still don't know but now no longer feel is a real concern) any faster.

What I do know now, that I didn't know just a while ago, is how I want to answer all my questions. Not by thinking, not by forcing myself to choose a persona or a path or a point of view. Instead of worrying about thinking and narrowing, I realized that the way to find myself is to open myself up to more and wider choices and opportunities and, like when I am asleep, keep myself from getting in my own way.

This last week I've felt calm and hopeful after months of feeling what comes very close to being defined despair. I've felt a sense of impending discovery. I felt like it was "right there". If I turned my head quick enough I might see it. It might be just around the corner. It might be waiting for me in the next phone call I answered or the next web site I stumbled into or the next sign I read as I was driving down Main Street. And those discoveries did come, in a myriad of small ways that are too personal and hard to explain to bother going into here. The important thing is only that they came.

I knew I'd finally put it all together when I woke up a few days ago and grabbed hold of the last thread of that morning's dream. I had actually dreamed in puzzle form. The dream moved, I moved around in the dream, like you would see the image on a movie screen. But at the same time, the image was broken into puzzle pieces and from inside the image, I was both the actress and the director, literally putting the puzzle pieces together even as the story unfolded. I remembered the dream, not really what I was doing in it, but the puzzle solving part of it, and I felt happier than I have for a very long time.

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.” - Lewis Carroll



Yesterday I picked up a book that I'd ordered in an inter-library loan request at our local library. I stayed up late last night reading it, quietly but excitedly saying "yes, that's it exactly" and nodding my head to the concepts laid out within it's pages. It's called The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine. It definitely has a "self help" style to it, and I normally shy away from that sort of thing, but I am forgiving it it's stereotypical format because, as many pages as I've read so far, it's laying out in an orderly fashion what had just started to sort itself out in my head. It's one of my favorite experiences, where I discover information I already know but haven't yet been able to organize or put together in a way or from a perspective that made the information accessible or useful to me.

At this point some (most?) of you are reading along and puzzling to yourself "What did she just say?" or "So, what exactly is her plan now? Did she even say she had one?" Well, yes I do and no I don't. It's very exciting. "Huh? Did she just contradict herself?" Yes. I did. Isn't it wonderful. I'm completely happy about it too. Feel free to go lay down with a damp wash cloth on your forehead if I've made your brain hurt now. Sorry 'bout that. But now I must be off. Things to do. People to meet. Not sure what or who.

Like The Fool card. Doesn't matter. I'm open to whatever unfolds.

2 Comments:

Blogger Blame It on Paris said...

That's it! You've got it! I think you are absolutely right. Be in the moment (and enjoy it) and open to what unfolds. Enjoy this time. This is a GOOD time.

Do you know the fairy tales where the heroine is given the impossible task of making a ball of string from spiderwebs or something like that in one night? (Grace & Derek uses this motif.) You made me think of that with your start to this post. Of course, in the stories a fairy always appears and takes care of the task for the heroine.

But...maybe nobody should have made string of those spiderwebs. Maybe they were pretty and useful and ephemeral and just right the way they were.

Now you'll say you hate spiders or something, but...I'm thinking of how beautiful they can be when the morning light catches the dew in them.

6:13 PM  
Blogger W Kova said...

Hi!! As you know, from my blog, I too am a Ren Soul! After feeling alone and frustrated with myself for years this book finally helped me realize how really great I (we Ren Souls) have it! We will learn more things in a lifetime out of pure interest than most people dream of...

We are definitely lucky!

7:28 AM  

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