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Each of us has our own unique GPS system... Truth-telling is the most thorough navigation tool.

Friday, March 13, 2009

THANK THE PAIN


I am getting ready to get on the road... to go to my folk’s house for an overnight, to help them celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The next day we’re doing another “family” event with the sister-in-law and my nieces for my dead brother’s eldest daughter’s golden birthday. A golden birthday is celebrated when one turns 15 on the 15th, or 1 on the 1rst, or 31 on the 31st.

We are going to a museum to see an exhibit on the Maori culture. I spent $45 last year to hear Joe, the Maori healer, speak about healing pain. The first thing he said is to thank the pain. Often times, just being grateful for its appearance as a guide for knowledge instead of outright rejection because of fear, makes the intensity of it lessen immediately. Ho, it should be so.

Instead of buying an expensive gift to show my appreciation for my folks, I printed out and hole punched into a red folder, forty-six pages that make up this year’s Five Hundred Word Collection. I read through just to make sure there isn’t anything that would drastically offend them. It’s not that I feel I must edit my life in order to be appropriate for them. That’s part of the luck I have in having them be my parents. There is a level of truth in our sharing time together. Genuine caring as well as honesty is passed back and forth between us.

I am an extension of their love. I am the depth of my mother, the devotion of my father, the awareness to details of my mother, the love of distraction of my father. I am the passion they shared as well as the commitment to an ideal. My ideal is different than theirs, but because they had their ideal, I’m able to develop my own.

In going through my pages I can see a judgment that what I’m doing isn’t of enough value. I judge it to be too self-centered. This self-condemnation is part of what I’m trying to heal. Intellectually, I know that the truer we are to our unique individualism, the more we reflect the masses... Everyone is an individual, whether discovered, uncovered, or shared.

George Sand created herself in the middle of the 19th century. Her autobiography that was published in twenty volumes was about how a “woman became who she was, took on an identity, pursued her art, created herself.” She created the portrait of a singular life, a woman’s life, that “could be yours.” This literature she gave the world was favorably compared to The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and The Memoirs of Chateaubriand. Unheard of comparisons back in that day

Mom called me last night, practically in tears, heavily touched by having seen “Warm Springs,” the recent movie about FDR with Kenneth Branaugh and Cynthia Nixon. FDR was president when my mother was born. When their living room was darkened, her family gathered together in mourning on the day he died in 1945. She was eleven years old. I’m not sure whether she handed me my very first biography, the one about Eleanor and Franklin... or if it was my grandmother’s book for her book club that she recycled on down through my father and on to me.

I grew up reading biographies and always thought I’d die writing them. I was always more interested in what made an artist tick than in seeing what the actual work of art their “ticking” inspired.

I must be patient with this process. I know I’m releasing my addictions, learning to feel feelings I’ve run from for many years, getting in touch with deliberate dimensions of my soul I was too embarrassed in the past to claim... I guess I better start thanking the pain of my impatience.

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