Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poetry may be the best church of all

Watching the rain pouring from the street down through the cracks in the trainyard on Friday I felt delighted and buoyant and eager and it took me several minutes before I could locate a name for the unexpected feeling: happiness. The thought that followed--that it has, I think, been some time since I have felt such happiness (and that I am surprised to have not recognized it)--didn't diminish that happiness in the least. I was pleased to feel so happy. 

And the thought occurred to me that perhaps I can develop a taste for happiness; acquire a knack for happiness. If I can learn to savor the taste of beer or of chevre or of olives, then perhaps I can also learn to love the taste of happiness, "like small wild plums":

The Plum Trees
by Mary Oliver

Such richness flowing
through the branches of summer and into

the body, carried inward on the five
rivers! Disorder and astonishment

rattle your thoughts and your heart
cries for rest but don’t

succumb, there’s nothing
so sensible as sensual inundation. Joy

is a taste before
it’s anything else, and the body

can lounge for hours devouring
the important moments. Listen,

the only way
to tempt happiness into your mind is by taking it

into the body first, like small
wild plums.

Friday, March 16, 2012

growing pains

I have never had to end a friendship before. Friendships have slipped away, dissolved, or gone underground. Slack and tension have been adjusted and readjusted. In my adult life--perhaps all my life--I have not had to choose to end a friendship.

I have now done so. I did not do it well or gracefully. I don't feel pleased with myself. Though I could have done it differently, I still think it having done so was the right thing to do.

I wish now that I had invited more honesty and that I had been more honest myself. I wish I had thought about why I wanted (did I want?) that friendship. I wish I had been able to better express my own growing pains. I wish it were easier to hear someone say "I value our our friendship" and I wish it were easier to ask for patience and for support.

In general, I am feeling more capable these days. More resilient. I know myself to love and need solitude and I also now know I am not afraid of it. I have been learning that I do in fact have more than a few good friends. And there are acquaintances/casual friends I admire very very much. I am learning that I don't have to spill my guts to everyone in order to be their friend; I am also learning that I can have different friends who fill different roles. I am learning, it seems, lessons I should have learned years ago and didn't. And I am learning that, for the most part, I don't have to spend time with people with whom I can't express my best and growing self. I don't need to make a friendship "work"--either it is a friendship (and therefore works) or it is not and I don't have to try to force anything.

Perhaps I have been making strides, then, in self-care and self-love. Perhaps something about the idea that even at my worst, I am lovable and worthy is sinking in somewhere. I am not worthy *because* I can stifle my needs and thoughts and feelings and therefore make a friendship work. And I am not unworthy when I try and fail to express my thoughts and feelings well. I am already worthy and already allowed to be a friend and have a friend. I am not perfect, and perhaps I am not even very good. But there are still, somehow, people who love me. Even better--there are people who are happy to love me. Even though I am nowhere close to perfection. That is such a lovely thought--a thought I can sink into--and it is a thought I want to hold on to. And I think that, for now at least, to hold on to this thought, I need to let go of habits of relating built around the belief that I, just as I am, am insufficient.

It is hard to resist the temptation to be very angry and disappointed with myself for having let go of this friendship in such a graceless way. So I'll distract myself with work, writing, and by spending time with the friends whose care I increasingly desire.