Bad Foul

My husband taught me to enjoy watching basketball. I loved seeing the Lakers play hard. They were connected one another like they were one creature. I’d watch the ball bounce between the players and from team to team.

The ball didn’t always go where my team wanted it to go. When I first met these Lakers, I was wound so tight in my life I only knew perfectionism. In awe, I watched those players get it wrong. They were at the top of their game and still made dozens of mistakes in front of the whole world on TV.  For them, somehow it was ok.

They made a lot of mistakes, which would have collapsed me. At that time, I worked tirelessly to never make a mistake. I didn’t make very many, and when I did I dedicated myself to making it right as soon as possible. The shameful mistake be corrected fast and forgiven by anyone who had seen it.

But those teams didn’t cover it up, they didn’t hide from each other. They slapped hands and said “That’s ok, keep going.”

Miraculous. They let it roll off, they helped each other get better. What an extraordinary way of being! I figured this must be why they were top in the game.

But time went by and my life got bigger. I learned more about how sports and teams play. It turns out that their interactions were not so rare. In fact, this is part of the attitude all sports teams are supposed to have: Being a good sport.

I have finally been brought personally into the world of sports as my daughter has joined the world of Karate and its tournaments. It is an individual performance, not a team action.

As I take her to these careening,  noisy events, I’ve seen how things shake out. It’s disorganized confusion and then there are the judges.

The referees test the edges of good sportsmanship. I’ve seen it…Sometimes they are totally wrong. They see what isn’t there or don’t see what is.

That’s when the players, the athletes have to do that hardest thing of all:

Swallow it.

This is the price of the joining the game. It’s great when the team has each other’s back, but then comes the part when things are cruelly unfair.

It’s part of the same game. Both things have the same answer. Move on. The next play, or even the next game is still coming. Keep moving, keep trying and next time it could work out.

I had failed in my early perfectionism. The refs in my life had made bad calls again and again. I had made fantastic plays that dissolved because no one had caught the handoff.

My best answer was to walk on. There is another game coming up, if I stay ready.

Rodeo

By now, I’m sure I’ve learned some things. This is not my first rodeo. I’ve got some idea about how things are going to go. I’ve figured out there are things I want to avoid.

Some things are not my cup of tea. I don’t have to like everything.

Other things may seem amazing, but they are just too hard. I’d love it, I admire it, but no way can I do that. And I’m so very sure I know what I know.

Except I might just step out and find that I didn’t know everything after all. Some things which I thought were beyond my abilities can move within my reach.

Hard stuff can become easy. I’ve seen the world shift into an easier shape. I’ve had my blog for 20 years now. When I first put it up on my own website it was terrifyingly complicated. I had to learn deep geekery moves to put the blog software in place on my own domain. But the world moved under me. Deeper geeks than I moved the foundations to make it easier for everyone. Now it’s even automatic. Some of it.

There are other times when I am exactly where I left off. Yesterday I found myself walking up the stairs in a parking garage. I couldn’t remember if the car was parked at the top or maybe one deck below.

And I flashed back to five years ago, walking up the stairs at a job site. It was the first day working with this crew and I was nervous. The elevators didn’t run. and I. I remember walking up those stairs five years ago and feeling every step, panting my way to the top. Trying to breathe quietly so people didn’t notice and think poorly of me.

But yesterday I realized I had walked the same three flights and it was not difficult. What’s happened in those five years? The stairs are the same, but my body is different. I got stronger. I did the work so that it got easy.

So maybe this rodeo I think I know is not the same show. I’m certainly not. I think it is worth taking a look around again and seeing what might be easier. And maybe if I take another sip, I might like a cup of tea after all.

4-17 poem

There’s a lot of people talking like they know

it’s all a guess

seems nobody knows

But I could be wrong

Finger to the wind

This! THIS is the way

until another is found

must be found

are you sure?

Yes! I want to be.

running over

When I got this house with a yard, one of the first Christmas present I got was a trove of bulbs. I didn’t even know what flowers they were but i planted them all by the fence and forgot about them

They didn’t forget. Deep in the earth these plants were tracking the sunlight. They knew when to poke their shoots into the air. The leaves arabesque’d into the sun as an intro. Then the flowers.

They were hyacinths. White columns of spiral flowers opened up and released their beautiful scent.

The multi-sensory beauty was almost more than I could stand.  This was all for me? It was so beautiful I felt like i had to catch the overspill and preserve it. I cut the flowers and brought small batches of beauty to my neighbors. I hadn’t even met them, but I felt compelled to catch this beauty and make sure it had a chance to be appreciated.

Spring is like that . 

The world explodes in so much abundance it spills over, and cant be contained. So much it’s shocking.

Every time. It happens every time. It’s how things work. I can rely on it.

I hear the same call whenever I am preparing for a party, having friends over to my house.  I check to make sure I have enough for everyone. I used to wonder why I always got way too much. 

Surely I had a better sense of how much was needed than this! I had so much extra.

But just like the whole world creates more than enough—a celebration and a feast every season—I feel part of that too. 

At Easter time, in the Spring, I’m happy to be part of the cycle of abundance.

Surprise



The times you’re disappointed with yourself are never the times you are surprised by yourself.
James Lileks



April fool’s day just passed. It’s a time to hide behind a corner and surprise someone.

Boo! Got you!

It’s easy to fall into the rhythm of all the usual things. I know what to expect; there are very few surprises left. Maybe I’m not even looking for surprising. I’ve got my rhythm now.

I’m not always happy when someone else fools me.

But I will try to fool myself. My husband is not happy that I have the bedside clock some random number of minutes ahead of the real time, to fool myself into thinking I have more time than I do—that I still have enough time to be early. I’m trying to make room in my life for me to be better than I have been.

It’s such a wonderful feeling, to be better. It takes so long though. It takes a lot of lifting heavy things and putting them back down again. And again. And again.

Until one day I find that the heavy thing is seemingly lighter. Hooray!

I could be happy and rest in the delight of my new skill. But if I want to experience that delight again, I must go find a new heavier thing and start lifting that one.

I might not. I often forget to add the weight.

Challenging myself is and endless struggle and ironically and endless delight. I will never be done. Lileks said it up there, I will not be surprised if I don’t manage to keep at it. It’s the easiest thing in life to stop.

I don’t like the taste of disappointment. That’s what keeps me at the grind. I want to get that bit extra. So I feel like I am extra—or at least have a change of becoming so.

That thing I’m trying to be. It’s sitting right there. I only have to pick it up.

The Friends of Pain

Stand straight. Both feet on the floor 6 onches apart, weight 50-50 on each. Knees bent and springy. Left foot  facing forward, right foot angled at 45 degrees. Left arm stretched straight forward hand clenched in a fist. Right fist drawn  back as if ready to release an arrow. 

NOW

Right cross punch, left jab. It’s only air. 

My elbows shriek with pain. I have been doing this incorrectly and too often. 

For the last several weeks I have been ignoring the pain. I thought it would go away. Pain does do that a lot of the time. I’ve decided i need to take a different strategy.

This pain was bringing friends. A few years ago, when I had a virus I learned about pain’s best friend: weakness. It didn’t seem fair. I could gut through the pain, it didn’t hurt that much. Shake it off. Stubbed toe, fingers caught in a drawer—i could give a good yell and keep going. Id be back to my stride in short order. It’s so great when the pain goes away.  I hang on to that hope. Give it more time, I’m gonna be fine…any minute now.

It turned out my ouchie elbows were asking for more attention. I’m finally willing to admit it.  

Body pain is not the only kind that comes with friends. The heart comes with recurring pangs. Fear, sadness, loneliness need attention too. These could grow into one big pain that affects the whole system.

Body and soul take tending. Where does it hurt? How about now? Does that make it feel better? What if I shifted this a little bit? Can I stretch that?

I can change things to make it better when I notice—and admit that something is wrong. I was hoping that time would be enough to make it better. But time needs something else. What dressings are right for this hurt? There are a huge range of possibilities. Maybe I need to change how i do this thing. Maybe i nee to change where and with whom.

If pain has its friend weakness, I know my body and soul are paired up too.

I don’t want to stop doing the things i love. But that pain needs my attention. I am not willing to stop and wallow in the discomfort. I do want to provide what is needed to get better. I matter, and with the right tending things can improve.

Is that really me?

A pencil sketch stared up at me, no smile, but the fluffy hair I knew so well.

It had been tucked in some old books I was discarding.. The memory took a moment to emerge from the cloudy distant past.

In a world ago, my new best friend and I were walking the streets of Yakutia Russia. I was only twenty and she was even younger, a local girl. A young man with a sketch board asked if we would buy a sketch. I had never run into a sketch artist before.

Yes!

He had me stand still and did his thing. He instructed me not to smile as was the habit under the soviets. The somber face stared back at me in the presetn. I remember the moment when he gave me the sketch, I politely thanked him. As soon as we were out of hearing distance I said to my friend, “This doesnt’ look anything like me!” She shrugged and said it kinda did.

I spun out. I did not recognize my face.who was this? Was he just a terrible artist? Did I look like that? There was nothing wrong with the girl in the picture, but she wasn’t me. Was she?

Do I know my face better now, decades later? Technology has given us back our faces at every turn. Pose for the picture! SMILE!

With that pencil sketching my hand I was angry at the artist. Did I look like that? should I like it? should I hate it?

Advertisements and filtered selfies tell us how we are supposed to be.Tilt your head, cock your hips. I’ve learned that advertisers who want to reach 50 year olds will present 30 year olds as the people consuming. We the consumers want to believe we are the sparkly smooth energetic person NOW.

If only I knew then what I know now I would have worn sunscreen and eaten healthy and exercised. Of course I would have. So now I can be what I was like then, only healthy, better rested and better looking.

Just like they show in the advertisements.

I look at that sketch now and decide it was a decent likeness. The shape of the face is similar to what my face is now, so I can imagine it must have been like that then. I had no idea what people saw when they looked at me then. It was terrifying to try to balance my view of myself against how I imagined other people saw me.

I kept demanding my friend to tell me if she thought I looked like that picture. Yes or no?!?

but she could only say sorta. yes and no.

Looking at that sketch now I don’t have the answer. I don’t know how to merge my self-perception with my perception of how other people perceive me.

As time has gone by it just seems less important. I wonder what has happened to that sketch artist…

Closed for Business

Last year I worked a job  for a couple months where they made me sit in a cube four days out of five. With other PEOPLE. Good Lord, what was I supposed to say?

I started by trying to talk about work, which was the ostensible reason we were there. But that was thin soup. I had to find something else. And when I am nervous, I talk too much. When I’m excited, I don’t shut up. This could be why I work best at home.

Suffice it to say, I talked a lot.

But I started to collect a small audience. I was interesting, it turned out. I really wanted to have a conversation about the books I was reading. But my talk partner didn’t always bite on that.

When that happened I talked about what I was doing. I figured this would start a sharing conversation. In this movie obsesses world, I understand not everyone is reading a book. But everyone has time to spend. What are they doing?

“You have a lot of hobbies.”

Hmm.

I guess some people hoard their time like gift cards they forgot about. Piled up in pockets and in drawers until they are forgotten or the shop closes for business. Cannot redeem that value.

Missed opportunities. Water spilled on sand.

Every Morning

I wish I could sleep in longer. On a good day, I wake up before my alarm–an hour before it goes off. On a bad day I wake up  3 or 4 hours before my alarm and then spent serious time trying to get back to sleep.

But these days I am always up before the sun rises. I have a habit now of taking a photo of the sunrise. No one but the cat is awake to share it with me so I snap a photo and share it with my internet friends.

But when is the right time to snap the shot? I often look at the horizon across the street and see no sign of the sun. Dark.  Lately I’m seeing a bright star—Sirius the Dog Star.  

I have to wait for the light to reach the horizon–the light before the sun.The color of blue will shift with the light leaching up into the sky.

What’s the right time?
 
Now?
When the light is barely changing the sky?

Or now?
When the light has spread up to change the rim to orange and the dark blue is fully on the run?

Or do I wait until the rim of the sun is visible, peeking its fiery head over the horizon?

A shaft of light might angle off in a beam captured by my overwhelmed camera.

And that doesn’t even take into account what happens when there are clouds. Time is everything in how the light will bounce off the clouds. Catch the right second and the water of the clouds will explode in saturated color.

It’s been a very rewarding experience, taking my unwilling awareness into a study of sunrises. When it is time to take the shot, I’ve often walked up and snapped. Take the shot already. No, not yet. Wait and do it again.

That’s the thing. If I don’t like how the world looks right now, wait a moment. Things will change. And if I like how it is now, wait a month. Things will change.

My camera does not capture how I see it with my eyes either. There is a lot to think about with the morning. I can’t take it too seriously. I can’t hang on too tightly. Another one is coming.