Sunday, June 15, 2008

emerging


All this cryin all this fightin simply ain't my style
Though you're one of the most important people in my life
I love you from the day we met, I know you love me too
But at this point walking away is the best thing we can do

These eyes never saw you leavin
This heart is in need of some healing
These arms are letting you go
Our life is the greatest story never told

Are we meant to be man and wife?
The answer I don't know
Of life's many mystery's what intrigues me the most
Is who our children would have been
I guess we'll never know
Even as I walk away I'll always keep the hope

- India.Arie, These Eyes on Testimony Vol 1. Life & Relationship

Sunset on the San Jacinto River, Texas (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp


I’ve started to pull myself out of the cocoon that has enveloped me for the past few weeks. Making some decisions that need to be made, which gives alternating feelings of peace, restlessness, anxiety, sorrow. Just in the last few days, I have started to exercise again, I've gone running and also walking with some girlfriends in the evenings which is therapeutic because we talk and talk and walk... And I am trying to resurrect some of the self-care rituals I used to engage in. When I first separated from my ex, 5 years ago, I created a safe haven in the apartment I had then before I bought my house. I decided I’d buy myself flowers every week, because one of my (somewhat inane, perhaps) frustrations in that relationship was that I wanted to be given flowers not just on special occasions but randomly - to show he loved me. Well you can’t manufacture that – it has to be spontaneous, no? So anyway, I decided I can treat myself to that self-love, which is just a manifestation of God’s love for me. I don't need to demand it from anyone else. I had also decided I’d buy lots of candles and light them throughout the day - I love the flickering flames.


Lately, though, I’d gotten away from these practices so I’ve been restarting them up again. I got a spa pedicure today with bright thunderbolt blue paint. It is so cool! I also sat at Starbuck’s and got some work done. I am amazed that despite my complete cocoon of resting and sleeping sooo much, and watching tons of documentaries, and just generally being lazier than I think I've ever been, I still finished two articles in the past few weeks! I really wasn’t sure I’d get this last one done. I was really stressing over it, but completely unable to focus day after day. I often would just stare at the computer screen instead of typing… or go sit outside, or go back to bed... but somehow it got done. Well almost done. Gotta wrap it up. I tend to be a workaholic so methinks my inner artist really desperately needs some self care and rest!


While getting my bright blue toenails, I finally finished reading The Snow Leopard. I thought it very interesting that the author, Peter Matthiessen, went on this search for the elusive snow leopard and for him it was a spiritual quest, but in the end he didn't find what he sought. He writes, "In spiritual ambition, I have neglected my children and done myself harm, and there is no way back. Nor has anything changed; I am still beset by the same old lusts and ego and emotions, the endless nagging details and irritations - that aching gap between what I know and what I am....For all the exhilaration, splendor, and 'success' of the journey to Crystal Mountain, a great chance has been missed and I have failed."


In some ways it sort of paralleled the frustration I felt at the end of my own Nepalese trek (see reflections on non-attachment), though I wasn't on a spiritual quest per se. Matthiessen's ex-wife (and mother of his son) had just died of cancer, and he left his young son, still mourning, at home while he went off on this journey. I got to wondering though, because following after one's wanderlust, the traveling and seeking whether on distant lands or in reading hundreds of spiritual and self-help books, can not in itself cure our inner failings and make us better people. It also reminded me of my own personal disconnect between what I want to see in myself and my reactions and behavior when I am under pressure and stress - whether external or internal. Ultimately, we must be transformed from the inside out, by seeking God and His way first - daily, hourly, minutely - and allowing Him to transform us. That's the only way to continue to grow on the spiritual path rather than stagnate and lapse continually back into our incessant human failings - or to think we're growing but really we may just be following our own way, not His.

At the end of the trip, Matthiessen writes that he was very grumpy even though he’d observed the Zen-like state of the Sherpas who despite having to tote all their gear and serve them, always had polite and kind and serving demeanors (particularly one, Tukten, who Peter ultimately believed to be his 'Teacher'). He writes, "not once have I seen him down-hearted or tired, nor has he responded with sullenness or rudeness to my own evil temper of these recent days.... his soft deep voice as soothing and pervasive as this southern wind."


If only we could all live that way...

2 comments:

Jim McCulloch said...

Matthiessen's Nine-Headed Dragon River was not as focused or as well-received as the Snow Leopard, but provides a lot of context for it. I found his writing about the death of his wife in NHDR very moving.

Matthiessen's spiritual quest eventually led him to become a Zen priest, which he still is, I believe.

I saw him on Charlie Rose the other night, talking about his new novel, a revision of the Watson Trilogy. He's 82, and Rose asked him about his future writing. "Time is not on my side" Matthiessen said, good-humoredly.

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

cool beans, i'll check it out! I'm reading Eckhart Tolles A New Earth right now, just starting. :) More on that on my blog!