There are some people I only love from afar.
The way one might revel in a painting in a museum
while standing across the room.
There are others I love like
dipping in close to smell a wild rose.
Absorbing it full throttle
but only for a short burst of time.
There are some I love like movie theater popcorn:
ravenously but only once in a great while.
And then there are those I love like music and tea,
drinking them in as often as I can.
I follow Tiny Buddha on twitter (see image credit above) and really appreciate what they put out into the twitter-sphere. I re-post a lot of their memes on our sangha’s Be Here Now Community facebook page. I came across this one above just the other day and it fits exceptionally well into a subject that’s been alive for me lately, both pre and post my solo spoken word performance and album release last Friday, on the nature of inspiration vs. intimidation.
Along these lines, I penned this in my journal early this morning:
I’m aware that I am a person who shows up big. Even when I’m not saying anything – even when I’m just…sitting there. I know because I know. Because I have eyes and ears and an open heart that renders me observant. I know because people have told me. And it’s not as though I’m putting on airs or trying to show up in a certain way. Still, it translates in generally one of two ways, depending on how comfortable the other person is in their own skin whilst in my midst. My “bigness” is either inspiring or intimidating, and sometimes it’s a mixture of both at the same time.
It used to be that I was inclined towards over-caretaking for those who were left to feel inferior in my wake, by dimming my light and trying to ratchet down my “bigness.” But I’m realizing more and more that this is not a sound plan. Adjusting my light to compensate for the insecurity of others only serves to limit who I really am.
My work is to do my work, to be as kind and full-hearted as possible – and have that be not only enough but ALL of it. People will have the experiences they do, whether I show up big or cower back from fear of causing others offense or discomfort. It’s not my job to manage their energy (as though I even could!), as long as I’m doing my very best to be as skillful and loving as possible.
This is a practice I imagine I’ll be working on for the rest of my days. Because while I’m invested in continuing to shine my light and showing up how I show up, I’m also concerned with the energy exchange that occurs in relationships, and want to be sensitive to how I might overpower people in certain situations. I’m aware that not every moment is a time to shine. Sometimes the best action is non-action, to step back a bit and allow others the space and opportunity to do their thing. Sometimes I do need to dim my light, in order to get out of someone else’s way, so they can shine.
One of the writing avenues I’ve been traversing upon lately, involves working on my second book, for which the subtitle will help you glean its premise: Short Stories of Alleged Humor & Insight – my plan being to include non-fiction stories by which I can insert both elements. I use the word alleged because one of my greatest and ongoing hopes is that my own brand of whit and wisdom has the capacity to travel outside of my own use. While I routinely find myself extremely delightful and funny, the question always remains: Will anyone else? And so, as a writer, it is my sincere hope that my words are translatable.
Something worth mentioning: I’m not a skilled storyteller. While you wouldn’t know it, based on how much I write here on my blog, I am a less-is-more sort of gal, in terms of verbal dialog and social interactions. My idea of a face-to-face response to the question: How did you meet your husband? would be something like: Through some mutual friends. I would then just stop talking, considering that answer good enough. My husband, on the other hand, would tell the whole lovely and winding tale, consisting of all the kismet qualities that bring it to life and create interest for those hearing our story for the first time. And I am quite aware that his version is far more engaging than mine.
So, given that I’ve decided to craft a book in which I’m really not qualified to write, I’ve taken to composing stories about mundane or otherwise seemingly uneventful moments, which on the surface seem not to posses much of anything in the intrigue-department, in order to actively practice honing the art required for the book I’m writing: the art of storytelling. I’m happy to report that the practice is going well. And, since I need all the practice I can get, here’s another hopeful attempt:
In lieu of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve been coming up with a new mindfulness practice for myself at the start of each calendar year. Last year I partook in what I called Bumper Sticker Practice, where I paid special attention to bumper stickers while driving around town and jotted down the ones I found particularly interesting/funny/odd/strange/beguiling. I so enjoyed having a mindfulness exercise to do while driving that I decided that my new practice for this year would also involve something I could do while on the road. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail, I landed on: Observations On the Road. It involves my jotting down either an outer observation, or an inner observation prompted by something I see directly around me, while either driving around town, stopped at a red light, or otherwise hanging out in my car for some reason (such as waiting to pick my stepson up from school or waiting in line at the drive-up teller at the bank).
Last year, with the Bumper Sticker Practice, I wrote a blog post in June, documenting the stickers I’d come across in the first half of the year. Now I’m back to do the same with this one!
I was summoned for jury duty in district court yesterday. I wasn’t looking forward to going, wondering if I might be able to get out of it by promptly shouting “Guilty!!” upon entering the courtroom, before anything was even underway yet, thereby calling into question my ability to be impartial, not to mention my sanity. Having no idea of what the day would have in store, but anticipating a lot of waiting around time, I packed light, bringing with me only a pen and small notebook. Over my four-hour stint in the newly renovated courtroom #3 I then proceeded, to my delight, to fill pages upon pages of it with my observations, factual information, musings and wandering of the mind.
A writer revels in new locations like a builder scouting for virgin land. With a pen and paper in tow, even mundane surroundings come alive – my attention held in the details, goings-on, faces and mannerisms around me.
What color is this carpeting? Warm burgundy? Dark salmon? Red brown brick meets sunset? Crimson? Wine? Crimson wine? Autumn leaf? What sort of creative but poorly understood name would it boast on a paint swatch? Jovial Friend Time? Lollipop Station? Squirrel Picnic? Luscious Horse Field?
I love the art and function of writing. To attempt the capturing of moments into unobstructed words. Being a writer supports my mindfulness practice, too. It affords me the ability to tune into certain things I might not otherwise take notice of. And, in the case of jury duty yesterday, having a love of writing allows me to turn an unwanted situation into an experience of captivation and interest.
Displayed at the head of the courtroom lies a mural of three lovely Romanesque ladies of justice, in pleasing earthen tones. The blue-skirted one on the left holds a dove, the middle pink-skirted one holds two rock-like round balls, one in each hand, and the arbor green-skirted one on the right is blindfolded, holding a scale. Above them, from left to right, reads: Freedom, Equality, Justice.
Pillars flank the courtroom topped in golden flourishes, pearl-globe chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A flag is nowhere in sight. Ornate crown molding surrounds the room. A grandfather clock hangs on the wall, keeping inaccurately slow time with its overtly bulky brass pendulum.
Connected wooden seats, with a place to put your cowboy hat underneath, fill with equally summoned citizens called to perform their civic duty – an inordinate amount of us, if you ask me: around 80! 80 relative strangers, who share our residence in Missoula county and a fondness for mountains, sitting elbow to elbow in a packed courtroom. They only need to select 12 of us, with one extra as an alternate, for the trial that will start after lunch, regarding 110 counts given to a woman alleged to have broken a restraining order by way of text messages (110 of them to be exact). A woman, I might add, who’s present in the room for this process of jury selection. Does she get a say in who is chosen? It seems odd that she would be involved in this.
They must be expecting the need to weed out a bunch of us with their procedure of questioning. Questions like: Does anyone have cataracts or glaucoma, rendering it difficult to see clearly? Does anyone have a family member who’s in law enforcement? Did anyone receive the jury summons and think of not showing up? Does anyone know anyone else here in the jury pool? Does anyone have an issue with text messaging (morally speaking or for other reasons)? Does everyone understand what ‘reasonable doubt’ means? Is there anything going on for you in your life that will hamper your ability to focus on the trial?