Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tickling Spiders and Others: Mash Up Poems

I revisit photographs full of pleasure and knowing
touching the outlines of black and white.
Colors refract back
into eyes that see without perspective,
complicating the view.

We played at love
well and often
and became obsessed with details of discovery
greedy for knowledge
hungry and alone.

Swallowed Spiders
Climb in the back
and we are gone.
Riding the road
skimming hills and valleys
that drop into our bellies 
tickling like swallowed  spiders.

I remember the smell of sunshine
and your hair dancing on the back of your neck
bent low in laughter,
while the hypnotic joy of freedom,
like yellow highway lines,
slid faster and faster
beneath us, into us.

and a half a lifetime ago
provide the perfect place to hide.
To once again feel the sun,
the tickling spiders,
and you,
like freedom,
sliding deeply into me.

Background noise and ambient unknowns
coat me in pleasured confusion.
I take off my glasses
and each hour quickly passes
with shapes and colors and sound.
I cannot hear your words
but I feel them slipping into me
snake-like, gentle pushing fingertips
of innuendo and suggestion.

The way you stroke imagination,
I do not need eyes and ears.
My body and spirit become an impressionist canvas
and melt liquid into
a pulsing puddle of sensation.

One dance left.
I want to leave behind doubt,
the fears and flaws that shadow and shade,
wasting the grace I've been given.

One song left.
I want to give my Siren's call
to draw you near from far away.
Come to me to raise cups and voices.

One life left.
I want to stretch the moments
building bridges to infinity
crafting something from this nothing.

I could be your sun.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rolling with the Punches: Maintaining Optimism

The hits keep on coming, but in the end it's all about attitude.

This past weekend, we packed up the trusty old minivan with all our camping gear and spent two beautiful, sun-filled days at Elephant Butte Lake.  Swimming, building sand castles, roasting marshmallows around the campfire created smiles and good memories for the entire family.  Everything, including setting up the tent went smoothly.  Or at least, when I think of the weekend, I remember everything going smoothly.  In actuality, it took us quite a bit of time to get the tent up, we had a flat tire for no apparent reason, we forgot a few essential items and our transmission on our car went out on the way home.  Nonetheless, thinking on the weekend, we all enjoyed ourselves, and our moods upon being deposited from the tow truck to our home reflected our enjoyment.  I should have been upset or angry or at least irritated, but none of those feelings consumed me.  I came  home grateful to be here and grateful that we had enjoyed ourselves on our mini-vacation.

I think attitude and outlook determine how a person views adversity as well as how effectively he or she handles setbacks in one's life.  Being optimistic and remaining chill during times of tension or stress allows a person to remain flexible, creative, and open to opportunity. Most importantly, it minimizes the chances for the situation getting worse.  A positive attitude can stop adversity in it's tracks or at least slow down the chain of events enough to allow a person to get a handle on things. Being wound up and succumbing to anger or irritation only intensifies the negativity of a situation and can lead to bad decision-making, saying things you don't mean, and generally creating worse circumstances.  Think of how many times you have been mad about something and then everything just snowballs into an even bigger mess because of things said or done in anger.  It happens quite frequently.

In every situation when things go wrong, there lies one crucial moment when a person can choose to become angrier, more frustrated, and more bitter or when he or she can choose to just stop, breathe, and remain calm.  Most people just blow by that choice and head into full-on mad.  And rarely does anything good get accomplished when it is done from a point of negativity.  It's a conscious decision to deal with things from a positive mindset and it takes practice to switch into a calm, centered place from which to operate.  It helps immensely, however.

People who are optimistic basically roll with the punches and come back stronger than before.  They take care of problems efficiently and quickly because they rebound from setbacks faster.  They see opportunities rather than obstacles.  Yesterday's breakdown of the van on the highway was an opportunity for the kids to see some scenery up close that they never paid attention to before.  It also allowed them to spend two and a half hours of quality time just talking with me and their father.  We told them our stories of breakdowns and things going awry while on vacation which they and we enjoyed.  They also got to watch the van being loaded onto the tow truck and had a riotously good time speeding down the highway with the grungiest, yet funniest driver I have ever encountered.

Sure, it's going to cost more money than we have to fix the transmission and I absolutely could have gotten home a few hours earlier to get a jump start on unpacking and the mountains of laundry, but getting to spend some quiet time with the kiddos in an unusual situation also had it's benefits, happy advantages that I would totally not availed myself of if everything went as it was supposed to.  Twists and turns in life make things exciting, even those curves which are seemingly bad.  Everything has a good side, a silver lining, a positive spin.  I, for one, am glad that I was either born with or developed the habit of seeing the good in all situations and things.  It is not a "pollyanna' or "rose-colored-glasses" mentality.  It is a healthy, happy mindset that allows me to enjoy my life and the people in it to the very best of my ability and I am positive this quality will serve me well for the remainder of my optimistic, upbeat days.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Lucky Ones

New experiences contain aspects of both a blessing and a curse.  They add to one's knowledge, but subtract from one's innocence.  I suppose it all depends on a person's perspective as to whether the loss of security that innocence provides has been outweighed by the value of the knowledge gained.  For some people, living well comes from doing things as they have always done because it creates comfort. The maintenance of this contentment ranks at the top of their priorities. For others, true living occurs only when growth happens consistently.  Comfort doesn't seem to be as much of a concern as gathering more knowledge and developing a deeper understanding of the world around them.

For the comfort-seekers, a certain level of innocence must be constantly maintained.  Because devout belief provides an emotional and mental safety net of sorts, it allows a person to hold certain ideas to be inviolate, unshakable and permanent.  And in knowing that certain aspects of one's existence remain immutable, a person finds comfort, security, and a sustained level of contentment.  In my opinion, sustaining this security usually comes at the cost of sheltering oneself from new thoughts, ideas, and experiences. 

Knowledge-seekers usually live with a higher level of emotional and mental discomfort because they consistently integrate new ideas into their understanding of themselves and of the world in general.  Constantly striving to know more creates a life in which one never has a firm grasp on "The Truth" about things.  These type of people sacrifice the kind of peace that devout belief gives a person.  However, knowing myself to be this way, increased knowledge is more than worth the price of being unsettled.

The lucky ones in the world combine both aspects of comfort-seekers and knowledge-seekers.  They have at some point uncovered certain immutable truths about things, but still remain open to new thoughts, ideas, and experiences.  They carry with them on their journeys of discovery nuggets of security.  These people possess both a centeredness and an openness that I envy.  I am really working towards defining my own cores of immutable understanding but it has proven difficult.  Last Autumn I felt as if I had gotten very close to "knowing" some things to be true.  Over the course of the past year, however,  I've encountered so many new things about myself and others that I feel further away from understanding than ever.

I have this feeling that I am destined to be unsettled for a long time.  I am used to living this way, but some days, like today, I wish I were more of a devout believing comfort-seeker.  Searching can make a person tired. Nevertheless, I don't see me changing my personality any time soon, so I will continue to live with my eyes, mind, and heart wide open.  One thing I do know to be true at this point, however, is that I will one day be one of the "lucky ones."  Of that I have no doubt.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gut Instinct: Bellyaching or Valid Opinion?

We are fundamentally animals, us humans.  We still have visceral reactions to things, behaving in ways completely devoid of sentient thought and based solely in the remnants of our reptilian brains.  We react on an instinctual, primal level to many different types of stimuli.  These responses can be both beneficial and detrimental, and sometimes it is hard to discern in which category to classify them.

Currently I am struggling with a deep-seated, instinctual reaction to a new aspect in my life.  I am trying very hard to determine if my gut instincts are coming from a true, rational area of my mind or if I am being irrational and not reacting to the thing itself, but to the circumstances surrounding it. I am really trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the situation, but I am finding it incredibly difficult to do so.

One of the reasons I am so resistant in believing I am behaving irrationally is that nine times out of ten my first initial, gut reaction proves to be an accurate one, especially regarding people.  Very rarely have I ever had to eat my words when I give my opinion about the innate goodness or badness (for lack of a better term) about a person.  I am intuitive, I read subtle physical and verbal clues, and I get "vibes" from people.  From my earliest memories I can recall being immediately struck by the energy of a person, either in a positive or negative way.  Without ever consciously realizing it, people emanate vibrations or waves of positive or negative energy, and for some reason, I seem to be in tune with it. 

Generally, I avoid those people who raise the hair on the back of my neck.  If I feel an inchoate, uncomfortable sensation with someone I generally do not spend much time with him or her.  I trust that sixth sense, that floating, tickling sensation that keeps prodding at me to keep my eyes open and to be wary.  It hasn't failed me yet.  However, certain circumstances necessitate my interaction with these people and I have to stuff down that little voice so that I may behave properly and civilly with them.  It takes most of my will power to not shout out, "I know you!  I see you!" but somehow I manage.  It also takes a tremendous amount of will power not to share my opinions with others regarding the energy I perceive from some people.  I don't want to cloud anyone's judgment, but I will say I do feel validated when others give unsolicited opinions regarding someone that matches my own.

The big question I have been asking myself lately, however, is "When is it necessary to eventually say something about how I feel?"  Where do I draw the line between the preservation of peace and the protection (or what I view as a warning) of others in regard to specific people I believe embody negative or even dangerous qualities?  I want to be certain that I say something out of concern for others and not because I am complaining about how the situation affects me.  I want others to view my opinion as being completely objective and good-intentioned, and not as a subjective, personality-driven episode of bellyaching. These are not my only concerns.

In addition, if I do choose to speak up,  I worry about unleashing a can of worms that I cannot possibly put back if my opinion isn't taken well.  I have already imagined the discord and strife the expression of my feelings could cause.  It's not a pretty vision in my head and has been the key element in keeping me quiet. By the same token, I fear the regret I will feel when negative things happen and I failed to say anything that could have possibly prevented them from occurring.  It is a fine line to walk and has dominated my thoughts for quite some time now.

I hold this sneaking suspicion, nonetheless, that I will be unable to keep my mouth shut for long.  I am not known for having limitless patience or for keeping what I consider to be well-thought-out opinions to myself, especially if they could be more helpful than harmful.  I may just have to adopt a "let the chips fall where they may" attitude and do what I think is right.  I know that if I don't follow both my instincts as well as my deeply pondered rational thought on this matter I will come to regret remaining silent.  Wish me luck on being tactful and having a good reception for my words.  In this particular case, I know I am going to need it.