A Paradox of Sorts

I thoroughly enjoy a good paradox. By sheer definition it’s a pair of opposites that holds truth. Even the definition is a paradox. It excites my inner philosophy to explore beneath the surface. I believe that extremes often find guilt in a common place. For instance, because I’m an educational therapist: no child left behind. It was designed with the intent to guarantee that ALL children will succeed through public education, or at least that’s what we were told. However, in practice is it resulting in quite the opposite. When each extreme is pulling so hard, it must be rooted in the same core so it doesn’t break. North Pole, South Pole, both are poles. I really do enjoy it.

I spent the weekend in a remote setting. No television was viewed, no internet updated, with the exception of messages from Mom. Hi Mom! No phone calls were made. Only the Pirate game on the radio was heard by external mechanical means. I had set out with this intent to unplug, to disconnect in order to reconnect.

Instead of filling my time with empty minutes online, I spent the time with my family, and in quiet thought individually. We hiked with our curiously crazy puppy through the woods on a mildly disorienting path. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for lunch, and giggled when the occasional marshmallow was lost off the hot stick. There was target practice of the shot gun and archery types. There was even the most amazing level of family cooperation when the aromas of our fire roasted meal invited a rather large, curious, black bear. Calmly, but swiftly, we grabbed our supplies, the dog, and scurried to safety inside the camp. Controlled chaos at its best.

I rested, cried (see First Step), read, and enjoyed the deafening silence that remote nature can offer to a city slicker. The silence was by no means silent. The rustling of leaves and grasses, and soft sounds of critters big and small filled the quiet space.

Maybe there are no true opposites. Is it all relative? There is good and bad within us all. Without the bad, how can we appreciate the good? We must be able to appreciate the role of each. I’m convinced that it all serves a true purpose.

“No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:29, 30 NABRE)

As we concluded our stay, and as I begin a busy week, I hold steady between the two extremes, finding the paradoxical truth of a careful balance with the connection to what is real. My family, nature, and my part in each, which leads me forward one more step.



Expectations in the morning

The work has begun. Early. I awoke very early this morning with the looming thought of, “What have I just done?” The feeling of immediate regret leads to a mild panic. I just asked for approval. That is exactly what I didn’t want to do. I got ahead of myself. I think big. I think ahead, usually. I have big ideas, to a fault. I typically keep them tucked safely inside. I let one go. It was good. In effort to plan ahead, I invited others to take part.

No big deal, right? Except traditionally, I’ve entangled self acceptance within such invitations. If/when my invitation isn’t accepted, I feel rejected. Even more so, my self worth and confidence take an unhealthy hit. This was my thought pattern as I woke in such a state of distress. I felt as if I took a major backslide in my mission of self reliance. This project is not for others. This project is mine; by me, and most importantly for me, and I’ve already screwed it up!

Deep breaths. Back up, wake up. Okay, feeling calmer. I remember my intent of self reliance, and the conscious process of working on me. This expressive writing is for my own productive state and well being. That’s where the break down was. It is expressive. This is foreign territory, as I said, I keep most ideas safely bottled. Alright. I tell myself, “Wait, I simply invited others to like a means to receive my written works. That’s good. This is a necessary component of expression.”

If I change my pattern, I’m still in the clear. Yes, I’m very good now. I welcomed everyone I could. I’m not a fan of excluding for the sake of excluding. Whether they choose to accept the invitation has very little to do with me. My part is done. I need not continue wishing and waiting to see whether I’ve been received, accepted. I will not hinge on the ledge of anticipated approval. I will continue writing even if no one reads it, because it’s not for them. It’s for me.

Sure positive feedback is highly reinforcing. Sure, it plays a role in growth. However, once it becomes what I need in order to create, I’ve already lost, no matter the quality of the product.

I do hope my writings resonate with those who read it. If anything of what I do, even by example, can assist, validate, or inspire, then I’ve succeeded in more ways than one.

It is still early. Already today, I’ve learned how tricky and dangerous expectations can be. So often we act with the expectation, and even need, of approval. When our expectations aren’t met we are hurt. I don’t have room for any unnecessary hurt. So I’m letting go of expectations, and going back to sleep.

First Step

“When someone you love is dying, you’re dying.” – Viola Davis

For months now, I’ve had cravings. Not your, or my, typical hankering a for chocolate, ice cream, or any other mouth watering treat; although, the local ice cream parlor has been my therapy this summer. I’ve craved the beach and it’s clear waters to wash my soul. I’ve craved travel adventures to reenergize my spirit. I’ve craved new home decor, and even considered moving in an effort to find order and a fresh start. With each scenario, I eventually come to the conclusion that this is not the cure. When it’s all done, I will be left with the same, unquenched feeling of, “I need something.” It wasn’t until today that I realized, over my morning coffee, that this craving, searching, longing, is in actuality for myself.

Amongst the swirl of tie dyed emotions, I understood right away that we are each so different now, my father and I. I will always be different than my previous self. Much like becoming a parent changes your perspective, so does watching a loved one pass away. No matter how peaceful or painful, losing a loved one is a life changing event. I see situations and events in a whole new light through a clear, filtered lens. I have no tolerance for anything that doesn’t matter.

The act of grieving is rarely shared or discussed. Death has been simplified, glorified, and served as common staples in violent movies. Along with my life of privilege and limited contact with dying, I was left unprepared. As the saying goes, until you know, you don’t.

I needed to get to know the new us, as in our relationship and as individuals. These past 4 months have been mostly focused on him. Visiting his grave, feeling his comfort and guidance, and welcoming him in my dreams keeps us connected.  I’ve learned, and experienced that my father is not dead. He is simply not here in a physical presence. I don’t prefer the term “died” as it implies a finality. I believe that although his body is done, his soul is living. He is living. He is present and at peace. I can not touch him, hold his hand, hug him, or smell him any longer. However, I will continue to hold onto his voice as long as I can. I still hear him tell me, “you be darn careful, call when you get there,” as I left for my 2 hr commute. When I was stranded on a recent 2 hour commute, a kind stranger and his sons changed my flat tire without accepting any payment. When Mr. Kind simply gave the response, “it was the right thing to do,” I knew my father had sent him.

It’s not that I’ve ignored myself. I have rested. I’ve dealt, well am dealing, with the sadness and loss. I’m learning new, and even old, lessons. I’m learning self reliance. I am trying to recover and process the effects of the last 6 months. Perhaps, it’s time for me to shift focus and actively work on me. This being my first step.

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