I wrote this a week ago and revisited it today.
My compliments to Mr. Franz Kafka, whose quote inspired me. "One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer."
I just got done hanging out with some friends. It was beautiful. It was lovely. I love them both. I love the experience of being accepted, adored, appreciated in the same way that I accept, adore, and appreciate them.
And then I left, and it was sad. For a moment. I reminded myself I would have to leave at some point anyway. I’ve had similar feelings about many women I’ve been with, but the rush of mating hormones made it harder to back away. At least I haven’t kissed either of these folks (they’re dating each other, and I don’t think it will happen, though one never knows).
It felt like home. It felt like home.
On the walk back to my apartment, I wasn’t my normal, self-conscious self. Always fearing what was around the corner. Indeed, that didn’t click in for a long time.
I just moved to New York, and my experience has been one of almost constant tension and strain, fearing finding a job, fearing what might be around the corner, fearing the next, the next, the next.
All that went away with my friends tonight. It was magic. It’s a sweet state, a kind I’d like to live in with no one around, a kind of satisfaction rarely known, a time without fear or melancholy, just honest to goodness expressions of being flowing into this world, the way I want to feel all the time.
But I don’t know how when I’m alone.
Or do I?
Is it acceptance? Is it not needing to prove anything? Do I love the experience of my loved ones’ approval because, in those moments, I am being appreciated for what I naturally bring, and in appreciation, accepted?
Is solitude hard because of the feeling that I must become something else?
And did I just crack the code?
When I was with and left my friends tonight, I knew nothing else mattered. They weren’t all that mattered, but being alive with them, at that moment. That was what mattered.
I got home. I got on my computer and started browsing. I have two former lovers who have been/are on reality TV shows right now, and it’s breaking my heart. Why? I’m not sure why. Jealousy? Not of their stardom, but of the whole world seeing them. I suppose I was hoarding these two, in a way, making them something precious and “mine,” concocting memories and stories to limit their immenseness into something I could handle.
But I can’t handle it any more. And I can’t lie.
And they’re both so beautiful. And I’m scared that they’ll find other people who are beautiful. Other people who are somehow better.
And I guess that’s what I fear. Loss. Knowing I’m second best.
And that’s what I want to write about right now.
And it’s an odd juxtaposition, to go from family to frailty in a few short minutes and a few internet readings. Maybe this is the phenomenon of comparing lives to the lives posted on Facebook.
And the past.
Please make me be alright, my mind seems to be saying, seeking salvation in countering potential hurts or explaining away old ones it put on itself.
You understand. Don’t you?
I have a friend who is on a reality TV show right now.
And she’s polyamorous.
And she got me into polyamory.
She left a cadre of partners (a constellation, they might be called) behind, and now, on national television, she’s forming a new bond with a new man, and who knows who else she might fall in with.
It’s fascinating to watch.
It’s also fascinating to watch my reactions. The show isn’t out yet, just tweets from the Fox-run propaganda page, but most of them lately are concerning her deepening bond with Man X.
As I saw it this morning, I began to feel a twinge of jealousy, and old voice creeping into my head saying “Why not me?” I think that’s what jealousy is, really. I think that’s the question it asks.
Anyway, I’ve had that feeling with her before. When I was less aware, it would consume me, mire me down, upset my world and pitch me into a chaos from which I felt I needed to escape (big mistake, by the way. Trying to make meaningful action while emotional). The pain has lessened every time as I’ve become more aware and realized I don’t need to listen to the voices in my head.
Today, though, reflecting on these feelings, I felt like I was observing the observer, standing at a crossroads knowing “I could go this way or that, or just sit here in the middle.”
I could be jealous.
I could not care.
I could be happy for her.
Happy she’s made a new connection. Happy that people all over the planet are going to get to see that alternative relationship styles have substance, aren’t just unfounded childish impulses masquerading in adult language.
My sister and I spoke recently about relationships, and she introduced me to a concept that really helped crystallize one of the things about modern relationship psychology I don’t agree with: linear structure, or a linear narrative.
The idea that relationships move in a direction, toward a goal, with check points along the way, and until that goal is reached, the relationship is deemed illegitimate, like the “real thing” is still in the future. I find myself falling prey to it sometimes when talking with friends who are in monogamous relationships.
What about the currency in letting relationships unfold themselves? Letting the relationship tell you where it wants to go, rather than thinking about where it’s “supposed” to end up?
Anyway, this is a writing on jealousy, it’s opposite (compersion), and thoughts in general.
This has been a hard week for me. I’ve moved to New York and a lot of my life circumstances changed rather quickly. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system, and it’s taken a lot of learning. I’m still learning. I’m still in the forest, not yet seeing it for the trees, or at least sometimes it feels that way. I’ve had one or two lucid moments.
I’m trying really hard to be comfortable with discomfort, but I don’t always make it. I guess that’s why this post has been so important lately. http://io9.com/be-good-to-each-other-folks-because-this-could-happen-1628599212
There’s a lot more to it than being good to each other, though. There’s someone else we need to be good to first: us. Ourselves. We have to recognize our own suffering and validate it. I’ve spent this whole week trying desperately to not feel bad, to get away from the gnawing anxiety. But I have been anxious. And the more I try to get out of it, the worse and worse I feel. It’s like quicksand.
And this makes sense.
And it’s something we’ve all heard before.
But I’ve heard it 100 times and still struggle with it from time to time. Maybe you do, too. If so, that’s OK. Now you know you’re among company.
Sometimes I end up sounding like a know it all. I recognize that. But lately, I feel like a know-nothing. That can be tough to someone who has tried so hard to always have all the answers, to be the messianic avatar I set out to be as a small child.
But the real world has other plans. The real world doesn’t follow a script. And it isn’t the thing that showed up in my head. I’m learning that now. I’m sure my older peers are chuckling now at the death of my innocence, fondly remembering their own. Maybe some of my other friends rage against the idea of old dreams dying, believing that they can be real, I just didn’t try hard enough.
But I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to die fighting. I don’t want my life to be a violent metaphor. I don’t want to spend all my time thinking I haven’t made it. I want to make it. I have made it. I know that’s the reality. My mind doesn’t want to accept it, and sometimes it’s louder than the voice of reason. But I try to get in touch. I try to live in the Tao.
Don’t you? Don’t we all? Isn’t peace what we all prize above everything else? Aren’t all of the conflicts in life just petty arguments about how to get there ?
I’d tell you the way is obvious, but that feels disingenuous since I feel I’m missing it now.
But gosh. You’re trying your best. And so am I.
I’m sorry this is so hard.
Please study the Tao. I think it can explain this better than I can.
So working out. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s easy within the hardness. But either way, sometimes you feel awesome, and sometimes you don’t.
I’ve found that the feelings come from my perception of what “should” be going on.
Lifting weights: “I should be able to lift more.”
Yoga: “My mind should be at peace.”
Stretching: “I should be able to touch my head to the floor.”
But that isn’t what’s happening at that moment.
And it feels sucky. Why? Because I’m shoulding on myself. Or maybe myself is shoulding on me.
Anyway, it’s uncomfortable. I want to say “I should stop it.” But that would be too ironic.
Where does this feeling of “should” come from? Does it come from the idea that there’s somewhere to go, some place to be where things are “better” than here and now?
I sat down here to write something completely different. I sat down here to write about intentions when working out. How I feel like working out with results in mind always made me really uncomfortable. I’ve done Insanity, I’ve done P90X, I’ve done T25. All of those are about delivering “results” in the shortest time possible. I’ve even started reading a book now that claims to give people even greater results in even less time.
Sounds amazing, right? Who wouldn’t want to have a fitness models body, to be adored, lusted after, the culturally scripted object of desire for either sex?
Well… me. I don’t want to be that way. My mind does. But I don’t. I don’t care about that stuff. I care about health. I care about happiness. I care about staying grounded so I can help my fellow humans when they’re in a rough way.
Consistent exercise has been linked to increased feelings of happiness and life satisfaction, improved sleep, increased longevity, etc. That spells health, happiness, and grounding to me.
But it’s still a result. So today I learned this: we’re always working out for a result. The question is: what result do you want?
Are you working out to look good? To have the body you’ve always wanted? If so, why? The body isn’t worth much. It can be taken away like that. It’s not your work of art (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/your-body-is-not-your-masterpiece_b_5586341.html), and it’s only a loan. You have to give it back some day anyway. Maybe tomorrow.
So why not change your reasoning for working out? Work out to do something measurable. Lower cholesterol. Improve cardiovascular strength. Increase dopamine levels. Improve your sleep cycle. And why do you do those things? Because you can give those to other people. You can give the gift of your company until you’re 98, you can give the gift of being well balanced hormonally so that when someone off balance comes to you, you can stay somewhat sober minded.
The question “whom can I serve” has always helped as a true North for me, a guiding light. It helps because it takes the focus off of me. No longer are the consequences of my actions resting solely on my head and shoulders. No longer does success matter personally. I’m not looking to gain any more. I’m looking to give.
What can you give?