20 July 2014

Picking Up My Marbles

The reversible marble pendant I made my Marble.

There's this girl I know. We'll call her Marble. In September we will have been friends for precisely 20 years. I could tell you about the days when she'd tie scarves from every limb and use her dorm lamp to do a Steven Tyler act...or that time she got married and divorced while I took a semester off then hunted down my number to tell me. How she helped me get my first apartment or how we'd roll things across the floor in her crooked one (that was behind mine one street over). She had a cat that would jump on your face and tear your eyes out and a collage of herself as mother earth. The trouble we got into, the adventures we've had and that time we almost floated away in the Berkshires. Perhaps I will sometime.

Those were the days when we were young but didn't think so. She graduated and moved across the country to climb some rocks, ski, kayak, backpack around the world and kept making her fuzzy smoothies (don't choke on the seeds) while perusing a career in counseling. I stayed in Cambridge, taught preschool and danced every chance I had. I never feel so alive as I do when I'm lost in my head dancing. Then I took off to save the animal kingdom, moved across the country and back. I met my husband and we had our boy. That story is contained within this blog.

With Marble she always had something poignant to say no matter what was going on. Even in the Berkshires, "We could die." Yeah, we could have. When I taught inner city preschoolers she counseled at a home for boys: "It's like you're training them for me when they get older." Touche.

But over the last few years she's given me three solid pieces of advice:

  • If you can't look at the bigger picture, don't. If thinking about where you'll be in five years is overwhelming, think about next year. If that's too much, think about tomorrow...and it's OK to just think about what's going to happen next in the moment.
  • Build a box in your mind. Put everything that you don't like in the box and close the lid. 
  • If you think the same thought twice over you're already meditating.

That last one was included in her last visit and I have thought about it more than twice. More than a dozen dozen times. She said it to me while we were hooping...because I hoop for the calmness it brings. It's meditating, I know that, but I can't stand that word. Crafting is meditation, too.

What I've realized after becoming more thoughtful of my thoughts is that I hold onto a lot of toxic things. I repeat them over and over in my mind. I put them in the bedazzled coffin (that is the box I built in my head) but they pop out to haunt me. I've been a bad person at times. I've been cruel and mean. I've hurt people I loved. I made choices driven by my heart and not my brain...who's to say which one was right.

But I'm sorry.
I'm sorry if I hurt you.

However, it wasn't ever all my fault. So I'm not taking the blame anymore. I have heaped piles of guilt and regret and remorse on myself...but you know what? Those things were done to me, too. I wasn't the only one involved. It made me mad when I realized how often I meditate on mistakes. Do they? Probably not, or maybe they do. But now I catch them and put them in the coffin-box no matter how many times it takes.

I'm sorry I kicked you out of my apartment...you were a great roommate but you had a drinking problem. You let strangers into our home.

I'm sorry I called the police to take away your pile of meth and CPS came to monitor your child but they needed to...and you were addicted. There should never be meth in the house.

I'm sorry I was mean, but you were mean too. I don't know how it ended up like that.

I'm sorry I got tired of your oddities but I couldn't concentrate after you told me you killed your dogs and then lied to everyone saying they drank anti-freeze. WHO DOES THAT?! I could never talk to you seriously without that confession screaming in my brain.

I'm sorry I didn't pay attention in math class. It turned out to be my favorite subject. You were right.

I'm sorry I don't eat what you want me to - you don't act the way I'd like you to. Coexist means just that so why do you have a bumper sticker telling the world what you cannot do?

I might have big, gaping wide, warped holes and flaws...but I'm human. We all do, and I'm tired of meditating on how sorry I am for whatever you accused me of. Even if it was accurate at the time, there was plenty you messed up. I have acknowledged my part and will be letting it go.

Oh, and that time you told me you felt bad when my house burned down and you wanted to help but saw that other people were helping me so you called for my cats a few times in the neighborhood? I think that was wretched. If you were a good person you would have helped, even anonymously. ...but you killed your dogs.

I'm glad that I am sensitive, but it is also a huge flaw. I couldn't be more sorry for those things and more...but it's done. Stop invading my brain. If you didn't believe me that was your flaw...

So thanks for the advice, Marble. I think you and I have been honest with each other all of our friendship even if there were moments of discomfort. We both acknowledged our own messes and tended our gardens in different ways. I don't feel bad when I think about you or stupid stuff from the past. It's all good.

Never let anyone dull your sparkle.

Maybe flowers really do speak to us in their own language but are so quiet we can't hear them...

I'll ponder that some more while I'm meditating about [not] meditating.

1 comment :

  1. Stephanie, Try MBSR - it is scientific meditation, having been studied for over 30 yrs. Penn has a program, as does Jeff. The Jeff staff is unbelievably full of kindness. They hold a class two or three times a year. I hated the word meditation too, but this changed my life, because it changed a lot of my thought patterns - much more so than the decades of therapy I had undertaken. There are numerous books on it. The father of sorts is Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. You could easily incorporate the concepts into hooping, you probably already do. Try checking out Mindfulness for Beginners by JKZ. Living in our heads is hard; mindfulness has helped me so much to live from my heart. Best, Valerie


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