The last few weeks and months have been an incredible mix of the rough and the smooth.
I don't know why I always use that tired metaphor. I hate sailing.
But now it's starting to catch up with me, I think. That always-tired feeling has nothing to do with the fact that I've been working on my thesis, and about a million other little things. Nothing to do with the fact that I've been sick, on and off, since this time last year (Nothing serious, but enough to chip away at my patience with myself. The story is rivetting, I assure you. But only to my doctor. Shall spare you.) Nothing, even, do with the all the emotional energy spent and retrieved, spent and retrieved, spent and... oh shit... gone!
Instead I think it has everything to do with the fact that after a while, up and down and up and down get, well, boring. The ups have been marvellous. The downs have been extremely valuable, and not half as bad as they would have been had they occured one, two, five years ago.
And I'm waaay grateful for both.
But the thing about it is that now, please, Universe, zara break do, please. Just a little more stability, over a lot more time, thanks very much! (I read somewhere that you should thank the Something before you get your wish, and then you're gauranteed to get it.)
I've realised a few things about myself over this period. Some of them I like, some I love, and some I plan to thumb my nose at in the hope that they will take offense and go away. (Haven't grown all that much, then. Glad we settled that.)
Things other people say during up-d0wn-down-up-UP!-down times have a special resonance as well. They tend to be especially sharp, or especially illuminating. During this phase I've had looong conversations with a range of different people. And as these conversations get deeper and more personal, I've come across a repeating pattern that I never encountered before:
Almost everyone has that One Wound. The hole around which they have shaped themselves as they healed, sealing their direction, until they reopen it (or fill it?) and heal themselves deeper.
These wounds shape the way they think about some things (or everything). They shape some (or all) of their reactions.
And I realised with a sharp sense of shock, every time a narration turned itself from 'them' to me: I don't have a single, short sharp shock that has shaped me. Yes, growing up scars you, sure. Am no exception. And like everyone else, a couple of incredibly traumatic things happened to me that really rocked my boat (again with the sailing. Buy me a boat, someone!). But I can't zero in on a single one that has shaped me. Not an event, a trauma, a sudden epiphany, a seperation, a loss.
Instead, the thing that's probably shaped me most profoundly is a sustained background tremor that has still (thank you, Universe), not shaped itself into a catastrophe: The vividly imagined future loss of my father. This has haunted me since I was roughly six. 20 years on, I realise that it's just as powerful a force as the singular shaping trauma or change. Mountains, after all, crumble under nothing more substantial than breeze and streams. It just takes a while. But that's slightly misleading - I'm not crumbling, just being shaped.
Here is what my fear has made me do:
- Live in terror for a long time, and then learn to breathe my way through it.
- Appreciate every single facet of every single moment, even the crap ones. Everything I can perceive and absorb. I don't particularly like that the driving idealogy is '...because you never know what tomorrow might bring...'. But hey. I am happy that at least I make a relentless effort to absorb.
- Listen, learn, imitate, listen some more, to everything my father says. He's a wise, wise man. I've always been scared that that source of precious wisdom will suddenly be cut off. And so I've tried to drink every drop that is thrown my way. Sometimes even asking pre-emptive questions about future important life events. His favourite is: 'If you're not here when I get pregnant, exactly which doctors are the good ones? Tell me their names and addresses.' (I asked this at age 10!) And: 'When Mama becomes old what is the best way to take care of her? Wait let me write it down' (Age 12). (My diary entry for this reads: "Asked Papa how to take care of Mama when she is old. He talks too fast for me to write it down. He said I should understand (her), be patient, and show her as much love as I can." (Got it, Dad, not to worry. Learnt by heart, see?!)
- Side by side, it's made me try to develop a backbone of my own. One day I will not be able to pick up the phone and howl 'Papa! He left me! My heart is broken!' I will have to pack my lunch and go to the office and fall apart and pick myself up and pack lunch again the next day. I am trying to figure out how to stand up by myself and stay standing, no matter what else happens, and just be grateful that I grew up in the shadow of a very, very mighty tree, but not a tree I can lean on forever.
And that's just a litle something I'm starting to uncover.
I don't like that the driving force of a lot of these very positive things has been fear, for so incredibly long.
I wish to let that go.
Now. Papa. Tell me how. And please, hold on I need to write it down.