Saturday, February 26, 2011

And You Shall Be Love

I have to come back to the previous post and work out some of my faulty logic. But before I do that, I have been thinking a lot about love. Such a beautiful thing - word, right? We all want it and we seek it and we acquire it and we lose it and some keep it. Valentine's Day, wedding anniversaries, babies being born, marriages. All of these events signify the love relationship. This year I got a lot of "Happy Valentine's Day" messages. I wasn't quite sure what to do with all of them. What does that mean that you want me to have a happy Monday? Or you want me to eat some chocolate? Or you want me to feel loved today? I particularly like the last one. So, yes I will feel loved today. Mind if I keep it for the coming days as well?

March is three days away. March 3rd will be the 20th anniversary of my father's death. And I never forget that day. I never forget where I was when I found out and how it sort of rolled over my and spilled down my back like the first moments in the shower or under a waterfall, should you be so lucky to stand beneath a waterfall! Now at the 20 year anniversary it is particularly difficult to see the day approach. Time should heal all wounds and make things easier to bare. But for me it just gets harder. Because I tend to think of all that was missed in the 20 years. Having my father walk me down the aisle (or through the hotel room to the terrace) on my wedding day. Being present when my children were born. Teaching my boys about football and baseball and telling them jokes and holding them on his knee and giving them pats, because: "Pats are very important." And I try not to live in regret or missed opportunity, especially with things I could not/can not prevent like death. But March is the month that I allow myself to wallow and to "harrow my own personal hell." It makes Aprils' showers a welcome baptism. Just like Jesus!

A few months ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. Now I know for a lot of people that is not a "real" thing. And as I went through school and succeeded in various ways I realized that not being able to concentrate, or prioritize or complete a simple task, was a character flaw. It could not possibly be something amiss with my brains firings. And it became a thing that caused me so much shame. I did not feel smart. So I must not be smart. And despite having a rather extreme form of ADHD I did manage to have some successes in school, partly because I had to develop my verbal and social skills to combat my inability to parse mental activities. The one place I did well was in theatre, as a director. I had stage managers, designers and assistants to help me with the details of a project so all I had to do was deal with the forest, leaving them the trees. And I loved my designers and stage managers who could pull what I couldn't say out of my quagmire of a brain. And yet, Grace would appear, often just long enough to give me a glimpse of how to fix something making the work okay. But my early work often lacked resolution or clarity at the end. And the end is the hardest part of creating a strong piece of theatre. So even there I was receiving the same critique over and over again - your piece has no ending Keisha. What do you want the audience to leave with? I couldn't make it to that point. And I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't know how to fix me. I also don't end relationships very well. I get tired of the tedium of dotting i's and crossing t's. And I just let things go and end however they will. Often not being able to do the rigorous work of making love last and of ending it with good feelings intact. So I stand eternally grateful to those who have loved me enough to stick around even when it was quite obvious that I had gone off the deep end a few times! And yes, I can laugh about it now!

Can I blame ADHD for this. Well, in a way and then again not at all. But what I can say is that I am angry. Angry at the amount of time it took this diagnosis to come to the fore. Angry at each and every teacher who didn't try to help me get through this challenge but rather wrote me off as not being that smart. And pissed as all hell at my parents for not expecting better from me after a time. And for settling on where I had gotten to and not on where they truly knew I should be. I never settled in a place. I always have berated myself for not doing better and not being more. I felt it in me - that I had never achieved and surpassed my potential. And I am made at myself for that. And now that I know that indeed there is something amiss with my brain firings, and that it can be helped, I want to jump ahead and start achieving all the things I have always wanted. But I am stuck in regret. Stuck in it deep. And I am pissed off. Wow, I am probably the angriest I have ever been in my life.

And I am discovering that anger is a useful emotion if it pushes us to work through it and get to a better place. And so this coming month of March when I am usually all sad for all the things I have lost I am instead going to focus on all that I have missed. All the ways I wanted my life to be but it wasn't. All of the moments I wanted to have but I didn't. And all of the things I wanted to accomplished by haven't. I am giving this month to myself as a gift. Time to work through my anger and my hate and my out and out fear.

So what do I regret? Missing the time with my father. Missing being able to truly engage in my studies. Missing being the academic scholar and world-shaker I always felt called to be. Missing living a BIG LIFE, instead of the smaller one I resigned myself to. Missing giving my children the home and the life and the love they so deserve. Missing the organization and the rigeur that would give me a sense of accomplishment. Missing my Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Academy Awards. Being as completely unreasonable about how my life may have actually been. And then on March 31st, I will say good-bye to all my regrets in some kind of ceremony. And on April 1st I will await the rain to wash the remnants of my past of self- hate and recriminations good-bye.

I started this post talking about love and my father. And I end it thinking again about love and my father. My father lived his short life with many many regrets. And I know it was because he was trapped in the circumstances of his birth and the limitations of his mind and I feel that pain right now. My father was 44 when he died. I will be 40 this summer. And I refuse to enter that decade with the same recriminations my father died with. This is an opportunity to get off that particular wheel of life. To end the negative karma. So that my love and gratitude and completion is the gift I give future generations - it is my good karma passed on to my children and their children and....

Kahlil Ghibran wrote this:

* When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
p. 11
All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears...For love is sufficient unto love.
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And I shall be love

in peace,

Photo Credit: Flickr best pictures of 2010

Monday, February 14, 2011

All You Need Is Love?

Nice sentiment Beatles (and why am I quoting the Beatles so much? I think it's from living around the corner from John Lennon's apartment building!)
Today is Valentine's Day. I am not bitter at all - for the first time in probably my entire life! I have always tended to pick low maintenance partners so these holidays would come around, anniversaries would peak their heads and birthdays would come and go and I would be on the shallow end of the gift receiving pool. When I was younger I would often go out of my way to make Valentine's Day a big event. But no longer.
My friend Sherri had a great status update the other day that basically she was happy that Valentine's Day was coming. She, like so many of us, is in love with love. Can't argue with that!

There was a time when I would see all the facebook status updates dripping with love-laced honey and be angry and bitter. But today when I logged on I saw happy couples who have been together for years, and happy couples who had just gotten together ready to spend the rest of their lives that way. And I saw love of self and love of child and love of parents. Beautiful stuff. Because being bitter at another's happiness says nothing about them but rather volumes about you! And I am no longer bitter about my status in the world of love. I am rather happy with the fact that I have so much of it and in so many different ways!

One of the best things I ever did was pick Ilya as a father for the kids! He helped them make the best Valentine's this past weekend. Simple, yet, creative! They came home on Saturday so excited to share the fruits of their labor with me. And I even got a couple of Valentines myself from them. My favorite, not to pick favorites, was the one from Buddha. It was a heart that his sister had obviously cut out for him (it was symmetric) but the message written on it was purely his own - dictated to his sister's elegant hand. It said: "Happy Valentine's Day Mommy. You are beautiful!" I could hear exactly how he must have said it to his sister. Zachary's slight speech impediment makes "beautiful" sound like "bootiful." I heard it in my head and smiled as I read the folded heart.

I get grouchy sometimes and frustrated with all that is in my world. But I took that heart and put it in my wallet - which is usually always with me. So, if I need to be reminded of the love of today, I can take it out and see it up close. Yes, Valentine's Day is a contrived holiday created by the card, flower, and chocolate industries. We all know that. But it can be more than that. It can be an opportunity to remark not just on the amount of love you receive but on the quality of the love you receive. And to cherish that and hold it tight.

Happy Valentine's Day tribe!

in peace,