Sunday, November 7, 2010

I’ve Got This Mystic Streak In Me ~ Telling The Truth About Who I Am…

“This work of mine, the kind of work which takes no arms to do,
Is least noble of all. It's peopled by Wizards, the Forlorn,
The Awkward, the Blinkers, the Spoon-Fingered, Agnostic Lispers,
Stutterers of Prayer, the Flatulent, the Closet Weepers,
The Charlatans. I am one of those…”

“I draw a bath, enter the water as a god enters water:
Fertile, knowing, kind, surrounded by glass objects
Which could break easily if mishandled or ill-touched.
… I've got this mystic streak in me.”

From poet Lucie Brock-Broido’s
“Domestic Mysticism,”
from her book,
A Hunger.
Alfred K. Knopf, 1988

For more than twenty years I have read and reread this slender volume of poems until the book is raggedy and I plan to order another copy, but as much as I have loved the work of too many poets to count, I have never been as blown away as I was the first time I read Lucie Brock-Broido’s poems in her 1988 book, A Hunger. I carried that book around with me everywhere I went and opened it up and kept rereading passages that moved me and sang them like an anthem. I have always been different, I have never fit in, it doesn’t bother me, hasn’t for years, but I do find it curious. My worldview is so far away it is as if I am the farthest ring of Saturn away from the center. Close, part of the whole, but never reaching the inner circle, never touching down on the mother ground. You can see me, but you will never get close enough to touch me. My early childhood taught me that when you trust people, even some that are closest to you, you can be so bruised and damaged that like a piece of fruit gone soft from banging about inside a container or dropped, there’s nothing for it but to throw it out. My bruises and broken bits are internal, which makes it all the harder. If you can’t see the particles and pieces and bits of me floating around inside you will know, anyway, if you are long in my presence, that something is askew. That is because you will be expecting me to be, as we all are expected to be, what polite society expects, demands.

“This work of mine, the kind of work which takes no arms to do,
Is least noble of all. It's peopled by Wizards, the Forlorn,
The Awkward, the Blinkers, the Spoon-Fingered, Agnostic Lispers,
Stutterers of Prayer, the Flatulent, the Closet Weepers,
The Charlatans. I am one of those…”

I am one of those.

I am 56 years old and I have been trying to “find myself” for most of my adult life. More aptly put I have been trying to figure out who I am in my innermost being and hold true to that, be proud of that, celebrate that, all of who I am, while living in a world that finds the way I live peculiar, a forlorn, awkward, blinking, spoon-fingered lisper that stutters, yes, probably flatulent too, certainly weeping, and a Charlatan? Well, it depends on who you ask.

The neighbors don’t fear me, I am nice to them and they are nice to me, when they see me, but they quickly learned that nobody “drops in” on me, that I seldom ever leave the sanctity of my solitude, that I am, indeed, a modern anchorite. My own children wouldn’t drop in unannounced. It terrifies me. Another indicator of severe early childhood abuse, but I don’t like to linger there, we all have our stories, mine is no better or worse than anyone else’s. Our stories, based on our life experiences, make up who we are in large part. And we take that and try to figure out what to do with it. I think that too many people are continually going against the grain trying to be what they think they should be. I have certainly done that to near disastrous results. I would no longer consider suicide under any circumstances. What a waste of the gift of the life we are given. And yes, our lives truly are a gift, warts and all. I think the ones who do go crazy and kill themselves or other people have not been accepted for who they are, and allowed to be their authentic selves from early on. Of course there are other mitigating factors, but I believe that this is a big one.

 I truly life a life of solitude and some days don’t utter a sound other than the communion, often wordless, that I have with the nine animals I live with. I read, write, study, pray, meditate, cook, garden, spin fibers into yarn, weave, knit, crochet, spool-knit, sew everything under the sun together to make fiber art that has legs, that speaks to the world, that is weird and complicated like I am, but tender and trembling and shy too. Our art is a mirror of our inner being. Only now have my writing and art begun to approximate some facsimile of the woman I know that I am, the part that I am willing to share.

Charles Dickens wrote, in A Christmas Carol, “Secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” I always thought that was the most apt description of me that I had ever read. I still do. You will never really know me, no one who knows me knows all of me except one extraordinary person who though my polar opposite taught me to accept the woman I am, to apologize for nothing (about the way that I must live in the world), and she made me feel as if I were special, extraordinary even, simply because I was brave enough to step out of the confines of what my life might have been, losing friends and loved ones along the way who could not accept nor understand me (…and I don’t blame them, I confuse me often enough…), but if we live our life as “safely” as possible, giving up who we are, where we are most comfortable, to try to please them, whoever they might be, we will still never be good enough in “their” eyes and we will fail miserably in our own because wearing a costume and mask through life is wearisome and doesn’t allow one to put their best foot forward so to speak.

I have been trying to find the right spiritual hat to wear. I could have started a hat shop for all the hats I’ve worn. Raised Catholic, a student of Buddhism from my twenties until today, having attended many Christian churches and been ordained in one, becoming an interfaith minister, and yet, while becoming ordained was something that meant a great deal to me, it ended up as if trying to put me in a box and I wouldn’t fit there like I don’t fit anywhere. I am a deeply spiritual woman. I meditate and pray nearly constantly, I feel the presence of God always, and you can use whatever name or label you want instead of the G-d word, it doesn’t matter to me. I think it matters that people believe in something, because without something larger than ourselves “up there” we not only can feel hopeless, but also not feel a need to be accountable for we who are and what we do in this world. Mind, I know I make a lot of mistakes but I keep trying to do better. There is a spiritual bar that raises higher and higher as we go through life and it’s hard work to keep up, to keep stepping up to the plate for the next round of lessons that though likely painful in some way are necessary for the evolution of our soul. What I’m getting at is that I bring with me every spiritual lesson I have learned, every baptism, confirmation, ordination, or other sacred ceremony I have engaged in, and I move forward with each of them woven fine in the cloth of my being, but I continue on, a pilgrim, a mystic, a woman who will live quietly all the days of her life and I will do my work, and I will never stop, and I will care tenderly for those I love, for the animals I live with, for the person, the only person, I can see spending my life with, but even in that, I know I am perfectly fine alone. I have come to terms with my life. If live alone for the rest of my life I shall, if you can call living with enough animals to fill Noah’s Ark “alone.”

For me it is not a question of faith. It never has been. I believe in everything unless and until it is proven otherwise. I read, captivated, just yesterday, about the remains, in Turkey, of what is believed to be the real Noah’s Ark. Now you will either be delighted in that knowledge or say, “Hogwash,” but it really doesn’t matter to me. That there are these kind of possibilities in the world gives me cause for hope for this radiant world that we live in is so much bigger than any of us can see or understand, and I look forward to living and learning and studying and writing about this pilgrimage I am on until I can no longer hold a pen. And despite a lifetime of clinical depression I am also a bit of a cock-eyed optimist. Therefore I call myself a “Rainbow-Eyed Mystic,” and while you roll your eyes I will go merrily along my way. There are sacred and mysterious things to discover, yarn to spin and yarns to write, animals of all sorts that need taking care of, and too many books to read in a lifetime. Finally, I’m happy with my life, I do have this mystic streak in me, and I’m no longer afraid to say it outloud. And I will go on treasuring the tiny things in life with great delight like the new Greenwing macaw who has come to live with us here at the cottage who is right now on the floor, having climbed down and walked over beak to nose with Coco, an elderly pug. They look at one another, lose interest, Coco goes to sleep and Big Bird Flounder climbs back up on his cage twice the size of my refrigerator and covered with so many toys it’s a Disneyland for macaws, and we shall all go on together here, each on our own pilgrimage, sharing the journey together.


Francis Hunt said...

What a wonderful, magnificent, beautiful, honest post! You and I, Maitri, see the world, life and ourselves very differently in many ways, but I can really appreciate the truth and wisdom in what you write.

Write on!

snore stop said...

Amazing post,Thank you for bringing such nice posts. Your blog is always fascinating to read.

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