Distractions

No idea what I thought I was going to write about today. I was distracted by a pizza party for a coworker’s last day, and now I am painfully full and not really inclined to think about writing.

Plus, I have work to do.

So here’s another quote from a book that I enjoyed, instead.

Rima had tried jogging after Oliver died. She thought it would be smart to get physically exhausted. She thought if she were body-tired instead of, or along with, feeling the heavy exhaustion of grief, she might think less. But the effort involved in lifting her feet over and over was too much for her. Later she tried again, but found she’d been mistaken in her primary assumption. All you did when you ran was think. She hated it.”

Now, I definitely have not tried running as a way of dealing with the exhaustion of grief. I can barely walk some days, I feel like, so while I was once a distance runner as a kid, I don’t think now would be a very good time to pick it up again. I’m more likely to wreck myself before I can tire myself out, really.

I have found that physical pain often helps detract from emotional pain, but it’s insanely temporary. Like, getting my first tattoo hurt far less than losing Alysia. Most of it even hurt less than saying goodbye to Hudson. But the physical pain subsided, whereas the emotional pain still remains.

I have been known to attempt to tire myself out in order to not think and feel so much, though. It doesn’t really work for me, even when I push my body further than it wants to go. It’s a distraction, for sure. But the effects don’t last.

I like that this book recognized the different kinds of tired a person can be. I haven’t often seen that distinction, in books, film, television or everyday conversation. I like how true it rang for me.

Learning

Rima then went to Addison’s blog. Several new pictures of the dachshunds had been added, so the load took its sweet time. It was the genius of owning dogs that Addison could post regularly and with a casual familiarity while revealing nothing about herself.”

I should have made this blog almost entirely of animal pictures. I’m not that genius on my own, but after reading the above quote in a book I enjoyed, I was able to immediately pick up on the brilliance of such a notion.

I post regularly…I don’t know about the casual familiarity…and still don’t reveal much about myself, but it’s way more obvious doing it this way. Imagine the audience I’d have built if it were animals on display, while I reap the adoration simply by association.

Ah well. You live, you learn.

And I am nothing if not a lifelong learner.

Photographic Memory

Throughout the course of human civilization memory has been transient, plastic. The girl who broke your heart can, in time, become simply the girl you lived with ten years ago. Given more time she becomes either the one who got away or the one you can’t believe you almost married. But now, in the reign of the photographic image, the past is no longer malleable. It can no longer shift meaning in order to facilitate the narrative of your present circumstances.

We are now, all of us, cinematographers for the movie of our own lives. Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer!”

There was more to that tirade – part of a speech given by a character who hated photography, in a book I read recently. It’s far too weighty a subject for me to cover in one post, and certainly on a day like today when I am so easily distracted. But while it would have been easy for me to dismiss the whole notion, there was part of me that could see where the character was coming from, and even agree with parts of his reasoning.

For me, photographs have always been more of a way of retaining memories; of capturing and chronicling moments in time to preserve for the future. Not even, like, future generations, per se. But in large part because I am afraid of forgetting my life, and in seeking to retain as much of it as possible, I’ve always taken as many pictures as I can. It was different back when you couldn’t see your shot until you’d had the film developed, and the little counter on your camera told you how many photos you had left to take before you needed a new roll. I was more economical then.

Now, my freaking phone has a camera in it, so I take pictures of pretty much everything! And then store them in a digital space, invisible to the naked eye. That’s a transition I’ve made more slowly than most, and I still have a crap-ton of photos printed out and kept in albums all over my apartment.

However, delivery and storage methods aside, the pictures I take are usually done with the same intent – to preserve my life. Also, to show off my cool, creative eye. But mostly for the sake of retaining memories in a visual way.

I remember hearing or reading somewhere that taking a picture actually makes a moment less retain-able in the memory banks than observing it with your own eyes. As in, not through a lens, and not on a screen, but actually watching it and even interacting with it. That statement made me worry that I may have been doing things wrong, so just in case, I now try to do both – to watch and also to chronicle the important moments I want to keep.

This book’s character goes even further with it, however, and suggests that we’re not even a part of our own lives anymore; that we’re merely filming our lives instead of living them and forging them and creating them. That goes well beyond being able to remember things down the road, and instead states that we’re actually outsiders in our lives. Just watching life happen between the frames, so swept up in what’s passing that we’ve forgotten to exist in the now; to take hold of and manifest our own now’s.

Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer. Memory is all but carved in stone via a photograph, and we’re unable to grow and change and evolve past things that happened, because we’ve made them permanent fixtures. We’ve made the past – and all of the emotion caught up in it – a permanent, unchangeable part of the present. The stories of our lives are being told through the eyes of everyone else.

Maybe all we’re really doing is watching it pass by.

Stubborn Not Strong

Through the mirror Nicola looked into Angie’s eyes. “You know, you’re very strong,” Nicola said.

“Thank you.”

“That’s no compliment. It’s your weakness. If you weren’t so strong you wouldn’t have to take it and so you wouldn’t.”

That’s not from the book I am reading now, but I believe from the one I read before it. There were many little lines and moments in it which captured my attention, and this was one.

I wouldn’t consider myself strong by any stretch – not by any measure, either. Not physically, emotionally, mentally…any of the “ally’s”, really. (See what I did there?)

But I have still had moments in life wherein I’ve wished I was just a little more fragile – just enough so that I could break and whatever broke me could become someone else’s problem to deal with. Or no one’s. Just so long as it would no longer have to be mine.

I think in my case it’s more a combination of stubborness mixed with an almost overwhelming fear of embarrassing myself. I don’t like making a scene, or drawing attention to myself. Most of my reactions to things and situations happen on the inside, and I keep them as hidden from the public eye as possible. I may jump a bit when something startles me, but I don’t scream and carry on. I’ve actually been trying to force myself to admit when something scared me, rather than focus on hiding it. Keeping myself closed off is the product of decades of practice, and so now it is a very difficult habit to break.

It’s hard to learn to express things when you’ve spent so long doing the opposite.

On the other hand, though, appearing to not have a reaction sometimes still comes in handy. Bit of a catch-22, now, I guess.

I’m super easy to take advantage of, too, because I never cause a stink or stand up for myself. I don’t return things to where I purchased them. I don’t send food back to the kitchen. I don’t rasie my voice when someone’s being an asshat on the subway.

I just take it.

Not because I am particularly strong, but because of some backwards fear of how I feel if I do things any other way. So in that much, at least, the strong and I have something in common.

We all feel like we have to take it.

Dark Spaces

More quote talk from the book I’m reading:

They were the people you called with news: I met a guy. I’m engaged. I got a new job. To share the highs and the lows. But friends to call for the deep things, the things that live in the dark spaces of our hearts? Those people didn’t exist for me any longer. Not since I’d left Cooley Ridge.”

I think I’ve had the opposite experience. I’m not sure those people existed for me until more recently, and I think I’m still struggling with how to actually maintain those kinds of friendships, let alone allow them to exist at all. Yet, in all honesty, that’s all I’ve ever wanted, and definitely what I need now. Yet I fight them; push them back; keep them at a safe distance. Battle both for and against what I most want and need. And I do so in particular against the human beings I most want and need them with.

It’s no wonder that romantic relationships don’t progress past a certain point with me. I tend to keep those at an even safer distance. I’m not sure if it’s to protect others from me, or me from others, or some sad combination of both.

The things that live in the dark spaces of this heart don’t typically get shared. Sometimes not even really admitted to within any other spaces of my heart or mind. Or acknowledged. I think that’s more accurate than admitted.

I think speaking with my therapist helps. My first one, and my current one, anyway. There were others in between, but they were not the same at all. I don’t choose to whom I wish to reveal certain things, exactly. It’s more a matter of how safe and confident I feel with them. But I am definitely picky when it comes to who I actually open up those darker spaces to.

That was a terrible sentence, I realize. However…moving on.

It needs to be a perfect storm, pretty much. There are those I wish to be more open with, there are those who wish for me to be more open with them. But the rare combination of locating both qualities within the same individual is almost unheard of in my world. Even with therapists. I’ve been lucky, in that two of the four I’ve worked with so far have been those amazing rare people for me.

Now I just have to find one of those that don’t require me to pay them. The trick with those people, however, is that not only are they so difficult to find, but they’re also easier to lose.

Temporary

So now it’s November.

Nearly the end of the year. But – for me – so much closer to getting to see my polar bear love again!

You never really forget your first, right?

Things are just as crazy and overwhelming today as they have been lately. I’ve made a few tiny shifts in hopefully the right direction, but for the most part, I’m still struggling. I don’t even talk to my friends about most of it, let alone feel inclined to post anything on here. I’ll figure it out, though. Tiny shift by tiny shift. 🙂

I did write limericks for/about some of my coworkers today, too. That was fun!

I’ve been keeping more quotes from the book I’m currently reading, so I’ll continue to write a bit about them as I go along, too.

Like this one, which is kind of apropos for a day like this: “I stared at my phone, wondering whom to call to ground myself. The truth is, I’m not good at close friends. I’m great at casual, at meeting up after work and bringing lasagna to the potluck. I’m excellent at being friends with (her boyfriend’s) friends. But not at exchanging numbers and calling up just to talk.”

I haven’t brought lasagna to the potluck as of yet…though I could. Usually I just go for something quick and easy and pre-made, though. I mean, that’s how my everyday life is, at least when it comes to food. Why would a potluck be any different, really?

I remember when I was in school I felt like my friendships were temporary. They could be so intense and present and fulfilling for a time, but as soon as we weren’t in the same class anymore, and didn’t see one another every day, it became more difficult to sustain; to nurture. Nothing had happened to push us apart, yet the connection was weakened, and we’d each move on to the next thing.

I think I came to view all friendships – and thus relationships – as temporary things. I’d still try to hold onto them, but the further apart we’d drift, the more difficult it was to maintain any sort of grip. Physically, emotionally, mentally – the distance between us would grow no matter what I did to prevent it. The friendship wouldn’t be over, of course. Just different.

Outside of school, the majority of my friends have come through the workplace, which makes them just as temporary in their intensity as the others. People move on. It’s what we do.

And I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that, or that I wish it was any different.

Most of the time I don’t even notice. Just those moments when I want to talk to someone who can help me ground myself, and I don’t know who that person is at that point in life. It’d be nice to have one who was constant.

On the other hand, though, maybe that’s the too easy solution – to just have the answer without having to keep growing and changing and adapting and meeting new people and forging new things.

Maybe constants make us lazy!

On Being Lost

So frustrated lately. With pretty much every facet of my life, really, if I think about it.

Therefore, I try not to.

Being lost is the only way to get found.”

That’s a line from a different book; not the one I am reading now. There was another about being trapped in hope and then set free, but this was the one which stood out most to me on a personal level.

I’ve always wanted to get found.

Wished for it, wondered if I might realize it if and when it ever happened.

I learned that I would have to make it happen, and that in order to do that, I would first have to find myself.

Sometimes, though, things just stay lost. And that’s okay, too. We adapt, but never really stop looking.

Just in case.