Posts Tagged ‘separation’

The Lizard Brain is a Lonely Hunter

January 19, 2011

Goal:  facilitating calm and ameliorating fear, which I hold to be at the scene of every crime of every magnitude—from the cold shoulder to ghastly violence.  Hurt people hurt people; scared people scare people.

Today’s particular focus:  loneliness.  From modern alienation (intellectualized isolation) to primitive dread of annihilation (unconscious fear of disintegration—think panic attacks) we are wired to attach, and thus we are wired to feel our hearts come into our mouths and our guts drop horribly at anything that triggers us to feel cast out from the mother, which is akin, later, to being outside of the group.

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“All I really want our love to do…

July 21, 2010

…is to bring out the best in me and you” Joni Mitchell “All I Want.”

After declaring Please Give to be the best movie I’d seen this year, along comes another small movie with a big heart, The Kids Are All Right, to serve as a perfect west coast companion piece to Please Give’s New York City.

While Please Give captures the texture, tone and spirit of the rather specific slice of New York City in which I have lived and loved in an earlier chapter of my life, and through which I wander in my imagination when I read about plays, restaurants and exhibits in “the paper of record” (but from which I am currently blocked from fully savoring by economics and time zones), The Kids Are All Right is a movie that would probably make me miss the very specific LA in which I live, wander and wonder… if I were sweating this summer out in New York.

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Full Circle Solstice

June 21, 2010

Well, happy summer solstice, again.

Hello, again.  Good-bye, again.

Go. Dog. Go, again.

How can I begin to say what I really mean?

How can I convey the love I feel for you, and for us and for our world?

I may have failed to tame my ego, heal my narcissism and more fully place my self in proper service to the Self and our collective SELF (although I like to think I’ve made a little progress this year), I have certainly failed to become any sort of perfect parent (not that this was ever the goal).

But I have treasured a year; and in working hard, I have made a difference—to myself.  I do know that I have also made a difference to some others, and I choose to not be coy and pretend I am unaware of this and the many kind and encouraging comments I have deeply appreciated along the way.

I have sought to give, but I have received much in the bargain—age-old wisdom proving true personally and viscerally that it is good to give, that it is through what we give that we find connection, relationship and happiness (and that “giving” can be attention, presence, affection, patience, even just thoughts).

I have apportioned time to blogging, time disconnected from Andy and Nate and Will (thanks to you guys for weathering my self-imposed year of blogging mindfully, too often at your expense).  So, now it is time to follow Kristen’s example and “buffer.”

Only connect.  This is what I have learned from Forster via Andy, and what I have striven to write and live (the challenge about connecting proves to be:  how much and with who?).  Moving forward I hope to continue to only connect, but in balance, connecting virtually, actually and internally with the spirits and the muses.

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Adulthood begins at 27

June 16, 2010

This is a season when the dust is starting to settle around all our recent graduates, ranging from kindergarten to graduate school.

I have long argued in my own writing that adulthood no longer actually occurs in our culture at the point that most of us say that it begins (twenty to twenty-two).  A recent New York Times article by Patricia Cohen, Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer bears this out with an accruing host of facts and figures.

Social scientists and policy makers are noticing that there is a newly emerging phase in many Americans’ lives in which they are no longer adolescents and not yet adults.  Obama’s shift to allow children up to twenty-six to be on their parents’ health insurance plans, as well as shifts in the average age for marriage now (27 for males, 27 for females) underscore the late blooming trend.

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Abby Normal

June 11, 2010

I went to sleep last night with prayers for Abby Sunderland in my heart.

I awoke to learn that she is okay, and I am delighted and relieved for that.

What I wish to say today is that Abby’s situation is a perfect confluence of the opposites (the very place where the transcendent, sublime, even divine is most likely to show up).

Abby’s brother sailed around the world alone—the youngest to do it.  Abby wanted to do it too, to get the crown of youngest to sail around the world alone.  Note how many opposites this collective focal point conjures: life and death, over-protection and under-protection, bravery and fear, equipment and nature, togetherness and isolation, young and old, water and land, safety and adventure, “good” parenting and “bad” parenting, giving up and keeping on, ego and oceanic oneness.

Given that my aim is to enhance consciousness toward the benefit of the collective, my personal opinions about whether or not, as a parent, I would let my own sixteen-year-old sail around the world alone (I’m nervous for him to start driving lessons) is at least partially beside the point.

I went to sleep with images of “pitch-poling” and “submarining” in my mind’s eye—the experts conjectures of what 25 foot waves in 80 knot winds might do to cause a sailor to hit the rescue-me button (a forty foot boat flipping end over end; nose-diving straight down the face of giant waves and capsizing into 50 degree water).

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Looking back at Loss

June 10, 2010

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey Zaslow, “Families with a Missing Piece: A New Look at How a Parent’s Early Death Can Reverberate Decades Later,” raises important issues to consider if we are sincere about doing our best for all our collective children.

Obviously it is a terrible thing to lose a parent, and the article makes a number of important points, including increased risk for depression and suicide of the course of life for those who lost parents when still children.

If we are going to look out for our collective kids, it’s worth keeping in mind that when children lose a parent, things like staying engaged in activities with peers and having adults in their lives who are willing to talk with them about their feelings has been shown to make a big difference for kids.  A lot of survivors of early parent loss report that therapy and bereavement groups were not necessarily helpful, in contrast to these things tending to be comforting to adults. There are, however, non-profit camps for kids who have lost a parent, and being with other kids in similar boats does seem to offer meaningful assistance.  I also think that, as many a grown-up has experienced, the “right” therapist can be comforting while a poor match can feel like insult to injury.

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Day Memorial, Glorious and Laborious

May 31, 2010

I have always tended to confabulate Labor Day and Memorial Day.  For one thing, it just doesn’t make sense to me that something sad, like remembering the dead, should happen just as summer is starting to show up (even if today marks the third anniversary of Ellie’s death, and summer, my birthday in fact, marked the funeral of my childhood best friend); shouldn’t the end of school be when we celebrate all the “labor” we did as school kids and some school’s out completely feeling?

When you’re a kid, you generally don’t know too many fallen soldiers and “laborers” are also an abstract concept.  Nevertheless, as a kid it’s crystal clear that the beginning of summer is a good time and the end of summer is a bad time.  Therefore if you’re going to have a holiday about sad things, make it at a sad time—and besides, how does it help dead soldiers if we eat corn and watermelon?

I think that if I were the ghost of a dead soldier, and I happened across a typical American Memorial Day celebration, I might think they were all happy I was gone.  Not that I want a gloomy holiday, but why don’t we sit shiva and get deli if we’re honoring men and women who died so that we could remain free?

A further complication in my differentiating between Memorial and Labor Days was that, as a child, after my long internment at “camp” I was finally released at the end of summer.  I had counted the days, nearly drowned, watched my counselors learn their fates from the Viet Nam draft lottery, watched one dance with manic glee to the Doors’ “Light My Fire” when he learned he was somewhere around 265 out of 365 and unlikely to be called up to the war, and so I had just returned from a private hell of my own.

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Learning how to see

May 7, 2010

I found myself rather choked up recently listening to an NPR profile of a new book—Dorthea Lange:  Drawing Beauty out of Desolation.  The strange thing was that I was moved by the story of an artist who made a difference for all our collective children… at the expense of her own children.

Something about the angst, the drive, the ambition, the woundedness struck me as more deeply human than might a story of a more conventionally “good” mother.  I have often been struck by the pain of parents who were unable to optimally care for their children, sometimes due to psychosis, sometimes to economics, perhaps even from narcissism… yet I have always glimpsed the anguish peeking out from the nearly drawn shutters of the psyche.

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Aging out of being cared for… or about

April 14, 2010

A recent NPR story about Aging out of Foster Care brought many memories and emotions from days toiling in the trenches of non-profit mental health back to the forefront of my mind.  As our kids near 18 many of us think about college for them, however, for 30,000 foster teens this year alone, the arrival of their 18th birthday means not the guided transition to college or the co-facilitated exploration of quasi-independent living, but the end of support altogether.

In a sense, at least at first glance, the core of this issue is money; yet I would argue that the true core of the issue is consciousness—the will of the group to see itself as a group, with no one beyond the reach of true caring.  When I worked as a group home therapist, kids counted the days until turning 18—a time they imagined that they would magically have their own apartments, their own cars, girlfriends and good jobs (if they thought about work at all).  Emancipation was the dream of freedom and a better life, but as the day actually neared, nerves became more the issue than elation and cold feet or not, those feet had to hit the road.

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Running away… at four

April 13, 2010

“This is my house and if you don’t like the rules you can leave!” my dad said tersely through clenched teeth, as if he were in a board meeting with some rivalrous upstart challenging his supreme authority.  I was four.

But from the start I always had some sort of fire in my gut; maybe it was pride, maybe it was a touch of x-ray vision for other people’s B.S., or some father-transmitted issue with authority figures already coming back to bite my dad in the rear, some perhaps a touch of Cool Hand Luke go-ahead-and-hit-me, but I will get back up streak of oppositionality, but I calmly took my preschool lunch pail off the kitchen counter and walked to the big front door.  I slammed it hard and loud on the way out, and stepped free into the brilliance of a fine late spring morning.

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