Posts Tagged ‘transition’

Moving

December 14, 2011

“No!” My mom shouted at the cat, which promptly ran into the house through the open door.

It was a fraught morning, the moving guys ready to roll, the house empty after 50 years of life there.

It was not our cat; grey and white; lovely, really.  We had never had a cat.

My brother and I had spent the day before and late into the night boxing up and tossing out, giving away and sorting out.  The last box we’d found contained the last of my old papers.  I hadn’t lived in this house since 1978.  Circa 1975, apparently, I was writing short fiction about suicide.  Nice.  That short story was right next to my summer camp photo book and a picture book about Dachau.  Nice.  Late at night, on the last night of anything, things can get a little wonky.

My earliest memory is a view of arching trees on the windshield of the moving truck that took us to the house my mom was now leaving.  Those grand Dutch Elms had long ago fallen to disease.  I never much liked my childhood house, but I loved those trees, the scream of summer cicadas, the gold-green light dappled below the leafy tunnel and was heartbroken when the Village of Lincolnwood chain-sawed them all down.

I followed the grey and white cat through my childhood house.  It went to my childhood bedroom, empty but for paw-prints of furniture embedded in the carpet.  I followed the cat to my parents’ bedroom, the gold shag carpet sad, worn out.

I followed the cat and imagined that it was a spirit, gathering spirit and releasing ghosts, completing a long chapter that was now closing.  I followed the cat back out the front door and down the walk, myself walking out for the last time from my childhood house.  The cat lay on its back for a moment in the morning sun on a cold, clear Chicago December Friday, and then it sauntered off down the sidewalk, heading east, completing something for me, with me—free spirits.

I led the way at the wheel of my sister-in-law’s 4×4, heading east, with the moving truck behind me.  The re-grown trees arched in the windshield behind me.  We had pulled up from the west, all those years ago, and now we pulled away to the east.

Transition is hard, but my mom is happy in her new place.  And I’m happy for her.

Namaste, BD

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Fixie

November 30, 2011

“It’s a very simple machine.  I feel very connected to what’s going on.”

Will says this as we’re riding together on a crystalline Sunday as the clock arcs to noon and then crests it as we race like mad on the straightaway home.

Fixed gear bikes, or “fixies” are really a throwback to the first bikes—your feet do not coast but must continually turn as the gears do.  You can also pedal backward—and go backward (if you are skilled enough to not simply crash), and in this way a fixie echoes the very concept of time, at least as cutting edge scientists are now suggesting—as likely to work in reverse as forward… ultimately existing only as a way by which we experience ourselves, but in no ultimate sense real, fixed, sequential or causal:  it’s just one big eternal now, even if that blows us out of the matrix of our socially and neurologically constructed “reality.”

But I’m not here to hate on time.  Bob Dylan suggests that time is a jet plane, and it moves too fast.  Sometimes in parenting this is true, but sometimes time’s a slug and it moves too slow.  Maybe time’s a fixie and goes either way, or maybe a fixie’s just a fixie and a nice bike ride is an eternal pleasure, at least on a stunning fall day as golden red leaves tumble whimsically out of blue and branch.

Thus as we strive beyond ill-timed notions of immortality altogether and trade up toward an eternal to be found perpetually, in all directions, in all situations, in all beings and non-beings—again and again our children, the present moment and love, in all its manifestations, prove to be timelessly pulsing teachers of what it’s all about.

Namaste

Maybe it’s all about love

November 16, 2011

“What are you, Johnny Appleseed?” Peter said, with what felt like mocking contempt.  He was teaching me to be a psychologist, a certain kind of psychologist.

Navy blazer, grey slacks, leather chairs, the austerity of analytic psychology itself a gardened hedge against the chaos of badly wounded psyches and the mayhem of human behavior.

Who am I to plant seeds?  And besides, perhaps it’s the tree itself, and not the snake much less God 2.0, that has played us:  “Hey kids, whatever you do, do not eat that fruit.”  It’s not only bears that shit in the forest.  Really love your peaches, but your tree shakes me.

It was a woman’s hundredth birthday party when I saw Peter in a lovely, albeit cool and drizzly, garden.  Over twenty years his blue eyes had grown soft and his graying beard was soft too.  His leather jacket was soft and his velvet handshake as good as a hug.  Looking into my eyes he said, about therapy, but probably about everything:  “It’s all about love.”

We have a little time

November 9, 2011

“We have a little time,” said my son, sitting at the kitchen island, alert by an extra hour “saved” by changing the clocks around.

So we talked about fear, about movies and about how things that we know are not “real” scare us nonetheless.  I tried to explain the brain, our mythos, our culture of fear, but only because I love my boy.  Yet we all love all the world, don’t we?

It was time to go, so we continued to talk in the car.  He said, “I’m not scared when I’m not alone.”

Occupy Parenting and We Occupy the World

October 19, 2011

As a parent and as a person in the world I’m very excited about the Occupy Wall Street (and Boston, Chicago, LA, London, Paris, etc.) phenomenon precisely because it has no clear agenda.  It is the perfect foil and counterpoint to the double-speak and confusion that has wrecked our collective global culture and left it ripe for transformation.

Of course many will swoop in to try and brand, co-opt, and “lead,” this zeitgeist of occupying, however, the brilliance of the “movement” is that instead of theory-driven, charismatic leadership, it is self-organizing and organically arising.

While the flower-powered protests in the 60’s ended the Vietnam war, they did not usher in the Age of Aquarius.  Perhaps a new paradigm of “occupying,” of simply existing and mattering is what’s happening here, even if what “it” is ain’t exactly clear.

Occupying is a radical transformation of the old order that is so amorphous, and thus so impossible to effectively oppose, that it does not affect social change, it IS social change.

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the institute for non-action

October 12, 2011

You’ll probably think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  Well, also I am, but it’s the dialectic of opposites that proves essential if we hope to unearth and share in the abundant treasure that hovers all around us, waiting patiently for us to savor it in the vivid and immediate realm of life we are living.

I like to tell stories, and I like to explain things—I guess I like to have a little attention now and then and I also like to feel like I’m earning my place at the communal table; but what I really want is to belong, to love, to give, to participate, to feel soft and safe and to have a lot of fun.

In this way, you see, at the quintessential level, we’re really rather the same, you my lovely reader, and me.

And while I don’t particularly wish to start anything new, or lead any particular charge for change, I have been a little bit preoccupied with an idea that feels like some whispering echo from the 1920’s surrealists—or maybe from the pre-historic cave painters.

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A Supernova in my Backyard

September 14, 2011

My neighbor’s tree fell down some months back.  It was as if it had just gotten tired of standing there between our houses and leaned over onto our roof, filling the kitchen window with wet pine boughs.  After the gardener cut the spent leaner into logs the view was bleak stucco.

And so we got a new tree and planted it on our side of the fence.  A Charlie Brown tree that, in honor of being not terribly expensive, is also pretty unobtrusive.  The view is of a wisp of young leaves hardly distracting the eye from a field of sad stucco.

And so I took my latest batch of compost and fed the little tree.  So far the little tree has not grown an inch, but a late summer volunteer tomato has sprung up.

Sometimes we get lost and find things we weren’t seeking.

*

There is a supernova in the pinwheel galaxy right now.  The last one to occur in our celestial hood was in the 1970s.

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Brushstrokes and Butterfly Kisses

August 3, 2011

Do you ever feel like you’re getting the same message in stereo—from multiple sources, perhaps in Surround Sound or Dolby?

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight was recommended to me by both my mom (for better insight into my dad’s stroke) and by Andy (who thought it rather interesting) and by Mark at The Committed Parent.  But we don’t listen, do we… not until some strange dark night of the soul sends us scrambling, under a fully agitated moon, fingers restlessly crossing bookbindings and dust like a spider, searching for wolfsbane, or phosphorus, or just the right page in some arcane alchemical text… searching for the balm, for just the ticket to soothe the savage heart.

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Growing up as America

July 6, 2011

Here we are in July, two days after America’s 235th birthday.  Given that parenting requires us to consider issues such as autonomy, attachment, independence and development, perhaps it’s worth zooming out for a moment and considering our current state of development as a parenting zeitgeist and as a country.

Like stars forming from dust and later burning out and blowing up into dust again, countries are born and they also die.  The Roman Empire has dwindled to a tourist destination (an every-other-month cover of Travel and Leisure) while the sun pretty much does set on the British Empire; meanwhile China and India are growing vigorously toward dominance like well fed children… rising once again (if you look at long-term history).

So, where is America in all this?  America seems to be a country struggling to come out of a very long adolescence.  As a psychologist I have seen that insecure attachment leads to distrust, to problems with relationships—sometimes to avoidance of others, at other times to control and dominance and manipulation of others.  At a national level we have oscillated between isolationism and pre-emptive attacks on perceived enemies.

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Waiting for the End of the World… on the couch

June 1, 2011

We’ve made it well past May’s doomsday prognostications and mercifully into June.  Recent Rapturous predictions of the world’s end have, once again, proven to be greatly exaggerated.  So, now that we’ve dodged yet another kooky bullet, is there anything beyond mirth, snarkiness or the need to invent a new-new-Armageddon math to be learned from this age-old trope?

The freaky guy with an “End is Near” sign is, arguably, an archetype.  If so, Jung’s thinking would suggest that a doomsday figure (Grim Reaper, for example) coils embedded in our individual and collective memories, in our bones or at least in our more esoteric metaphysical collective unconscious.  The power of this archetype (think Darth Vader) is one way to make sense of how much media coverage an unlikely, and now failed, prediction was able to generate; even for a hundred million bucks (what Harold Camping spent) it would be hard for most multinational corporations to get so many of us to be aware of the same thing, even if it was to collectively joke about the same joke.

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