I have gotten this strange but oddly satisfying notion in my head that every once in a while a certain creature comes into my life in order to teach me something important. For lack of a better term I have been calling it my spirit animal and I have only really had a few. For the last few years my spirit animal has been the crow. An intelligent, strong and resilient animal. I admire them immensely and will always have a special place in my heart for them.
I don’t choose my spirit animal. Fate, mother nature, my own craziness or whatever chooses for me. and it takes a long time for me to be certain on the right one, and the timing must be right; the moment must be ready for a lesson.
And so keeping that in mind let me set the stage. we have been providing a few nuts and seeds to some of the urban wildlife that come to visit us in the wilds of our apartment “backyard”. We live on the edge of an urban wildlife corridor of sorts and we have gotten many visitors, mostly squirrels and birds, some raccoons, a little lame rat that I can’t bring myself to hate and the odd deer or two and even a hawk once.
Our little buddies are quite friendly and amuse us with their antics and honor us with their wild friendship.
One day came the tiny chickadee, it didn’t want nuts or seeds. It just flew in and tried to find a place to land. It fluttered around a bit before settling on a iron trellis located in a bright blue pot, from there surrounded by white jasmine blossoms it sang to me for what seemed like long time, probably only a minute or two, before it flew back into the trees. I was delighted to receive such a visit and so when I received a few more from this a very vocal bird who seemed desperate to want to tell me something, I knew that I must listen carefully and so after the fourth or fifth visit I finally started to get it. An image formed in my mind and I knew exactly what to do . I filled fresh water in the one container we had out and then I got two more, including a little one I placed near the bushes for the little birds who may feel safer there. I went back inside and closed the screen door. I was immediately rewarded by the little chickadee. It flew down and began to drink. Then came two others who joined the party, drinking at their own separate dishes. Afterward and since I have noticed the water being greatly appreciated by many more animals than we imagined.
A part of the creek where we live has been dammed up by the homeless people who have camped back in the brush and blackberry brambles behind our apartment. They have been polluting the water with trash and the area around it. This has been a water source for many animals including the deer who pass through the area seasonally.
There is not much we can do. We have reported the camp and so have some of our neighbors but the situation as of now remains as it is. Local officials are wary of breaking up camps due to Covid.
And so we keep our water dishes filled.
We do what we can with our little bits of good. The chickadee did have something valid to tell me and I have learned to listen to such messages.
So do I think the chickadee is my latest spirit animal?
I don’t know at this time but I do know I have much to learn. And why not have an open mind and listen?
Writing takes up a lot of time. It’s easy to say to someone to make time like one can manufacture this precious commodity at the kitchen table with some sparkly glitter, a hot glue gun and determination. Time can not be made. We only have 24 hours in a day. Many of those hours are wasted, in my opinion, on sleep and unless you are independently wealthy or retired, you need to work. Cleaning, cooking, laundry and other chores take a big bite out of what time we have left. And what is left? A few stolen moments ducked into a closet pounding away softly on a keyboard, trying to convey some deep ponderous shit then getting stuck trying to come up with the perfect word for “Fucking stressed out”, scared as hell that any minute someone will find you and interrupt your train of thought. Ouch! That is painful. To me writing is like flying. Once you are in the zone it becomes effortless. You are like a bird and enjoying the hell out of it and then all of a sudden some person takes a machine gun and innocently shoots you out of the sky. You land on the hard ground with a thud. UGH.
How anyone can do this is beyond me. And so when I say that I have no time to write, believe me.
But I do feel the pressure of time, its heaviness. I feel it ticking away. I feel there are moments forgotten, words not written. I feel there is something lost that I may never get back. And so my fear of crash landing is being overshadowed by my fear of never flying at all.
And so if my work is unpolished, or if I publish a little prematurely, without over considering my word choices trying not to offend anyone or give anyone cause to criticize. Yes, I know that I abuse commas and semicolons. So be it. Life is much too short and I am becoming much too wise to be so stupid as to get hung up on the illusion of perfection. I am going to write what’s in my heart no matter how light and fluffy or dark and deary I am feeling at the time.
And we only so much time.
That being said, I am stealing a few moments on my day off, cat by my side, back door open to the sounds of traffic and birds. My mind is open to possibilities and opportunities. I am finding this little break enjoyable and the chickadees seem to agree as the chorus rages on outside.
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”
“The richness of a moment comes when it’s both full and empty at the same time. The truth is, we live simultaneously in time and timelessness.” ~ Ram Dass
Where does reality leave off and imagination take over? Does it matter?
All at once the light of overcast day turns to fog as we step between the two tall pines and descend into into darkening wood.
I proceed with an uncharacteristic reverence, my steps slow and deliberate.
The air is damp. Tufts of fogginess elongate, curving and curling between the trees trunks like an asp lending an air of mystery to the atmosphere. Although I am inside a natural area that’s inside a large park, I could be anywhere.
There is a sense of timeless here, of ancientness. I can smell it. The pine needles, the mud, the old leaves, the moss. Ancestral memories encoded in my DNA have been awakened. I feel oddly at home, every twist and turn takes me deeper and deeper in.
My usual gleefulness is gone, replaced by a watchfulness. Where my causal romp through the woods has become more than causal. I notice my steady breaths and I notice the birds are quiet. It seems as everything is at a standstill, but me.
It’s as though I am walking through a dream. The haze grows murkier with every step, my footing has been lost in the fog. The path twists and turns and suddenly I find I have lost the path altogether. The mossy floor feels like soft clouds and I imagine I am high in the sky feeling the cool fresh air. I feel so relaxed and at ease , I am compelled to sleep…
Then I spy glossy black wings in the corner of my mind’s eye and hear the cawing of the crows… …suddenly I’m back on the ground slipping in the mud, catching myself in dreamland and jolting myself awake. Better watch my step…haha.
All photos taken by me on The Wildwood Trail in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon.
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” ~ John Muir
Oh how I stumble and bumble, oh how clumsy I have become. Once I glided upon air like a bird in flight. Now I stagger across a concrete landscape like a glazed-over drunk in need a cup of strong coffee to wake me the hell up.
Once the thoughts flowed out like chocolate cake batter; smooth, concise, beautiful. Words would combine to make a confection of sorts, an image, an idea, a feeling that would be felt by the reader. It was a gift I possessed or at least I though I did once…
Being a loner who was good with words I felt at home with them and would be able to convey whatever I wanted, It was so natural, so easy. I took this for granted I knew no other way …now I struggle for the right words , the right combination of them. It is frustrating, there is much locked up behind me , behind the facade; the face(s) I show to the world. I ache to use words again how I used to, I ache to be able to walk along the beach and listen to the ocean, taking in everything in that moment and giving it back to the world…in words..in images…making art of life and inspiring others to do the same…
This is not what I do know and I don’t dare call myself a writer, writers write, I talk about writing. This makes me a talker.
So here I am writing my first post in a zillion years, Stumbling over every word. Pissed at myself for allowing the excuse of not having enough time to take away from myself one of the greatest pleasures I have ever known.
Although I have lost ground in skill and effectiveness and definitely in refinement I have gained a courage I did not know before. I’m not only able to grow a beautiful garden I am tough enough to protect it with my shovel and I will.
I have learned that one can stay too much in the middle and that my fear of offending someones effected my writing. It effected my creativity and it effected my effectiveness. While I could say something very nicely it did not make what I was saying very important. In that I have changed because I believe there are things we should stand up for in this crazy world. I am finished being afraid. I will speak my truth , how I see it and to hell with anyone who wants to attack me for it.
And with that I will bid my adieu for now, I think I have broken through, thanks for listening.
…well I used to have one. I mean I used to write one, quite regularly; at least twice a week. I wrote over 200 posts, most of them fairly long. They are on an array of subjects, some of them are okay, some kinda good.
It was a labor of love really. I poured my heart out loud into the universe. I expressed myself. I made friends from all over the world I would chat with. I had fun and I also had lots of time on my hands, much more than I do now.
Time, that awful excuse. I doubt I lack talent, It is in there somewhere. And I do have something to say and a orgasmictorium of stories inside my crazy brain. I can blame the lack of time or place but it is I who makes my own circumstance. Time ticks away, yes that damn time always ticking in the background.
No one lives forever…even childlike creatures such as myself…
I know I must make it a priority.
And thinking,,,pondering. THAT is essential!
One of the problems with this society is that not enough thought is given, we are all much too busy wrapped up in “the drudgery of everyday existence and all that” I like many of you wonder what is the point?
Hard not to. I sit here on a rare silent Saturday. It is early morning. The sun is streaming through the window and I am on floor, sitting with my trusty white laptop. It has seen “better” days, I suppose. The O and L keys are completely worn away along with the I. Half the E is gone and the N is on the verge of disappearing altogether. To add the that the seven is coming off and it is filled with about 5 years of memories, pieces of my life encased in pixels. If anything such as this could hold a part of a person, this computer contains a part of me.
I have changed over the years. I have gone beyond my comfort zone, I have outed and declared myself and have freed myself from much which did not serve me. I have busted out of my shell and I am ready to contribute more. I have learned some lessons as I continue to do. This late bloomer is still blooming
Just one more thing, the writing part..
My ex boyfriend/partner, the man I lived with for 17 years (also known as MM to those who have been around for a while) said that my problem was that I wrote too much about myself. He told me a lot of things, much I believed, much I now know was wrong.
I told him there are a million writers in the world, all with something to say. I am a mere drop in the bucket, a soul pouring myself out into a silent universe…but I am unique. just like everyone of us. There is only one me, whatever that means. The best thing I can write is what comes from my heart, from my soul and that is what I must do. I cannot do any less.
I happen to know more about myself than anything or anyone. But I also know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do. Others can and do relate. We are all connected even we we are apart.
and so…MM is in the old house with the cats. I am here with my new cat and new love. A lot has changed in the past year, but not my desire to write and as always I lament my lack of writing time as I pound these white fading keys…
Let’s see what I can come up with.
Thanks for stopping by. This blog is NOT completely dead.
Totally “unrelated” stuff I put in for the hell of it.
The wilds touch my back door. A part of them does anyway. Strangeish insects and unfamiliar Corvids enliven the “wilds”of my new backyard. Tall skinny Evergreens surrounded by persistent English ivy. Small deciduous trees that await new spring leaves dot the landscape accented by bright green moss providing splashes of color that reminds me that spring really truly here.
A tiny brook babbles on by fifteen feet below. I can hear frogs in the morning and the friendly neighbor’s cat comes to greet me in the bright but cool sunshine. I am beginning to attune to my new atmosphere.
It is different here but I find much beauty in this newness.
I am now an apartment dweller. My big yard has been replaced by this woodsy spot with two cement slabs and the before-mentioned surrounding moss which will now serve as my garden area. I have three large pots, empty for now. I will certainly get more. Out of the thousands of plants in my old yard I brought only one; the meadow rue. It lies dormant under the soil in an indigo planter awaiting warmer weather. It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make but in order to make a new life for oneself one must put aside the old.
I have done a lot of that lately; setting aside.
After a 17 year relationship I parted ways with someone who wasn’t good for me. My trusting nature and naivety paired with my wholehearted belief in redemption kept this damaging storm rolling much too long despite the, obvious to others, unhappiness it was bringing me. When living inside the eye of the hurricane; the epicenter of emotional and psychological abuse, you can’t see how bad it really is. Over time the abnormal can become the normal.
And a deep sadness can embed itself in you and you don’t realize how awful it really is in part because if you stop and do this it will break your heart and maybe you can’t go on. And so I put what I thought was a convincing happy face to the word and went on. Inside a hole grew and grew and in time, by the end of those 17 years, it was a giant gaping hole…a chunk torn out of me and beat to hell.
My yard which was in it’s entirety what I deemed my salvation would have to be left behind. My cats too. Spotsy and my Mario would stay with the house and the yard and it’s owner. I left with my two kids ( 18 and 21 ) to go live in an apartment across town. A new place of sanctuary. A place of freedom with my name on the lease.
It’s different but it is becoming home. Home is really in the people you are with not the place anyway.
I was fortunate to meet someone at work. An amazing person I knew that I knew the instant we met. I have been having the pleasure of getting to know him ever since. We all live together in this apartment that skirts the edge of this thin strip of urban woods.
There is a freeway that lies beyond it. I can hear the traffic, its steady hum sounds like the ocean to me, it is easy to drift to sleep to.
I feel free and happy and loved. I feel confident and hopeful, more than ever.
The hole in my soul is filled, love pours out and spills out into the world. I am grateful. I thank God everyday. I am blessed beyond measure. I have the opportunity to start anew and this I will do, This I am doing.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
We are born of Chaos. A singularity known as the Big Bang sent forth into being an ever expanding commencement of all things.
Clouds of dense gas and swirling universes come together and are pulled apart….Stars are born, they shine and explode and then die. Black holes devour all they touch. Galaxies collide spraying stars into eternity. Particles are continuously being created and destroyed; blinking in and out of existence akin to a ginormous Schlesinger’s Cat.
We are born of hydrogen and oxygen, of nothingness and of everything. We are truly stardust come down to Earth.
Our home this planet has had a violent past and without all that disarray and upheaval we would not be here today.
We come from chaos and someday we’ll return there too. This is how infinity perpetrates itself.
We are a part of that.
As we are a part of everything.
Albert Einstein once said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. He knew that a stirring of the waters can sometimes conger up the fish. We know from history that many a good thing can result from many a bad thing indeed and if necessity is the mother of invention then perhaps chaos can be the father of the creative thought that sparks that necessity.
Fate forces our hand and we must act, even inaction is a form of action or reaction. We can go with the flow or fight it. Life is a raging river, never standing still, always moving, never the same…change is the only constant.
The death of one can come about the birth of another
Chaos is raw violence. It rips apart what was to make room for what will be. In it’s upheaval change does not waiver. It is indifferent to fate. It just is. Change devours the status quo. In its varying degrees it can make quite an impact. Life ebbs and flows. Stability returns with the growth that follows upheaval. Life is but a dance between the two extremes seeking to find an undulating balance between them.
Music interrupts silence and color disturbs the black and white. The peanut butter in my ice cream has only increased it’s tastiness to me
Imagine a world that never changes, a river that never flows, a planet that has lost its spin. Imagine a world without the audacity of daybreak. Imagine a blank piece of paper where words will never be. Imagine the leaves never falling off the trees, or crying babies never being born, imagine the butterfly never emerging from her chrysalis and becoming the butterfly she is meant to be…
This is why we need chaos you see…
Despite the pain of upheaval. Wonderful things can be found among the ruins. Sometimes it can be oneself.
I am myself at a time in my life where I have found the courage to make some drastic life changes. I write this as I sit in my new apartment, my name on the lease. It is mostly devoid of things for now but it holds the most precious thing of all: Love. The love that this place abounds in. I am truly blessed to have people around me that love me and encourage me to be the best me I can be. An unexpected butterfly landed on my shoulder one day last February and I haven’t been the same since. I found the strength to leave a situation that was not healthy for me or my children. I have taken upon myself to change this situation that I had lived with for many years. I will continue to keep you posted. Suffice to say I am happy and excited!!
Look deeper through the telescope and do not be afraid when the stars collide towards the darkness, because sometimes the most beautiful things begin in chaos.” ― Robert M. Drake
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Each day is a new beginning, a chance to begin again. We shed the confining skin of yesterdays troubles, concerns and “mistakes” and emerge anew full of life and with the vitality of hope and exuberance, at least I hope so. At least that is what I tell myself at 7:15 a.m. while on my way to my newest adventure.
My year and a half long foray into retail at a well known-they-have-a-parade big chain department store has ended and I am stepping right inside another and very different job with just one day in between. It was an easy decision to make. I am getting more hours at more pay with less work. It was sad to leave nonetheless. I have met so many wonderful and amazing people there and that is what makes a place; the people I work with. I also liked the quick pace and flurry of activity, and although I excelled at that job and felt comfortable there, my dissatisfaction with a lack of opportunity has made me seek it elsewhere.
It’s scary to go out of one’s comfort zone as I am doing it once again. I was just settling in which I found myself jumping. Truth be told I do feel like I need to make up for lost time, which at 46 I really do. I have been feeling more outgoing and confident in the last year and this has prompted an ambition in me which I didn’t know I possessed and this has surprised me.
It seems everything is beginning to come together and it feels great.
These thoughts race through my mind as we turn the corner and the mountain comes into view. MM is so correct when he told me about the sunrises here. The morning sky is a vibrant purple erupting with brilliant tangerine. Wow! It is an almost surreal scene and it lends an air of excitement to the morning I didn’t expect…like I needed more excitement on my first day. I choose to see it as a good sign and MM sees at as a sign that he should pull over because I will want to snap some shots and he is so right again.
I marvel at the way life can abruptly change; just like that. One day you wake up to one reality and then the next day you can be living an entirely new one. Each day has it’s own distinct sunrise, it’s own set of challenges and moments of serendipity. Some days are so bloody fantastic that you have to pinch yourself just to make sure you aren’t dreaming. While others are more akin to nightmares. Most days fall someplace in between. Every day memories are being created and etched into our minds, memories that make us who we are and what we will be. There are days that can break us but these are the days that can make us stronger. Every day is a risk. To leave your house is a risk, to never leave is one also. The uncertain is fraught with perceived risk. Whether this is entirely justified is unclear to me.
Taking on a new job is a risk. To go out of one’s comfort zone and try anything new takes a fair amount of courage. I will confess I am a bit nervous on my first day but the sky invigorates me. I take it all in. My heart pounds, my pulse races. I feel so alive! A warm surge of excitement fills and tickles my every molecule. I’m living in the moment from sunrise to sunrise, one step leads to the next and I take it all in like I do the sky; my life, the new people that I meet. This is scary but it is good…
And now two weeks have passed…
I have good days. I have had not so good ones. All in all it’s been a positive experience. I now work in an office out by the airport that has big windows so I can always see the sky. I keep regular hours and have weekends to spend with my family. During lunch I go for “nature” walks. So far I have seen a fox and a bumblebee and numerous birds. Spring will soon be here. I can feel it. I can see it in the tiny crocus erupting from the ground in my backyard, I can hear it in the song of the birds in the morning and I can see it in the glorious sunrise I see in the morning. I am happy and content. Life is good and it’s getting better all the time.
A sampling of the beauty I am fortunate to witness . My cheap little camera does not do it justice…
An elderly neighbor of mine passed away last autumn. I didn’t realize this until the following spring when I saw people pull up in front of her little green house on the corner to carry away her things. First it was the chair, then a couch and a tall lamp. This came as a surprise as change tends to do. Abrupt and unexpected. She was old and frail and we’d seen less and less of her over the years. Her son Lenny lived with her and tended to the maintenance of the house and yard. He was a shy and gentle soul who never let anyone get to know him except for the neighborhood cats, which he attracted in droves.
As neighbors go they were my favorites. I like shy and gentle people, the elderly and cats. I was a bit pissed at myself for not knowing what had happened for almost 6 months.
MM suggested we go over and take a look at the obvious to us now, estate sale that was happening at the little green house on the corner. I admit I was curious as I had never been inside. I wondered where her son was as I got on my shoes and we headed over.
Half the neighborhood was there sprinkled among the other shoppers. I was stricken at first at how cramped it was, full of people pawing through Angie’s things. I felt funny. I didn’t know her all that well but now I felt sort of protective of her stuff and her memory. I took a quick tour of the downstairs bedroom. I saw her hairbrushes and clothes for sale. It seemed all too intimate, all too strange and all too much.
Oh I had spoken to her several times over the years exchanging cards at Christmas and the like. I knew she had lived there for over 40 years and had raised a family, watched most her children move away and start lives of their own. I know her husband had died there. I know that she seemed somewhat hard and no nonsense. I know that my preconceived notions about her had allowed me to keep her at arms length like I do with most people.
But now it was so different, so final..
The rooms were tiny and jam packed with various things. It was overwhelming right away: there was so much. It was difficult to take it all in. The first thing I zeroed in on was a set of commemorative dishes priced at $650 dollars next to a tin of cocoa marked “new” and on sale for one dollar. Along with old dishes and salt and pepper shakers shaped like Minnie and Mickey, there was a package of paper towels for sale and paper napkins. Who buys this stuff? I wondered to myself and more importantly who sells this? I was tempted to open the refrigerator to see if there was some old milk for sale but decided against it.
MM beckoned me up the flight of steep creaky stairs that led to the upstairs bedrooms, all small and filled to the brim with stuff. Old holiday decorations and kids toys neatly arranged in boxes. It was hard to believe they had hung on to these items for so long.
The atmosphere was oppressive, it was thick with oldness and stagnation. I could feel the 40 years of history there. This was once a place of life and hopes and dreams and now only lost memories remained. It was as if the remains of a sweetness had stagnated and turned acrid; buried under the heaviness of the years.
It wasn’t long before I had to get out. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t planning to.
Time passes so quickly. It’s too easy to just go with the flow and let circumstance carry you along. I am in the midst of that and I sensed my neighbor was too but only she had floated farther than I…and stayed too long, accumulated too many things with too many links to the past. So many that there was scant room for anything or anyone else.
So much stuff with so many memories attached to them. It’s easy to do; hang on to things. I too have that pack rat mentality. Sometimes you never know when you may need something.
More importantly, these cherished bits of happiness; intangible memories encased in tangible objects enable us to hold a piece of the past. It seems holding on to these things brings us closer to what we miss. It’s a little silly when you think about the significance we give to objects, it’s not logical. But who is logical? Especially not when we love someone. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I truly understood how important mere objects can become.
I have limited myself a few items, tokens of memory, attached to a person not so much as a time. A few items: a Buddha statue of my father’s and his namesake tree in the front yard. A tiny doll my teenage daughter played with when she was younger, The blue striped blanket my son came home from the hospital with. I have kept the odd concert ticket, a tiny figurine from when I was 4. There isn’t much.
I’ve been ruminating on this experience all summer. It’s prompted me to re think the way I’m living my life. How I hang on to needless things. The tangible and the not so tangible. Outdated stuff, old baggage, outgrown ideas and ways of thinking. How possessions can possess the possessor and how little by little all this stuff we accumulate weigh us down… keeps us from flying.
Perhaps my neighbor missed her chance to fly, maybe her son being thrown out of the nest so late is in flight now. At any rate we all must go someway, somehow. I ponder this as I watch my neighbor’s tree come down foot by foot until it’s gone and I realize it’s been blocking what I see now is a great view of the mountains.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh
42 drafts…well 43 drafts sit here waiting in my to do box like faithful canine friends patiently awaiting my return. They sit in various forms of completion and come in all shapes and sizes; some are tiny puppies of a paragraph or two, others are stately Great Danes of considerable verbiage that lack a certain something, a doneness, something beyond simple edits and rewrites. I cannot truly write anything worthy before it’s time. The moment must be right.
And so as a result…
They are an ever-growing mass, these unfinished ones. They haunt the corners of this blog walking from room to room looking for something. Some whine for attention, others howl, most just sit there. As you have probably guessed, I have a case of chronic procrastination. I have always been this way; I start a multitude of creative projects only to have them linger in some state of incompletion. I am sort of infamous around here, at least at the little red house on 79th street, for having a million and one ideas that I never follow through on.
As time goes on this weighs on me more and more. These unfinished things represent this whole tendency of mine and along with my Asperger’s has served as my excuse for my holding myself back from participating in life. I’ve always been a terrific starter but a horrible finisher.
And there is such a multitude of business…my mind comes on like a radio with a half a dozen stations all competing for my attention. At times it can be hard to pick just one. One idea will give birth to the next. And one draft can easily grow into two or more. Many cousins akin to these drafts are finished posts which haunt the “pages” of this site.
I am a little person with big ideas. Lots of silly ones but others I think may be quite viable. My dream job would be to come up with great ideas for others to implement and charge them for it. I would keep busy in a glorious garden adjacent to a greenhouse with a big lemon tree in the center. Mario, my cat would be my assistant and we would think up great ideas all day while drinking coffee and having fun.
I am over 40, my kids are almost grown. Time is passing. And the time seems right to finish something I suppose. It has been three years since I began this blog; this “great” experiment. My 200 + published posts on this blog have shown me that I can finish something and something I can be proud of. I just have to buy into the hype I been selling: I need to believe and have faith and just do it…
Update: Well..I did it I summoned up the courage and submitted my first piece for publication. I don’t expect to hear anything, it would be a miracle if I did. I had an anxiety attack. I don’t know why.
It is a beginning…
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece”
― Vladimir Nabokov
Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.
I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:
A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.
And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.
How did we get so obsessed with our own image?
The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us. Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic. It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge. The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used. Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.
Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog. I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.) I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us. Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling. Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons. Mere words cannot give the entire picture.
We have a need for each other. A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others. Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane. We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers. Selfies can be fun. Some are very inventive and creative. I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem. There are groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year. I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.
The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison. People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever. Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.
We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves? I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.
The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be. I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces. The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there. Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life? We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.
The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media. The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.
The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.
Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?
And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.
I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.
I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different light. Maybe they are not just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.
We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us. Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.
And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…
As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…
…points to ponder…
Have yourself a wonderful day!
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
I have been invited by my good blogging buddy Cathy to participate in something called a blog hop. At first I thought it was some sort of dance. I have since learned it involves answering some tough hard-hitting questions about writing in a thoughtful, and meaningful way and then passing on the challenge…I mean “invitation” to the next worthy writer who I assume will hop his or her on way to the next contestant. The topic is “Why I write”
Cathy is one of my most favorite people in the entire blogosphere. I have been following her since the beginning. She writes in such a way that conveys friendliness and warmth. Her site is beautiful. Her photos are lovely and her recipes are yummy. I wished she didn’t live so far away because I would love to visit her. Besides having a great blog she is such a great person.
So hop on by to Words and Herbsand visit Cathy and you will see why I like her so much.
Before I get started with my questions I would like to introduce you to Steven Webb. He writes a wonderful blog called The Moving Road. Steven is a wonderful heartfelt writer who has a powerful message of encouragement all his own. I believe he and I share a concern for others and a yearning to inspire people and say “Yes you can!” You can also find Steven on Twitter and Facebook. Go to his site and check him out and find out just how multi talented he is. Once he answers the five questions and publishes his post I will put a link to it HERE.
I blog and tweet about the good stuff, helping people see things differently and overcome their own adversity. Join me on this journey”– Steven Webb
And the funny thing is…
It just so happens that I had just finished being interviewed by Oprah for her magazine. Funny enough she asked me these very same questions (AMAZING! I know) and so out of the kindness of her heart and she is kind that Oprah. She has allowed me to feature the interview in its entirety for you here today.
The Five Questions
What am I working on? Besides the zillion and one drafts in my inbox? My crazy mind has now engaged itself in the production of a feature length extravaganza in the form of a real life book. (yay!) An escapist fantasy adventure that is now unfolding itself in bits and pieces into my eclectic imagination. The more I think of it the more it becomes real. At this point it’s practically creating itself; I close my eyes and watch it form. I have pretty much erected the framework and now I need to fill in the details–the more I write the more it needs to be written and the more I need to write it.
How does my writing differ from others in it’s genre?
I don’t have a genre at all in that I probably differ from most writers. Of the two hundred plus blog posts I have written no two are quite the same. I flutter and flitter around subjects and genres, styles and moods. Words are my paints in every glorious color of the rainbow, my brush slides and glides across the canvas, and from it springs wide landscapes and broad vistas, from the tiny and seemingly insignificant to the giant elephant in the room. I try to capture that all-elusive truth with honest humor and silliness tinged with an underlying something that sneaks up and causes the reader to think or feel. That is what I aim to do anyway. I believe that any writer who wants to engage the reader must write from the bottom of their heart and the deepest reaches of their soul. Never hold back your truth.
I write what’s in my heart, what I care about. I write whatever is floating around in my silly imagination. Slivers and shards of life maneuver and twist themselves into my writing. I wear my heart on my sleeve and on my blog as well.
How does my writing process work? Most of it is spent thinking and not writing at all. Ideas form in my mind and emotions swirl around them. I take notes in one or more of the very many spiral notebooks I have littered all over. From that I will compose on the computer allowing the words to come out. If I have the luxury of peace and quiet the words usually just flow out like water. It is at times the easiest thing in the world for me to do. I wish life were that easy…(sigh)
From there I edit it and tighten it up, smooth it out. MM helps with the punctuation, which I am lousy at. He encourages me to tighten up my long winded run-on sentences which I sometimes do. Then I publish it and forget all about it…then it’s on to the next one!
Of course the book will be different. Much more rewrite and polish. And the publishing part will be more involved than simply clicking “publish”. I’m going to take what I do best and work with what I have and that’s all any of us can do.
I’d write anyway. Even if there was no one to read it. That is how nuts I am.
Have a great day and remember to visit my friends Cathy and Steven.
“My feelings are too loud for words and too shy for the world.”
― Dejan Stojanovic
I have always been shy. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn’t to some degree or another. It’s not just that I don’t know what to say or how to say it, I am afraid to say anything at all.
It is embarrassing and what’s even more embarrassing is that it is so evident. You can’t hide shyness, it is tough to cover. The shy person may look like everyone else on the outside but on the inside he or she doesn’t feel the same.
I remember when I first started kindergarten at age 4. It was my first exposure to a large group of other kids and it was very odd and surreal to me. Everyone seemed so at ease with being themselves. They could move around gracefully whereas I was clumsy. They knew what to say, I never did. I couldn’t understand how they could know what to say.
This was so evident from the very first day. I didn’t understand. It was as if these other kids had been told how to act or if they just knew instinctively.
In my whole school “career” I never spoke up. I never raised my hand or even asked a question, not once. I would willingly take a lower grade in order to get out of public speaking.
All I could do was to try to blend into the background as best as I could. Most of the time it worked. At other times, it did not. From time to time some idiot would make it a point of drawing attention to me and my shyness by making stupid and sarcastic comments about it always within earshot of a crowd . This was horrible and it only drew me more inward.
As an adult shyness has held me back from life. I remember so many instances when I felt I needed to speak up, to say something but so many times I never did. I just let fate and circumstance dictate the direction of my life and to be brutally honest; I haven’t gone far.
Shyness has held me back in life. It has been an albatross around my neck and I want this to stop.
I am better today but it has taken a long time to get where I am now and I still have a long way to go…
Shyness is a prison. It holds its captive in a state of the perpetual outsider even with one’s own family. A shy person rarely makes friends with another, it is the other who must make friends first. For two mutual sufferers of this affliction to meet and later become friends is a very rare and beautiful occurrence indeed.
Often shyness is mistaken for indifference, aloofness and downright coldness. I know when it is happening and I can feel it. There seems to be a wall or some sort of invisible barrier between myself and everyone else. It’s as if it is written on my face, this social awkwardness. I suppose that is why I am telling you this painful embarrassing stuff about me. There is always that one in the crowd, the one that stands a bit a part from everyone else, the one who is always left out of the loop, the one thought unapproachable and unfriendly, may be a warm soul who would love to make a friend but just doesn’t know how. Shyness is not a choice. I do not choose to be this way. It has stunted my growth and my life and as I scramble to make up for lost time at 44 and I feel the need to call attention to the plight of the shy person.
So if you see one of us out there trying to blend into the background wearing an insecure scowl offer up a warm smile or a simple “hello”. This sort of thing spreads. Insecurity and shyness are often go hand and hand. If you see something wonderful in someone, tell them, perhaps they will recognize it too and eventually in time it will be they that say hello to you!
We all have own strengths and weaknesses, no one is perfect. It takes time to get to know someone but it is well worth that time. Shy, not shy…whatever. It is healthy to want to reach out, some of us just need a little help on what may come naturally to others. No one wants to be left out entirely. We are all human with human needs and wants including friends. That’s all.
Have an excellent day!
“If you’re an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell” -that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.” ― Susan Cain