Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Back to Re-al-i-ty, Uh Huh!

So what’s next? It’s always both exhilarating and daunting to roll up my mental sleeves and face the real world after a long holiday. And since my long holiday also included a pleasant 3-week trip to Kenya via the 2010 SLS Kenya writing gig as well as a round of Solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s cheer, the windshield of my about-face (that’s windscreens to you UK and Commonwealth folk) is plastered more with jellyfish than sundogs.
The least of  this year's new cycle was my propensity to organize my stuff, because I’ve had to deal with stuff on so many different levels in the past 18 months already. My stuff is well-organized or out of sight. And it usually makes me happy to sort it out.
The part of my stuff that brings me to tears is trying to adjust to not having my own desk in my current living situation. My beloved oak desk and antique oak office chair, which I bought for $100 and $50, respectively, at a used furniture store over a decade ago, seem to spark and enhance my mental acuity. They both now live with that giant pile of unused stuff I mentioned in my previous post.
At any rate, the desk, along with my rattan filing drawers were part of system that is now interrupted. I did move my the filing drawers into my new room last fall (one of my brothers insulted my lovely filing system and said why didn’t I throw it away and he’d buy me a new one – but what do men know – it just needed dusting off!). But without that desk and the old arrangement I’d gotten used to in a decade of experimentation with paperwork flow, I’m floundering.
At the core of this, I seem to be having trouble creating a smooth inbox / outbox system with my correspondence. The online stuff seems to take care of itself without fanfare, but my snailmail stacks and my calendar book seem to be too easy to ignore or temporarily misplace. I guess I’ll just have to literally set up a brightly labelled inbox and outbox on my file cabinet, depressing and business office-like though that is, because I can’t seem to wrap my mind around any of this even after 3 months of living here. I suppose the long break from daily reality and immersion into the world of fiction and tourism didn’t help either.
Then there’s the worry – in the back of my mind, of course – that I’m losing it. My family has members who have lost it to Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia, and general garden-variety dementia, so any lapse of memory on my part tends to make me wonder if I’m losing it too. This is probably a normal reaction when you’re well past 50 and looking at how the months stack up to 60 and beyond. There’s just more life behind than ahead, so the quality of what's left becomes an issue.
I say that I think all this in the back of my mind, because of course, living in the present moment without attachment to past or future is a particularly sane way to live. This brings more sundogs than jellyfish into your life. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, as the pundits say, and a good way to waste it is by grappling not only with unnecessary physical stuff but with thoughts that have nothing to do with present moment.
Again, I’m talking more to myself than to you, dear reader, so please don’t mind my rambling. Sometimes I just have to write these things down because I’m a very hands-on and writing-focused person. For me, saying things aloud or thinking about them is sort of like trying to capture clouds in jars. Writing makes things real for me. So this blog is, in many ways, just letters to myself. If you enjoy Jellyfish Day and take away something from it, then so much the better. That’s a sundog and something I can live with.
I guess I’m repeating myself here, but so be it. I’m a senior and I will likely repeat myself this whether I or  anyone else likes it or not.
Suddenly my mind jumped on the fact that this is 2011, sort of the gateway to 2012 and all that prophecy about the ascension and attendant bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.
I’m going to let that thought melt away. It’s supposed to be a rather good thing to watch thoughts as though they’re clouds passing over the clear blue sky of the true nature of our minds. Or like waves on the surface of the ocean, which is vast and still underneath the roiling surface.
I figure that just the little daily issues that we all encounter are enough jellyfish to deal with. The decaying age, in Buddhist terminology, makes EVERYTHING hard to accomplish, so say my Tibetan teachers. So little things thwack you in the face like squishy jellyfish and are just as problematic as the larger world. As above, so below.
So, all this frustration is reflected in the the voice of the overworked / underpaid school administrator who rushes you off the phone when you’re trying to deal with a simple issue for your child’s education. And reflected in dealing with the tired and unhelpful clerk at the grocery store who looks like he would dearly love to get off work and go home, or wrangling with the darn Redbox machine that doesn’t register the return of a DVD.
The generosity of humans and their systems is not impeccable, particularly not in the week after a long holiday, so sometimes we have to be the generous ones instead. This means politely overlooking the rough spots. It isn’t easy, especially when public servants, whether live or mechanical, are paid to serve. It’s annoying and my tendency is to bite back or complain about lack of sensitivity or competency.
Like jellyfish, these incidents sometimes sting and too many of these incidents in one day just, well, suck. Living with jellyfish is the practice of patience and we are supposed to be grateful to those who give us the opportunity to be patient.
So I have gratitude coming out my ears.
This seems to be the stuff that New Year’s reality is made of. Though the date marks a fresh new cycle, it’s still mid-winter and the season doesn’t exactly reek of fresh beginnings even with the date 01/01/2011 posted all over the place. Spring marks the New Year in many societies, which makes more sense to me. Spring is a sundog season. Plus, in the bigger picture that I said I would ignore above, the economy is still a shambles even though rhetoric has it getting better, birds are dropping dead from the sky, and there seems to be a crisis of some sort or a war around every corner.
But this is human life and sort of the way it always is, on some level or another.
And this, my post, is the dust churned up by the wild horses of the mind that careen around at 3 a.m. So excuse me whilst I go and attempt to tame them. Thanks for your patience!

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