Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The break-up sonnet

Fixable. With the right key. Photo by frankh, Flickr


You are not right for me. So there. It’s said.
I could keep up charades, but we both know
The longer that I try to force a glow,
The closer we’ll both be to being dead —
Which means less time (I say with creeping dread)
For each of us to wander high and low
And — finding Cupid — jump him for his bow
To arrow whom we’re meant to love instead.

But then I peer into the yawning hole
Where plus-ones disappear — negated, lost —
And all my heart’s investments sink to naught:
No ring, no home, no child, no mated soul.
I’m tempted thus to disregard the cost
Of speaking less than truth, even if fraught.

Prayer #265: For Anyone Who's Ever Broken Up With Someone Else

To my God
who speaks to me with a still, small voice
who helps me hold up my end of the bargain
who governs all love, be it found, lost, or yet unknown --

I ask You
to forgive me for hurting another person
to hug me tight as I relive every prior break-up through the lens of the latest
to help me resist the temptation to seek comfort from the one other person I know is grieving the same loss I am
to give me the courage to keep seeking

to keep hoping
to keep trusting
to keep loving

to pray the prayer I feel selfish praying
but is not selfish at all
because You have placed it in my heart.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Reread what your life has written

Reread. Photo by EssG, Flickr
"If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us we'd be millionaires." -- Abigail Van Buren

The act of handwriting can be a form of kinesthetic reinforcement. What you write down etches on your mind. But even if you wrote your hand clean off, it wouldn't be enough to cement all the lessons, reminders, and warnings life piles on before bed each evening. So we capture what we can, go to sleep, and hope for the best.

Enter, then, revisiting. Rereading, if you will, be it literal notes or records, or rewatching a memory through a shadow box of time and new experiences. In both cases, your once-lived life plays out within a handmade diorama -- a construction paper construct that represents its original, vivid source.

It seems depressing to say it that way -- construction paper, after all, is prone to tears, fading, and overall disintegration -- but I'm making the point that we don't have exact moments again. Ever. The experience is immediate, then past. A match struck, where the brilliant burst first catches, burns a bit, then dwindles, spent. The key is to save the match and write with the char: Here's what I saw in the light.

Quote yourself. Photo by Purple Penning, Flickr

Case in point: Italian Mother Syndrome. I've been blogging here for years, and I've never intended it to be a confessional journal. For me, these posts are my char -- the distillation of burning moments that recast me in a new light.

Every so often, I scroll through previous posts to see what I've talked about. Reflecting via timestamp has reminded me, at various points, that grief is a gift, that joy can be terrifying, that the love of life is growing for me, that aging is a blessing and a curse, and that yes, I will die.

However, what's most telling is how I wrote about these topics. As I reread them, I am back in that unique moment. I remember what line made me tear up or what picture I chose to make myself giggle. I remember what inspired me to write it and what I was moved to do next. And invariably I find a post that captures what I'm feeling or facing or fussing about now, in this moment, and I remember that I did learn this lesson once and clearly need to re-learn it.

What if I never re-read, then? Would I never re-learn? Or would I still re-learn, only without recognizing the "re" component? How long does it take to learn a lesson? How long should it take? Are there some that always switch disguises, Tony Mendez-like, clever and clandestine with their wisdom? Or are they hiding in plain sight with Groucho glasses and a beanie? Am I, in the end, the chump?

"A kind of miracle." Photo by quinn.anya, Flickr
A step-by-step instruction manual would be a lifesaver. Socrates famously said, "The unexamined life is not worth living," but he was too busy fighting the death penalty at that moment to go into more detail about when to examine vs. when to live. That's the delicate balance, isn't it? If I spent all my time re-reading old posts, I'd never write new ones. Yet if I never revisit original moments, I risk repeating epiphanies.

My solution: do a little bit of each as the spirit moves me. Look to learn to live. Live to learn to look.

Prayer #264: Bookmarked Wisdom

We start fairy tales with "once upon a time," even though we know few stories are new and time never happens just once. Still, we perpetuate the fiction; it's easier to accept truth wrapped in a bedtime yarn than to watch it thud, bald and broken, at your feet during your morning walk.

Your life has its own narrative, of which you are both writer and reader. Crack the spine. Scribble in the margin. Reread the dog ears. The book is yours to complete, and yours to revise.