A relative who is dear to me told me about an unexpected and rich conversation where he and his friend, both 60ish, talked with frankness and mutual trust, about their regrets. Something lit up in me to hear that these two had visited a place that is so often confined to dark corners. If only I hadn't ... I wish that had been different... Post-modernism, new age impulses - the philosophies that infiltrate our thinking - don't come with much permission for this particular take on our own lives. And so it remains un-named - grist for the mill of our unconscious, emerging in dream shape, or in the confines of the therapy room, where it can be wrapped up, corners tucked, before we re-enter the 'real' world. Why is this such hot-tin-roof territory? Where the temptation is to reassure, rescue, placate, and blow on our own and each other's paws. If we allow ourselves and others to feel the heat, is that not the place where transformation can take place - with its concomitant gifts of peace and acceptance? Regret is worthy of its name. It asks for a place in our lives. More than this, I think it is our access door to our own pain - that fire that ultimately purifies and re-connects, rather than the one that destroys. Are we - am I - trusting enough to expand our conversation with ourselves - and others if we are so fortunate - into realms that say of regret: yes, I do.
In the early days of facebook, someone told me about the experience of being snubbed on his first 'friend' request. He found someone with the same name, made a virtual approach, and was a bit peeved when there was no response. He later realised he had been flirting with himself - he'd set himself up on facebook months earlier, then forgotten. We heard this story with great hilarity and it always tickled my fancy. Now I've had a laugh at my expense. I find my own face in amongst my supporters on my blog site. It came about when a dear friend from Wellington was down for a brief visit late last week. She was intrigued by the blogging business, and, when we got onto the site, keen to join my little band of followers. In travelling the route to set herself up, she put not her, but me, on the board. And there I was, larger (well-smaller actually) than life, and seemingly ineradicable. After the frenzy of attempts to delete myself, I relaxed my shoulders and had a laugh. Now I've decided to enjoy this public display of apparent narcissism. We are often told we need to be our own best friend. I'm familiar with the inner critic who has my name. I've been consciously fostering a friendlier and more affirming meta me. So, in one swoop, I've boosted my following by 15% and given myself a public and permanent thumbs up. Hi Pam. Thanks for your support.
As a child, by dint of personality or birth order, I came to the conclusion that the only way I could change my world was to alter my perspective. I got very good at it. I reframed and reframed, concluding in one philosophical moment in my teens that the earth was in (one) truth still, and the universe twisting around it. My flexible paradigms kept me stimulated and safe from uncomfortable and painful positions, but I realised in early adulthood that ethereality had come at a price. I had given away my power. With some contortion and awkwardness, over many years, I made my way into the driving seat, and backed my own endeavour to keep my wheels on the tarmac, come what may. This is an oversimplification of course, but there is some usefulness in the metaphor that I was now driving my own car. I could turn the wheel, accelerate, back up, choose - and change at will - my destination. It is a joy to me that aspects of my dreams are realised, and I attribute some of that to my 'coming down to earth'. But at the age of 55, I find my existential position is changing again. I no longer want to 'get' anywhere. I have plans and hopes, but I am in a hurry for nothing. To move from road to water as context for my metaphor, It seems to me it is enough that I set my rudder, and learn to relax at the helm. In words that came to me in the silence of a recent Quaker gathering: Let what will be come. (Forgive me if I sound like I have life wrapped up. I don't.)
The idea of upstairs has always held magic for me. I have vivid recall of my cousins' house, with its bridal-train staircase spreading at the base, my nana's flower strewn flight of stairs that rose sharply from her front door, the wooden staircase to my ballet teacher's sparse studio above George Street. In amongst the armful of dreams that I cradled through my childhood was the image of my own big house with lots of rooms - and stairs. Right now, decades on, I sit upstairs in my room, looking out over a valley to the tree-smattered hills on the other side. Is it magic that this longing has come to pass? Not only do I live in a large house, which is three whole stories high on the cellar side, I work in two jobs - one of the top floor of the tallest building on campus, and the other at the same level in a century plus old building in the city. Stairwells at every turn - not to mention the views. Recently I discovered a new magic that enables me to head on up. This one takes a gentle discipline. At 6 or 7 minutes past 8 oclock in the morning, amidst the flurry of getting ready to work, my aim is this: relax hands and position self in front of the bedroom couch. Bend knees and drop onto the cushions. Breathe. Listen. The NZ concert programme offers a beauty spot after the weather report every day. It's someone's choice of something gorgeous. The kind of music that makes you melt, that gets you, somewhere close to where those sweet saturating daydreams of childhood used to live.
'The online universe of blogs' - that's what Encyclopedia Britannica calls the blogosphere. I was intrigued that the term had found such a firm place in the dictionary and encyclopedic world. I shouldn't be so, I guess. The blog universe has been around for a while. It's me that's the newcomer. I can't get over this ongoing sensation that I've entered a realm that isn't real. And yet here I am, back in the zone, putting out another offering, and, (be honest Pam), delighted when there's a response. Often I have felt like a shy cook, slipping my plate of victuals onto the table with a self-consciously casual hand. Barely able to look at what I'd prepared, and astonished to discover that someone had come for a nibble. My first response to diving into this world was a huge sigh of relief to be back writing, and the small morsel approach of the blog seemed just the right proportion for me right now. It's taken not very long to learn that of course this is not just about me writing... it's about connecting. And that for me, holds both potent opportunity and pitfalls. I love connecting with people. I want to be resonating with the ideas of others - and for them to be resonating with mine. The pitfall: that I start to hanker to hear back from this non-tangible community, mostly neither known nor seen, who may or may not be reading this right now. That a blog of mine goes out and takes its place without any echo - that's ok. That's what I'm telling myself.