Contemplating the Bar in Denny’s

Why would anyone want to go to a bar in Denny’s? Dimly lit by pink fluorescent Oregon lottery lights, the smell of stale cigarettes hanging about even though cigarettes have been banned in bars for nearly  a decade, I can’t imagine anyone actually choosing to go there, yet people do. Is it a case of just wanting a bar and it’s close so they go in? Is it gambling addiction? Is it simply pure boredom? Is it such thorough disconnection from the self that there isn’t any consideration at all, just a walking in and ordering without any conscious thought? Probably all of this and more.

I try to imagine a life where a person would choose to spend time in a bar like this. I am certain that there are those who do not find such places unpleasant. Maybe the smell of cheap perfumed restroom soap mixed with ages old cigarettes is a comfort. It slightly sickens me, but I’m the princess and the pea when it comes to stuff like this. I notice the slightest unnatural smell. I feel something rubbing my thigh under leggings. It bugs and bugs. I finally slide my hand down to figure out what the irritant is and realize it is a speck of hay no bigger than a grain of sand. The smallest crumbs on sheets are like mini razors to my skin. If I walk into a building and music is louder than it should be, or if multiple televisions are blaring bright and flashing, especially in stores or restaurants, I have to leave. My body can’t take it. It vibrates in response, irritated and reactive. I’m fine in concerts or music venues where I have chosen a specific loud sound, but even then, I’ll be tired when I leave.

Because of how I am, I’m often startled at many humans’ seeming ability to ignore what is to me sensually annoying and awful. Even if I’m reading a novel and one of the characters experiences something that would make me cringe, I can hardly stand it and will feel the commensurate response that I might feel as if I actually experienced whatever it is that is happening in the book.

I don’t by any means believe I am superior or more connected than others. However, it seems radically apparent to me that most of humanity in our civilization is drastically disconnected, to the point where they seek out means to maintain that dissociation. Silence is anathema to most, as is visual quiet, because in this state, in time it is nearly impossible to avoid ourselves and our lack of connection. That disconnection is uncomfortable. It forces us to see what we don’t want to see, and to feel what we don’t want to feel. If we feel all that we have been avoiding, it becomes overwhelming.

If we do allow ourselves to reconnect to the earth and everything in it, when stripped of all belief and ego, what is left is the pulsating vibration of life and love. It ebbs and flows. It allows you to observe the stories that surround us and we are able to fully connect with life–the eternal I–and dissolve the separation between the self and the other. There is no other in this place because it is all connected. Earth is her own being and we are a part of it.

The Nature Program produced a great documentary called My Life as a Turkey. (It’s available to watch online for free.) A man imprinted himself as the turkeys’ mother by caring for and hatching 16 wild turkey eggs. He then lived with them as they went through the different stages of development. Wild turkeys are 20 million years old as a species and humans are less than 200 thousand. It didn’t take him long to wonder who was more conscious (always in the present moment and not lost in future thinking or avoiding the present as much as possible) as he observed their innate knowing of other species. They knew who to fear and who were compatible species in the forests.

Nature can teach us so much about who we are if we learn to listen with our hearts and whole bodies instead of our chattering ego minds and the constant blaring clutter we use to obliterate that connection. Humanity has a lot to relearn and unwind collectively. Frankly I doubt our species will get there. I often ponder why Earth would allow itself to develop into a cancer that would destroy it, but maybe like cancer in us where our own cells go rogue, we too are the rogue parts of Earth, taking over and destroying that which sustains us.

Such is the conclusion I reach by contemplating the bar in Denny’s.

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Heading Home?

I found an old diary today. Well, not that old. I haven’t written in it in a year. I thumbed through some old entries and had the odd feeling of finding no familiarity with the feelings in what I had written. The words were the same words I know I had written for years and years, but I felt no kinship with them. Somehow I have been pressed into another place where I no longer feel the way I did for so long. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. Maybe it doesn’t require a judgment; maybe it just is. The diary was full of loneliness. For so long, decades even, loneliness was a mantle I wore on my back, hanging there, heavy and woolen. Even among friends, I felt it, but I just don’t anymore. Nothing has changed in my external world to fill in this blank. If anything, I have fewer friends and acquaintances than ever. I just don’t feel lonely. I love spending time with my daughters, my dogs, my horse, and our other pets, and that’s enough. In fact several times I’ve been offered the opportunity to go out and socialize and when I do, I find myself wanting to be back with the family. When I have turned down opportunities, I am glad.

Lately, I’ve had such a single minded thought focus that all else has really fallen away. I live my daily life. I’m not obsessing or anything. It’s just I know where I want to be and it’s where I’m going. I feel like I’ve been on a very long backpacking trip. Near the beginning of backpacking trips I’m always fresh and raring to go. Then at some point it gets tiring. Then I settle in and just walk, not really paying attention to the physical irritations, and somehow becoming one with the land and the landscape, a part of the trees and earth and plants, and all of it. This is how I feel lately in my life, like I’ve reached that blending place, and looking back at how I was for so long seems silly and pointless.

Interestingly, as I have settled into this place, I have felt very little desire to write here. It used to be that I had the desire, but didn’t have the time. When I had time, I had a hard time coming up with something to write because my life was so full, my brain didn’t have time to come up with anything new and interesting to say.

Lately though, I have thoughts that seem very interesting, but I have little desire to share them. I think them. I mull them over. I consider what I would say if I wrote them down, then I don’t, because I don’t need to. It has been a very long time since I have felt the desire to broadcast my thoughts to the wide world. My aging ego. It really has no need to be front and center any more.

Anyway, that’s it for now. For whatever reason, I felt like writing today. Nothing profound, just an urge. Maybe it was the diary. I don’t know.

More Perfect

Nothing can be “more perfect.” Perfection by its very nature cannot be improved upon, so how could something become more of that? If it becomes more, then it wasn’t perfect in the first place, and perhaps when called “more perfect” it becomes perfect; though that is debatable, as I believe there are valuable arguments that perfection is an impossible ideal.

Life is Like That Sometimes

I often think of new little products, waiting patiently in their boxes to be used. They’re so new and orderly. Pick me! Their calmness and order seems to say as they lie there, waiting to be chosen. They have been waiting their entire lives for use, and here you are, choosing. Will it be me? Their orderliness seems to ask.

Sometimes when I open a box of something, like Q-tips, and one of them pops out, I wonder if the other Q-tips were being mean to it or something, and it just couldn’t wait to escape. I’ll pour some vitamins in my hand, and one leaps out onto the floor, away from the other vitamins. Or other times it’s the opposite. I try and try to get something out of the box and it won’t come out, like it’s hiding in there, as if it knows that this will be the end in some way.

I wonder whether a pantyliner or other hygiene product really wants to be used. They might think it’s what they want, getting out of that box or off that shelf. A new home! But then they come to realize that their use isn’t necessarily something desired. It results in the trash can or the sewer or the landfill.

I suppose a pantyliner or other hygiene product has no idea that being placed in someone’s crotch or in an armpit or between toes is a bad thing. They have no other existence to compare theirs to. Although the pantyliner might. It meets the underwear and thinks, Oh, a friend. A different sort of friend. Then the pantyliner gets covered in goo and is tossed in the trash, and the underwear gets to stay. It’s not fair on some level, but life is like that. You get to be a professor. She gets to be a mother. He gets to be an electrician. Someone is born and starves in Africa. Another is born and is obese in America. We are all on our different journeys. This really is simply how life is.

Asses

I used to write all of my thoughts down. I don’t write all of my thoughts anymore.

Tonight I crossed a street, and then crossed a parking lot. Two men were walking up the sidewalk when I entered the parking lot. Halfway across one of the men shouted at me, “You have a nice ass!” I said low and to myself, “No I don’t.” Then I got to thinking about the concept of a nice ass and observed that having a nice or not nice ass is a weird construct, but I also thought that the man who said that probably didn’t think it was a weird construct. He probably just had some idea of the way asses look and determined that some ways are nice. I suppose this is the way most people who think about asses being nice or not thinks about them. But I find it odd that we determine that certain shapes of body parts are nice or not. I know there is some biological basis to finding certain features attractive, that it seeks out opposite and healthy genes, and youthful characteristics that are likely to increase the success of child bearing. However, I’m not sure I see where asses fit into that and I wonder how it is that our society has developed into one where we make judgments about body parts. Actually, I don’t really wonder about it. I can ascertain how we got to this place. I just wish we hadn’t, that’s all. Not because I’m offended when someone yells about my butt, but because we are where we are now and that we are headed where we are and it’s not pretty.

I spend much too much time alone. And it’s probably a good thing I don’t write my thoughts down anymore.

Just Stop Already!

Three and a half weeks ago my dog died a horrible, violent death that did NOT involve a car, and left nothing of her body. Our family has been reeling and grieving this loss, trying to come to terms with it. She was a part of our family, present at the birth of my youngest daughter (who was born at home), and important to all of us.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I can’t stand how many people are asking me when I’m going to get another dog, or telling me we should get another dog. It’s obnoxious. It hasn’t even been a month yet, for Christ’s sake! Some people asked me 2 DAYS after she died!

For the record, we have another dog. He’s helped somewhat, primarily because we love him so much, we can focus on that love instead of our hurting, which helps with any loss, I know. Heck, I got Ava the day after the death of another dog I lived with. How is that different? I can hear some people say. For one thing, that dog was my boyfriend’s. I loved her, but I had only lived with her a few months and she was attached to him. She was a dear, and my heart broke losing her. But there were many other, much worse situations going on in my life at the time that did not involve the death of any loved ones that led me to get Ava. It was the combination of these things that led to the decision to bring home a puppy to love.

The thing about pain, grieving, and loss is though, that you can’t bandaid them away. If you do, these emotions will come back to get you in other ways, and it will all probably be worse and prolonged. I knew this when I brought Ava home. And for the record, I was also seeing a therapist for all the other stuff going on.

The questions about getting a new dog bug me the most primarily because they seem to imply that dogs are simply replaceable. They’re all four-legged furry things that have to be taught to potty outside and behave appropriately. They live relatively short lives. They can be left at home all day without much trouble (most of the time, anyway).

Yet the implication belies the individuality of each animal. I’ve lived with lots of animals in my life, and just like people, every one of them was different. Each one had its own personality. Each one touched my life in different ways. To presume that Ava could simply be replaced, like a pair of shoes or a car, shows such a lack of . . . something, I can’t even find a word to express it.

I get it that I view animals differently than most people. I do not think people are more important than animals; humans are animals who happened to develop brains that gave us the capacities we have. Ultimately though, we are all equal lives in my mind.  This belief system is perhaps part of the difference between myself and those who think Ava can simply be replaced. Others think of animals as things, as property. Even our legal system reflects this, and I’m not naive enough to hope the rest of the population agrees with me.

But shit, show a little sensitivity folks. Would you tell someone who lost their husband to go get married again? Lost their child, go have a baby again? Obviously, the depth of emotion we feel for a human is much more intense than that for a dog. I would not have been able to leave that place alive if it had been Isabel or Milla instead of Ava who had been killed, I truly believe that. I could survive the loss of a spouse, but I’m not sure I could the loss of a child.

Yet for me, the sentiment on some level is the same. Ava was an individual. She was a part of our family. She wasn’t a couch, or a car, or a rug. She was special to us and to a lot of other people as well. She can’t be replaced. Someday when I’m feeling up to it, we may invite another creature to come and live with us, but for now, I wish people would just stop telling me to get another dog.

Lead Me From the River of Woe

If we wish to turn away from that which torments us, do we also turn away from that which inspires us?

I am concluding that some of our deepest compassion comes from our deepest suffering, yet we must survive the desolation in order to make it through to compassion, and sometimes this can feel impossible.

Some days, in order to turn away from the shadows, I bask in the simple light of my little girl. I’m like a fucking Hallmark greeting card. She glows and I glow in return. She radiates divinity. It is impossible to remain in dark places when my focus is on her.

Do I lose artistry in leaving the banks of Acheron to turn toward my Venusian angel?