Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Being Unconventional

The number of romantic interludes I’ve had is embarrassingly low. Like, so low many of you would be shocked. However, it was pointed out to me the other day the way I talk about places to live, other people talk about romantic relationships. And then it hit me – what other people experience in their dating life, I experience in my home life.

I have moved 32 times (roughly) in 29 years and in that time I’ve experienced a LOT. I’ve had short-term flings (i.e. sublets); I’ve experienced love at first sight – my apartment in San Francisco – which has now turned into a phantom ex, the one I measure all others against. I’ve also had the experience of my love turning into a nightmare and lamenting how it happened – I’m talking about how my San Francisco upstairs neighbor started playing loud music and I didn’t sleep for four months.

Others date people. I date homes. Maybe I could move here, it looks nice! 

I’ve moved into places that sounded good on paper, places I liked well enough but didn’t love – like my in-law unit in Balboa Park with a yippy dog – that eventually drove me nuts. I’ve remained good friends with exes, such as places in Washington, D.C., and we catch up every so often. I’ve “dated” apartments with kids (i.e. had a roommate with a child), and savored foreign lovers – there is a hotel in Vienna that I go back to year after year with pleasure.

In my current place, it wasn’t love at first sight, but we liked one another, it had all the qualities I’m looking for, but it turns out my apartment can’t commit. I’m sad to say, my landlady blew up at me unexpectedly and asked me to move out before my lease is up. I do have a lease, so I’m not sure when I’m moving, but at the moment we’re in that awkward space of knowing our “relationship” is coming to an end. In the interim, we are linked due to circumstances.

Not to mention I’ve been on loads of first dates (i.e. going to look at a place after first reading about it on Craigslist), attended tons of parties (open houses), and been rejected countless times. And I find myself wanting places that don’t want me – places that sound so intriguing and perfect but can’t be bothered to give me the time of day. And the reverse – places have wanted me that I haven’t.

The feelings that other people have in romance – the hope, the excitement, the euphoria, the resentment, the disappointment, the anger, the heartbreak – I’ve experienced in finding places to live. I bring this up because I’m a teensy bit ashamed of my paltry dating life, but now I see the universe is infinite and unlimited and so I’m having similar experiences in an unconventional way. Unconventional doesn’t mean bad, it means unusual. It doesn’t mean I’m any less equipped to deal with a partner when he comes along because I’m feeling the same things other people are, just in a different way.

I wrote this post because I find the situation to be funny, but also because maybe you think in some ways you don’t measure up. Maybe you feel ashamed because you’re not having the same experiences other people are having. I’m here to tell you, maybe you are and you’re unaware of it. Maybe life isn’t so much about a route or a path as it is about feelings. Maybe every person is supposed to experience hope, excitement, euphoria, resentment, disappointment, anger, and heartbreak, and it’s the emotions that count, not the particulars.

I dream of a world where we don’t discount our emotions. A world where we stop comparing ourselves to others, always coming up short. A world where we realize feelings count more than circumstances. A world where we embrace our unconventional selves.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Love from Afar

I'm sick today so I'm reposting something from more than two years ago. Love from afar is on my mind because I'm reuniting with so many friends through weddings and visits that I'm reminded I can still love people even if I haven't seen them in 10 years.

Last night I went to a party a friend of mine from high school was throwing. I hadn’t seen him in YEARS, as in, possibly six or more, and yet when we saw each other it was like no time had passed. I love those friendships because they illustrate to me the basic truth that love never dies. You can lose contact with someone for years and when you see them again all the old feelings rush back. And that’s the case for romantic relationships as well. That’s probably why so many people get back together with their old flames. I get the warm fuzzies knowing love is one of those things that lasts.

love from afar
I LOVE this image! How perfect! Copyright goes to Calindi Creations.

Right about now is probably when you’re saying, “Love doesn’t always last.” I think it does, actually. It may just get transmuted into other feelings like anger, resentment, or distaste. But if love wasn’t there, the feelings wouldn’t be either. In my opinion the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. There’s a reason why we say there’s a thin line between love and hate. If a person is generally the same one we met, there’s a good chance we’ll continue to love them, possibly for eternity. The way my life is going right now it’s nice to hold onto some permanence. I’m not saying I’ll forever be in love with a person, but I do think I’ll forever love them, make sense?

I’m not sure why I’m writing about this except that it really does inspire me. To not see someone for years, to not have any contact with them, and then when they re-enter your orbit to still love and care about them as if they’ve been around all along. Because on some level they have. We’re all connected, we’re all one, so maybe when someone comes into your life they’re always a part of it. And perhaps they’re a part of your life even before you met, you just didn’t know it. I enjoy knowing that love can endure. That even if there were personal issues that kept you apart you can still love someone. That to me is a beautiful thing. It’s an amazing expression of who we are as human beings. It’s an amazing expression of how time doesn’t mean much after all. Of how we’re not as separate as we’re led to believe.

I’m rambling a bit but I’m grateful and I’m inspired because love endures! Itlasts. It’s sweet and precious and doesn’t go away because you’ve lost contact or had a fight or moved. It never left.

I dream of a world where we revel in the notion love endures and that we can love from afar. That we can lose contact with someone and still love them. A world where we understand in many ways time is meaningless. A world where we allow ourselves to give and receive love because we understand that it will last.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Power to the Present

I have to admit, I've been terrible at saying present lately. I spoke with a friend and she told me I've "left without leaving." My mind has been so focused on what's next, on problem-solving, on little worries and concerns about the future that I've been unable to enjoy what's in front of me. And that sucks.

I was out of town this weekend for a wedding and I spent a good chunk of it worrying about waking up at 4 a.m. today, Sunday, to drive three hours to the airport. I worried whether I would get to sleep, whether I would make the flight, etc. Well, I fell asleep at 3 a.m. this morning, so that was fun, and returned my rental car, caught all my flights, etc. without a hitch. All that worry merely distracted me from fully enjoying the present moment.

I looooove this picture and in an odd way I think it fits the theme of this post.

Part of it is physiological -- my adrenal glands are soooo taxed right now with all the stress I'm experiencing -- but part of it is because I believe I gain a sense of power through worrying. Obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn't worry so much! My unconscious refrain is, "If I think about something often enough then perhaps I'll be able to change the outcome." The thing is, I make great choices. I can trust myself. I do not set myself up for failure and most importantly, the question to ask myself is, "So what?"

So what if I miss my flight? So what if I don't sleep through the night? Are these things really as awful as I make them out to be? Of course not! Being at the wedding this weekend showed me how much I'm robbing myself of joy. For the past few months I've been so high-strung and in survival mode that I've forgotten how to just be, how to stay in the present.

The point of this post is to highlight that behavior and get back into the mindset I had a few years ago. I wasn't able to stay present all the time, but lately I've been unable to stay present even some of the time because there's been so much for me to deal with. Even as I type that I realize it's an excuse because there will always be something going on. Life is just one damn thing after another, according to Elbert Hubbard, and I tend to agree. It's been very easy for me to get wrapped up in the "one thing after another," but do I have to? Can't I instead take action as it's called for and then let it go? I sure can!

I don't have any solutions here, but I think this like most everything else is a process. It starts with recognizing I don't like what I'm currently doing and I want to change it. I think it also comes from challenging my anxious brain by saying, "So what?" because really, even when the worst happens, haven't I shown remarkable resilience?

I dream of a world where we relax and let things go. A world where we're present, in the moment, being here, now. A world where we take action as necessary and then let it go. A world where we remember we can trust ourselves and we can trust all is well and all shall be well. A world where we give power to the present.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ready or Not . . . Or Not

I have a slight phobia of wheels. Roller skates, bicycles, cars, scooters – all of them scare me; not as a passenger, but when I’m in charge, heck yeah. My heart starts to pound and my rational brain leaves the building. It’s hard for me to concentrate, to remember all the little things that come so naturally to many. It would be great if a phobia was like other fears in that it abates the more often you engage with whatever it is you’re afraid of, but it’s not.

I like Wikipedia’s explanation of phobias the best:
“[A phobia is] a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress.”
This means that it doesn’t matter how often I drive a car (and I have -- I’ve owned two cars, driven across the country, driven long distances by myself, driven in cities, etc.), the fear never goes away. It may lessen, but it’s ever present. I bring all this up because last week I bought this bad boy:

piaggio fly 150
My new scooter! Ain't it pretty?

For those of you who can’t tell, that’s a Piaggio Fly 150 scooter. Last week I moved to a quiet, safe neighborhood just over the Oakland hills that necessitates I have wheels of some kind. Because I can’t afford a car, voila, a scooter. I like riding my scooter; it’s fun, but it’s also scary because of my phobia to operating wheels. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to ride further and faster than I’m comfortable with because I kind of have to. The closest bus stop is a mile and a half away, and the closest BART station (the train system for those of you who don’t know) is six miles away.

In our culture of “just do it,” I feel like I should be able to “get over” my fear and drive the thing in heavy traffic and be completely fine. That I should be able to drive to the BART station no problem. But it is. I can’t force myself to be ready when I’m not. Yes, there is such a thing as paralysis, of complete avoidance, but there’s also such a thing as pushing myself too fast too far. I’m taking my scooter out every day to feel more comfortable handling it, to build up my confidence, but there’s no need to rush.

I bring this up because perhaps you feel like you “should” be somewhere you’re not. That you “should” quit your job already, or move, or be ready for another relationship, or whatever. I’m here to tell you (and me) it’s OK if you’re not. You don’t have to be ready faster than you are. It’s fine to go at your own pace and do things when you’re really ready. Yesterday I rode my scooter all the way to the grocery store because I was ready. I was afraid, but I was also ready to push myself to that limit. Instead of embracing the philosophy, “Ready or not, here I come!” I’m embracing the philosophy of gentleness, of going slowly at my own pace, because I’m not ready yet to go certain distances, but I know I will be.

I dream of a world where we don’t force ourselves to be ready when we’re not. A world where we allow ourselves to go at a pace we can handle. A world where we are gentle with ourselves, taking our time, easing off the pressure because we understand when it comes to “ready or not,” sometimes the answer is, “Not.”

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.