Tag Archives: meaning

do not take

The earth moves
Did you know?
It pulses with intention.

Birds free fall in aerial feats
The hive hums
The dry leaves whisper
their ancient chant

And we,
We move, too
Building, working,
fighting, dreaming –
not always with intention.

But noise, always noise.

The earth knows –
do you?
Our performative toiling
is Being,
a loud inhalation,
a boisterous sigh

We tangle fingers
and join
the chant “We are alive”

Do not bring the silence.
Do not take.
The earth, though
It Takes.

This is the one truth
we were born knowing.
We move – before
it’s too late.

In memory of Judy Neumeyer

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untitled

Let me die
in the summertime
by a window, with
the warmth, pushing
through the fragile skin
of my eyelids

Let me die
in a quiet
room; with the
tea kettle on
in the kitchen and
the laundry spinning,
pulsing like
blood through beating hearts.

Let me die
with a cat
at my feet and
a hand holding mine and
a smile tracing
my lips
And the sunshine –

Oh, please let me
die in the sunshine.

prayer

A smile between strangers.
Watching the robin hunt
for insects,
folding three loads of laundry, dropping
boiling water
into the teapot.

Writing in your journal, listening
to your spouse, sharing:
a meal, a ride,
Your load.

A cool breeze that cuts
through humid air.
The clack of boots
on asphalt. Going,
and leaving.
Habit and impulse.

Pray without ceasing –
Let this journey be
Your Prayer.

so it goes

vintage flowers

I feel like I can’t keep up. Shifting from a 25 hour, daytime work week to a 40 hour evening shift had a greater impact on the flow of my life than I anticipated (though I guess I wasn’t analyzing it that much – I just went for it).

I like my new work environment, but I still miss the coffee shop. I miss my coworkers, the work itself, the large front window for people watching, the spontaneous interaction. I’ve always considered myself an introvert, but I realize after a few days spent mostly alone at work that I need the presence of others to maintain sanity. My coworker left a few hours early for three days last week and by the end of each night, I could barely function. I felt anxious, bored, and on the brink of emotional breakdown. It was weird.

In a production environment, it’s nice to feel like part of a team. Being alone is overwhelming because you don’t have that safety net, that presence that implies that part of the burden will be shouldered for you if it’s too much to handle. I’ve grown to appreciate the camaraderie of working toward something as a group; it makes the most menial of tasks enjoyable by giving them a heightened purpose, by making them a relationship building activity instead of merely a mechanical chore.

I really do enjoy having two days off in a row, though. I’ve been working weekend shifts since I graduated, so it’s a strange treat to have Saturday and Sunday off, as long as I get out of the house and accomplish things.

So, things are good, just different. Now that Daniel is out of classes for the summer, I anticipate that our weekends will get more exciting. I plan to attend local festivals, visit the farmer’s market, and take trips to nearby towns on my days off. It’s time to re-level the foundation and start building up a full life again.

the time will pass anyway: navigating life in your twenties

Girls

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nighingale

This idea as a life framework has been on my mind for the past several weeks. I realized – in the back of my mind at first but now clearly – that it was always a lie that success was waiting just around the corner from graduation day. Success coupled with fulfillment takes time. And it’s always taken time. And the fact that the Mid-Life Crisis is a fixture of our society is proof that people have been telling each other and themselves the lie for decades, and that the delusion eventually wears off.

Life in my twenties, and maybe for its entirety, is about finding the balance between financial survival and personal fulfillment. And they don’t always arrive together, at the same time or as part of the same activity. And being content with that, and knowing I’m ok, and continuing to strive regardless, is the big life lesson.

What I’m still trying to figure out is if we need to rework what we say to kids about following their dreams or if we would cling to that idealism even if we weren’t told it. Maybe we would go through the crap of realizing in our guts that life is hard, that we can’t always get what we want, that life isn’t fair, even if attempts were made to let us down easy in the beginning.

Ultimately, it’s worthwhile to work toward hard, big, important goals. It’s easier to keep going, though, when we don’t put ourselves on a timeline, when we realize we won’t implode if we don’t get from point A to point B by age 25. I don’t think my generation suffers from a case of adultlescence. I think prior generations were simply deferring the hard questions for mid-life. And some within my generation have been intimidated into deferring it, too. But I believe that:

“Contrary to a belief popular among older people, the Quarterlife Crisis is not the idle whining of a coddled, presumptuous post-adolescent. It is the response to reaching the turning point between young adulthood and adulthood; it is the amalgamation of doubt, confusion, and fear that comes with facing an overwhelming set of identity issues and societal expectations at once.” – Alexandra Robbins, It’s a Wonderful Lie

If we do it now, maybe we can avoid it later. And that’s ultimately healthier because we’re less tied down now. We have the space – and the physical health – to move past the false expectations and self doubt and maybe arrive at a place of contentment and self-understanding in a decade or so. And we get a whole, long life to work toward our dreams instead of scrambling for it at age 50, ill-equipped and emotionally shattered.

Know that, as long you’re dreaming and reading and working toward something, you’re fine. You don’t need to have arrived. And you might never arrive. It’s the working toward something with hope and diligence that ultimately makes you a success as a human being. Believe in that and find rest.

“…The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves — by devoting our lives to “giving” rather than “taking” — we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.” – There’s More to Life than Being Happy, The Atlantic

photo source: CNN

food for thought

 

“If you do really like what you’re doing…you can eventually become a master of it…and then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is…it’s absolutely stupid to go on doing things you don’t like…and to teach your children to follow in the same track…to bring up their children to do the same things. It’s all retch and no vomit – it never gets there.” – Alan Watts

I am not less

graduate photo

One Saturday night a few weeks ago, Daniel and I were in the car on the way to a potluck dinner where several grad students would be present when he asked me:

“Why do you act embarrassed that you’re not in grad school?”

I replied, “Because I am embarrassed. And I’m embarrassed now that my embarrassment was so obvious that you picked up on it.”

Here’s my confession: I’ve been embarrassed that I’m not pursuing grad school since the semester before I received my undergraduate degree.

That was always the expectation, at first from only myself and later from everyone (at least as I perceived it): peers, family, professors, coworkers, friends. I heard them saying, implicitly or aloud:

Leah is the grad school type. Leah is smart and motivated and needs to use her academic talent to better the humanities. Leah is too good to leave academia. Leah’s job as a nanny/framer/barista is obviously temporary – we know she can do better

But here I am, two years later, not in grad school. And I can’t help feeling like a disappointment to myself and everyone who invested in a dream that may have been more theirs than mine all along. And I have to learn to cope with that. To not be ashamed of myself just because I don’t have a title or prepared statement for that pervasive, incessant question: “What are you doing with your life?”

Do I have to know what I’m doing with my life? Does anyone ever stick to their early-20s response? And if they do, are they satisfied?

I need to work through my feelings of inadequacy. I need to see value in myself as a living human being trying to better myself and be good to others. I need to recognize that I am enough as long as I strive to make life meaningful – by the moment and the hour and the day.

I need others to grant me the space to breathe. I need others to have the self-respect to see themselves as more than their resumes or academic accolades so that they can see me in that light, too.

I’m trying to internalize the truth that I don’t have to – and probably shouldn’t – measure myself by someone else’s standards for success. I’m trying to overcome the pull of the myth that the highest form of human being is the employed scholar. I can be who I want to be, read what I want to read, and discuss in depth what I want to discuss without a piece of paper that tells others I’m an expert, that tells me I have the right to speak. And I can do other things too. And I have the right to respect myself for grand things like my entrepreneurial goals and lowly things like my ability to make a great cappuccino.

And I am not less for the decisions I’ve made or the place I’m in.