Entries tagged with “Learnding”.


[ri-demp-shuhn]

noun

1. an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

2. deliverance; rescue.

3. Theology . deliverance from sin; salvation.

4. atonement for guilt.

5. repurchase, as of something sold.

Smart is sexy

Once upon a time, someone wise and compassionate helped me question the path I was on, and for that I am deeply grateful. Unfortunately, once I knew I didn’t want to keep heading the direction I had been pursuing for years, I was utterly at a loss for what to do instead.

Trying to regain my bearings, I changed course, and floundered badly. Once a confident navigatrix, I was suddenly completely lost at sea.

Long years passed where I believed I no longer had the necessary skills to set and follow explicit passage successfully. I suffered a crisis of faith and function; I was robbed of my surety that I would see the other side of the horizon and arrive in good trim.

And then, things changed.

Clouds I forgot had not always obscured my vision rolled away and I could again see the stars by which to set my course. I regained my confidence and my composure. The evidence of my senses and successes all served as independent approbation for my capacity to embrace and execute my vision for the future.

I was reassured and redeemed.

I got straight A’s motherfuckers!

 

 

 

 

[ee-kwuh-lib-ree-uhm, ek-wuh-]  

noun, 

1. a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.

2. equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.

3. mental or emotional balance; equanimity: The pressures of the situation caused her to lose her equilibrium.

4. Chemistry . the condition existing when a chemical reaction and its reverse reaction proceed at equal rates.

 

It is unquestionably the case that I have always struggled with balance. I mean this in the most fundamental practical sense as well as the abstract. Seeing with only one eye casts the world in different terms for me than most people are able to perceive it.  I have had to become very good at estimating the distance between two points; and though I can render the information internally into terms that are useful to me, I cannot always communicate this reliably to others.

Happily, though I must continually consult my own inner yardstick to see if it needs to be recalibrated, running has been incredibly useful in cementing my ability to judge these things in terms that can be conveyed to others meaningfully. I can now very reliably estimate how long a mile really is; I used to be laughably bad at this. Now, by virtue of having learned to attend to what my body feels like moving through that amount of space, I am better able to track my progress, as well as make an appraisal of the necessary effort required for a return journey.

In addition to my movement lengthwise in the world, I have also been training myself to cope with kinetic movement in three dimensions. This involves perching on unstable bouncy things trying to keep my feet beneath me while swinging heavy objects and watching myself in the mirror. Forcing my body to try and maintain while I observe myself make the attempt fires neurons in my brain that have so long lain dormant. Once the woman who fell down at the slightest provocation, I am now possessed of the capacity to catch myself if I start to tip over; more shocking, even than this, I can also catch things if they are thrown at me, which is an entirely new skill at this very late stage.

So, balance is beginning to assert itself. Perhaps most surprising, this is true not only of my physical person; it is also easier to balance instinct with information, hunches against hard fact. I still tip one way or the other, but it is much easier than ever to pause, breathe, and decide to let the scales drift to parity once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 [dahrk-nis]  

noun

1. the state or quality of being dark: The room was in total darkness.
2. absence or deficiency of light: the darkness of night.
3. wickedness or evil: Satan, the prince of darkness.
4. obscurity; concealment: The darkness of the metaphor destroyed its effectiveness.
5. lack of knowledge or enlightenment: heathen darkness.

 

The dark is made of mysteries and irresistible beauty. Learning to love them can be an uncanny pleasure. Accepting that darkness can be a place of insular warmth as well as stark coldness, of safety and inviolable privacy and not just something to obscure anguish and shame. It is no small thing to admit a fear of the dark that lingers into adulthood. To feel not just the agreeable titillation of giving run to an eerie sensation for the pleasure it will provide, but to be gripped by an unnamable terror of being alone without light. So it is no small thing I do to begin in the dark. So many moments passed this way, it is fitting perhaps, but still, no small thing.

Some years ago I made to etch a lesson in my flesh; the remembrance that I have always been able to navigate even with the faintest light to guide my way

Owl medicine is about vigilance, seeing through the darkness, and shedding that which is no longer required. So, then.

Good at the first part; still learning the second.

Memories shrouded in such darkness are lit only by the sodium vapor orange which is the color of nighttime in my bedroom. There are no nightlights to offer even the most feeble reassurance, and many times they would have been useless for lack of the electricity in the house necessary to feed them. Light and noise are to be strictly limited by children in any case, but at night most especially. Walking happens only on tiptoe with the most careful steps. One must reach for the edges and corners of things to maneuver should one dare to leave the bedroom at all. Nor would it be worth the risk, but for the needs of a small and impatient body. My hands curled around the cold rim of the cast iron tub assure me I am almost there. I sit in the dark and listen to the sound of my relief. I reach behind and flush. I stand to shuffle back to my room, inching back along the length of the tub when the door flies open. Still there is no light, but the hand comes out of the dark and when in strikes me, colors flash in my head.

“You know that goddamn toilet wakes me up when you flush it. How many fucking times do I have to tell you?” I am too young to have learned yet that no answer is the right one, but that “I don’t know” is the worst possible. Better to lie than to admit puzzlement. So the hand swings out again. “If you wake me up again, I’ll beat your ass. Now shut the fuck up and go back to bed.”

I have still not totally adjusted to the idea that this person, this cousin of mine, has now become the man who’s every whim must be remembered and obeyed. That my mother’s indifferent but generally benign treatment of us is no longer the order of the day.

 Even at three this lesson is quickly absorbed. Thereafter I always remember, what it is to expect the unexpected, the punishment, to emerge from darkness. It is now my great task to realize I can live outside of it, despite its great desire to hold me.

 

Hard to be soft; tough to be tender

And it turns out I am very good at something really hard. Something I have always done with such ease that it never occurred to me that it might be difficult for others*. I like to say I am only good at five things. It is an oversimplification, of course, but really… I’m not well-rounded. The range of things at which I am mediocre to terrible is considerable and multitude. And, I’m not ashamed of this. In fact I am quite comfortable with it. I am perfectly content to have a handful of gifts to offer, luminous with great practice and profound commitment. 

I am good at being vulnerable. 

I do not mean this to imply that I am not also strong, because I am. In fact, I believe that my profound and innate tendency toward vulnerability has made me a stronger person by far, than I would be without it.

Some time ago a good friend of mine encouraged me to watch the excellent TED talk by Brene Brown on the subject (which I also encourage anyone I ever meet to do)

The Power of Vulnerability

After watching this talk, I realized that I had not previously seen my vulnerability as an asset; something that required courage and practice. Instead I had viewed it as something to be overcome and bargained away with clean living and proper good sense. I now understand that while I was skeptical of the value of such an open and tender nature, that having one contributes directly to something I am deeply proud of; I am good at fostering intimacy and trust. 

People confide in me. They always have. The number of times I have heard someone say:

“Wow. I have never told anyone that before. You are just so easy to talk to.”

is uncountable, but a key data point in the chart of my internal universe. It is important to me that I am someone people can reveal themselves to. I have deep respect for introspection that leads to the capacity to share oneself in such entirety. And I enact this type of candor and emotional honesty, not in any calculated fashion, but as the only way I can possibly imagine existing in the world. 

 

*Sort of like when I found out that not everyone can see in the dark.

I like to think I am a pretty smart girl. Nevertheless it is certainly true that I make plenty of mistakes. I like to think that part of being a smart girl means that I learn something when I do. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to see what the lesson might be, coming away.

I have recently gone through some of the most emotionally traumatic experiences of my entire life. And that, is indeed saying something. But apart from the fact that I was profoundly hurt, I was also deeply confused. I am usually able, even in hard times, to see the lessons embedded in my struggle. This time, it just hasn’t worked that way.

I can’t really see or grasp what I was supposed to have learned from all of this. And now, I have the residual feeling that I can’t trust my instincts; to have been so very wrong indeed seems to have broken something inside of me and I’m not sure if it is going to heal.

I want to believe it will.

In the meantime, I am conducting experiments. Studies to test my instincts and see if they are sound; if they will keep me safe.

Questions I was once too afraid to ask in fear of the worst case scenario in response are being voiced. It turns out these answers are usually less scary than I expect.

I’m practicing my patience, marshalling my courage, recalibrating my instruments.

And since the lesson hasn’t chosen to reveal itself, I’ll just have to go after it.