Tag Archives: love

Anger for Sprints, Humor for Marathons

Yesterday was my third mounted archery lesson. I show up early enough that the mists still cover the hills. The vineyards, the barn, and the arena are still chilled and dewy. Usually, no one’s around except for the dogs, cat, and occasional hen that come to see if I have food or cuddles, or both. When someone asks how my training is going, this is never what comes up. They expect the hobby to be fueled by revenge. They expect me to be angry.

Anger gives energy in short bursts. It can be an extra jolt of motivation, and armor to wrap yourself in. It converts two-way communication into a one-way street. Under certain circumstances, when you need to protect yourself, when you need to pull yourself up over the ledge — anger is excellent. Anger rises when someone has crossed a boundary. Anger is both an alarm system and a security system, and it will snap shut on the offender. It is as intense as it is instant, and when you’re done, you’re worn out. Even for those who have a long fuse, I’m referring to the moment the fuse triggers the explosive.

The obsessive mind latches onto a perspective and holds there. It takes a stance, chooses a narrative, and makes it into the sole truth. It chews and chews until the original flavor — the objective truth of events — is gone. Only the narrative is left, and that’s what the obsessive mind feeds on. If the narrative is the story we tell ourselves, then we have the power to choose that narrative.

For example, I’ve unconsciously started looking for his car when I’m out driving. I can’t help it. Since I don’t know how to stop playing this game, I look for the cars driven by people I love and am still close to, instead. Chew, chew, obsessive brain, chew on something healthier.

After the breakup and subsequent loss of our child, I couldn’t find my anger. I felt drained of strength, and without my strength, I had no identity. Without anger to shield me and energize me, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. What confused me even further was that the strongest feeling wasn’t anger, but love. I was still in love, and generated love, but I had no place to put it.

Without anger, I felt weak, but the love and warmth in my heart kept growing and growing. Love wrapped itself around the heartbreak and grief. I didn’t want to be bitter. I didn’t want to destroy or be destroyed. I wanted to transcend this, and be transformed by it. When I started practicing archery more often, those feelings imbued the experience. I wasn’t ok, (I’m still not ok), but archery helped me get out of my head and into my environment for a little while. I felt the bow, the arrows, the targets, the trees, the grass, the hawks and the quails, and my fellow archers. They and I were all wrapped in presence and stillness. In that stillness, I could pay attention to the tiny movements that influenced my technique. Shooting wasn’t about the kill; it was about the stillness.

When I found a mounted archery teacher, it was the same thing. We think of warriors on horseback as a thundering wave of death; but one-on-one hasn’t been like that at all. It’s me and the horse, learning to talk to each other. You have to listen to the animal, and acknowledge the terrain and other distractions. You also have to listen to your own mental state, and its effect on your body language. Riding wasn’t about taking power; it was about listening.

My body has always told me early on when something was wrong, from vitamin deficiencies to appendicitis. I’ve learned to trust it. It knew that anger wouldn’t make me better this time.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s a lot of giggling in the midst of the zen. I’ve had arrows hit the target and then flip over themselves and land in the grass somewhere. I’ve done a great fast-draw and then dropped the arrow on my toe before I could shoot it. More than once, while standing in the stirrups, my horse would just stop and pitch me forward. This is silly, slapstick shit. Beauty and stillness is all well and good, but it’s not really fun. Fun is being able to laugh at yourself. If you want to climb a mountain, you’ll have a much easier time if you enjoy walking and sweating. If you can make your fuck-ups funny, you’re set. You look forward to the victories, but also for the jokes. It’s hard to quit if you love what you’re doing.

After the ride, I feed the horse and sit with him until he finishes. I brush him and pet his flank while he eats, the same way I pet the other animals at the barn when they ask for it. Then I take him back to his pasture. The exercise, the countryside, and being with animals is helping me heal in a way that breaking, burning, and screaming never could.

Even the self-talk has shifted. Rather than say “fuck!” when I make a mistake, I say “well, that was silly.” Maybe I was silly. Maybe the horse was silly. Maybe the arrow or the target was silly. Blame and negativity aren’t part of the learning experience. Each success is a surprise, and each mistake is hilarious.

So no, I don’t picture my ex when I’m shooting. I have no desire to do harm. My own pain was enough. When I ride, I’m with the horse. When I shoot, I’m with the landscape.

There was a woman I trained with a long time ago who always smiled. I’ve never seen a photo of her where she didn’t have a big toothy grin. At the time, I took her less seriously because of it; but I was wrong. She’s knowledgeable, formidable, and a fantastic friend. I think she was on to something.

If I were angry, I couldn’t do any of these things. I’d be stuck in the cycle of raging, passing out, and raging again. That’s not a long-term strategy.  Instead, I’m learning to flow with what is, and let go of what isn’t. I won’t hit the bulls-eye every time. I won’t always be graceful in the saddle. But if I’m laughing the whole time, who cares? I’ll be back tomorrow, no worse for wear.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
― Sun Tzu

Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
― Samuel Beckett

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Subject Matter: Erotica vs. Sexual Harassment

Today is Friday the 13th, in February. In two days, it will be hella-cheap chocolate day, which is even better than Valentine’s day itself. I grew up thinking that V-day was about romance, gracious courtship, and gifting; but here in San Francisco, the universal spirit of Valentine’s is: “LET’S FUCK!  WOOHOO!!”

This message was both compounded and confused by the fact that I was drafting an article about erotic literature while simultaneously clicking through a mandatory sexual harassment training module.

This contrast reminded me that there’s no right or wrong way to approach a subject. The grand subjects like love, death, sex, (and taxes?) are so deeply entrenched in our own understanding that it opens up thousands of possibilities for stories. For any given subject there’s an inspirational and enraging way to tell it. There’s a sumptuous way and a revolting way. What becomes more important each time is the build-up.  It’s not just the event in isolation, but everything surrounding the event, how it came to be, and what comes after. It’s like giving birth, or orgasm, or jumping off a bridge.

Think about your perceptions of loaded ideas like sex and death. What are your patterns? How can you invert them?

“I live in the space between chaos and shape. I walk the line that continuously threatens to lose its tautness under me, dropping me into the dark pit where there is no meaning. At other times, the line is so wired that it lights up hte soles of my feet, gradually my whole body, until I am by own beacon, and I see the beauty of newly created worlds.”
–Jeanette Winterson


Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.”
–Charles Bukowski

Singing in the Kitchen

I listened to the Guys & Dolls  not too long ago, so that kind of music has been in my head even though it’s not my favorite genre. I’ve been dancing around the kitchen humming and writing this song in anticipation of tomorrow night’s dinner, which I don’t have to cook.

~

Some girl’s babies make them swoon and crawl
Wind ’em round their finger till they drop their drawers
And once they’re done
They’re on the run
Because they had their cake
But my baby, he just makes me steak.

Some girl’s babies buy them fancy things
Cars and clothes and sparkling little diamond rings
Until they see
That the love ain’t free
And they’re rudely shocked awake
But my baby, he just makes me steak.

Some girl’s babies have just one thing on their mind
A family name, some kittens, and the daily grind
But my boy and me
We let each other free
‘Cause a ring’d be a mistake
That’s why my baby, he just makes me steak.

Current Writing Tune: “Exit Wounds” by The Romanovs

I’m working on two completely different love stories at the moment.

Both of which climax at the same tipping point: when lover transforms into devourer.

There are tons of bodice-rippers where a stronger force sweeps the POV character off her feet. These are both from the attacker’s perspective. I wonder how sympathetic they’ll be…

Layla Means Night

My apologies for the long silence!

I took stock today, and realized I have fourteen writing projects in various stages of completion. Perhaps the time has come to stop meditating on principles and translate them into action.

Speaking of action, I recently spoke with Rosanna Gamson about her latest performance art piece, “Layla Means Night.” It explores the interplay of the public and private, men and women, West and Middle East woven through the story of Scheherazade and the King. It’ll be a perfectly sumptuous way to spend Halloween before I gear up to hit the convention scene.

For updates on the show, and gorgeous haunting photos of the dancers, be sure to like her Facebook page.

 

These Are The People I Want In My Life

I found this beautiful poem through a friendship with a musician with a beautiful soul. I would not have met her if I didn’t know writers with beautiful souls. Beautiful souls are true, and shine bright, whether they glow with compassion or writhe in their own torment. For me, beauty lies solely in entelechy.

The Invitation
by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can  disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.