Unknown Futures

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating lately about the paths and journeys we take into unknown futures.  Here are today’s ruminations.  (first draft, very rough)


How do you live best? Being true to yourself is being present in the moment.

We’re all on a pilgrimage. Often overwhelmed by circumstances. Look back to where you came from. Look forward to the horizon. Look up. What is your relationship to the horizon? To the future? Who will benefit from the place where you are? Who needs to receive your song?

The transitions of our lives are like living with storms, weather, rain. We need to shape our lives to meet the demands of the weather. In the presence of something new, we don’t yet know how to be in conversation with the new circumstance. We have to get over ourselves. We have to get out of our own way.

Do the brave thing. Take the path to your future. Begin by not denying any part of yourself. Bring the frightened parts of you along the path. Look at the parts of your life you don’t want to look at. Finding these parts comes out of silence. Listening to our deepest interior voices. Are there wells you don’t want to drink from? Grief? Regrets? Mortality? It’s tempting to give ourselves easy, unsubstantial answers. Speaking to ourselves in trite clichés. Spend time in silence, listening for the wisdom to speak. Then speak out of silence. Tell the story. Make your story.

Don’t run from vulnerability. It’s going to become the foundation for where you’re going. Helplessness comes with great loss. We don’t appreciate what we have, until it—or they—are gone. Helplessness and loss are like medicine leaving a bad taste in your mouth. We turn away from these experiences, not realizing we need to go deeper in. The full depth of the experience of loss brings knowledge, wisdom, and a reshaping of our lives we would’ve never experienced without the loss. Don’t wait until their deathbed to reach out to loved ones with your true self. Do it now. Be present fully in the moment. Be your authentic self.

Be the person your future self will always remember with thanksgiving.

~Debi

34jkie

Changes

Driving home from my dad’s on Father’s Day, I had some ideas come to me as I sat in the car, trapped between dark woods on one side and a quiet river on the other. When I had a chance, I scribbled some notes, and just now typed out my thoughts. So, here’s what came from being stuck in traffic for two hours on Father’s Day. 🙂  (first draft, very rough)


Changes

“In the middle of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.” ~ Dante

What happens when we awaken in Dante’s dark wood and find ourselves lost and confused in the middle of our life? How do we find the light again? The path? The way? Where do we go when we can no longer go home?

Although it feels as if we’re surrounded by darkness with no way to turn, we’re standing at the frontier of who we were and who we will become. The past always inhabits the now. Who we were, what we’ve done, who we’ve been in community with throughout our lives, goes into making the person we are now. But even that is fleeting. Who we are now is a fleeting moment which moves ahead into the future and backward into the past, simultaneously. Much like a rapidly flowing river viewed from the shore. Rivers drink from a deep and distant source, and as we find our way to that deep source in our own lives, we’ll find our life’s river gives generously to the landscape around us.

Ask yourself, what is “now” inviting you to do? Where is the current of the now asking you to go? Be impatient with trite explanations. We want the answers and the questions that bubble up from our river’s deep, undying, undrying source.

Perhaps this season of life is calling you to a time of silence. Of hibernation. A time of hiding. Time alone is a natural process. A bear hibernating through the winter. An injured animal taking time alone to heal. The stillness and quiet of a time of seclusion can bring greater self-knowledge. And self-knowledge can help lead us into – and through – the next frontier of our lives. Savor the aloneness.

Stop your life’s current conversation and listen. Is it superficial? Caught up in daily-ness and busyness? Be still. Quiet yourself. What is the big question of your life? The beautiful question? The essential or serious question? Find your question. What gives your life meaning? What lights your soul’s passion? Your essential question can be different at various times in your life. Don’t resurrect older questions, although your new question may be a variation on a theme.

Ask your own question, not someone else’s. When you find the question that’s hibernating in your heart, allow it to help you find your new voice. Let it welcome you into the new conversation of your life. Give it opportunity to lead you to your new identity.

Along with a new question and a new identity, you may find your entire life reorganized, including the community around you. This may be unnerving and a bit frightening. But do the brave thing.

Put your head down and make your way through the dark woods into the light of the next phase of your life. You’ll come to a place you don’t know, but in the process, you’ll come back to yourself.

~Debi

 

Poem: be aware


Short excerpt from the new book-length erasure poem, BAD THINGS HAPPEN.


31m2vqk1gvlthe evil
in this world

troubled
human history

call for help

LISTEN

in confidence ask
begin to understand
discern wisdom

LISTEN

open your eyes

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

be aware

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

they have been
deluded
they bought into
deceit

words
deluded them

LISTEN

you were captive
to traditions

you were buried
you were dead
you were hostile

you judged
defrauded
your mind

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

your freedom
distressed people

LISTEN

you learn
significant truths

BAD THINGS HAPPEN


Ready?


The First Time at the First Place

But I’m not ready to go home yet.
“But you can’t stay here forever.”
I know. But I’m not ready.

I don’t even know what ready means, or what ready looks like, or how ready feels. I just know that this is not ready. Thoughts of returning to the same circumstances that sent me to the hospital in the first place bring on panic attacks. I don’t think that’s ready. When I can’t stop crying whenever I think of going home, I don’t think that’s ready, either. When I shake so much I can’t eat, I suspect that’s also a sign I’m not ready.

“All, right. You can stay for one more day, but only one more day. That’s the best we can offer. You’ll need to use that day for preparing to go home. Can you do that?”
Yes. Okay. I understand. I will.

I do understand. I do. But even so, I don’t think I’ll be ready. At least they offered me one more day. One more day of safety from myself. One more day to breathe freely without fear that I’ll give up on life again. One more day to think about the thinking that led me to thinking that I needed to be in the hospital. One more day to accept the reality of life on the outside. One more day to steel myself for returning to the grief and loneliness. To return to the reality of pain and rejection. Of never-ending sadness. Of emptiness. Of hopelessness.


The Latest Time at a Different Place

The last time I was in the hospital, they sent me home before I was ready.
“We do things differently here. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
But last time I was told I just had to get myself ready and I couldn’t stay any longer, even though I was afraid to go home.
“If you feel afraid to go home, then you’re not ready. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
How will I know when I’m ready?
“You’ll know when you’re ready. We’ll know when you’re ready. We won’t kick you out, we promise. You can stay here until you’re ready.”
Oh. Okay. Thank you.

Is it weird to say I cried when the doctors told me I wouldn’t be going home for a while? I cried from happiness. I cried from sadness. I cried from sheer exhaustion. I cried from releasing the fear I’d been carrying. The fear of having to return home too soon. Perhaps this time will be the last time if I’m able to stay for enough time to finally discover what ready looks and feels like. What ready actually means.


Upside-Down World


upside down hanging lamp

This is a short excerpt from a project I’ll be working on during the month of July for Camp Nanowrimo. This work currently has no name.  It will be a cross-genre work of fiction blurred with non-fiction, poetry, memoir, prose, stream-of-consciousness, epistolary forms.  And whatever else may work its way in there.


Upside-Down World
by Debi


Friends become enemies. Lovers, exes. Families, estranged. What the hell’s happening? The world is upside-down. My world is upside-down.

I’d lie on my back, hang my head down over the edge of the bed—down over the edge of the world—and the ceiling of my childhood home became the floor. The floor, the ceiling.  Magic.  This was Upside-Down World. A charmed world peopled by people similar to my people. But altered. Different. Stronger. Bolder. I was younger. Ceiling Girl older.

Upside-Down World was sparse. The only décor, an occasional floor lamp (the hanging lamps of right-side up world). The floor (my ceiling) was white, flowing-from-room-to-room. White. Always the same. Uniform. Level. Steady. I sensed something serene about those sparsely furnished and simply colored ceiling spaces. I knew nothing of Zen. But felt the truth. Less was more.

Lying on my back in this house, this home of my grownup years, the ceiling’s slanted. Unsteady. Yes. So is grownup life. No level surfaces. No easy answers. No sure footing. An upside-down world.

Dear Ceiling Girl …

You’ve watched. What did you see? What do you see? Does it make sense? You’ve followed me forever, looking down. A witness. Seen the highs. The rockbottomness of rockbottoms. Can you trace the path, the twisted journey, that led here? I’m lost. I’m here, but lost.  Confused.  I miss the surety of childhood’s future. The hopes. Dreams. Imaginations. Magic. Witchcraft. Wishcraft.

Are you still there, Ceiling Girl? Or did this upside-down world shake your footing, too?

~Me


Poem: at fault

by Debi


I sat alone                with them all
my greatest fear        realized
.

alone

 

I would’ve been
.                              less alone
if I’d stayed
.                              home alone
.                              brokenhearted
is it
.                   my       fault
.                   no        fault
.                   his        fault
.                   her       fault
.                   their     fault

 

when     everyone’s
.                 at           fault
who’s    to                  blame?

 

I would say
.               our            fault
but there seems to be
.                               no our

 

is it no one’s fault?

 

I’ll take the                blame
sometimes                 it’s easier to be
.                               perceived as
.                               the one wronging others
.   rather than             convincing others
.                               you’re the one wronged

 

if it keeps the peace

.                               then

 

it’s my fault

 

(does this make me a doormat?)

Writing Prompt: The Freezer


This was written in response to a writing prompt given in an MFA class last year:

“Write from the perspective of a common home appliance.”

I found that if this is read without knowing who or what the “I” is, it’s quite unnerving.  Serial killer, perhaps?  I stumbled across this on my computer today and had forgotten I’d written it, or even what it was about.  Creeped me out.  It brought to mind for me “Psycho” and someone a bit like Norman Bates.


The Freezer
by Debi

Darkness, total and complete.  Bone-chilling cold.  Stacks of frozen carcasses.  Solid ice.  The never-altering, eternally freezing, condition of my life.  Waiting.  Always waiting.  Quietly humming tuneless songs. Wondering when a flash of light and heat will signal the entrance of The Family, disturbing my solitary, frozen existence.

My downstairs neighbor receives frequent visits from The Family throughout the day.  Although my neighbor’s darkness is also complete, the blackness never lasts as long as the darkness I live in.  His cold environment isn’t enough to form ice or frost.  The fluids are chilled but still liquid.  The carcasses are preserved for a time, but not eternally frozen.  The Family worries when the small glass bulb which provides light burns out in my neighbor’s apartment.  My living space has no light source of its own.  Only when the door opens do I see the contents of my own interior.


Notebook Cento #5 – now is a now and this is a this


Sometimes I go back through my notebooks from Graduate school and make centos (collage poems) from phrases I find in the pages.   This is the fifth of a series of centos from my notebooks.


now is a now and this is a this

Notebook Cento #5
by Debi

a now is a now is a now
creating space
.                        between self and outside
.               inside and out
1st person and 3rd
disjunctive
.                  disruptive
find a place, not a position
not an either/or
.                    but an and and an and and an and and …
respect the thing itself
this is this, is this, is this—
.                 rather than this is that

Poem: The End of the World

This was written in response to a gallery exhibition at the University of Washington Bothell called “Particles on the Wall” which had artwork and poetry created in response to the Handford nuclear site in Washington State.  I wandered back through the gallery a second time and wrote down images and phrases that were either inspired by the work, or seen in the poetry, thus creating a response to the totality of the exhibition.


The End of the World
by Debi

I forgive
I forgive
I must forgive

Shall I show you how we dressed our wounds?
downwater downriver
terminal winds
leaking glowing circling dying

someone launched
someone drove
someone fished
and never knew

easy to bury
in the late afternoon
dragged home
bedded down
the rest of us slept
in the river’s shadow

half a million years til Spring
what fossils will the future find?
we have gone blind
we are blind
the desert eats dust
a rabbit digs its own grave

obsolete history
drafted history
voided history
closed history
engineered history

restart
by dawn’s light

origami made from living flesh
unrecognizable
graying

the children unborn
carrying on the family business
cleaning up the waste
from the death beds of their fathers

this is my blood
a chalice of death
the last power
the final cover up