A Bit of Sunlight – The Living Dead

I am heading to my in-laws cabin today.  It is in the middle of no-where so I will not be able to post my regular Sunlight post on Sunday so I thought I would do it now.  Plus, it seems a little depressing for a Sunday post.  

Here I am at the age of thirty-four and I am the living dead. I am in the bathroom. I am not sure how long I have been on the toilet or how many times I have wiped myself. I seem to keep slowly coming to the realization that I am done peeing and I reach for the toilet paper only to feel like I have done this already, and then I drift off again. How many times have I done this? I don’t search for an answer. I get up, flush and move on with my day; to lay on the floor in the living room.

I followed the path laid out to me. The path that others were on. The path that society told me to follow: I went to school; I got an education; I found a job; I got married; I bought a house; I had a baby; Then why did all of these perfect steps lead me to the carpet, struggling for each breath and feeling lost and without purpose?

I have been telling my husband when we go to bed at night that I am not sure why I am alive. I am so sad that I can not move during the day. I feel guilt for laying here but I can not get up and do anything meaningful.

“I don’t like you talking that way,” he would reply. It sounds like he is scolding me for feeling this way. His tone is sharp. He mentions to me that I should see someone, a counsellor or therapist. His work will cover the cost.

He comes home one day and tells me quietly, when Teela and I are in the sunporch finishing supper, “There are a lot of people here that need you and love you.”

I know he is talking about him and the girls but all I can think is that living for them is not enough. I have been living for them for so long and I don’t want to anymore. It is exhausting and draining me to my core.

It isn’t that I don’t love them. I do. I really do. But I have nothing more to give them. I can not cook supper for them. I can not pay attention to the words they say to me and the questions they ask of me. All I am is a shadow. If I give them much more of myself I will disappear. I don’t care about anything except for an answer as to why I am forced to get up and live this hell every day.

Pondering The Scheme of Things

I have interviewed a half dozen people for my Scheme of Things research. There is seems to be one common element that I see so far – parental support. Now, I do not know yet if the careers these people choose are their life purpose. Maybe talking to me is their life purpose. I do know that with their parents unconditional support, no matter how crazy the idea was, if the parents supported it and the child was truly passionate about it then it was always a win-win for everyone.

One lady talks of her ‘privileged degree’. This was when her parents paid for her to attain a music degree.  While taking this music degree she was introduced to the concept of music therapy.  She ended up not wanting to be so focused solely on music in her career and studied therapy in a more broad sense.

Who knows what is around the bend in the trail.

Our careers our life purpose? Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts, says we have 12 archetypes.  Perhaps all of those archetypes need to be filled. Maybe we have many purposes. I do not know. I do wish to find out.

My one advice do far in my research is to follow your child. See where they intuitively know where to go. It might seem crazy. It might even mean you will be snickered at by the occasional hoity-toity but persevere. Your child knows their direction. They may dance a little, waver from one thing to another, but it will all pieced together.

Picture compliments of Sherese Luneng

What Is Success?

My daughter Emily came home from school the other day and plopped herself in the chair opposite me at the dinning room table.  Normally she heads straight down stairs so I knew something was on her mind.  (Oh, Emily attends school every other day for one period.  She is taking some electives.  We won’t do that next year.)

She tells me she was chatting with her homeroom teacher during the day.  The teacher asked her if she would be caught up if she did decide to return to the public school system next year.  Emily said no, cause science and math have not been our focal point and what we study in other subjects is way different than what the system has laid out.  The teachers response was, “Oh.”  She expresses her frustration in her teacher because they had just been talking about what she had been doing for the year and felt very insulted.

Emily then tells me that there is a quote on a poster in the library where she works on her own thing after her class.  She lifts up her hand and I see ink writing all across her palm.  She reads it to me.

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”

– David Frost

“Teachers should really take some of the advice that is around them.” she says.

Emily heading down her own path (at the Meewasin trail around the Saskatchewan River).

For me, watching Emily sit in front of me now full of confidence and knowingness, I feel proud.  I see that she has come a long way.  We both have on this homeschooling journey.  Many people have challenged us and given us questioning looks.  In the beginning of our adventure in homeschooling we would let them get to us cause we were unsure with what we were doing.  I was worried I was messing up her life despite my heart telling me otherwise.  Now we both sit here and know.  We are good.  This is the right path for us and it feels awesome.  I love that Em was able to stand tall in this situation and not let her teacher’s opinion get her in a muck.

Knowing

Names have been changed to protect identity.

I met Ali at a youth community center.  He was running film making workshops and I was doing some creative arts workshops.  Both of us were targeting youth at risk.  He was needing some help to get his NGO off the ground.  I was working for two other NGOs at the time and volunteered to help him.

I was at every project watching him work.  He was always focused and passionate about what he did.  His wife suppported him in every aspect and her voice seemed to be the only one that he would listen to if his passion was taking him away and she felt he needed to come back to the present moment.

I feel, and this is my opinion only, that he seemed inattentive to his two sons.  One of them liked making films and I feel he identified with him more but still his mind was on creating a picture for a message.  Ali was so involved he could not see past his art.  He lived and breathed it. He was very gentle with his family.  Not a yeller.  Always kind but you could tell his mind was busy creating something all the time.

I left the NGO world to enter the world of the public service.  Which means to say, I took a government job with more money. Then I left the government job to find myself.  In the process I found Ali.  We stopped and had lunch together and I found myself asking him a hundred questions about how he knew he loved the arts and how he persisted through it.

He told me that as soon as a photo camera had fallen into his hands he knew.  He took pictures of everything and became the elementary school newspaper boy although there was no newspaper.  He posted all his pictures and writings up on the hall of his school in the middle east.  He tells me about this with such depth.  I feel nothing could have stopped him.  Not only did he need to take pictures and write about events, he also needed to share it.  It was a force or energy working through him and could not be stopped.

Out of school hours he sold potatoes on the street corner for money to buy black out material to make a dark room in his childhood home.  A young boy at this time, his parents saw that he was different than the rest of him but they never prevented him from doing what he wanted.  They gave him a room to convert to a dark room.  (How many of us would do that?)  He tells stories of him and neighbourhood kids running down his street with building materials.  I was impressed, but not surprised, at how he recruited others to work towards his campaign.  I too had been swept up in his passion.  It is not just his art but his ideals that are appealing to me.

Highschool continued his passion.  He took photographs and wrote stories for the school.  His ideals becoming more grown up and clear.  He was someone with strong socialist beliefs and it was clear that he was going to have to leave his country.  He was on opposite ends of the government of the time.

He came to Canada and stumbled on the opportunity to work in graphic design and then film.  Always trying to portray a higher message with his art.  Even how his story ‘stumbled’ together is by a design that one could not have planned but came so easily.  While he talks I think life takes us on a journey.  We ask and the pieces fit together if we believe.  And Ali believes.  It never seemed to come to his mind to question what he was after.  He moves towards it like he is absolutely sure-footed in every step.

His art eventually moving him from Ontario to Saskatatchewan this is where I met him.  Both of us trying to get youth to become themselves and giving them opportunities to explore who they are free of charge.  His opportunity is one allowing them to speak out.

As we talked I sensed he was getting anxious to move back into the arts.  He has been teaching at the university for some time and really wants to create art again.

I ask him about his sibling and parents.  I recall him being distant with his own children and wondered if he was like that as a child.  He describes the same story.  He feels he was always off doing his own thing and never felt he got to know them. He also never saw them again after he left at the age of 18.  He is now in his 50’s.  His father has since passed on.

We go our separate ways but I wonder if he still has a message to get out to the world?  Or has he already?  There were a few youth that made films and won awards at Film Festivals under his inspiration.  Maybe he is meant to inspire many people or maybe just one.  Maybe he was meant to meet up with me so I could tell his story and it would impact someone else.  Or does he need to create a masterpiece film?  It doesn’t matter if it won’t make him famous.  He just needs one person to see it to make a difference.  I wonder, what is his life purpose?  Just doing art or is it a message?  Or perhaps it is a change in society even if the shift is ever so slight.  We move with small adjustments and not big ones.

Surely his purpose is in the arts or at the very least it is his medium.  He has a message to bring and I do believe he wants to bring it internationally through the arts.  I don’t think he is done yet.  He wants to make a difference.  With his focus and determination I do believe he can do it. I don’t think anything can stop him.  Do we know when we have accomplished what we are suppose to accomplish?  Do we sit back and say, “This is it.  This is as good as I will ever say/do/be what I came here to say/do/be.”   Will it be a feeling inside us of fulfilment?

Sharing

Yesterday I was at the park with my three-year old, Teela. We went to a new park and there were many kids around her age playing about. We took out her sand toys, attracting other kids, and soon she was into her not sharing mode. This immediately took me to this quote I read once.

“Here’s a test. an elderly lady behind you says to her husband, “Maple’s my favorite!” Do you like the donut enough to leave it for her?” (The Essential Yoga Sutra by Geshe Micheal Roach and Christie McNally – Sutra 2.7 – 2.9)

This has always stumped me. Do I like something enough to give it away? What a thought. The authors are trying to explain the concept of grasping and its relation to liking and disliking things. He argues that liking that donut is a ‘stupid’ kind of liking. We need to find the mistake in that kind of liking and learn to tell the difference between ‘stupid’ liking and ‘smart’ liking. Liking peace and helping others would be smart liking in a very general sense. It is harder to apply in every day life and even more so in the heat of the moment like at the park when you are three years old and sharing toys against your will because your mom says so.

Does my little girl like the sand toys enough to leave them for these kids at the park? No, her brain development is not there. The ego is strong in our young ones as they find their sense of being. In reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The New Earth he shares a story of a women who is terminally ill that he spends time with as a counsellor. She looses a ring that is very special to her. He asks her some very good questions.

“Do you realize that you will have to let go of the ring at some point, perhaps quite soon? How much more time do you need before you will be ready to let go of it? Will you become less when you let go of it? Has who you are become diminished by the loss?”

I especially like the last one. I am going to think of that question many times while I go through the process of decluttering my house and life. I think of that question a lot when I hold onto family heirlooms I have of my anscestors. I am so passionate about family history and holding onto things of my grandmothers or great grandmothers that I do feel my identity is wrapped up in it. At some point I will have to let it go.

Since Teela was in such a fowl mood (she has a head cold) we packed up our toys with the intention of leaving before things got worse for Teela.  As we walked away I wondered if I had something special and someone showed an interest in it could I like it enough to give it to them?