My body traveled 3 days and 1500 miles on the road and ended up in South Pasadena, CA. I’m living out of my suitcase in Mike’s bedroom while we look for a new place. I guess part of me didn’t fully realize what was really happening—that I was moving away from Austin, that I had graduated and needed to become a full-fledged adult again, that I had to move from student to [insert nouns here], that I needed to define those parameters for my new life, and that moving meant a necessary commitment to the boy and our relationship.
So I’ve mostly been feeling lost and physically inert the past weeks (and demoralized due to house-hunting while unemployed). With the tempting distractions of a library within walking distance, at least I’ve been able to read and read a lot and gain some forward movement within my heart. This is where my head has been at these days.
Myth and Rituals
Been meditating on the lessons of The Power of Myth, a series of interviews between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers that was originally broadcast on PBS. I’m watching it and reading the accompanying book. It was listed as required reading for Jonathan Harris’s workshop called “Personal Geographies: Understanding Your Story”. (Something I want to go to, but probably won’t unless I learn Processing in the next couple weeks.)
- Myths and stories are guideposts to help us navigate our lives and the tension between our inner worlds and our external societies.
- Really fascinating how myths around the world (including the major stories of the world’s religions) are so, so (so, so) similar, yet we fight because we call the same God by a different name or use different metaphors to connote the same themes.
- Myths must change and grow with the times and the landscape and the people. They die when they get stuck in an old metaphor (examples can be seen in many religions today).
- Rituals have become more and more reduced, even as our lives have grown more and more distracting. Whereas rituals are meant to take us out of our day-to-day, throw us into another mental/physical space, and prepare us for times of transition by surrounding us with spiritual wisdom, we now have mere formal echoes of ritual or nothing at all to help us through the following transitions: from childhood to adulthood, marriage, dealing with death. So it’s no wonder we fumble at these crossroads and have so many quarter-life crises.
- We don’t live with nature and the land anymore. Our interactions are removed from the natural cycles of life. So in some ways, we need even more guidance to connect with those larger truths. (Interesting conceptual project by Bunch Design about building communities among and around trees instead of bending nature around our built structures.)
If artists are our new shamans, and movies & novels the new myths of our day, I have been taking instruction from a few worthy sources recently: Watership Down by Richard Adams (which has its own set of embedded rabbit myths) and Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Both highly recommended for story and for writing. I’m also continually drawn to graphic novels: Lisa’s Story, Frank Miller’s Sin City, Duncan the Wonder Dog in recent days.
GRIEF AND GRIEVING
I don’t think I will go into it much here, but events early in the year triggered suppressed emotions that surged forward and derailed me. I’m still feeling the aftershocks, working through some things in therapy, reading Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and struggling with inner faith (see Self-Reliance below).
It calls for stillness and emotion, when life/industry/youth/society demand action and output. I’m trying to fight my type-A/over-productive/go-go-go mode that numbs all emotion, but I end up doing literally nothing instead and feeling guilty about it. So I am like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other, frustrated that I can’t find equilibrium. But I will fight for that balance, goddammit.
I’m participating in a 30-day writing challenge called #Trust30 celebrating an anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance and discovering how to trust myself again. Each day, I receive a new writing prompt by a new author with his/her interpretation of an Emerson quote and a new question to ponder and respond to.
I’ve always known writing is my best tool for synthesis and discovery. But sometimes I forget. I’ve experienced a recent drought in personal writing, and it’s difficult to get back into the swing of things. It was powerful on the first day of this challenge to reach the end of however-many minutes of typing and come to a new (re-)realization (about the power of my maternal ancestry) and to know that I couldn’t have truly internalized that discovery any other way.
Gratitude and Openess
I’ve been feeling very fortunate as I think of all the amazing people in Austin I have gotten to know and love the past 9 years. (I don’t think I’ve felt the homesickness yet, but it’s sure to hit me at some point.) But I also had to realize that I have to be just as open about the possibility of meeting awesome new people in Los Angeles.
I didn’t consider my flirtations with San Francisco a sign of any wavering commitment to my relationship with Mike, but it might have seemed that way to him and others. I’ve had to travel my own sometimes-tumultuous internal journey to reach a comfortable commitment to this city and to what I may become here. Step by step (and browser tab by browser tab), I am opening my mind to the possibilities, the new communities, and the professional opportunities that exist here in the City of Angels.
I’m in Los Angeles.
I don’t know what the next stage of my life will look like, but I’m excited to figure it out as I go along.