L-O-V-E, Fat, and Paris in the Spring

So love wasn’t waiting for me in Paris, at least not in the way that I hoped, but love actually is all around. But first I have to find it within me.

For my whole life, I have found a feeling of self worth only through a feeling of competition with others and with myself. I have vacillated between trying to accomplish everything, halfassing things and derogating the competition but still buying into it, and basically being a slave to results and the ideal of self-perfection. Whether I gave it my 100%, 80% or 20%, I still believed I was defined only by what I accomplished.

I have rarely, if ever, found validation of any kind within myself. Even as I have had a impressive life on the outside, I’ve never really felt like I was enough on the inside.

I never valued myself for the effort, I never saw or cared for who it was tha was making the numbers go in the direction that I wanted, the being that toiled and struggled and dramatized everything, the voice in my head that didn’t just berate me when I didn’t attain the goal but rather gave some strange sense to the things that I did.

And finally, that is changing. In the midst of what is among my seemingly greatest triumphs, finding a job in Paris and finishing an MBA by the age of 25, I realize that I had it totally wrong. Accomplishing things does feel nice, and it is important- but it’s not everything. And the process, instead of just being a never ending torturous quest for somethign that doesn’t exist (perfection), I can just be happy with what I am now. I can accept, and move forward with love. Because self-flagellation eventually stops losing its effectively when the sting just becomes so routine and you begin to see the emptiness of it.

And the fullness of life, and the beautiful gift you’ve been given to be nothing but yourself.
Not an ideal, but you.

I don’t think I ever would have found this solid center of gravity, equilibrium of active and passive force within myself, if not for the excess weight I gained due to excess eating due to excess self-imposed stress.
I thought I was miserable in business school because I didn’t like busienss, it wasn’t idealistic enough, I would never fit in with my colleagues, and I was just doing the wrong thing- even if it seemed like the best choice I had, I still felt like I should be doing something different and more and if only I had made a different choice somewhere along the road, I’d be happy.
And now I realize that was all bullshit- at least 95%.
My feelings deserved to be heard, but they were dead fucking wrong.

Because I had gained weight, and kept gaining weight, and couldn’ seem to control myself- or the world around me, or where I would find a place in it- I eventually turned to CrossFit.

And I loved it. I haven’t lost a ton of weight or ton of inches (yet), bu tth eresults on the inside are amazing, and I truly do feel better thna I ever did ebefore.
For the first time, I see the previously tortured, now radiant soul, who is struggling to do her workout, and I appreciate her and her efforts. I know she is more than her personal best that day- I know she is so much more than a score. She has heart, she has guts,. She is funny, has a brain, and is a great workout partner.
I am proud to be this person.

And I am so blessed to have met people who saw this person, instead of what my distorted brain always saw: a fat, lazy, single, desperae schmuck who could’ even do a pushup, the lowest of he low.

Oher people just saw me, and that I showed up.

And eventually i started to see myself in that way too, and was happy witht he person who showed up.

Now I do hope to release he exra load I’m carrying around- both mental and physical. I has taught me is lesson.

Yes, being fat helped me find myself worth. Achieving my life’s most obsessive dream so far made me realize that achievement isn’ everything and getting what you wan is not the most important thing for happiness.

Liking yourself is.

So as I walk around Paris in the spring, loverless, a size 16W, I hear in my head the L-O-V-E song, and it’s the song I am singing for myself.

For the beautiful eyes that behold the flowers,
For the feet that jus keep walking,
And for the beautiful soul who can appreciate the beauty, and what’s more, inspire it in others at times.

I love you too.

Namaste,
MJ

On Love, first month in Paris

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I thought love or at least a variant of it might be waiting for me here in Paris.
I thought I moving away from it as well.

I had a mec when I was here as a student a year ago, known on my blog as Y. I met him, one night out with friends when I determined to let go of someone else, the someone I was afraid of moving away from this time around (too).
A stranger in the night became a lot more than that. He was the first person I was really intimate with, on a daily basis, in years, who asked me how my day was. With whom making love was a routine like wrapping oneself in a comforable blanket.
But who didn’t quite inflame my soul or ever capture my closest confidence either. No matter how many times I tried to open to it, no matter how much I tried to stretch my mind around the fact that maybe it didn’t matter that we didn’t share a mother tongue or religion, that it was ok that he just just like a leaf on the wind and a happy camper while I am more of a thoughtful philoospher who more than occassionally goes wild. And he never really let me in, either. No part of me ever thought he was the One.
But I loved him.
And so we kept in touch, for about a year. Then I got the job, and somehow I made less effort, got a little disillusioned, he didn’t call when he said he would and I didn’t care as much as I would have in the past. and I didn’t even let him know really when I was coming, and wasn’t in such a rush o let him know I’d got here until I got other things in order.
Nd I was basically in love with someone else, the someone I tried to forget or at least let go of when I met him.

So basically me and Y played phone tag for a week. Then I tagged him last and he didn’t call back for like a week. Then I just got tired of it and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to see him (I got to see him last June after my departure last December and things were awkward even though I wanted so much to love him and to beleive he loved me). So I sent an eamil basically saying thank you for the good times, I know we aren’t right for each other, but if you still want to meet I’m down. Haven’t heard anything, and I lost my phone like the day after sending it. Maybe that was a sign to stop me from calling him.

And as for C, my love, who just isn’t ready for me yet and has two serious relationships in the past year and sometimes he loves me and tells me his deepest darkest secret but then we go for a while without talking and I feel like he doesn’t care and then we talk again and I know he always cared he just didn’t want to hurt me because he couldn’t give Me what I wsnted . But I still love him he’s m’jy intimate friend and three years without seeing it haven’t changed that. I sent him two emails and he hasn’t responded so I’m worried but I want to give hum a chance and the benefit if the doubt and ill soon have internet and free calling to the us at my apartment so life will be easier
and where is he now but DC where my journey began.
And where I want to see the cherry blossoms myself and probably live there some day. Its my first city love and I’ve only been there as an intern. I always thought I
d end up there and it was where io belonged but the idea if spending my whole life long therr seemed boring too.
I think I might be coming to a point where io want to travel a lot but not always live abroad.

And I hope someday chris and I will have a chance. Because I think wed hit it out of the park and I’ve never felt like this about anybody else.

Would that mean im ready to live for a year in paris without romance? Idk but I’m not ready to be in a relationship with him either.. so yeah
And I’m so afraid we will fall out of touch again but he did get in contact with me first pretty much si idk .
I think this is at least a big part if what love us and u hope thfeeling shared
I feel like I’m taking a leao off a building unkniwn nit just with Chris but with;the the whole paris thing

And the truth is that finally I love myself and paris is my gift.
It doesn’t have to have a reason or make sense to anyone else .
It doesn’t have to be forever to be true love .

But dear God, I hope I find a love that lasts forevef to love and be loved
to be true and beautiful and good
I’ll wait here planting my own garden and decorating my own soul

Until someone does to me what spring does to cherry trees

L’Arrivée: On my first 26 days In Paris

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So I made it to Paris. For a very real job, a corporate job, to live and work in the city of my dreams.
After much struggle and hardship, loss of hope, self doubt, questioning, and a pretty good sum of money.

But I made it.
The people at my office are great, one of my best friends lives across the hall from me, and things are coming together bit by bit.
My renovated maid’s quarters room is getting homier and homier, no matter how small, and the administrative bs that is not atypical of France is coming together- I have a bank account (Hallelujah- it wasn’t as easy as one would have thought or as it was in the past), a first paycheck, I have a phone, a monthly metro pass, a gym membership, and soon I’ll have internet in my apartment. Tomorrow!

It wasn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

One obstacle I didn’t expect was the homesickness and longing for my own country and my first ity love, Washington, DC. WOrking in France in a business setting is not like teaching ENglish or going to school here. I have to say, based off what I’ve seen, I am not shocked that France seems to be steadily slipping from its former grandeur and its economy is lucky to grow by 1% per year. Went to a poetry reading at the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, once frequented by Hemingway, TS Eliot, and other famous expats, and the lead presenter read a poem about the decline of Europe. As I am struck by the beauty and majesty of every corner, the gorgeous Boulevards Haussman, the generously scattered monuments, scupltures, gardens, and other sumptuous works, and the advertisements in the metro recall to me the cultural treasures that are so lavishly available here with every one of my trajectories though the attractive and convenient metro, I sometimes have the strange sentiment of living in a working museum. That I am here not to much for what is going on now but what has happened.
On the other hand, France continues to be the center of la Francophonie. Immigrants throng from all corners of the world that France once conquered and many places where it did not. It is one of the most important cities in EUrope, and despite the economic malaise, this more than 1000 year old city and long time center of the world knows that it will last, it is not going anywhere any time soon. But the signs that it is going forward- like a friend of mine’s startup- are not always so evident. France seems to be taking on the persona of a first world, first class, but somehow second rate country, content to see to the welfare of its citizens and the continuation of its heritage but no longer a place that pushes the borders of its civilization. A fashionable brand that was once among the world’s greatest of empires. And is caught fighting the battles of right vs left, socialist vs slightly less socialist, and above all, the old guard of the white, Catholic, franco-francais heritage of France versus its multicultural future with Muslim Maghrebins of the former colonies providing the population as well as the energy of the future.

If France could combine its various flavors like the US does in the giant melting pot, or to use a more integrationist metaphor, salad bowl, it would be among the richest and most dynamic of countries. French may be to some of my Maghrebin friends the langue du colonisateur but at the same time, there is a truly global community of people who not only speak French, but also to an extent, whether they want to admit it or not, also think to some extent like the French, or at least use the same metaphors-which are not common to the Anglo Saxon part of the Western world. THe ideals of laicite (more or less, secularism) and solidarity are among those idioms that I don’t really think we have an equivalent to. I asked my friend the French entrepreneur, a great admirer of Steve Jobs by the way, how France managed to conquer more or less half the world and administrate a global empire, when I see all the seeming bureaucratie and taxes and hierarchy and everything else weighing French corporate life down today. He said, that was in the king times when only one person took a decision and everyone else just followed. A colleague of mine agree that when the boss is away, everything goes to shit.

There’s a lot I still don’t understand despite my years of study and immersion in French culture, which is very latin. There are certain social codes that I don’t understand operating because no equivalent exists in American culture, like the grammar rules that govern the more complicated, and some would say rich, French language. It’s hard to understand when to use the subjunctive when it just doesn’t exist, or at least no one thinks of it as such, in your mother tongue. Before I leap to any conclusions or go to far in propagating my current impressions, which are of course likely to change, it should be well noted that there’s so much I just don’t understand.
And just as I lament the lack of integration in France, of course I see a mixed race couple sitting next to me at MacDonald’s where I am hogging the internet with their adorable children.

But sadly, while every culture is ethnocentric, I think that in France it is a bit more apparent. That kind of pride, or arrogance and attachment to certain ways of doing things, is just part of French culture and perhaps just Latin cultures in general. The hierarchy, the centralisation, le cadre of acceptable behavior and difficulty understanding the others just don’t understand. That the box you have been taught to think inside is just a convient fiction, and your social codes, however important to you, are just constructed and aren’t real for some people.

I think the best example of the problems facing France is the school system. At a young age, around 13, children have to choose essentially between going to college or learning a trade. It is very difficult to change tracks and causes you to have to repeat years of school. Same thing if, once you have chosen a “major” rather a sort of diploma in either college prep high school or vocational high school, you have to repeat. People are put into their boxes very early.
ANd diplomas exist for extremely specific jobs, and without having the right sort of diploma you are obliged to go back to school and start from scratch more or less. Groundskeeping and retail merchandising come to mind. So the workforce isn’t very flexible, even before you factor in the laws that make it difficult to fire people, which also make employers reluctant to hire people, and the risk averse mentality that keeps people in their safe jobs rather than looking for something better. In France, insurance is mandatory for many things, and available for nearly everything.
For those who go on to university, there is a very rigid testing system that determines who goes to which school. And getting into a top school effectively guarantees and certain salary and good jobs for the rest of your life. Some jobs explicitly advertise for only graduates of top schools. Though school is a lot less expensive, it’s not easy to get loans, so for the top schools that are, by French standards, “expensive” they are a lot less accessible. Also, the preparation courses for the tests can cost around $20000 per year, so the meritocratic system of testing definitely doesn’t help out the poor. I have even heard that some material on the tests can’t be learned in school and without going to a preparatory course, you could be the best in your class yet fail to get admitted to a top school.
And the elite of France are chosen from the people that do best on a test, because they are clever and/or their parents had the means to pay. Which effectively came from succeeding on the same tests. So it comes out that if your parent went to one of the top schools, you are about 90% likely to go as well. It is an elite that reproduces itself without much challenge, though school is free and the masses have access to social protections that Americans can only dream of.
It seems that life is more forgiving though, with great unemployment insurance and many social protections if worse comes to worse. Yet these guarantees exist because people are in such need of them, in my opinion due to the inflexibility of the system, because it is normal for it to take 2 years to find a job.
There are many things I admire in France. THe beauty most of all. The publi gardens, the historical artifacts, the courteosy and culture that come from the remnants of aristrocracy. I dig so many affects of the system even as the ideals that created them couldn’t possibly be at greater odds with my own. A strange dillemma.
It took all of my American “any dream can come true,” belief to get me here, yet that belief is definitely not in evidence here. I appreciate the scenery, much as I haven’t adopted the beleifs of the natives- if anything, my Americanness and classical liberalism have only gotten stronger. yet I find so much happiness here, if only because there is something new to learn every day and the challenge of language and bridging cultural difference. An outsider by choice, a visitor, a long stay tourist who feels a frisson of familiarity and loves doing my grocery shopping here even as I don’t acknowledge France as my true home.
And so many of the great people I have met have been other outisders, or French but not Parisian, and we make a community of people who don’t quite fit the social order.
Enjoying the food, the architecture, the joie de vivre. The language, the travel, the culture.
yet not really adopting it. Finding a freedom in being a stranger unlike any I have ever known, much as the Europeans who came to the New World must have felt in imagining their new communities.

I think I will go back and face “reality” as I have constructed it, knowing that when I come back even stronger and stranger than before, France will welcome me, my second home.

There’s Nowhere To Go

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I’m about to leave. It’s a very exciting time, one that feels triumphant, nostalgic, hopeful, and also has an eye to the future. Wondering when I’ll come back exactly.
I love France. I’m about to go live there, again, and this time work as a professional. My contract is for a year, and so far I think there’s every indication it may well be renewed. I could perhaps stay in France indefinitely, and yet…
I am, as always, just about settled in to where I am now just as it’s time to leave. Time to leave the beginnings of a routine and the newfound feeling of community and being well-adjusted to my circumstances to start a new adventure. One that I have desired more than so many other things, one that I thought was the only key to my happiness.
I know now I was wrong. Paris was not the only thing in the world that could make me happy- many other things have. And yet, I do think that gaining the opportunity to come, and to live there and may be even decide to reside there for a long time, is part of my Personal Legend.
Yet even before I leave, I realize: there’s no where to go.
I am always with myself. France is an awesome backdrop, but ultimately it’s me who decides whether I will be happy or not. Environment is a huge key, and there are certain adventures in France I couldn’t have in the US. There are so many cities I’ve never visited that call out to me, so many sites to see, and a way of life and thinking and beautiful language that resonate deep in my soul…and yet–
What am I really looking for? A long vacation? An experience? Yes.
But what is my heart screaming for, bursting for, making its will known so loud and clear, even though it just faintly whispers? I feel it, whether I dare to name it or not.
The feeling is not an emptiness, it’s not a lack. But it is a profound realization of the limitations of my independence, of just how much I can’t do alone just as I am about to go on another independent, heroic, leavetaking and adventure.
My heart screams for love.
For that one force which would make me less than entirely self sufficient. For the thing that makes even castles seem dry, and which makes the pyramids crumble into dust. A proud civilization, a long and mighty tradition- me, myself, and I- just gone, in a heartbeat.
But I have to go to France, where love may or may not find me, I have to be alone- to experience where love is not. I have to miss him, so that I’ll know when I’ve found his hand to hold. I have to miss him this much, because so much will be required of me.
Love.
Paris, pyramids, castles in Prague- they are empty without love. I will tremble in wonder, my soul will thrill to the subtlety and grandeur of existence, my heart will ache with the mystery and romance of the past, of the lands yet to be explored. And yet-
Even though I’m the most kick butt independent woman in the world, the ambitious MBA, the lone explorer, the solitary wanderer- I realize the kingdom I most yearn for is not my own, but to find someone’s to share.
A lover and best friend I can’t hide from.
A fellow wanderer, conspirator, conqueror, adventurer, hero-
I am Penelope, waiting for Odyseus by the loom, except that the tales that I spin are my own, the yarns are dyed with the richness of my first-hand experience. And I am also Odyseus, circling the world, in search of his love, yet carried away by adventures beyond his understanding or control, and always missing her in spite of them.
Love requires absence, it means that there is someone you are missing in spite of it all.
So much to see, and all I want is someone to share it with.
And sometimes, secretly, I just want to retire, not to the suburbs, but to the warmth of his gaze, and sit on his knee, and watch our favorite tv show in the evening, to rise in the morning to go sit in an office and do work for a while, and then come home to do it again. Maybe I’ll read a French novel while he watches baseball, but still-
Wherever you go, there you are.
I’m so afraid to give up the world for my love, to give up my independence, and to lose my attitude of nonchalance, but I hope that in finding love, I will find a whole new world, a companion, the most loyal and sweet of friends, and someone to enjoy throughout it all.
Wherever you go, there you are, and that’s just what I feel right now.

So there’s nowhere to go, where I can escape myself, my real feelings. There’s no excitement so profound, no deed so mighty, nothing that can be consumed that can compare to the genuine adventure of love.
The adventure you can’t just buy a plane ticket for, that sweet subtle confluence of time, place, person, and that moment in two people’s lives when they are ready to say, YES, to something other than themselves, something other than the beauty of this bright blue world, something sweeter, and more gentle than they’ve ever known. Something that is the complement of this subtle sadness, these fatigued arms stretched wide to embrace, this heart that says, where are you?
I don’t need a man to make me happy. I don’t want a man, or a boyfriend, or even simply a husband. I want LOVE.
And there’s nowhere to go to find it, no place it can manifest but here, and no time it can be found than NOW.

Wherever you go there you are.

Each adventure leads me home.-anon.

The Courage to Wait

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It’s not all about high-flying adventures and feats of derring-do.
No, I’m learning a lot about courage- it’s not always action, it’s action at the right moment.
The most intimate, vulnerable, opportune moment. To say the thing that needs to be said when you most need to say it.
It is not word vomit, it is not over sharing, it is not clamming up either. It is not a futile act of denial, a self righteous ill-starred plunge, a random stab into the celestial fault, no denial of what is.
This isn’t about a fight with reality, it is about living, really, truly, authentically, humbly under the stars of all that is.

Sometimes, it’s just patience.
This is one of those times.

And so I am waiting for my turn to speak-
I am brave now, humbly doing nothing,
I will be courageous then, to speak my truth.

And to do all this, I must make the ultimate leap- faith. In myself, in another, and in fate/destiny itself.

God has always been good to me.

So I jump, into the moment, into the fray, into the stillness of my waiting soul.

Namaste,
MJ

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I want someone to marvel at the world with, and to wonder at. To see the beauty and mystery of another human soul- yours. To share a precious, finite, breathless existence, united by our eternal souls. You take my breath away. I have never felt closer to anyone than I have to you. When you are hundreds of miles away, you are as close as the beat of my heart. When I go about my day, chattering to you in my mind, it feels like you are always with me.

I would show you my love poetry, and I will write you reams of it. I’ll never be more afraid of anything than showing you, because you are the one person in the world who will really understand. I am always naked when I’m with you. You see me- not always perfectly, but clearly, deeply, truly.

I know there will be hard times. I know you are far from perfect, and I know that you are so close, you will wound me with even a pin prick of annoyance, doubt, or anger. I know that my very sensitivity to you will cause me pain- indeed, it already has.

I know you have your own path, and you can’t follow me everywhere. I know you have your own demons to fight, and I want to love them out of you.

I know that loving you means being fully, completely me. I know that to be with you is as close to heaven as one can come on earth. I know that with you there is nowhere to hide, no rationalization to make, nothing that can be said that will stop my heart from vibrating with love for you.

I love you.

I love you, and if you ask me, if you just speak the word, I will give up my free, easy, solitary wandering shoes and trade them for a set of angel wings we can share. If you asked me, I would never go anywhere without you. If you asked me, I would love you more every day. If you asked me, I would gladly grow old and die with you.

And because of you, I’ll have to give up all my games and tricks, all my walls, all my secrets. Because of you, there will be no more distance, only mystery. Because of you, I can’t keep on living a double life. Because of you, I have to be only the real me, and I have to love you.

Why do I love you? Once, long ago I had a feeling about you, and I followed it through. But that’s not why I love you. I love you because I love you, because there is no one else, because you are my soulmate. I love you because you are you. I love you because there are stars in the sky and the grass grows green underneath the blossoming trees and we are all rooted underneath the firmament of the sky. I love you because God gave me your rib to give me life, I love you because we fell together and will rise together, I love you because you are my heaven, God is in your eyes.

My cup runneth over

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Every now and then we are graced to cross paths with someone who touches our soul, for whatever unknown reason, and even to get to keep them.
After a night of intimate conversation, a part of me wants to run away screaming. It is so real, so true, so not quite what I expected but everything I knew was always there. I just felt so close to this person. We were hundreds of miles away and just texting but I have felt his presence all day since. It feels like he’s everywhere, and so many of my thoughts are just conversations with him in my head.
And today we haven’t talked at all. I sent him a message yesterday when we were texting and I know he must have gotten it. It was the type of thing that didn’t demand a reply. And truthfully, though I want to tell him everything, there isn’t much to say, because it was just all there.
Some things are so powerful, so true, there is no need for them to be said.
His silence just gets louder and clearer to me. The more I know him, the more the space between words takes on life. He doesn’t always say everything he feels directly, and he is just so real. Such a real person, once a treasured memory at arm’s or pedestal distance, a forgotten hope, a sigh and a grimace at something beautiful that seemed lost, but now I know it’s just a part of things. As real as the floor I’m standing on.

Sometimes it seemed like the memory of a memory.

It’s just so close and emotionally intense. All I want is to be reassured- you’ve come this close and you like me, you feel as I do, you feel it too, you’re not going to leave me now.

As much as I have thought of running the away way, or chasing him down which would be the same thing, demanding reassurance, demanding comfort. Not being brave enough to admit how I feel. Soft, fuzzy, open.

He just has that effect on me. It’s not the first time. And now I understand the apst better.

Faced with the truth of my vulnerability, I finally see my defense mechanisms for what they are and can let them go, gently. I miss him, but I need my space too. And I know he needs his.

God give me strength to bear this challenge. My skin feels like it’s set on fire- boundaries are blurred, and everything is in a haze. There is such exquisite sensitivity, I have become irritable and wretched with the realness of it. THis is my real life, and what I am witnessing in myself is pure magic. ANd with what I have with him, something truth.

Somebody hold me too close…

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All the mess and fuss and grand adventure of love and life.

that someone, who I would have to make compromises for, whom I could never really control, who would change me.

Who would inevitably disappoint me, who would be a superman I”d never get over but who sometimes I would have to save.

So I think that’s what I would like my next grand adventure to be. I don’t expect love will bring me fulfillment;
I don’t expet perfect bliss;
I do expect to feel alive.
And I do want someone to share those moments with.

Perhaps not all, but some.

Not to avoid the pain of being alone, but to enjoy the company of someone who gives me more joy than any sacrifice or compromise I might make for him, someone who will make me feel alive, and I will in a very real way give my life to;

not because my life is not already full, but because joy is doubled when shared while sorrow is halved.

For the mystery, for the tumult, the loss of control, the rebirth.

just to engage in the full beauty and terror of life, to not be afraid to climb up the mountain and encounter the terrible visage of God, present among us, visible only to those with eyes to see and guts to feel, and hearts ripe to break open.

The Eaten One

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I want you to eat me
So that I can live inside you forever
Like Jonah in the whale,
A prophetess consumed.

Take my every sigh, every pound of flesh
Every purr you elicit from my body
Take it all-not my hopes, not my fears,
No mind,
Simply all of me.

I will consume you
Your laugh, your crow’s feet eyes,
Your soul that is wide open to me.
If only you could simply crawl back into me,
and we could be as we always were.
I take you in with my lips, my ears, my thighs,
Ever hungry for you.
The only hole I have that will fit all of you–
Is not of this world.
Please love, come back to me.

Lie beside me, within me, all through me,
Let us be as one,
The way we were before time.

You are me and I am yours,
Body, breath, soul,
Everything of me that this life has given.
Come love, be mine,
Come into me.
Open your mouth and eat me,
Piece by piece, hair by hair, kiss by kiss.
Leave nothing, not even the bones.

This is my sacrifice to you, O Love,
Bless my lover, bless my soul, forever.

Slaying My Dragon and Killing the Buddha

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Supposedly the last step to enlightenment is killing the Buddha, that is taking him off the pedestal and realizing he’s just a concept, just a thing, just a man like anyone else.
Now, I’m not Buddhist, but I think this concept is pretty applicable to what I often tend to think of as a strength but is a double edged sword- my idealized conception of how things “should” be, my perfectionism, my will that “it should be so,” my constant striving towards the sun, unable to be satisfied without reaching it. The sisyphean task, like atlas with the world on my soldiers, of attaining more and more without ever really finding reaching the goal meaningful before I realize there is some other imperfection to be tamed, some fence to be mended, some trophy to be won that totally dwarves the previous. It’s the drive not only to win first place at the local spelling bee, but also to be the smartest in the world, to conquer some area that I have no talent for out of sheer will, to be able to believe at some level: I am the best. I am perfect. Rather narcissistic and even blasphemous, don’t you think?

This sense of judgement of what is good and what is better. The ability to call a success from a failure; the drive towards result, result, result, with only have and don’t have, win/lose, a constant feeling of failure. Self induced, to be sure, but to give up this hard edge would feel like giving away yur sword and succumbing to being a zombie like the rest of the mediocre losers who have given up a long time, don’t push themselves, or exhbit an iota of self control. There’s that strong consciousness of not wanting to be like them, and to be validated as special, important, a winner, and most of all A SUCCESS.

I can’t really remember living without this voice. I thought that it was my secret weapon, but these days it is just causing me to gut myself like a defeated samurai warrior practicing bushido. Last year, I rebelled against it and stopped doing anything to try and thwart it, somehow, to feel like I had intrinsic worth, even if the only way I could do it was to subconsciously fuck up and still survive and thrive and be of value.

Recently, I joined Crossfit and it and the trainer I go to has had a huge impact on me for the better. I’m really eating a lot beter, doing exercises I had long avoided, and generally feeling like a better person. Of course, I have been weighing myself, tape measuring, and trying to find some kind of NUMBER to put on this change. I keep waiting for it, wondering, have I done enough yet? When can I stop being a fat slob and start being a self controlled normal human being again? When can I find something to tell me I am on the right track?
And my trainer said, “If you are looking for something to measure, track your eating, your weights, your process. It’s not about a number. Isn’t feeling better and doing better what it’s all about?”
And at that moment I had this big revelation that basically my whole problem in life, the reason I made myself acutely miserable for most of the past year and many other episodes during my life, the reason that made me afraid of any activity that had a clear pass/fail, the reason why I couldn’t ever feel godo about myself no matter how much I achieved was staring me in the face.

If it’s not all about the journey and not the destination, we’ll never get there. Or be here. We’ll never be happy. We’ll always be anxious or depressed, feeling useless or scared, plagued by every imperfection.

And the solution? To give YOURSELF real power.
To let me be the person that decides whether I am a success or a failure, and no the number on he scale. Or the money I make. Or who invites me to parties.

Giving myself that kind of power is scary. It has alway sbeen important for me to appear successful adminst my peers. It has always been important to be someone who was responsible and exhbited self control, aka perfect every moment.

As Joseph Campbell says, “Where you find dragons, there will be your treasure.” or something.

This is my treasure- knowing that I can and should, validate myself. That whatever arbitrary standardso f success I had were not helping anyone.

ANd most of all that is is just the tenacity, the ability to stick it through the workout, the way I feel when I tell stories I am that is telling eme all I need to know.
Success or Failure? Neither, not by a long shot. But hi, I’m Megan.

Best, love, NAMASTE,
MJ

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