Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Soaring

We humans often struggle (at least I do) to fully capture in concise language the feelings we have for one another and the interactions we have with one another. So we use personal experiences and cultural references to help color the pictures we try to paint with words. Metaphor is a powerful tool in this mission.

Flight is often used as a metaphor for freedom, independence, new life, even plain happiness. I’ve used flight as a metaphor on this blog (as countless others have before me) as a metaphor for love. I’ve used it to describe the love that Special Femme and I have found together and the freedom we have to choose our own path together.

And I think I’ve got a tiny insight as to why the metaphor is so compelling for so many aspects of the human experience, despite our inability to fly unassisted by artificial aids.

Earlier this week, while waiting for a meeting to start, I watched out the conference room window as two eagles soared high over a stand of trees, riding the thermals. As I watched, it seemed clear from their lack of pattern and generally relaxed pace that they weren’t hunting, weren’t fussed about anything. They were just flying for the pleasure of it.

They had the innate ability to do it, so they were. No over-thinking. No dithering about whether they should fly or not. No debate over where to go. Just taking to wing and soaring, letting the sun-warmed air take them aloft and propel them at it’s whim. Pure, unadorned enjoyment of their own bodies, their true selves.

That pure simplicity, flying just because you can, is, for me, the truth behind the metaphors.

Souls yearn to express their essence, to do and be exactly what they are and enjoy it. Stripped of the flash and pomp of elaborate description and heavy morality, that’s what the human spirit desires most: simply to be who we are without complication, judgement, or artifice.

Just as the eagles appeared to savor, revel in the simple joy of being their true selves through flight, people feel as if they take flight, are set free when they follow their dreams. There is freedom and power and joy in people allowing themselves to be their truest selves, live the lives they want, love who they love.

That’s what I’m working on in my life. I still have a long way to go to achieve the fabled state of authenticity. And I have yet to complete the essential step of coming out to my family. Yet, I have begun an epic journey of self discovery and personal improvement. I’m working on giving my dreams wings.

How fitting, then, that the most significant step in following my dream of loving where my heart takes me begins with a 10.5 thousand mile, 36 hour, 3-leg airplane journey to a faraway place to be with my faraway love.

As I wait to board the second flight, to get to the plane that will take me on the longest flight and the shortest step to joy, I remember those eagles. I think I know how they felt.

Free. Pure. True. Natural.

I’m taking the most natural step of all: following my heart home to the one I love. I’m soaring, and not just on aluminum wings. Soaring through dreams, buoyed by well wishes of friends, and held aloft by anticipation of joy.

Here I go!

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Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

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This WordPress Daily Prompt from last weekend (I think, eeep!) really caught my interest. Sometimes writing just to write is hard for me. But this prompt is fun.

The 10th word in the book I grabbed was “hands”. When I Googled the word for a pic, I was immediately struck by how expressive the photos and drawings were. I think I must overlook or ignore how expressive a person’s hands can be. Because seeing all those representations of hands, and the expressions I perceive in them, was shocking to me.

It shouldn’t have been, considering how central to the human experience hands are. Heck, there are whole languages spoken only with the hands; American Sign Language is only one of several. We even pride ourselves as a species on the construction of our hands as a differentiator among other species in the Animal Kingdom: opposable thumbs.

And the variety of hand-related metaphors, idioms and adages is wide: right-hand man; left-handed compliment; on the one hand; hand out; helping hand; hand up; hands down; hand me down; behind-hand; by a hands-breadth; back handed; hand of the devil; idle hands are the devil’s playground; hand-holding (coddling); right hand to heaven; stage hand; well in hand; and a plethora of others.

The point being that hands are important to human expression.

This is true even beyond literal substitution and replication of discrete words and letters by hand gestures. Although that is certainly higher-order expression, plenty of complex messages are conveyed in the abstract or representationally by the hands. Whole images and ideas can be expressed in a single gesture.

Non-verbal expressions of emotion and connection through the use of hands abound, with different meanings in different cultures. For example, laying a hand on someone’s shoulder when addressing them in conversation can have a range of meaning and significance within cultures and across cultures, running the gamut from support, care, concern, and attraction, to attention, dominance, submission, friendship, reprimand and confrontation. All of that with a single touch of the hand in a given context.

Let’s not forget the significance of hands to personal relationships, either. Greetings, expressions of emotion, invitations of various types, and a variety of signals, all delivered with the hands, all facilitate human interaction on a level different from verbal communication. A handshake, a hug, a pat on a cheek can make a person welcome, express affection or love, happiness, sorrow and belonging (sometimes all at once). Taking a person’s hand can extend a welcome, seal a transaction, convey support, or lay down a challenge. And the number and variety of hand signals to signify assent, give direction, identify affiliation with a particular group, or emphasize a point, is astonishing.

I’m amazed at how much meaning is derived from the posture in which a hand appears. Google returned an initial result of well over 2,000 distinct images. I’ve chosen just a few that ‘spoke’ to me of expression.

What do you see in these? What do you say to others with your hands, perhaps without even realizing it?

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No Longer Waiting

“I wait no more.”

I said this to Special Femme some weeks ago in another format and for another purpose. But re-reading that message again today stirred some thoughts along these lines that I’d like to explore.

Let me preface this with a reminder that this blog (and this post) is personal to me and my life. I make no commentary for anyone else or on anyone else’s life or choices.

The crux of the thought is that I’ve mistakenly equated “being patient” and “paying my dues” with “no choice” and “don’t deserve”, with the result that I’ve wasted decades waiting for something to happen to me or be given to me.

Let me try to explain…

On some level, I have felt my whole life that I was waiting for something yet undefined. As a child , I thought I waited to be big, ’til that magic moment of autonomy when the course of my daily life would be mine to choose. As a teen, I thought I waited to leave home, when I’d suddenly know everything and I’d be whatever it is that I would become in my life (as if it was a one-time-only, light switch event).

Time passes, as it does, and I gained a little more understanding of life. Yet, I know I was waiting still.

At college, I thought I waited to graduate and shine in my career. I thought I waited to land the perfect job and then I would have “everything”. And as a young adult, I thought I waited for success, for the mythical day when my work paid off and my “dues” were addressed. Even as a new attorney , I thought I waited for arrival, that magic moment when it all gelled and my seeking, waiting could cease.

But only after each stage and each event occurred did I realize I still waited, still yearned, still dreamed of something not yet in my grasp. I waited to know myself. I waited to choose happiness. I waited to understand love and life and belonging.

That’s what my journey of self discovery, growth and positivity is all about. That’s what this blog is all about. That ah-ha moment of realization that I wasn’t really living at all. I was waiting. It’s impossible now for me to pinpoint a date tied to that realization, but it was recent — within the last three or four years.

The date is unimportant. What is important is that I awoke from a numbness of thought and emotion, from a lethargy of volition. That tag line at the top of my blog is absolute truth. In that moment I awoke to find myself living someone else’s life. More accurately, I found myself existing someone else’s reality.

But I am unwilling to wait any longer.

I have realized that, as it was true in my academic and professional life, it is also true in my personal relationships and maturity: nothing worth having is free and it’s my own hard work that makes things happen.

Over the last several years I have been renovating myself, like a home improvement project. In the process, I’ve come to realize some things about myself and about life, some amazing, some appalling. I’ve written a lot of them down in this blog. Some of it I’ve only shared with a couple of exceptional friends. But, this blog is a splinter of my mind and growth process. It’s a tool I use to work out nagging worries and express feelings I feel precluded from expressing in my in-person relationships.

The work on myself continues and will until I breathe my last. But the epiphany, that waiting for arrival was holding me back from getting anywhere, was the turning point.

Now, with joy, I stride forward with my dreams in my own hands, determined to live, not just exist. I’m determined to be the builder and the architect of my future, the pilot of my own direction.

I wait no more for planning, or out of fear. I refuse to wait anymore for anything. The waiting is over. The living has begun.

Hope In Imagery

I haven’t posted in a while. Mostly because of…life and reasons. Lol. But I did have a stray thought today that can serve for a quick post.

My Tweeps will have noticed that I Tweet a lot of pics of the sky, especially sunrises & sunsets. One of you even commented recently that I seem to look up a lot and that was good.

I agree. It is good on so many levels.

Visualization is as much a belief as a technique, but I feel it has had very positive effects in my life. Picturing the outcome I desire helps me to frame my state of mind and align my actions with that target. So looking up, both the action and the metaphor, are a big part of my personal campaign for positivity.

Also, pictures are a huge help for me. I can and do keep an image of something beautiful, hopeful and positive in my mind all the time (often accompanied by an up-beat song). But even the strongest imagination needs help occasionally. So having actual pictures to look at helps me stay in that frame of mind.

I find the sky is a great metaphor within the metaphor to help stay on the positivity track. The vastness of a clear sky speaks to me of infinite possibility. A clearing sky, with remnants of clouds can be an amazing teacher. Clouds can be hopeful by reminding us that there’s always blue behind the gray. They are also anchoring: clouds are markers, reference points that let you see the depth of the sky, putting even the biggest, blackest cloud in perspective against the hugeness of the whole.

Sunrises and sunsets take the exercise even further by layering elements of time and eventfulness on top of the hopefulness. They are beginnings, milestones, fresh starts and second chances. Often, they also add spectacular color, beautifying even the angriest looking stormy skies.

So, I look up and take snapshots of the beauty my eyes drink in. I share them to spread the hope. Keep looking up!

Here are a few of my favorite shots:

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Sharing Is Growth

I’ve mentioned my love of words and my recently acquired appreciation for poetry, especially micro poetry. I’ve even shared a couple of my rough first attempts at verse here on this blog. But if you follow me on Twitter you know that I’ve begun to share even more micro poetry, or, as Butch Jaxon @butchontap calls them, #peeps.

Quick aside: I am really digging the short form. Twitter’s size limit for each post really forces you to work to get your point across inside the 140 characters. LOVE IT!

But something I’ve been thinking about lately is how unusual it is for me,specifically, to be posting this stuff at all. I mean, regardless if it qualifies as true poetry or just drivel, what I’m posting is full of my innermost thoughts, my most heart-felt emotions. I don’t do that. Really.

Despite this blog as evidence to the contrary, I really am a quite buttoned-up, reserved person. I’m one of those ‘private persons’ you’ve heard of, who doesn’t talk about themselves or about…feeeeeelings. Eeeew! This blog was 44 years in the making and is about as anonymous as can be. Because I’m still closeted, yes. But also because to work through all of this personal growth and coming out hoo-hah, feeeeelings must be examined and confronted. It took me a while to work up to it.

That’s why it’s surprised even me that I not only have an affinity for poetry, but that I’m both writing it and (drumroll) sharing it here and on Twitter.

And I have a theory about why.

Like poets from the beginning of time, and especially modern American poets, love is a big theme of my writings. (It sounds so pretentious to say “my work”, as if I’m a real writer or poet!) It’s also a big source of my inspiration. I think the reason I have taken to writing, especially poetry, is because I’m in love. Deeply.

Special Femme and I have noted recently that since we’ve been together, we each have a new appreciation for the meaning and nuance in song lyrics. I think the same thing goes for poetry.

Not only do I have a clearer understanding of songs and poems of others now that I’ve experienced the love of which they write and sing, there is clarity in my own mind also. I have access to a vocabulary of expression through the lens if my love for her and hers for me that I never understood before, never knew existed.

And even more surprising is the safety I feel from the surety of her regard that gives me courage to share some of what I feel for her and because of her. That’s amazing to me. Personal growth through the love of a wonderful woman. Who knew!?

So, my apologies to all those for whom my new-found sharing ability translates to torture through the broadcast of bad 140-character poetry. But I’m in a groove now and am thrilled at the creativity that seems to be flowing.

Brace yourselves! Lol!

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