Raw Edges and Strong Cores

At some point in May, I had the idea for this post, but tabled it. I had other ideas to pursue and  knew I would eventually get around to writing it. Then, June happened and with it the return of all four kiddos being home each and everyday. The first week, I tried to write, but didn’t make it to the laptop until late at night. I figured I would take a break and let the summer be what it was going to be. Maybe I would even pursue that niggling idea of vlogging that was in the back of my brain.

Then, after a month, every single day felt like drudgery and stress resonated inside of me. At the end of the day, I would feel this incompleteness even though I had done many things. I knew that my writing, my voice, was too pent up, but I didn’t want to sit down to do it. I told myself that I was simply waiting for the children to return to school. This didn’t last long as an excuse, because soon it was apparent that I needed to write – something, anything. Yet, I held off, knowing that the inevitable writing also brings about the inevitable bleeding. Cathartic bleeding it is, but bleeding none the less.

So here I am, sitting, ready to bleed before you.

Raw Edges

I was trying to be healthy, slicing the fruits and vegetables early in the week, prepping healthy meals and snacks.

It was drudgery.

Why didn’t The Man create vegetables pre-sliced? I mean, fruit I don’t mind slicing, because it is enticing to the palate. But vegetables? No, those are no fun. As I moved from cauliflower to carrots, I reminded myself of how awful the baby carrots are and that the real thing is so much better and tastier.

It was utter drudgery.

I watched as I peeled the damn things and tried to remember the advice about everyday tasks given by Thomas Moore. If you look deep enough, sit still enough with them, then you can peel back their mundaneness into significance by seeing the metaphor, the imagery of soulfulness.

“Mumbo-jumbo.” I thought to myself sardonically. “Be more zen.” I then chastised myself.

Okay, so what could peeling carrots stand for in the soulful life. I ruminated peel after peel.

Carrots don’t have thick skin or rinds. They are firm from the inside out. Strong, if you will. Strong and ugly. I mean, we don’t have to peel a carrot in order to eat it, but it will never stop looking (or tasting) much like dirt if we don’t. I wonder if the strong among us don’t taste like dirt until something or someone comes along that sloughs off the ugliness.

“Hmmm. Not a bad little metaphor.” I smiled to myself. “What else?”

I sat with it. I wasn’t coming up with anything else at all. Yet, as I sloughed off layer after layer of the carrots, getting rid of the dirt divets and knotty elements, I felt less drudgery. In fact, something cathartic was taking place, something similar to how I feel when I write.

Strong Cores

A shedding of the dirt of life, smoothing of rough edges – that’s what was happening.

Yes, this was very similar to writing for me. Underneath everything, I find in myself strength when writing.

And so, as I return to writing early (before the summer ends). I remember carrots and that sitting down at this page is not all bleeding, but rather exfoliation. A scrubbing, unburdening, cleansing act of the soul to reveal my strong core.

Candidly,

Ash

Broken Hearts

I play the violin. It frequently, if not always, sounds awful. I’m okay with this. It’s just something I enjoy learning and maybe someday, if I don’t quit, I will sound not half bad. I said these words to my best friend in a text. Then, I referenced that singing is not at all this way for me.

Singing is like a bad ex-boyfriend.

Those were the words I used and they described perfectly how I felt about singing. It has been a twisted, volatile love affair. At times, I have been abused by it and at times I’ve been the abuser.

It is easier not to sing.

I’ve put significant distance between myself and that relationship. No looking back has been my motto. Relapse is not allowed.

A Dream in the Night

The very night after I sent my friend that text, I slept fitfully. I awoke to a strangling feeling in my chest, my heart racing, sweating. A panic attack at 5:15 AM. Sometimes this happens and I have no idea why. Other times, I remember that I was dreaming something intensely. I remembered the dream this time.

A fictional ex-boyfriend was following me around while I waited tables at a restaurant. He was telling me how awful I was at this job. I floundered under the scrutiny and emotional distress, fleeing from the restaurant. Then, as can only happen in a dream, I was suddenly out in an open field, collapsed from running hard.

He came to me then – the ex-boyfriend. He was comforting and said he wanted me back. I should come with him and just tell the restaurant owner I was bad at the job. I didn’t need to quit. I just needed to communicate. The restaurant owner would find something for me, teach me, help me. The ex-boyfriend would stay with me, if I stayed with him.

Lovers Reunited

Maybe it meant nothing, but I think it’s no coincidence that my dream was about a fictional ex-boyfriend. I think my mind was probably trying to deal with the wording I had used to describe singing. Greatly disturbed, I tried many things to comfort myself. After an hour, nothing had helped so I climbed into a bath, turned on soft music and began to read from Thomas Moore, who seemingly always has an answer.

Sure enough, like a sacred echo, he was talking about how we assign values to things – things from our soul. For instance, he shared about a woman entering therapy who wanted to get rid of her dependence. He questioned her about the topic. What does dependency look like to you? How do you feel when you are dependent?

After a lengthy conversation, he shrugged his shoulders at the woman and shared about intimacy. A man’s wife always brought him lunch when he had forgotten it. Sometimes she even brought it before he knew he had forgotten it. Each time, they would hug or kiss and affirm their love for one another.

Then, he shared that the man was dependent on the woman, but perhaps it was not the worst thing in the world. The woman sitting acrossed from him who wanted to get rid of dependence? She was dumbfounded saying, “That’s dependence?!?!” She learned much over the next few years. Once she began to reframe dependence as something besides an enemy, she was able to learn. Instead of getting rid of dependence, she learned when it was appropriate and meaningful.

This is how we can care for ourselves. Perhaps the dark things, the bad things that follow us, are only pointing us to where are souls need care.

Oh yes, Thomas Moore nailed it on the head. Perhaps this vicious ex-boyfriend haunting me, the one I refer to as singing? Perhaps it isn’t vicious at all. Perhaps it simply wants reconciliation, to be reunited.

I’m just not certain that I’m ready to take it’s hand again. For now, I’ll listen though. I will be open to what it is saying. Perhaps I can learn to love it again after all.

Perhaps.

Candidly,

Ash

 

The Soul as a Bridge

For several years, I have been reading a book that I love. I read it and re-read it. I return to it moments of despair and confusion. “Care of the Soul” by Thomas Moore is probably, hands down, my favorite book there is. I always get something new out of it.

He talks about what Soul is and how we can nurture it. Yet, I can never seem to find a concrete definition for what he thinks it is. I think that is intentional on his part. He doesn’t want there to be a definition for soul, because it isn’t something with boundaries. It is whatever we think and feel and know it to be. We can find in anything – a leaf, a friend, a job, a past-time, a place, a meal… There is no limit to this thing called Soul.

{I like that.}

But among his writings on Soul, I have not found this particular idea that I have right now.

Soul, as a bridge.

Recently, I have had so many thoughts and ideas about my mind and my heart. They are so very different and, in some ways, they seem fractured. If the two could be a complete circle, then mine have divided into hemispheres. I feel a struggle, an urge, to draw them back together. I want to reconcile them, but they have their own agendas. I wouldn’t say they are at war exactly. That idea seems extreme. Yet, the emotional fallout and turmoil? That feels somewhat reminiscent of war to me. Rather, it is much like the time following war.

Soldiers return home to find they are welcome or unwelcome. While they were gone, time was passing, but in their minds, while sitting at the battle front, the idea of home was standing still. Home became a refuge in their minds. They grasped it and held on for dear life as a coping mechanism for all the turmoil in front of them. All the while their home was evolving and changing, designing itself to be a world without them.

The is the disconnection I feel between my heart and my mind. My mind has been off fighting battles only to return and find that my heart has a much different landscape than it did before. The two had once loved each other – inseparable, a perfect circle. Now, they awkwardly fumble to co-exist, dancing side-by-side.

Somehow, there needs to be a bridge where they can meet and sort it out. I think that bridge is Soul. My soul speaks the language of both entities. It is the common ground. Yet, it is a weak muscle I have rarely exercised in my life. Like a small child, it desperately wants to reunite its parents, but has no idea how.

My soul needs to grow, to mature. It must be tended, pruned, prodded and watered. What does this process look like and how can use this muscle to pull the various hemispheres into alignment?

My soul is the place where both things can be true. It is the place where logic and feeling meet. It is both/and. Contradicting elements can dwell without harm. Yet, I wonder how.

My mind holds fiercely to hardwiring from my youth. I cannot let it go. My soul says this is acceptable, instead of infantile.

My heart evolves and expands to hold all of the differences and dynamics I have seen in life. My soul says this is peaceful and loving, instead of false and devoid of absolute-truth.

My mind believes there is a god. My heart says he cannot be or he is cruel. These two things, they stand on the bridge of my soul, side-by-side. Both/And.

A beautiful scene – two post-war lovers.