I had a funny (strange, not haha) experience this morning.

I was up till 2:30, 3:00 AM, unable to fall asleep last night.  When I woke up, I found that I had dreamt a sort of mystery dream.  It was a plot of a man who lived with his mother in an old mansion.  He was abusive to her, and threatened to kill her if she left (which she was saying she was going to do).  She had 3 other children, and they arrived shortly thereafter to pick her up.  He turned to his sister and threatened to kill her as well.  Long story short, the family manages to overpower him and kill him.

In the dream, this mansion was large, and the children, including the man that lived there, came and went at random times.  So the killing was completely safe, because there was no way to track the loss of the man.  I guess he sort of lived here, there, and everywhere (it’s a dream :)).  So the killing turned out to be a very safe, clean incident.  There wasn’t even blood.  They managed to disintegrate his entire body into a tiny tiny pill-sized bag, and one of the brothers took the bag to the library and hid it in a metal book rack.

It’s been a while since I’ve dreamt, so after my morning meditation I wrote down the dream before doing my Morning Pages exercise.

I had only had 3-4 hours of sleep and could hardly keep my eyes open, so my Morning Pages began with “I’m so sleepy, I can hardly keep my eyes, open….  I’m so sleepy, my eyes are..  I’m so ..”

Suddenly, without warning, I entered a state where I found myself writing about my childhood.   It happened long before my consciousness was even aware of it. 

I wrote page after page after page.  It started off a trickle and then became a torrent of uncontrollable and explosive fury, pain, and bitterness.  The hatred spewed out of my brain and onto the paper.  I became the child who spent year after year passing the time holed up in her bedroom dreading the sound of her tyrannical father’s voice calling her name — the child with no identity of her own, filled with self-loathing, and living in utter terror of being alone in the house with him.

My handwriting became huge, wild scrawls as I found myself writing, “I hate you, you fucking asshole, I hate you so much I hope you’re burning in hell for what you did to me!”

This was me, saying this to my own father, who died 10 years ago a gentle and kind grandfather. 

After everything I’ve done in my life to address my childhood and come to terms with my father and forgive him, it turns out I’ve never forgiven him.  It’s all been a huge lie.

“I hate you, you asshole!  I hope you’re burning in hell!”  I wonder if these are the most honest words I’ve ever expressed in my entire life.

Finding the core of my soul

January 29, 2008

I recently thought about people finding themselves.  I wondered how many people actually do.  We have layers and layers of outside influences, which have built up over our lifetimes, and one day we wake up and are completely unaware that the other person (who is the real US) ever existed.

How is it possible to strip away all of the layers of emotional, reactionary person that gets created as we 1) survive childhoods with less-than-perfect families  2) run around building careers and supporting families and 3) live up to everyone else’s expectations of us?  How many people even care?

I think back on my childhood and how I always felt that there was something very very wrong with me.  It wasn’t an outward thing, it was an inward thing.  I remember writing poetry where time and time again I would feel that I was really from some other planet, and had somehow dropped here.  I felt in the core of my being that I somehow wasn’t made of the same stuff as the people I knew.

As I reflect on that now, I realize that my gut feeling as that child was absolutely right.  That wasn’t me.  I was learning to build, on top of the “real” me, a shell of a person who would be able to survive in the world.  I needed to do this to make my parents happy, be acceptable to my friends, and be able to go out into the world and make a living.

I don’t regret any of that because at the time, that’s what I needed to do to survive.  I’m not sure that as a 17 year older, with the intense pressures that were put on me, that I would have ever been enable to do anything short of molding myself into a survivor of the moment.

Now I’m 50 years old, and I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve graduated from college, built up a successful career, have a husband that I love, a home that I also love very much, and I’ve also survived cancer.  All of these things have gradually given me the ability to work on stripping away all of the superficial “me” that has been the survivor.  First I needed to recognize it and go back to the “me” of high school to realize what had happened.  Then I needed to make peace with the circumstances that created that situation.  Now I need to take my mental/spiritual hand and dig deep into myself to see who has been dormant all these years.  I need to grab onto her and pull her out of my soul, out of my core, and nurture her.


January 26, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “faith” lately.  I started reading a novel last night, and as I read I found myself so completely mesmerized at how the author presented the story.  In one paragraph I found myself completely immersed, as though I was standing right next to the characters, experiencing exactly what they were experiencing.

This morning I sat with my 100-word homework assignment, and no matter how much I rewrote it, somehow I feel so two-dimensional in my writing.

I have to keep telling myself that I have to remember that I’m a baby taking baby steps and to have faith that one day I will be an adult.

Writing About What I See

January 24, 2008

I will start my class today.  The class is a basic writing class:  English grammar and style.  I’m looking forward to it.  It’s nice to know I may have another career.  I need to be diligent and trust that I can do it.  Right now I get up in the morning, and meditate and write for 1/2 hour, and then after I exercise at night I read my writing books and then write until the end of the day and then meditate.

The class will be interesting.  I have been getting into the habit of writing about everything that I can think of in my day.  It means being a lot more attentive to the details in my day.  Last night I went out on the street for a 20 minute run and then for my writing last night I wrote about what I saw and how I felt.  Then this morning I incorporated some of those thoughts into my morning “Writing Practice”.  The Artist’s Way book talks about “Writing Practice” and “Writing Date”.  Writing Practice is 3 pages of writing that you do every morning, whether you feel like it or not.  You just write.  write write write, nonstop.  there’s no right or wrong, there’s just writing.  Writing Date is 2 hours that you give yourself every week to feed your creative side.  It’s 2 hours of doing anything — something fun — just to feed yourself, so that you can add to your storage of images, experiences, sounds, smells, etc.  And eventually those stores will be what you sort through as you pull out things to write about.

Anyway, this morning in my writing practice, I wrote a story.  Obviously it was writing practice, so it wasn’t a well thoughtout story.  Nevertheless, it was a fantasy tale that I was able to immerse myself into, and part of it involved this group of people walking down my very street, and talking to the people and the trees on my street.  It was quite nice.

Living on Pure Trust

January 22, 2008

We spent the weekend clearing out our spare room.  I have now converted it into an office for myself.  After I set up a small table and chair in there, I went on a sort of retreat, getting myself prepared to write.  I will spend the next year writing and then hopefully next year I will quit my fulltime job.  That is the current plan, anyhow.  I will be flexible and see where my search takes me.  Getting out of the constant pressures of the high tech environment is where I think my life should be going now.  Hopefully I can figure out a way to do something that will help generate some sort of meaningful income.  For now my life will be guided on pure trust that what I’m doing is the right thing for me.  It’s a long-shot, but on the other hand, if I don’t take this step, how else will I ever know.

Wealth and Poverty

January 17, 2008

It’s quite an anachronism to think about a buddhist monk in the United States teaching people.  We in the United States tend to value people based upon how much money they have, educational level, corporate position.  We put no value on inner peace.
The buddhist monks value the mind, and your attitude towards the world and put no value on physical possessions, wealth, or social status.
We look at them, dressed simply and probably owning very little to no actual possessions, and asking for donations, as being impoverished.  They look at us, dressed in Gap jeans and wearing expensive sunglasses, as being impoverished.
We are impoverished in our spiritual state.  We run around from day to day, stressed out.  We come home and take a drink or three to unstress, sleeping pills to get through the nights, video games to escape.  We don’t know what it’s like to be at total peace with the world and ourselves.
I think back upon a very good childhood friend.  I would visit her and see flavored vitamins in her kitchen.  Her mother made her homemade yogurt for snacks.  The things she created in school decorated the house.  Her house eminated a feeling that she was a precious and cherished being whose every effort was valued.  Now that I think back on that friend, I understand that what I saw was how incredibly rich and empowered this friend was to be exactly who she was, to go in whatever directions her soul took her.  There is no doubt in my mind that she’s grown up to be a very successful person in whatever her field turned out to be.
Wealth and poverty have so many different meanings in this world, depending upon your perspective.  Each of us has it within us to be incredibly wealthy, even more than Bill Gates.  I just depends upon who we are and where we decide our real, true joy lies.

Today I came into work and told myself “maybe I can’t write…. maybe I should just stick to being an engineer”. The prospect of breaking out of this “I’m an engineer” mentality is hugely daunting. OTOH, I think about something I just wrote recently. I feel as though I have a secret twin, or a missing arm. There’s something or someone within me that hasn’t been allowed to surface yet, and that bothers me.

 Do we all have “greatness”?  I’m not talking about being “very good” at something, I’m talking about true greatness — the ability to be truly exceptional at something.  The optimist in me says that every single person has greatness in them….  not just mediocrity, not just middle-of-the-pack, but true greatness.  But most of us are so shaped by their background — parents, friends, environment, circumstances — that as they grow older they fill up their minds with more and more “cruft” and that true gift gets buried somewhere so as to be totally inaccessible.  So if the optimist in me is right…  then that gift in me lies there, waiting to be found.  I just need to peel away the cruft, one minute molecule after another…..  until I reach it. 

My Missing Twin

January 15, 2008

I recently read a book called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. There is a woman in that book who spends her life feeling that she has been missing something important. She can’t put her finger on it. She has an emptiness, a void in her life that she can’t describe.

I’ve felt that exact same thing throughout my life. Felt that there has been something untapped, something missing, some very critical part of my being that is being ignored and suppressed by years of superficial demands, stress, urgency. Life goals created by others, by my implicitly trying to accommodate what others are expecting of me.

I had a turbulent teen era, and finally settled into being a software engineer, which I have been for the past 25 years. I’ve gone in and out of “is this the place where I should be spending my life”. Managers in my past have criticized me for not going home at night and reading the technology books to enhance my technical skills. I’ve given up many hours of free time to fixing the next bug and meeting the next deadline. I like the thought process, but I don’t like the book reading, and to be honest, I must not be too enthralled by the details of the technology. Because as much as I buy books thinking I’m going to magically absorb the contents, I end up doing absolutely nothing with them. Nothing. Maybe cracking a cover to find the answer to a problem once in a while, but letting all of the precious knowledge that the author has to offer dissipate in the corner of the bedroom, to gather dust or be a coffee cup holder on the table.

I think I’m beginning to see that I have an “invisible twin”. Something or someone deep down inside of me who has been ignored all of these years.

I’m reading a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the first lesson, she asks you to think about 5 people you would be if you had to live your life over again and choose. I found that I had (1) an artist living in a loft (2) a mathematician doing research or something academic (3) a writer (4) a biologist going out into the field and collecting insects/animals/flowers and (5) A musician. Maybe a piano player, or a folk singer singing in coffee shops and composing music.

Another book I’m reading, the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey talks about something called a “paradigm shift”. That is, a shift in a basic assumption that you’ve made. For example, he talks about a man who goes into a subway with a couple of children. The children run around wildly and annoy all of the other passengers. Stephen eventually turns to him and asks him to try to control his kids. He looks up at Stephen and says “oh, I’m sorry. We just came from the hospital where their mother just died, and I guess they don’t know how to deal with it”. At that moment Stephen experienced a paradigm shift. He shifted his thoughts away from “why doesn’t this guy control his kids” to “what can I do to help?”

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about this is because I think I’m experiencing a paradigm shift. A complete 180 degree shift in the way I’ve always thought of myself. I’m not an engineer, I never was. I am an artist. There is an artist in me, just waiting, waiting all of these years, to be allowed to come out. A third arm, a missing twin, a void in my life that has yet to be filled.

Hello world!

January 15, 2008

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