I had a free weekend with nothing on the calendar (tough to come by in these Seattle summer days!) so I hopped on the motorcycle and headed east. Well first south to Portland to collect some McMenamins stamps for my passport, then over to Hells Canyon in Idaho, up Lolo Pass into Montana and then back home, stopping in the town of Wallace (and fell completely in love with its quirkiness), Palouse Falls, and the Ginko Petrified Forest – so many things that I’ve been meaning to visit or that have caught my eye on the way to somewhere else.
Also trying to cram in some dog training so the dogs won’t bark in Vancouver and of course, finish off my online Psychology classes and grad school application.
It has, however, been a bit of a throttling exercise. In between late nights painting and studying, daily dance practices and dog walks, we’ve had long stretches of time to kill, trying to enjoy the early summer.
What was beautiful:
I’ve been really in love with my garden this week. The early heat has brought out all the irises, lilacs, lavender and rhodo blooms – and with it all kinds of birdsong. Our house is also the most beautiful it has ever been, due to being staged for sale and so we have been spending quite a bit of time in the yard. I am loving noticing the changes throughout the day, from all the different vantage points.
We also spent the weekend at an airbnb in Strathcona, a historical area of Vancouver and I delighted at the row houses, quirky artist studios and coffee shops, not to mention the riotous colors and smells and sounds of Chinatown.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.”
““Anger is a moral response.’ But then it’s what you do with that anger…it’s not fair [that it] is a fundament of morality and of activism. So how do we walk that line between demonstrating that and also helping ourselves and our children live wisely with those feelings and those observations of life’s unfairness?” “…I remember my father, who is now long gone, hearing me teach about transforming anger into work in the world, doing something. He’d say, “I need my anger, Sylvia. It motivates me to do all the activism that I do.” And I’d say, “Well, you do need it, Dad. You need it just to alert you to what needs attention. But you don’t need to carry it along with you to keep refueling you.” As a matter of fact, if you keep nurturing the flame of anger, it confuses the mind and maybe we don’t respond as wisely as we ought to. But I need the anger as if I had 104 fever; it would be a sign that I need to do something about it…But then you let it — well, I hope that what I do is I recognize the anger as a response, actually. It’s a response, I think, to what I feel underneath it, which is a fear. Things really aren’t fair; this is not right that this and this is happening in the world. And I think it responds to that fear, which is basic. The human response is to lash out at it when something frightens us…So I think that the anger is on top of the fear. And to be able to say I am frightened, because in the world these unjust things are happening, what can I do and how can I have a mind that’s energized to do something about it, but not reacting in anger, but responding in firm kindness? But things need to be different. Things need to be different.”
Having just turned 43, I suppose I am no longer the answer to life the universe and everything – but I do feel as though I am honing in on what that might be for myself, and moving away from things that I know have not been good for me.
5 years ago as I prepared for the year, I wrote, “it’s going to be busy. We’re getting a dog and moving to Seattle. I’ll be travelling … I’m working on a new art project, will probably start grad school in the fall and already have some exciting ideas about What’s Next.”
And now we are prepping for another big, goal-changing year; we will be moving back to Canada and I’m leaving retail project management to be a therapist! It’s all coming together, after months of prepping our house for sale, sorting out Matt’s work, taking several undergrad classes online, applying to grad school, quitting my job, looking at houses in Vancouver, and – as an unrelated bonus – practicing for my debut flamenco show.
We’re so tired.
And yet somehow we keep finding the energy to move forward. A large part of this is due to 1000 task lists and energy drinks and the glorious sunny days that seem to have appeared out of nowhere while we were painting but it also feels really good to be putting energy into known good things. We will miss Seattle and our house but we’ve made many good friends here, acquired another amazing dog and had a lot of fun adventures.
The Anais Nin quote seemed initially like the theme for the year but sitting in the garden and thinking about all the work that has gone into this move – the internal work to figure out what is good for me, the work on our marriage to determine the conditions where we thrive, the work on dog training to develop good canine citizens, the community and relationship work with friends to build lasting connections, never mind all of the work on the house and school and jobs and even the mound of paperwork ahead of us – the quote seems very flingy and insouciant. Do instead I picked this one:
“Leonardo da Vinci said that Genius is Energy plus Will. Energy plus Will gets you into the Pacific Ocean. Da Vinci said nothing of Talent. Genius does not depend on Talent. Without the snorkel of Energy and the fins of Will, Talent is the bather who from a dune watches the sun set.”
– David Barringer
The new life is a gift from the old self and it doesn’t come without both a cost and a tremendous amount of energy and will. But we are built for growth, not stagnation and so we press on.
Well, I had a birthday so that was fun. We went to Washington DC for the weekend and saw all the things (or at least tried to!), walking up and down the mall, through most of the Smithsonian museums and amongst many cherry blossoms.
Booking Mexico for Matt’s birthday and he booked the Oregon Coast for our anniversary, so that is some nice beachy R&R in our future. But first DC for my birthday and then Vancouver for my dad’s birthday.
Trying to cut down on plastic and cans but I’m also trying to cut down on drinking and I have developed a powerful LaCroix habit.
Studying all the (psych) things, painting the entire house. And now also the garden is coming up so weeding in between things too.
It’s in your pockets and behind your eyelids, it shares your clothes and has its hands wrapped around your throat. It’s dripping down the walls and yelling from the trees, it whispers and sings and dances and sobs, all day every day and your one and only job is to pay close attention