Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Essay 7: We Deserve All of It

This is "Deep Thoughts #5" for 2018. I have taken Vanessa Martir's 52 Essay Challenge, and tweaked it a bit for this year. Instead of an essay a week, I'm just going to write some so-called deep thoughts. (Sometimes serious, sometimes jokey.) :)

A friend of mine was just accepted into the MFA program of her dreams, a program which she thought was out of her reach, but said “Fuck it” and applied anyway.

She is in shock.

Legitimate shock where she’s now experiencing anxiety attacks and restlessness and insomnia. Of course, there are other things feeding into her anxiety as well, but this seems to be one of the big factors.

Last week, I attended a talk given by Deepak Chopra; I’m still processing what he discussed. The topic was tied into his newest book, The Healing Self. He talked about physiology (from conception to birth and how quickly the body develops) tying it in, naturally, with cosmic energy and spirituality. I was riveted. There was so much goodness in what he was saying – I took notes with a furious speed. I wanted to capture everything. It wasn’t that everything he was saying was necessarily new, but the way in which he was saying it –the language!—I wanted to make sure I had it.

One thing that stood out most for me was what he said about anxiety. The root meaning of anxiety is “of a narrow place” or being in a narrow place. Not a place of fear, as most people think. He said that when we’re born, our first experience is that of anxiety. We are trying to pass through a narrow place in order to arrive in this world, in order to be born, to start life here. (Yes, not everyone is born vaginally, but there are still stressors, such as labor contractions. That can’t feel good. Haha.) So in thinking about anxiety in this way, maybe we can be a little more friendly with it – thinking about it as a passage into a new chapter of our lives, being born into a new life. What vast possibilities await us!

Of course, change is scary. The uncertainty frightens most of us. And so we cling to what we know. We resist change. And what do you get? Suffering! Yeah! Hooray!

Haha – I make jokes. But that’s because it’s easier to laugh through our pain than to allow ourselves to cry. At least for me.

The point I’m trying to make is that we are a funny bunch. We want certain things in our lives, we make dreams, ask for blessings –and when we get them, we freak out. I know I do! And I know, for me, that has a lot to do with my programming (of which I am currently trying to revise). When I got that residency fellowship to Millay Colony, I was in disbelief (I still kinda am), thinking: are you sure you’re talking about me & my work? Are you sure you want to give me this? Me?? Who am I, even? You’re sure? A lot of that is me thinking that I’m not good enough or I don’t deserve something like this or the good old impostor syndrome or or or… blah blah blah… I’ll tell you –and I hate to admit this—but, on a subconscious level, I probably apply for less opportunities and submit less often because of this kind of thinking. The “I’ll never get it, so why bother?” crap. I’m better now than I was, even just a few years ago. More often I think: Fuck it – I’m applying/submitting anyway. That’s what a mediocre white guy would do. Hahaha!

But I want to shed this thinking entirely. I want to set my intentions for larger dreams and to not be afraid, to not freak out when they are manifested. I’m also working to shut out the voices that are not encouraging, the ones who question what I do (how do you earn a living?). Sometimes one of those voices is my own. That’s some tough work right there.

So in this moment, I am aware –which is always a terrific start—and I am working on being kind to myself. And then hopefully soon, I can truly celebrate this gift of a residency from Millay Colony. I hope that my friend is doing the same.

And that maybe our mantra is this: we deserve all of it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Essay 6: Thinking, thinking

This is "Deep Thoughts #4" for 2018. I have taken Vanessa Martir's 52 Essay Challenge, and tweaked it a bit for this year. Instead of an essay a week, I'm just going to write some so-called deep thoughts. (Sometimes serious, sometimes jokey.) :)

I don’t have much to say this week. Not because there is nothing to say, but because there is too much to process. And one must process before one (namely, I) can speak. It has been a very full week for me.

Last weekend was Kundalini teacher training during which we discussed the mind. The three minds: the negative mind, positive mind, and neutral mind. And how meditation is pretty much the solution to everything. Hahaha! (Half joke, half serious)

I attended Marwa Helal’s one-night-only class at the Asian American Writers Workshop on the lyric essay and was really taken away by her knowledge and understanding of the lyric essay. I learned so much and I’m so so eager to get to work on some projects that could use the lyric essay as structure. Because there was so much goodness, I need some time to digest it all.

The night after that, I went to see Deepak Chopra give a talk on the healing self (the name of his new book). He started out talking about the body –from the moment of conception to birth—and how our bodies are engineering wonders, designed to repair itself without too much trouble. Halfway through the talk, he shifted to talking about awareness –the shift was seamless, really, a beauty to behold. In talking about awareness and physiology, he brought in ways in which we can maintain a state of wellbeing –all around. And then the yoga nerd in me kicked into high alert – he was talking my language! (To be honest, though, he was talking my language the whole time. Some of the metaphors –I wonder if he talks like that in everyday conversation…)

So yes, this week I am thinking, thinking (though my teacher, Mahan Rishi, discourages this – ego shouldn’t get so much attention. Haha! I tend to analyze and question and try to assign meaning to things that maybe don’t have meaning beyond what they are. Can a mountain simply be a mountain? Must it always be a metaphor for your life?). I am processing and digesting.

Some questions I am mulling over: if the present moment is what matters, if the goal is to focus on the now, what is the purpose of memory? If we are discouraged from clinging and encouraged to practice non-attachment (we are never the same person in any given moment, even if it is from one second to the next), what is the purpose of remembering the past? I don’t know if there are any answers. I am only pondering. (See above. Sometimes thinking gets me into trouble.)

But don’t worry, I won’t think so much that I will miss what’s happening right in front of my eyes. As for right now? Nothing is really happening in this very cold Starbucks (is there no heat in this place??).  One guy, in a long black wool coat, just walked out the door, coffee in hand, keys in the other, letting in a gush of cold air from outside. One person said thank you to the barista. The person next to me is reading something from his laptop while eating from the brown bag in his hand. There is a table of four people having a meeting of some kind. Yes, there are things happening. (I lied – haha) And while these things seem ordinary, if you take a moment to really look, to really see the ordinary, these are all people who are alive, who are breathing, who all have full use of their arms and legs, who might be having a hard time, or who might be having a celebratory time with no one to share it. So yes, be in the present moment. And don’t forget to breathe.