Sunday, January 2, 2011
I love reflecting, though careful to cast the mirror toward me to be in the present as well. What in a day seems like a slogging year, sprinkled with ambition, really is beautiful when surrounded by 364 of its friends. Waking up is beautiful, but it's silly to make it romantic. Life is really hard and 2010 was no exception. I feel more confused and inspired by my evolution than ever, and yet also able to stop and enjoy one single raisin for what it is: a wrinkly piece of fruit once picked from a bundle and now finding mastication. You swallow, and that's it.
I guess I'm saying I can snap back to reality faster than before. What kept me awake at night this year now wakes me and quickly turns to embers so I can go back to sleep. And I've learned the power of being honest, first with me and then with others. The power of being authentic even when people ask, "Are you ok? You seem quiet. Distant." I am learning how to respect myself. As Joan Didion says in the eponymous essay on the subject, ". . . people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. . . people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character -- the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life. . . the source from which self-respect springs."
She goes on to write that the singular power of self-respect is to "free us from the expectations of others, to give back to ourselves." The circle of giving for me shrunk this year in order to make room for giving to myself. It's still barely a tide pool, a narrow berth. . . but I look to 2011 for a swell causing expansion. Now firmly planted in my third decade I am nibbling at the heels of courage. I think that's what getting older is about; maturity in the least condescending sense.
Maturity to express my anger, my solace, my quiet. It is what it is. No need to suppress. No need to smile because it's "easier." I've always viewed suppression as a means to protect the one I love, in the crosshairs. But it doesn't. Truth is it. And it hurts. I understand with this self-respect I may hurt people, though I hope to lean on my gift of language and connection to only make it pinch, not bruise.
I had a dear friend tell me that she misses me. Wondered where my confidence went. In some sense, I think I had to go back to the lab and deconstruct a few things. My schoolwork brought this out; my marriage too. The rules of the past 31 years don't work anymore so I had to mix and match a new recipe; cause a new explosion.
Though it's still in a trial run, the building blocks have slid into place. I appreciate that the mirror I hold is also held for me by my most treasured relationships. Not letting me skirt or shirk; calling me out and confronting me. With that perspective, the year becomes full of ingredients and possibilities for an evolved formula. A recipe for self-respect.