Sunday, May 4, 2014


Ok, so several weeks ago I started writing this blog entry.  It never quite sounded right, so I kept adding and editing, and it got kinda out of control, and I"m giving up on it, but despite the rambling and repetitiveness, I do think I might have gotten my basic point across?  So I'm finally posting it.  Feel free to skip this one, it's me being all existential and, well, rambling.

For the past few weeks I have been reading Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott.  I like her writing.  It's all fun and easy and she is all Quirky in ways that are normally cute, and only occasionally annoying and I generally feel better after putting a book down.  And as with most books, I tend to put myself in the lead role and think "Oh yeah, this is totally like me!  I would respond to this situation in the exact same way!" which is awfully egotistical, but I'm ok with that.  We're all allowed to be a little self-centered.  I am sad to say, though, I'm finding it hard to relate to much of what she says in this one.  She talks a lot about her religion and her spirituality, which I read as a mix between your basic American Christian, and Bay Area Eastern Zen Hippy.  I'm not religious by any means (my spirituality begins and ends with daily awe about how beautiful the world is, and frustrations about how people keep screwing it up), but I'm familiar enough with those worlds that I can empathize.  She is also somewhat of a control freak, and while I sometimes feel the need to control myself and my world, I have no desire to control anyone else.  That just sounds exhausting.  And that's where we really diverge.

Like so many other people, she seems to have a real difficulty in letting other people live their lives without interruption.  I do get what she's saying.  There are dozens of articles about how hard it can be to sit back and watch people you care about screw up.  We all want everyone around us to be successful and happy.  We want them to make only the best decisions, all the time, every time.  But what happens when they make a decision that we think is wrong?  What the heck are we supposed to do, let it happen?  Bite our tongues and butt out?  Because, clearly, we know better than they do. Nevermind the fact that "we" and "they" are often the same group of people.  And most of the articles are about how you need to just let go and let other people make their own mistakes and come to their own version of wisdom or something.  I dunno.  Honestly, I usually get annoyed halfway through and occasionally even stop reading because none of that is relevant to me.  I do not try to fix other people's lives.  If asked, I'll certainly tell you my opinion, but I've watched too many people make too many bad decisions to think that they actually give a crap about my opinion.  I can't change their mind.  I can't make them listen to me.  And I can't stop them from living their lives however they see fit.  And why would I want to?  I don't know all the intricacies of what they're going through!  And even if I did, we all experience the same problems differently.  I don't feel the need to control everything.  I barely feel the need to control my own life (Following, FTW).  But what does this really say about me?  Does it say that the reason that I don't try to fix things is that I'm just apathetic?  I think a large part of why I don't try is because I don't think I can.  I hear my friends complaining and I want to yell at them.  I want to say "Just stop being stupid!!!" and I honestly think that's the best advice out there (are you having problems?  Do you think you're too fat? Does your husband/wife not love/respect/like you enough?  Does your boss think you're incompetent?  Ask yourself, are you being stupid?  Well then!  STOP IT!!).  The problem, of course, is that no one wants to hear advice like that until they're ready, in which case they probably can come up with it on their own.  So I try to just be supportive of them through whatever bullshit problems they're going though (God, how condescending does that sound?) and be there for them while they're trying to change.  Changing our lives is something that is so, so hard for most people.  Honestly though, it's not for me.  Change is easy.  I can't stand staying the same.  Being in the same place day after day after monotonous day.  I guess it's not that I think that Lamott has the wrong idea of what Zen is, it's that I think Zen means very different things for different people.  For me it's coming to appreciate those same dull moments that I already experienced.

I remember in a job interview once I was asked "What was one thing that you did that was scary?"  First of all, that's a stupid question, but I guess all interview questions are kinda stupid.  They're just designed to give you a better idea of who the person you're talking to is.  My answer was something along the lines of "Well, a couple years ago I went to Peru by myself.  I didn't speak the language (well, sorta, but not really), I had no one that I was traveling with, I just had to hope that the guide (who only barely spoke English) was a good guy and would be a good person.  Whatever that means.  It was kinda scary, because obviously a foreign country where they speak a different language is scary, but at the same time, stuff like that doesn't really scare me.  I think it's all about what makes you brave, and most people, if they did that, they would be "brave" but since that didn't scare me, I wasn't really being brave, you know?"

I didn't get that job.

That was such a bad answer.  I know you're supposed to turn every negative into a positive, but that came off as so….  "I am better than you because I am braver than you, even though I sorta said the opposite."  Ugh.  How awful.  I sure wouldn't want to work with that person.

And I definitely wouldn't think that that person was "zen."

Ok, here's another story (I'm full of stories tonight, deal with it).  I was in Bible Study as a teenager and the girlfriend of our pastor (they later married and whatever, but seriously, at this point they had been dating for like 5 minutes and he already had her leading Bible Study?  Whatever.) asked us what our gift from God was. Because, you know, we're all gifted.  She asked me first.  Holy Shit.  I think I was 15 or 16 at the time.  And like most girls my age, I was horribly, terribly, and paralyzingly insecure.  And she asked me what gifts God gave me?  But I was going to be brave, and tried to answer honestly.  I told her (and the rest of the group) that my gift was adaptability.  I can jump headfirst into an situation (as long as it doesn't involving actual jumping, as my family will be quick to point out (I WILL CONQUOR THAT ROCK!!!  someday.  maybe.  hopefully)) and adapt to it.  Own it.  It will be my new story.  Well that wasn't what she was expecting so she mumbled something like "Ok, so you're gift is being a missionary?  That might be good for you?" and quickly moved on to the next person.  Everyone else quickly realized that she was not asking "what are your individual gifts?" but "what key words that we talk about within this church can you pretend to identify as?" and the rest of the Bible Study proceeded without incident.  I never quite trusted her after that though.

My point though, is that I believe that "Zen" is overcoming all the bullshit obstacles that our own personalities through up in our way.  For some, maybe even for most, it's learning to go with the flow.  But for me, it's learning how to accept when the flow stops and your life is no longer a rushing river, but a calm lake.  Because the thing is, even when it seems so calm on the surface, water is still moving. Maybe there's a spring that feeds it, maybe there's a little trickle off one side where water flows away, maybe it's just seeing all the gallons of water that float off into the atmosphere, but it is moving.  That's what I have a hard time with.  I feel like since I've had this baby, since I've been married really, I've been stopped.  I've turned into a lake, and I don't know how to be a lake.  So to find my zen, I need to find out how to move again.  I miss the rushing of the rapids, I miss the drama of the waterfall (and to be clear, when I say drama, I mean on a larger scale, ask anyone, I am not into girl drama), I miss the violence of the wild world.  So I am going to sit here.  Quietly.  Unchanging.  And maybe I will learn serenity.  

Backyard Anoles in Waianae

Just a few anoles from my backyard.
 This guy has the pretty diamond design on his back that I love so much (note, I don't know how to sex them, so they're all going to be referred to as "him/he/his" because clearly I'm sexist.  Or something).

This is a different one who had a darker, speckled design, although you can't really see it in the pic.  I can say with certainty though, male.  At least…  wait…  I'm pretty sure only the boys have the flap. I could be wrong.  Maybe I should research this?

This yellow spotted one was on the grill.  They like it there.  The metal is all warm, but it's in the shade, so there's lots of bugs, and they can jump into the grill itself when something scary comes by (as he did a few seconds after I snapped this shot).

Big guy on the other side of the grill.  He'll be really pretty in a day or so, you can tell by how light his head is that he's shedding.  He was actually about twice as big as the others.