Listening to the soulful sound of Miles Davis Kind of Blue wash over me after a long emotional weekend, is there a more perfect song for reflecting, relaxing, ruminating while drinking a glass of Cabernet? There is so much depth and texture in this song. The late critic Robert Palmer wrote, “Kind of Blue is, in a sense, all melody – and atmosphere.” The music floats through my head, penetrating and soothing my soul.
Paris was attacked three days ago. The world is indeed a scary place and humans do horrible things to each other. And yet it remains a place of infinite beauty. Letting go of the fear, letting go of the worry; fear and worry will not make terrorism, or bad people with guns go away, it will not stop violence. We must live our lives and seek out the good in ourselves, the good in others and the good in our world.
Absolutely everything is available to us — sorrow and joy, grievance and forgiveness, horror and transcendence — it’s all on the menu. It’s up to us where we put our attention.”—Josh Radnor
I borrowed this from PamGrout.com today. Her post, Lizard or Lover? What’s your response to Paris? reminded me that we always have a choice in how we react to a tragedy. “Do we live from our lizard brain that’s urging us to fear, to retract, to cower in isolation? Or do we become the lovers, the higher selves that we all know is possible.
I needed to hear her message today.
I stepped out of my office a little after 3pm into a sparkling unseasonably warm mid-November afternoon. I was going to grab a coffee and go back to work but decided the day was simply too beautiful not to enjoy it. So I headed home, threw on my hiking shoes and headed for the woods with my dog Nelly.
Tragedy strikes but beauty remains; a walk in the woods on a beautiful November afternoon, a full bodied Cab and Miles Davis – our world is full of infinite beauty.
I have been getting together with my three siblings and our families almost every summer for the past 26 years. It has been a wonderful thing and all nine cousins have this bond laced with love, blood and good dose of healthy competition. These summer vacations have also given all of us aunts and uncles an opportunity to be a part of our nieces and nephews lives and watch them grow up despite the miles that separate us.
I have one niece that has truly blossomed over the past couple of years. Out of the blue she up and moved to Israel about three years ago – a bold move for anyone – enrolled in school, made friends and entered into a serious relationship. What a fearless move. She reminds me a little of my 23 year old self.
So it came as a major surprise to find that she was full of fear last summer. It was a gorgeous August morning and our group of 16 was about to embark on a day of biking when she started in with all of her worries over what might go wrong during the excursion. What if I fall behind, what if my pant leg gets stuck in the chain, what if someone runs into me, what if, what if, what if?
I was bowled over by her litany of fear riddled comments. I tried talking to her rationally about her fears but it just seemed to add fuel to the fire, so I let it go. When we get to bike rental shop, everyone rents a bike and a helmet, everyone that is except my niece. She is not renting a helmet. Are you kidding me? As an avid biker I never get on a bike without a helmet. It is the first line of defense for a biker and the one thing you can do to protect yourself while riding. No, she was having none of it.
At one point during our bike ride we passed a car with a bumper sticker that said “Fearful People Do Stupid Things.” The message was timely to say the least.
The day progressed and none of her fears came to pass, which was good since she was not wearing a helmet. But as we biked along the beautiful Carriage Path Roads in Acadia, I reflected back on the role that fear has played in my life and suddenly my judgment of my niece began to subside. My niece was indeed very much like me. Fear ruled my life for many years. And while it propelled me forward, it also crippled me and forced me into a very narrow view of the possibilities of life. It is only now that I can look back and see how much this emotion ruled my life, and for the most part in a negative way.
It took me many years, but I finally hit a point where I realized that fear was not serving me in any way and I began to let it go. I am still propelling myself forward with a lot less fear these days and I have to say it is exhilarating at times.
Work for me, any kind of work, whether it be school, a job, whatever – has never been something I have been able to take on in a casual or laid back manner. When I’ve got a job to do, there is an intensity and pressure that takes over. It is pretty much all self-inflicted. And if there is a deadline, forget it – I go into high adrenaline mode. I would rather die than miss a deadline.
Now some may say this is a good thing and I think that in the past I felt this way as well. It is no doubt a driver. However I am beginning to think that this overdrive mode may not actually be as productive as I had previously thought.
I am at the beginning of a new writing project. It is work I enjoy and the schedule is reasonable. I have not entered the panic mode at this point and I feel fairly productive and creative. Hmmm. This is interesting, a little scary, but interesting. Could it be that letting up on the gas has allowed me some space to breathe and perhaps think a little more clearly? I think this may be entirely possible.
Of course there is the hard driver that still lurks within – she is somewhat submerged – but she is still there. I keep hearing her whisper, “What are you doing? You need to get busy, you need to feel crazy – snap out of it girl!” Yes, I hear you but I really think I am doing just fine, thank you very much.