hey! i think i just found the end of my navel!

First, a couple of clarifications for this post:

  • My intention was not to suggest that prayer was somehow inappropriate or dismiss it as a silly, unworthwhile thing to do. Do whatever it is you do to get involved. And if what you do is pray, then by all means, pray. But do it purposefully. It's the hands-thrown-up-in-the-air, I-didn't-vote-for- him/at-all, I-sure-hope-it'll-be-okay, we-better-pray-because-someone-suggested-that-he-might-have-a-Muslim/Jewish/agnostic/gay acquaintance-or-may-have-even-visited-a-Mosque/Synagogue/seminar/conference, but-I'll-just-leave-it-all-in-God's-hands, shrug kind of a prayer that I take issue with.
  • RE: religion in general and Primitive Baptist teachings in particular -- my feelings are somewhat mixed. I no longer see it as an all or nothing proposition. The intense belief is gone, certainly, but so is the equally fierce disdain. Yet, I struggle almost daily with how to reconcile my past with my present. Somehow I think that neither will be my future. Slowly, slowly I am coming to terms with the idea that my journey may be less about where I end up and more about exploring and experiencing all I can as I go along.
Along those lines, I had another one of those caffeine after 4pm dreams a week ago Sunday.
I am on family vacation with my parents and siblings circa much younger than I am today. 14ish, perhaps? It's kind of hazy. The important part is that I am young enough to still be the family's responsibility. I can't tell you where exactly we are or what we've been doing. That's the problem with my most vivid dreams. They're usually nothing more than a series of brilliantly colored, intense images flipping by. Not easily reconstructed in story form. Anyway. The image I have is that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. We are in imminent danger and fleeing. Also? Whatever it is that has happened? This threat to our family? It is my doing. I don't know what it is, but I am certain that I am to blame. We're driving much too fast, Mom's at the wheel. She pulls this James Bond move, driving the car straight under an enormous tractor-trailer, yanking the steering wheel all the way to the left at the very last possible minute and we go careening back out into traffic.

But now, instead of the car, we are sitting on a train, hurtling down the tracks. There is an impression that the train is simultaneously old and new -- sort of the Orient Express meets the Ligne à grande vitesse. I sit towards the back, a little off to myself. There is much whispered discussion about "What will we do?" and furtive little glances towards the back of the train from corners of eyes. I stare bleakly out the window, drained of energy and emotion alike. The responsibility for putting everyone at risk is too, too much to bear so I contemplate the desolate landscape rushing past us.

Suddenly we are crouching low behind the rubbled walls of a once grand hotel in a place at war with itself. Hotel Rwanda floats through my mind, though I have not seen the movie. There is a heaviness in the air, a desperateness. A large door opens to the left. The sudden influx of air and daylight causes the tattered velvet curtains to flutter, a Victorian damsel recovering from a fainting spell. A James Earl Jone-ish figure steps into the room, his arms outstretched, grandly offering comfort and solace. "Sanctuary!" he roars. "Sanctuary! This, too, we shall provide!"

And with that pronouncement, my family is bundled away into a waiting car. My younger sister's face peers at me questioningly from the back window. She cannot understand the how or the why any better than I. We waggle our fingers at each other as the distance between us grows.

I woke up in a rather off mood, feeling angry and abandoned. Resentful and wounded. Bitter. I couldn't shake the feeling of having been passed off to someone else to deal with. Like the runt of the litter, shuffled off to give the greater needs of the pack a better chance at survival.

I felt clearer after a more restful nights sleep, but that tinge of bitterness still clung to me, so I shared my dream with Dr. R at our session last week. Halfway through he closed his eyes and leaned his head in his hands. When I got to "Sanctuary!", he looked up at me with such sudden intensity that I almost forgot what I was talking about. I finished off my tale and grabbed another tissue. After a few moments-that-seemed-like-years of silence, he smiled at me. "I think what strikes me," he said at last, "is that it took such a long, frightening journey for you to find a place of sanctuary where you least expected it." And then, as is his manner, he folded his hands in his lap and waited.

At that moment, I hated him. I hated him and you and you and her and him and them. No! I wanted to scream. There is no silver lining! There is no good that comes from this. I am alone and abandoned and unloved and neglected and misunderstood and unappreciated and disrespected and completely undeserving of all this pain. I opened my mouth to tell him as much. And then, as has become my manner, I realized he was right.

After years of twisting and flexing and stretching and scrunching and folding myself into odd little shapes and then folding and scrunching and stretching and flexing and twisting the world around me to conform, I am beginning to recognize the senselessness of it all. It's a journey, this life; an endless highway punctuated with exits that lead to big cities and tiny towns, with the intermittent rest stop or point of interest thrown in just to make sure you're not asleep at the wheel. It's all about finding a little place that sparks your curiosity, driving down Main Street to see what there is to see and maybe stopping for a minute or two to sip a latte. About jumping out of the car to march with the parade down Broad Street until the aromas grow so heavy around you that you can no longer resist the urge to slip down a side street to sample hot, fresh beignets. Of pulling off to the side of the road and waiting for the tow truck because you were going so fast that you just didn't see that board with the nails in it in time to swerve away. It's recognizing that all around you are people in little cars, big trucks, motorcycles, and hybrids, all traveling in the same direction, only to get "there" and turn around and come back and do it all again. It's miles and miles of open highway, winding mountain roads, and dirt trails, beckoning with the simultaneous luxury of solitude and companionship.

And so I've found myself preoccupied with the concepts of community and family and what it takes to make a village and if a village is even necessary. Maybe Norman Rockwell had it all wrong. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe it doesn't matter. There are so very few absolutes and so many, many maybes and probably nots. What I know today shifts and changes into what I can't fathom tomorrow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there seem to be more answers than questions and I just can't seem to sort out what goes where. It's stressful. It's exhausting. It's exhilarating. It's terrifying.

It's where I am.



SheBear said...

Hmmm....scary thought for the day: technically speaking, isn't the point where your navel ends the point where your mother begins?? I'd like Dr. R's opinion on that, please. In fact--maybe just schedule me an appointment? ;)

Nah, seriously...I think I mostly agree with you...or at least with the way I read this post. This life is about the journey, not so much the destination. I guess the way I wrap my brain around it is, there *is* a destination out there, but it is so much bigger than myself and my ability to comprehend that trying to compress it into a usable package would sap all my energy and leave me unable to deal with the here-and-now. The destination is in the hereafter. The here-and-now is more than enough for me to deal with. Set your camera on a too-wide angle and you miss the details. Yes, the panorama is breathtaking, but the fullness of it can't really be captured by a camera anyway, so it makes more sense to zoom in on the details, which are also quite often breathtaking (not to mention overlooked!).

Mumblings which make about as much sense here as they would on my own blog, which explains the sorely neglected state of it, I suppose.

Distill it down to blah, blah yakkety smackety I love you sis, and you get the drift. Oh, and (assuming I'm the younger sister in your dreams--because I'm narcissistic that way!) *waggles fingers* ;)

PS...if you are curious to read some basic rudiments of PB doctrine, sort of a "PB for ADD" then Eld. David Montgomery has started posting a series of notes on Facebook. He also has been posting a series of "Adventures with Primitive Baptists" that would likely give you a giggle--or grimace--or two...

Lora said...

I hate it when the therapist makes sense.

Amy Jo said...

Dreams can be so powerful and sometimes prescient. Kudos to your therapist for looking a little deeper, and kudos to you for stepping back and seeing a little something more, too.

Ugh, now I'm dreading going to sleep knowing I have therapy tomorrow! :)

Michael D. Green, Jr. said...

Be happy in the moment - that's enough. Each moment is all we need - not more.
- Mother Teresa


Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.
- John Cage

susan said...

Sarah - yes, it was you. Or me. Or the you in me that I feel responsible for being a big sister to and feel guilty for leaving behind. Or someone named Chloe. I've always liked that name. PS I always knew there was a reason I was thankful for my exceptionally deep inny button. If Mom's truly on the other end of that thing...

Lora - I often wonder how I can feel so much hate for the one person who is trying the hardest to clean up the mess in my mind. And then smile as I make the next appointment because wasn't this fun?!

Amy - If I haven't said it before, please know how thankful I am that you were there when I needed the shove to get into therapy. So much more to say, but "thanks for your support" will have to do for now.

Michael - Ah, the wisdom of others. So affirming, yet so damned frustrating at times. I want what they have. I just can't seem to figure out how to clear away enough muck to make it fit in.

Africa Joy Tours said...

Lovely blog, enjoyed reading it so fun and craze. Loved it. Photos are awesome and beautiful.

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