18 April 2007

Point of Reference



The other night I watched "The U.S. vs John Lennon." He was my "favorite Beatle" back in the day when every girl I knew was ga-ga over Paul. To appreciate John's intellectual and physical attractions one had to look closer, to lean into him. He wasn't easy or superficial.

Watching the film, I was struck by the way he spoke, his language. He didn't use "big words" or obtuse metaphors. He just said it.

I thought about how, whether writing or speaking, I'm often searching for words. I'm a Thesaurus junkie. My straight from the heart/gut/head word choices aren't good enough.

It's not that I'm looking for a way to break free of this practice. I like playing with words.

What I'm feeling is where/how I've strayed from my heart's desire for my life. Perhaps words are more difficult to find when we are not where we're supposed to be.

As a 4th grader, I dreamed of being a missionary. I wanted to live in Africa and spread God's word. I wanted 10 children and I would let them run naked and nameless until they decided they wanted to wear clothes and chose a name for themselves.

By middle school, my cherished dream was to be a nun and live a contemplative life, praying and gardening and owning nothing.

In high school, inspired by "The Godfather," I wanted to belong to the Mafia. I admired the loyalty between family members and the single-mindedness of their work ethic. I longed for the clean-cut lines of allegiance and clarity of purpose.

But our real lives are created by our choices: choices of language and partner and school, of diet and pastime and location. My choices have not led me to Africa or the convent or a life of crime. I've been talking for 50 years--staggering to contemplate how many words I've spoken or sung. Some of it was unconscious talking. Not to mention the fearful talking and insecure talking and plain old bullshit talking.

All that talking, all of those choices of language and script (and costume and soundtrack)...

Yeah, I've created a life. Still working on it.

The language part (like every other "part") is vital. Vital but not as complex or difficult as I want to make it.

Right intention and orientation simplifies so much. Conscious breathing pulls attention to right intention and orientation. Distracted by any number of possible emotional or psychological goblins, we can remember our breath....take a slow deep breath, inhale....exhale.... Take another one....

Then

just say "it"

or don't.

And making this choice first, to breathe and to focus only on breath, creates a good space in which to make the other choices

what to say
where to go
when to speak
what to eat
which road to take

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