Each time, I read Vicki's words, I am struck by their honesty and integrity. Richly, I partake.
Here are Vicki's words:
Good morning, dear one. I'm glad to read that the wedding was all you had thought it might be and more, your happiness for these two people you love, and your pleasure in being around their lovely friends.
I also want to play devil's advocate just a bit in regard to your regrets, or second thoughts, about posting what you did about Jan's parents. To me you said nothing slanderous or poisonous, you just stated the truth of your perception of their choices in how they would behave and how they would respond. Certainly as a reader, after all these months of suspense around them, they were one of the key bits of information I wanted in your recap. Had you simply glossed over all that entirely I would have felt very frustrated.
Conflict and difficulty often make for more interesting reading, or listening, than paeans of joy and happiness. Maybe that's because we all have areas of difficulty in our lives and we not only can relate to what others go through in that way, it often gives us insight into our own dilemmas and even provides us a sense of relief--yes, others, too, have feet of clay, do foolish and sometimes hurtful things. It gives us permission to be the full human beings we are, warts and all. So much of our behavior is aimed at looking good before others. It's a gift to know that things are not so perfect as they might sometimes seem when we look around us at other lives. It helps us know we don't have to be so perfect, that no one is.
You said something yesterday about would you want your grandchildren to read what you had written. What happened happened, it's a true story. Whatever path her parents take towards reconciliation and forgiveness, or not, surely that is part of the legacy of the grandchildren, something they have a right to know--not so they can blame and be
angry, but so they know the truth that is part of their own story. Otherwise one breeds secrets, hides skeletons in closets and thus breeds an atmosphere far more poisonous to the soul than open acceptance of reality could ever be.
Furthermore you were careful, as you always are, to note that you were writing from your own perspective of the situation and from your own responses to it. You didn't try to psychologize their process, you simply looked at your own and touched briefly on what you noted other's responses to be.
Speaking from my personal perspective, I relate much better to you when you're telling me the whole picture. Endless beauty, happiness and joy is so outside my own experience that I have difficulty responding to it. When I read about the struggle to get to those moments and that kind of awareness, that gives me a way in to the experience. I think here of what you also posted yesterday about the work you and Jane were doing where you look at what you wrote in January and then speak of what was actually going on. You crack the sugar coating of that January day and it's in the crack that the interest lies for me. I also think it's absolutely necessary in terms of the book, for otherwise some
person going through that whole thing could end up worrying about why they were struggling so when for you all was bliss.
You say you're re-evaluating what the blog is, what you want it to be. I have and have had a lot of thoughts about the idea as well-- what does it mean to post a blog? A journal, in and of itself, seems to me a private thing, a place where one writes unfettered whatever comes through. When the writing is posted for public consumption, you've added in another dimension, the reader. Perhaps it's important to fully acknowledge that dimension is part of the equation. It undoubtedly does influence what you write anyway. You've mentioned several times to me in the past that you try to be positive and cheerful on the blog and are careful about what you say. So already in that sense it's not the
same as keeping a personal journal. At the same time, if one is writing for other people, there's some sort of unspoken contract that one wishes to hold their attention, to be of interest and perhaps to teach, to share insight.
I heard a great dharma talk last week, given by one of the members of the sangha here, not a regular teacher. I was so impressed with the very particular scrutiny and honesty with which he told a story. This summer he had three terrible events happen to people very close to him--there was a sudden death, a lingering and painful illness, and a
young man permanently paralyzed after a motorcycle accident. He spoke about trying to use his practice to be fully present, to bear witness and recognize that often that is all we can do for each other in the presence of suffering. But then he also talked about having moments when he'd recognize that along with his grief was this sly little addendum to it that was quite proud of how well he was grieving, how empathetic and loving he was being. And he talked about when he would notice that, how he'd try to work with it, realizing that was the constructed ego and it was serving to actually remove him from the real experience of grief, putting him instead into the idea of grieving. Sometimes the realization was all he needed. But also, it was something that came back over and over in many guises, that intervening layer between actual experience and an idea of how one is experiencing it, behaving through it. I thought it took tremendous courage for him to acknowledge that voice to himself, and even more to speak publicly of it. And it was what made his story compelling and insightful and awakened a particular awareness in me as well.
I guess I'm telling you this because of that idea of audience, of reader. The interest, the lessons, are in the struggle to open to real awareness, real experience. It's the process, not the end point, that's compelling.
I went to a Thich Nhat Hanh sitting group last week also, and realized in comparing my experience with the two groups, why his approach is only minimally helpful for me, even though he of course speaks to the same core truths that other buddhist practices do. He makes it very simple. Breathe. Smile. Let go. But he doesn't really tell me how to work with sloth and torpor, with greed, hatred and delusion, how to break the seductions of those powerful five and be willing to choose Breathe, smile, let go. I learned much more from this guy's scrutiny of his own ego mind about how to get there. The freedom isn't necessarily in getting to a place of joy, the freedom came in the moment of noticing--ah, here I am feeling proud of how well I grieve. Noticing, and then being able to let it go, even if only for a few seconds, and drop into the actual experience.
I read Vicki's words, and, think of times I've watched myself grieve, rather than being in the experience. At my father's funeral, a wonderful soprano sang Ave Maria. I felt myself sobbing more because it seemed right, than because I was really there with, or for, it. Ah, sad, emotional song - time to cry - I hadn't thought of it as ego, but, perhaps, more as some kind of theatrics that might satisfy and fulfill the occasion. Certainly, I was stunned and numb, and not really there. He died in an accident. I flew back from Mexico City, and, there I was, standing in a blue dress at a funeral. Who could make sense of that? And so, I performed.
Anyway, what do I want to say here? Oh, just to again reiterate, that we are here in this game of life, and, I believe we are each struggling to fully partipate with as much joy and sorrow, love and compassion, understanding and kindness, as we can, and if that means beating a punching bag to a pulp, so be it. Whatever works for you, and for me, is fine! Punch this day into the living you need, and that may be a pillow or a bag, silk or rags, but fit yourself in and move as you bleed.