I am unsettled.
This makes sense in many ways. I just got back from a six week visit to my east coast home with my parents and my sisters and my dad's perfect - as in Navalicious - dog named Lucca. I was not there as long this year as I was the year before when I took a one week drive across the country and rented an old and peaceful farmhouse that was hidden down a long and rocky driveway with only cows as my neighbors most of the time. That visit was for three months.
I had my dog with me.
This makes a huge difference, having Nava by my side. She grounds me. Her strong and solid body and her bright and brilliant spirit and her loyal companionship and deep love. And so being away from my west coast home last year, and apart from my husband for the length of time we were apart, it was easier because I had the constant of my dog. The transition there and the transition home had a consistent piece.
This time, Nava stayed in California and my travels were by plane and - though I went back and forth once in the middle so I would not be away for as long as I was away - this trip unrooted me. And now the arrival back home uproots me, too. But there is more to this than this.
Because this transition of location is actually the physical manifestation of a transition of my self.
I love when this happens. When the outward expression of our movements is this perfect illustration of what is going on inside. But we don't know this at first. The universe has this wonderful sense of humor and creates such symmetry quite often but we don't get to see it right away. Instead we navigate the unfolding of it all one step and one moment and one experience at a time. And then there is that a-ha moment.
I was at a dinner party last night, for a dear and true and most beautiful friend's birthday, and had this lovely conversation about writing with a friend of my friend who is writing a book. A memoir actually. And she said that the book was really writing itself. It reminded me of another writer friend who always said he did not know where his story was going until it came out of him. And that he couldn't wait to write sometimes so that he could find out what was going to happen.
This is what transition is like.
We may not know this consciously, that these physical movements and actions are our acts of writing - our creating the structure for our story to unfold upon. But then, when we see it, it is so good. Of course, we will experience in act and deed those same things that we experience in mind and spirit. It makes me laugh, the balance of it all.
And this morning I saw it. As I was walking my sweet and early to rise puppy through the not quite light of the orange grove I felt restless and uneasy. And so, in each step of my sneakers on the gravel path, I explored each step of my trip forth and then back to my home. And I explored each step if my internal trip, too. And I saw the change of location as it mirrored the change inside of me.
This didn't make me feel any more grounded.
The shifting inside of me is still in motion. And so, though my footing is solid on the dirt and stone of the orange grove - often times the writing comes before the thoughts are clear - my spirit is still moving through layers and has not yet landed in this new place I am heading towards.
It has been a busy time. Lots of travel to and from each coast and back again that included time with my husband and a short visit with my dog only to return to Massachusetts for another two week stay rich with sweet connections that are the rediscovery of faces from when I was young. And the reconfirming of friendships that will always hold value no matter the passing of time or the challenges of missed communications. And with this comes so many thoughts and introspections, feelings to share and images to invoke. I thought I would have a lot to say this week. I don't.
I got nothing.
Well, that is not exactly true, I have ideas - brewing, percolating, formulating - and I know that in the coming Mondays some of these will meld onto this page here and become my musings, but for now... here is a writing I did once before, when nothing was all that was clear in my mind and became a writing both simple and profound at the same time. Enjoy.
I Got Nothing
This is a typical Doberman sleeping position. Ask any Doberman owner to show you pics of their pups snoozing and I can pretty much guaranntee that they will have something like this in their infinite assortment of photos. I say infinite because, like me, most Doberman owners are Doberman lovers in that obsessive way where, well... there is really nothing better or more perfect or beautiful or perfect. Did I say perfect...
Anyway, this post really isn't about Dobermans, or specfially my perfect puppy, but about... nothing. I've got nothing.
I was thinking about this while I was at the park early this morning playing ball with my perfect puppy. That today is my Monday morning writing day and there is not much brewing around in my mind. My mind is kinda empty, I thought while I was tossing the ball up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down the green-and-wet-because-of-the-rain-and-thank-goodness-we-are-getting-some-rain lawn that is part of the beautiful park where I go with my beautiful and perfect dog.
And then, after acknowledging that my mind was (is) pretty empty, I sat in the thought that this is ok. This is good. This is exactly what this is. And the beauty of my Monday morning writing is that I can write about anything I want. There is no theme to this blog of mine. No agenda. No expectation. No nothing. It is just what I gotta say. And today, I don't really gotta say anything.
Hence the photo of my dog. Just because she's perfect.
There is a lot going on in the news these days around the sexual predator known as Harvey Weinstein. And as a litany of women come forward to confirm that they, too, were objectified, sexualized, and more, we are also afforded articles and opinions, statements and words of support from many others perhaps not having had the "pleasure" of a one to one interaction, but certainly having experienced this kind of treatment at some point in her life, or knowing someone who has, or being a women and just knowing.
And this is all good. That the dialog is happening. That the conversation is out in the open. That the veil is coming off a bit more. That the shadows are illuminated. And that a reality that there will soon be no place to hide for anyone who engages in this kind of behavior is perhaps more than just hope.
But this is not what I want to talk about specifically.
Because along with all this out in the open speaking and supporting there is also some truth telling that it appears many people don't like to hear. The truth of how the world works and how we - as women - don't get to just be but instead still have to be vigilant and careful.
When Mayim Bialik wrote, in her NYTimes op-ed piece that: "I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy," she received a lot of backlash that she was victim blaming.
I don't believe she was. What she was doing was sharing how she chooses to live her life to feel safe in a world that is not often safe for women.
We are judged by our cover.
When I was practicing law, I always covered my tattoos in my initial consultation with clients. I did not want them to make a judgment about me based on a preconceived idea they might have had about body art. When my son was young and had dreadlocks he had to choose whether he wanted to cut them off as he was treated differently by law enforcement until he was able to have a conversation and they could experience who he was not who they assumed he was.
We all have to make choices every day on how we want to present in this world. Strong. Powerful, Smart. Sexy.
And just as we may choose how we look, we may also choose where we go and how we behave when we get where we are.
When I was in law school I worked at the local prison. I did civil litigation for high security men and women in isolation. Not once, when I was in a meeting with anyone, did I close the door to the meeting room. I helped these people with child custody issues and divorce settlement, with taxes and with employment concerns. I was helping them and they were grateful and I never closed the door. Because some of them were unpredictable, and since I didn't know who, I had to make choices as if they all were. I would say that most everyone reading this would agree that I made the right choice.
Look, I understand how this all works. The power differential that plays into most industries where sexual predators - usually more pronounced the higher up in the food chain they have risen - hold our opportunities hostage as they hold our voices silent. And I know that what we wear, whether heels or jeans, is not truly what makes these - usually men - disregard our selves in favor of their needs. But if we have moments of choice, if we can prepare for where we are going to be and who we are going to see, we may choose to present in a way that makes each of us safe. And this is different to each of us.
Unfortunately, what we wear - and where we are - can often times illicit a reaction that we do not want. Of course this is not fair.Of course we should be able to walk where we want, wear what we want, be who we are unencumbered by the risk of being sexualized and objectified and threatened in any way. But this is not our world. And it is naive to think that we can ignore this.
This is not victim blaming.
So those who know me know that I have a perfect Doberman puppy who is no longer really a puppy considering she will be turning three in January. But she still has that puppy thing going in that she does not stop moving and she is so high energy and she loves to play and she gets in that awesome downward dog puppy position when she meets another puppy. And so she is puppyish.
But she is also mature and focused and god is she smart.
I have been away from her for almost three weeks, back east visiting my parents. But today I am heading home and so, since I am so very excited to see her and play with her and lay completely on her it makes complete sense to me to write about her here. A homage to my perfect dog.
She is a bit ball obsessed. In case you didn't know.
We play ball a lot. As in all the time. So then she needs her rest. It doesn't last long.
Notice the ear. It's called a lazy ear. Really it is an attitude ear. In that she doesn't care. Because when she does care its up just like the other one. But when she doesn't, down it does. When she knows I am taking a photo of her it could be called a fuck you ear. But she's too sweet so I am sure that is not what it is.
I love that her ear does this. It makes her, well, her.
Isn't she gorgeous!!!
This past weekend was Yom Kippur, the holiest of days and my favorite holiday each year. It is a coming together in the truest sense for me. A trip to the east coast and an immersion into the lives of my parents and into the extended family of their friends and their community and a most lovely temple here in the Berkshires. Hevreh, the temple of which I speak, is nestled at the edge of Great Barrington and, though I am not an official member of the congregation, it has been my home for the high holy days for four years now. It is my community, too.
I bring myself into the sanctuary - even this calling of this room creates for me a peace of mind and spirit - and the familiar greetings that fill the space before the service begins is, in of itself, a melody. As much a part of the service as the prayers and music and meditations that are soon to come, the act of welcoming each other into this time of prayer settles us into our seats and into each other's hearts. We are of one mind as we begin to sing the familiar and ancient tunes of our heritage.
The night of Kol Nidre and the following, full day of prayer was winding down when Rabbi Gordon addressed the congregation with her explanation of the act of full prostration. We, as modern day Jews, no longer engage in this practice. We bow now as we pray and we beat our fist against our heart as we repeat the Vidui - the prayer of confession which brings us through the process of atonement - but we no longer bring ourselves fully to the ground.
Because I did not know, until just that moment, that the Jewish People engaged in this practice, I was intrigued. Raised in a Reform version of Judaism, the acton of kneeling was not included in my upbringing. I thought of such movements as more in keeping with going to church with my churchgoing friends when I was growing up, or seeing muslim prayer and watching the movement that accompanied the collective intonation as they moved through the postures familiar to their rituals.
But there was a second reason why this idea, of taking oneself to the ground, struck a chord in me. I have been following, as I am sure has many others, the kneeling of our football players during the singing of our National Anthem. And I have been engaging in productive and often heated conversations through social media about the appropriateness of the action of taking a knee.
I believe it is a right and just action. But I struggled to find just the right words to explain why I feel that the act of taking a knee is respectful even while it is a statement, strongly made and necessary. And so when Rabbi Gordon referenced prostration, the images of so many intentioned and brave athletes played before my eyes. I knew there was a connection here for me.
And so I went "a googling" and found a passage on the importance of prostration in the act of prayer and I saw, in these words written by Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, a clear understanding of what I believe is going on on our playing fields and in our country.
Rabbi Goldwasser writes this about Yom Kippur and the importance of prostration: This is our day to be spiritually naked and admit that the things we usually think are so important — our accomplishments, prestige, learning and wisdom — are just a facade we use to convince ourselves that we are something big and important. The truth that Yom Kippur comes to teach us is that we only matter to the extent that we live our lives in service to something greater than ourselves. We have an obligation to do that.
Now, I know that this passage that I quote above was not written in reference to our kneeling athletes. And I know that these kneeling athletes did not research prostration and how it relates to Yom Kippur before deciding to take a knee. But what I do know, in the action we see on the field and in the dialog that is taking place between these players, is their desire to make a difference in their communities and in our country.
For in the act of kneeling is the act of taking a stand. For in the act of kneeling is protest against injustice and prejudice. For in the act of kneeling is an act of service. It is a physical manifestation of these men's desire to elicit change in this country. It is greater than themselves.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.