This is a bit of a different writing for me this week. Not a lot of mindful introspection here. No deep sharings of journeys past and lessons learned. No wisdom to pass on in funny and not so funny ways. Because what is on my mind is The Blacklist. This great bit of television that I think is so friggin’ good. And I missed this past Thursday’s episode and was thinking about watching it now and that got me to thinking about why this show is great. And I thought I’d share that here because…well this is my blog and it’s called I Just Gotta Say This and that really means that I can say anything I want. And this is what I want to say. So…
I am not a big TV watcher. I don't even have one. A TV. I used to. But I was never really big on watching. Not everyday anyway. Though if I did find myself in front to it, well then I could sit for oh, like ten straight hours of Say Yes to the Dress.
Sitting like this, this is exactly how I love to watch TV if I am going to watch. I like to sit and watch the entire season of something. This once a week, wait for seven whole fucking days to find out who Nancy Botwin may sell pot to or have sex with or whether the Island is actually real or really just the deep, emotional turmoil of Jack Shephard's psyche. No, I need to get it all fast. In one long and extremely satisfying take. This is my TV watching drug of choice.
And so I watched Lost - all six seasons - in two marathon weekends. I watched Dexter in much the same way. And Sons of Anarchy. And Weeds. And the first season of Orange is the New Black. And then the second. And I never watched Breaking Bad. But I did watch House of Cards and love it!
My show of choice right now is The Blacklist. I keep wanting to say how much I love Christian Slater even though this show stars James Spader. Slater, Spader. You can see why I keep making this mistake. Either way, they are both great actors. James Spader more so, though Christian Slater was very good in Heathers. If you have not seen Heathers, please go watch that movie. Now that is a great movie. And one of the few that Winona Ryder was good in. Though she was also pretty good in Edward Scissorhands with Johnny Depp.
I love Johnny Depp. Though never got into the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Now, what is interesting about Heathers is that Shannon Doherty was in that. I mean, really!! Shannon of Beverly Hills 90210 fame. Truth, I never put that together until just now, writing this piece today and I googled Heathers to make sure of the spelling of Christian Slater's name and there was Shannon Doherty. Crazy right! And this shows how sucky I am at spelling because really, how many different ways are there to spell Christian or Slater. Like one each….
So, James Spader and The Blacklist. This is a great show. I think so anyway. Because there are so many layers to everything. But more because there are so many layers to Red, the character that James Spader, not Christian Slater, plays. He is so interesting. I am at the episode where…..oh, no spoilers. But go watch this show. That is where I am going when I am done writing this piece. (Though now I am all caught up and have to watch like a normal person. I am looking at this in a very this-is-a-life-lesson kind of way and seeing it as learning moderation).
But before I go, to watch more of this show (specifically this past Thursday’s episode), I want to leave you with this, that Red, aka James Spader not Christian Slater, said. Because this is why I really love this show. Because of moments like this. When the writing is smart. And celebrates the human experience of love and loss and passion and feeling.
If you have not watched this show and do not want any spoilers at all, then perhaps you stop reading this writing. If you want to read something so lovely, and you don't mind a bit of insight into James Spader's character rather than letting him unfold for you, keep reading. He said this:
“Have you ever sailed across an ocean, Donald? On a sailboat surrounded by sea with no land in sight, without even the possibility of sighting land for days to come? To stand at the helm of your destiny?
I want that one more time.
I want to be in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, to feel the surge as ten racehorses go thundering by.
I want another meal in Paris at L’Ambroisie in the place des Vosges.
I want another bottle of wine and then another.
I want the warmth of a woman in the cool set of sheets.
One more night of jazz at the Vanguard.
I want to stand on summits and smoke Cubans and feel the sun on my face for as long as I can.
Walk on the Wall again.
Climb the Tower.
Ride the River.
Stare at the frescos.
I want to sit in the garden and read one more good book.
Most of all I want to sleep. I want to sleep like I slept when I was a boy.
Give me that. Just one time.
…I think this is lovely. Really lovely. Beautiful.
Learning is Not Just About Learning New Things but is About Discovering Something New Within the Things You Already Know
In my memory I am swirling, round and round, across the floor. My legs are tight together and only the points of my toe shoes move; minute motions that propel me from one corner of the studio to the other. My arms are held in, crossed at my chest. My hands still soft and lovely. My head whips round, round, round, with my feet. But different. Not that even one two one two one two. But a holding and a snap. A holding and a snap, as I hold on to that one spot with my eye so that I will not feel dizzy at the end of my spinning. My shoulders hold strong. My back is straight.
I read a writing the other day. It was about learning. Learning and perfecting. Getting it right and thinking that you are done. And it made me think about dancing.
And so here I am spinning across the floor again. Dancing like I danced before. My feet now bare and the dance a freeform of music and movement. But still familiar and set in my bones. I have perfected this. What I am doing here. This movement. This spinning across the floor. I have perfected the technique of it. But not truly. Because there is always more. There is always more to learn. To discover. To be challenged by. There is always the possibility of a sweeter line. A tilt of my head that captures the movement of my shoulders. The grace of my back held straighter and stronger still.
There is the essence of the dance. The art in the movement. The nuance. That subtle feeling that can't be taught but that just comes forth from the artist and fills the space.
That keeps growing. I keep growing.
I am no longer a dancer, but still I am a dancer. And so I understand this. That we never stop growing. That even when we have perfected the movement there is always more. There is always a next step that we can take. There is always something new that we can glean from what we are doing. There is always something else to learn.
I believe we stop growing when we stop learning. And so stop being an active participant on our lives. Learning is not just about learning new things but is about discovering something new within the things we already know. Within the things within ourselves. It would be sad for me to see anyone choose to shut such opportunities down and decide they have learned it all. To me you can never know it all.
I am swirling and spinning. With such joy. My back is straight and strong. My technique is perfected. But still, it is new this time. There is a freedom to this movement on this day. I have reached a new place in my artistry. A new level of understanding of my performance. Of my craft. And of my self.
The layers can be peeled back forever.
A few weeks ago I wrote about playing the cello. And I mentioned that anytime I hear music, I always noticed when there is a cello within the notes. I hear this rich, deep sound and it so resonates throughout my body. And thinking about this, about the playing of this instrument and the hearing of this rich sound is somewhat humorous to me because, though there is so much music in me, I seldom listen to it.
I listen in my car. Especially when my children are with me. They have this great, eclectic musical taste and so it's always fun to listen with them. And sometimes I will listen on my own. Mainly because my daughter made me many cd's with all the songs we love to listen to together. So I do listen. But more often I crave quiet.
The quiet is my music.
Quiet is not silence. It never is for me. For me, silence has a tension to it. An expectation of something coming because there is something missing. For me anyway. But quiet. Quiet is a calm.
And so in between the cello and the music that I listen to, not so much but some, I have quiet, too. When the wind blows warm and the smell of hot air hits against my skin there is also the quiet of the rustle of the trees where the warm wind lingers. The quiet on my porch accompanies the slow hum when a car would drift by on the road that runs a mile from my home. And the soft purr of my cat stretched out next to me on the bed lingers in the quiet spaces that I love so much.
I notice these quiet sounds and then I don't. Until I do again. A noticing and then a falling away and I am unaware of them until I notice them again. But I don't really even notice that I am aware of the quiet, and then not and then again. I notice this now, writing about it here. Here I am mindful of this. But when it is happening. When I am in this quiet, where the sounds around me ebb in and out of me, I do not really take notice of them. No light shines on them separate from anything else.
And this is what creates the quiet. This is where the calm lives.
I don’t think we, as a culture, take the time to hear this quietness. And so we lose the possibility of embracing the calmness. We hurry through our lives, filled up with good, and not so good, things. We take the good with the bad because that’s just the way it is, and we laugh and love and feel ok and because we are so used to so much filling our lives, we are not used to those empty spaces in between. And so we fill them up, too.
And so I say, let’s not do that today. Let’s not look at those moments that we have where we have nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to say or hear or be, and automatically fill them up. Let us instead sit in the quiet. Let us instead settle into the nothingness of this one moment. And then let it ebb and flow into other quiet moments, too. So that the calmness can be shared between us. As I am sharing this with you.
If I tell someone how I feel in English but they only speak Spanish they are never going to understand me
I do a lot of work. Practicing mindfulness. Healing my inner child. Tapping into that muscle memory that holds my discomfort and trauma and working to let that go, too. Moving past my stories and finding the light. Following my own journey. My own history. My own new path to an enlightened and a more fulfilling life.
But I don't just live by myself.
I live in a family and a community. I am a couple. I am a parent and a child and a friend and a lover. And so, though my work is my own, I then take these new things that I discover in myself and I bring them to you – all these people in my life. And my hope is that I can connect with you and then grow together with you.
And I say look, this is me now! This is who I am. This is what I know. Love me as I want to love you. This is good!! And I mean it. Truly. And then cannot understand why you, this important person in my life, my husband, child, parent, sister, teacher, friend does not understand me. Cannot understand what I am saying. Cannot hear me. And so does not join in my journey with me but instead seems to take a different path away from where I am heading.
Communication is an interesting thing. When I speak and I listen from the heart, well that is easy. That is why I am able to know what my dogs are saying. That is why, when my children were babies they are my babies still, I knew when they were hungry or tired or lonely and in need of my arms around them even before they had the language of words. It is why I can respond to my husband before he asks the question. And this, this is a beautiful thing.
But unspoken communication does not happen all the time. And so though I may be deeply in tune with what I am feeling, I need to be able to speak in a language that best captures these feelings so that you can understand what I am saying. And that, I think, it where a lot of the disconnect occurs.
i am a divorce mediator by trade. And one of the things that happened over and over again, when a couple found themselves around my table is that one person was always so surprised to be there. I had no idea he/she was so unhappy until he/she said they wanted a divorce. And then the other person will always respond that they have been saying that I have been unhappy for years. For YEARS. And how painful it is that they were not heard. And now here we are, too late to fix it.
And they will sit at my table and look at each other in shock. One party thinking I worked my ass off to support this family/raise these children/care for this person/do my best as their spouse while the other is thinking I said so many times how unhappy I was/I only wanted some time with them/I just needed to be heard.
Now I don't want to blame the messenger so to speak. And so I was always really careful when I responded to this obvious disconnect in the communication between these two people. And I will be really careful here, too. Because there is no blame. Not usually. But there is a language barrier.
Because if the – I will use this scenario - husband says over and over again that he is feeling unloved and unimportant and wants to try and rekindle something in their marriage and the wife is not responding, he has a responsibility to make sure that he is speaking her language. If he says, over and over again, I feel lonely but he says it in English and she only speaks Spanish, she is not going to understand him. At all.
And this happens all the time. And so, while there is absolutely the case many times where the same language is spoken and the disconnect is there because someone doesn't care/won't change/is stuck, more often it is just that the wrong language is being used. And because we can't understand each other, a true disconnect does eventually occur and the breakdown of the relationship becomes real.
And so – back to me and you now - it is my responsibility to learn your language so that my communication to you can be authentically given and received.
Now, there is a lot of talk about languages of love. And I think this book/concept is brilliant. In a successful relationship we do need to understand how that other person expresses and receives love so that we can get in on with them and everyone is happy. And so if you are a gift giver but your partner just wants to touch you, no matter how many gifts you buy them, well they'll be like where's the love? Meanwhile, they're touching you all the time and you're feeling groped and wonder when are they going to go buy you something to show you that they care about you. Disconnect. And so we learn each other's love languages. Or we are lucky and we speak the same ones from the get go. And life is easy. Around love.
But what about when I am not feeling love. When I am growing and discovering new things about myself. When I want to share this new direction that my journey is taking. Or more, when I am angry. Or upset. Lonely. Bitter. Struggling or feeling betrayed. I need to be able to speak your language then, too.
And I say speak. Not hear. I need to be able to speak your language. I am the one coming to the table with this new direction I am going in or this problem/worry/concern/challenge/sorrow. And so, though I hope that my husband/child/parent/friend will take the time to learn a bit of English, my first responsibility is to speak a little Spanish.
But there is a saving grace here. Because I don't have to speak this foreign language while pretending I know it perfectly. It is ok to say, hey, my Spanish is not so good, but I am trying to communicate with you this way because I care so much about you and I want you to hear me. And it is ok to say, and if you don't understand what I am saying, please tell me and I will try to say it a different way.
Because just that, that I am trying to communicate to you in a way that you will understand what I am saying but please work with me to help me be clear for you, that is the beginning of communicating clearly. That is expressing that I care enough about you that I am striving to be understood.
Striving to be understood, not assuming that I am understood.
When I assume that I am understood, well that is the first step in the breakdown of communication. When what I have to say is important, taking for granted that I will be understood does not honor the importance of what I am feeling and wanting to share. And then, when you don't respond I risk assuming you don't care. But really you don't understand.
I vow to try never to assume. I vow to try to always be clear. To ask you if I am being clear. To ask you, this important person in my life that I am striving to relate to and share with and grow with, whether you understand what I am saying. I may ask you to repeat back to me what I say, strange as that sounds, so that we are both sure that the message is getting through. And I may ask you to teach me Spanish if I am having trouble with it. So that I can speak to you in a way that you will understand.
And I may throw in some English too, but will teach you that if I do.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.