Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I've spent my life intentionally (if not always consciously) distancing myself from people. It's really difficult for me to let people actually know me. This blog has been an attempt at getting past that, at least in part. But even now, having gotten closer to a few people, I find that perhaps, I don't like people very much. I find them maddening and hard to understand.
Understanding the people I love is very important to me. I guess I've spent the better part of my life just trying to understand why people do the things they do. I've failed miserably so far. And don't expect to succeed anytime soon.
As a person who has been hurt rather a lot by people and their actions and their inaction, I'm thinking about giving up. Seriously. For all my quick quips and glib commentary, I might quit. But consciously this time. And not because I'm a child circling my wagons, but because I'm a grown woman and I can't figure this shit out.
I think I spend too much time caring for, thinking about and doing for other people. In the past, the only way to correct that was to cut myself off, from virtually everyone. For all my big talk, I'm not really sure I want to retreat back into that completely.
I want a balance.
But I don't know how to give less. Not really. It's just how I am. And I'm really tired of assuming that the nugget of every problematic situation is me. I want everyone to be happy. I want everyone's life to be easy and fine. And I try to help that happen. And people come to depend on me a little bit. Which is fine. But I don't find that same dependability reciprocated by very many people.
I don't know. Maybe they can't. Maybe they're too caught up in their own snares to think too much about anyone else. Maybe it's too much of a stretch. It's hard not to take that personally.
I used to think I wasn't a very demanding person. I even counted that as one of my strengths. But I'm finding that I am, in fact, an extremely demanding person. I don't bring a lot of drama. I don't even think I require that much of an investment. It's just that I expect people to do the right thing. Or at least to try to do the right thing whatever that right thing is.
It's not that I'm some bigoted know-it-all who gallops about the countryside dispensing pharmacological criticism that I expect to be heeded. I don't give conditions. As demanding as I may be, I don't have an arbitrary list of requirements to be met. I just expect that people will be thoughtful and give me the same consideration I extend out to them.
But I think I may have a problem; a serious mental flaw. Because I give out a lot. And without any whining or petulant foot-stomping, honestly, I see that there's not a lot coming back in. I don't know how to be more moderate. It's just how I am. It's how I've always been. Even in childhood, I gave everything away.
When it got to be too painful, I pulled back. Way back. So far, in fact, if I'd died 6 years ago, maybe four people, outside my family, would have come to my funeral. It was that realization, in fact, that encouraged me to live a little differently; to try to extend myself out a little bit. Not because I truly care who shows up when I'm dead, but because, I'm a good person. And I don't want to die totally unknown, without having made some mark on the world. I don't want to die without friends. It's good to love people. It's good to be loved.
I just don't know if it's worth it. All the time.
My demanding nature, is mostly what's done me in. I don't believe people should be treated poorly or allow themselves to be treated poorly. So, when I see it, I guess, I shine a light on it. Light in dark places is mostly unwelcome.
I don't expect people to be different. I don't demand even that people do differently.
I am really horribly honest, though. And I'll say what I think. And I'll stand up for people who can't/won't/don't stand up for themselves. And I refuse to treat people like a list of hurts and injustices and insist that they are worth far more than they know. And I won't sit by and watch people be mistreated or watch a friend mistreat someone. I'll call bullshit.
Which, apparently, is what absolutely no one wants to hear.
That's how I've lost the vast majority of my friends. Regardless, I don't know how to be quiet.
Maybe it's just the consequence of trying to really truly love people, completely, with all their faults and foibles and peculiarities. When you take people as they are where they are, maybe they don't want to move. Or be moved to move. Or be made to think they can move.
It'd be kind of cruel, wouldn't it? To whisper the possibility of flight to a statue.
And I guess that's where my assertion that truly loving another person means being willing to make them hate you comes in. Because I do believe that. And I don't think I'm bound to change much. So, I guess I just have to figure out if it's worth it. To me. To give it all away. And accept that when you give it, it's a gift. And gifts are always free.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

for david.

forging ahead.
this new territory.
beyond the mississippi.

scurrilous invaders.
taking more than we should.
frowning indians stand all around.
but we are proud.

aren't we?
that we can go so far.
be that much more.
look how much we can take.

we crack.
we sweat.
we squint in the new sun.
don't you look around
at the landscape - flat and wide open -
and wish for our rings of mountains?
when we were held in?
you and I?
by land and all that was familiar?

now we walk. we ride. we laugh.
but less lightly.
always moving.
our feet fall on the dense prairie.
in this new life.
you and me.

rivers crossed
can't be uncrossed.
can't be crossed again.
even ferries hold no hope for us now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blah and blah and do you love you, too?

Some things are hard to write.
Some are much harder to say.
Maybe it's just putting the words to them that is the difficulty.
I'd say I was a better speaker than a writer, but that is definitely not true.
I'd say I was a better writer than a speaker, but that is likewise untrue.
Words, sometimes, I think I was born of them. Like I sprouted, fully - a lexicon - straight from the ground. Words. I hate them. I love them. They drag me around by a chain.
Maybe once in awhile, I best them and twist them and make them do my bidding. But mostly, it's me that gets the whipping.
But still, I have a lot to say. So I trot right back to my fickle brain and try to tease out the meaning of living and then, try to put those thoughts into a generalized, accepted expression that other people share. If I were a painter, I'd use splatters and mash all manner of things into the canvas, step back and say, "Yes. That."
But I'm no painter.
And my brain's no abuser. Though I joke that way. Maybe it was shaped by one. And perhaps that's my gift to bring. My frankincense. I was brought up to hate myself, but something in me balked. And continues to balk at my upbringing's lasting legacies.
I write about love a lot. I write about it because it's so important. To me. And love, she's rarely represented in the world. For all the talk and greeting cards, marriages and dying declarations, most of us don't really know what it is to be truly loved or to truly love.
An elastic love, that stretches to encompass the whole of each of us. Love that holds no resentment. Doesn't keep track. Never threatens or dismisses. Forgives. Extends. Grows. Always.
Maybe this is God, to many. Maybe it's the promise of Jesus. I believe I've said that before.
It sounds stupid to say, "Love yourself." It's a message that's been co-opted and corrupted and turned into ads for personal hygiene and justifications for two-year degrees in not much. But loving oneself is not an outward declaration. It's not about anyone else knowing directly what you know of yourself.
It's trusting your footfall. It's knowing your step. It's believing that you will do what's right for everyone else by similarly knowing and doing what's right for yourself.
Not what's easy.
Not what's simply pleasurable.
Not what's convenient.
But right.
And figuring that out, I can't tell you how to do that. But I bet you'd know it if you'd just listen to yourself.