Because my mind — doubtless a reflection of my life — is too scattered to focus on any one thing for any length of time these days, all I can assemble is an un-concentrated post. Picture diffused, soft lighting, a foggy haze in the air. You have to squint to see clearly. That’d be my brain, in a nutshell.
I don’t know what lesson I’m meant to be learning when it all seems to be flowing faster than I am and I’m just trying to stay afloat and find my damned undies in the morning, jaysus. And my body — OK, it’s my mind, The Voice, this isn’t a confessional but let’s be honest — is like What the Hell, where have you been, could you ease up on the cheese and are we ever going swimming again? When will you get some help with those neck spasms? Planning to send those postcards any time soon? And have you forgotten that we’re meant to be drawing? Some people do it every day, you know…. and so begins the litany.
I’ve started a dozen posts over the past month. I wrote about my figure drawing group, and then recent language mishaps (a long list). I began something about traditional Irish music I’ve discovered in Toulouse. But my mind keeps roaming as I write, or someone shows up at the door, or damn! I remember something else I’ve forgotten to do.
I feel like the person who dashes in and says “Sorry I’m late!” and then leaves before the class is finished and I’m sorry I can’t make it next week — and still I have hardly anything to show for it. For someone who takes pride in being organized and neat as well as in charge of my administrative life, being this disjointed and unsystematic is unsettling to say the least. Have I regressed? What was my point again?
We’ve moved into a new apartment, our fourth in a year; I’m sure that has something to do with it. I’m still not fully unpacked. Not sure where I put my mind. Late-night (and early-morning) revelers outside our window disturb my sleep; that or le petit garçon has fallen off his mattress and woken confused and in tears. Or wait — maybe that was me.
With my visa is set to expire in a month, I’m mustering the attention and courage to deal with the préfecture when my future is at stake. We’ve been talking about the next year but perhaps they’ll take one look at me and say, Who do you think you are? Yer out! … in which case what we’re doing in July will be a moot question, because I’ll be packing my bags.
But OK. Enough already.
Before we dive off the deep end and become mired in a swamp of Things Wrong, What is there, what has there been? Let’s look around, with a dose of curiosity, kindness, and precision.
Let us try, despite the fog and varying degrees of success, to come back to what is happening, to show up as fully and as frequently as we can remember. Even for the little things, the breeze on the skin or the soapy dishwater; driving the rental car or peeing or chopping vegetables. Two hands; concrete; worry-free.
What about the fountains at Versailles? Or the return trip to that oasis in Paris, Caféothéque?
There were the sculptures of the queens of France. The waiter taking his smoke break, so French, so cool. There were Astérix and Obélix, giving the middle finger to the world’s judgements.
There was Giverny, and the few moments amidst a sea of visitors when I felt alone-ish, when I could imagine myself there in my linen suit, looking out the window at the flowers and the willows, or maybe noticing the sky reflected in the lily pond and thinking, There’s the next painting.
And music of course: the stunning and evocative music of the Sardana band outside the Barcelona cathedral whose outfits matched perfectly, right down to the scuff of their shoes. And in the park and on the street. Thank you.
There are the people who, miraculously, return friendly, no matter what idiotic things I said the last time nor from how far out of left field they seem to come. And then le petit garçon, who wakes more refreshed than I, who loves to play, who speaks skillfully, who concentrates, who every day grows. The dog and the bunny, antagonists I thought yet, here, harmonious companions. Could that be where the lesson lies?
What was I saying? Anyway, as I mentioned, I can’t concentrate. But I’m not giving up. Two weeks ago, Zoe the yoga teacher and I were chatting and I said, I just want to work. Get my hands dirty. I don’t need any more holiday, and I know that sounds strange to say. And she said you can’t resist it in France, it’s bigger than you are. I tried, she said. It’s a lot easier if you give in to it. May: unproductive. She’d heard it from a student but she thought, surely I will get some work done. Nope: May, and August. Give in to it.
It reminds me of Pema Chodrön, again, and “saying yes to whatever is put on your plate, whatever knocks on your door, whatever calls you up on your telephone.” A little self-encouragement, letting go of the tendency to fixate and dwell. It sounds silly, but maybe as she suggests human beings who are willing to make friends with themselves are really needed in this world. It’s such a precious opportunity, to be able to spend time on that. So I’ll dig in.
With gentleness. God knows we could use more. Gentleness and precision. That has to be enough. Je suis comme je suis. It’s all I got.
and . . . relax.