life

“It’s Getting Frosty,” but “I Hear Music In the Streets”

We keep the wall between us as we go. – Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

Hi Friends,

For the last two days, it has been rainy and cold in Tokyo. However, this morning I walked to work in the rain, grinning like a fat cat, singing “Borderline,” followed by Fulton Street,” then “Victim.” I paused in my tracks for a second, wondering why in hell I was feeling so euphoric, despite the settling chill. When the temperature drops below sixty and the sun’s nowhere to be found, my mood is usually in the toilet. And there I was, on a blustery day, singing on the way to work. To work! What the hell? I wondered if I’d finally gone over the edge into such a state that the only thing that could happen was a sudden and unhappy crash. Then, I got a grip on myself and continued to sing. Why not enjoy a moment for as long as it lasts?

My fear of fleeting happiness wasn’t unfounded. It seems in the past that when I have been deliriously, giddily happy, it was often followed by a period of sadness. Maybe I should rephrase that and say that it was hard for me to hold onto joy… largely because I was unable to bring down the many walls that I’d erected around me over the years. There is an art in appearing to be open and revealing nothing, an art I perfected. Let me tell you that in conversations, deflection is key.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall (…) –
Robert Frost (Mending Wall)

It always seemed the only way to protect myself from being emotionally crushed/devastated was to not let anyone get too close. There were people, who refused to let me push them away, but for almost every close friend or lover I had (the lovers were few), I rejected them when I felt we’d reached our peak of closeness. I’m still not quite sure why up until now I haven’t laid on a strange man’s couch (a professional that is). I systematically, subconsciously, made myself miserable. Things couldn’t be too good; bliss couldn’t be trusted.

Thankfully, many of my friendships were able to recover my temporary insanities. I’ve asked my friends how they would know if I ever truly “lost it,” as many of my past actions have pointed to the road of crazy. They assure me they’d be able to assess my level of crazy and tell the doctors to let me have the bed with the view. Somehow, I feel this note is repaying one small karmic debt.

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour. –
Robert Frost (Nothing Gold Can Stay)

Life is fleeting, but for as long as we’re here, our happiness doesn’t need to be. I can trust my feeling of contentment and hold it close; I won’t dim my joy to make others who want to be miserable and complain feel better.  Sustainable happiness can be achieved by adhering to the spiritual laws laid out so clearly and concisely by the gurus; the messages I’m holding close to my heart are: Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Don’t take anything personally” (from The Four Agreements),  Deepak Chopra’s “This moment is as it should be, because the entire universe is as it should be” (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success) and the Bible’s encouragement to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18).

Only good things friends, only good things.

Ciao for now,

Val

 

 

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People (Unreal life)

Herbie

It’s been awhile since Herbie the Lovebug’s been in the public eye. I’d assumed that he was living off his Hollywood earnings in Boca Raton, or cruising along the streets of Malibu without a worry in the world. Like everyone else, I surmised that Herbie’s star turn and subsequent riches had put him in the lap of luxury for life (good muffler, paint jobs, transmission, shocks). Imagine my surprise when on my way to work I saw Herbie sitting on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd and Warren Street. What’s Herbie doing in Newark; once an original Brat Packer, has his life come to this? Of course, even more than twenty years later, I’d recognize Herbie anywhere; after all, as a child I’d seen all of his movies and even dreamed of one day possessing my very own love bug.

Seeing Herbie on the corner, looking a little worse for wear, reinforced the third agreement in Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements that one should “not make assumptions.” I haven’t heard anything about Herbie since the eighties, nor have I called his publicists to check in, so why would I think that all was fine with him? It’s been a shock to see that Herbie’s not okay, as anyone or thing sitting on the corner of Warren Street on a Wednesday morning needs help/comfort/hope.

Now, I’ve been reflecting about my other assumptions. Just yesterday, I was speaking to the “Voice of Reason,” aka Tanique, about my forthcoming move to Paris. I’d started to get a twinge of nervousness regarding finding employment at the end of a four week course I’m taking (mind you, the same course is also offered across the bridge). I bought a ticket for three months, and somewhere in my mind, I must’ve made an assumption that I wouldn’t get a job in that time, so I called Valic and AXA about cashing out both of my retirement plans. I’d also made the assumption that I’d love the City of Light so much that I’d do anything to stay, including becoming a student yet again. I spent a good portion of yesterday researching programs, so that I could obtain a student visa, and ensure at least a solid year.

Not only had I broken the agreement not to make assumptions, but I’d broken Chopra’s first spiritual law of success to chill out and live in the present moment. The Voice of Reason told me “No.” No to all niggling doubts and assumptions. No to racking up debt for a degree to stay in a country I may not love as much as I imagine I will. No to dipping into both savings plans, because according to her a job will come either in Paris or somewhere else. Leaving and moving elsewhere would be fine. No to worry, the antithesis of faith/belief.

So, yes to new adventures. Yes to living in the present moment, but still planning for the future. Yes to believing in myself, but knowing that I have others to lean on. Yes to not assuming (trying hard as hell at least). Yes to living fully while I’m healthy and able. Yes to appreciating and loving all that I’ve been given (including The Voice of Reason).

Herbie

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