Saturday, August 28, 2010


This summer has been full of opposites, some of them real, some that exist only in my head.  Three days with my dad, then three days with my mom.  A morning spent at the Christian camp I used to attend as a kid, experiencing in a brief period some of both the best and the worst of the religion of my childhood:  best-- that soaring sense of joy and community that comes with corporate worship; worst-- the slick, overprocessed packaging of something that was never meant to be smooth and glossy.  A fun, relaxing week spent with my conservative, religious extended family, followed shortly by a fun, relaxing week with my husband's secular, more sophisticated family (with my family, we made it through about a six-pack and a half of Mike's Hard Lemonade in the entire week.  With my husband's family, every day my brother-in-law would start making the gin and tonics about 4:50-- or as my husband says of his brother's work, GIN and tonics).  My dad proving once again that he only sees what he wants to see when he looks at me; my husband heading straight for the computer when I told him there was a new blog post I wanted him to read sometime in the next few days.  My dad's terminal illness; the wedding of some dear friends' daughter, whom we've known since she was 3, and the beginning of her new married life.

It's been very nearly dizzying at times.  All summer I've been rocking back and forth between the two poles I talked about earlier this year, the poles of belief and disbelief, of some sort of loosely interpreted theism versus atheism tempered by spiritual awareness.  but cheery-o (thank god for cheery-o) said something in an e-mail that has helped me out here.  I don't even remember exactly how she phrased it, but it made me realize that whichever pole I'm occupying at any particular moment, the underlying impulse is the same.  The impulse to experience .......... oh, yuck, I'm trying to think how to say this without sounding pious and I can't figure out how to do that so I'm just plunging ahead anyway. The impulse to open myself to experience, the desire to find something outside myself that resonates with what is authentic within me.  I guess I'm back to what I've been saying all along, which is just that I'm trying to learn how to experience the spiritual side of who I am without needing an intellectual explanation of what it means, of what the dogma surrounding it "should" be, without needing definitions and a catechism to explain it all.

I'm wondering if maybe this is what Keats meant when he talked about negative capability:  "that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."   (googled that)  I had forgotten about it until it came up in briefly in one of the classes I took last fall.  Unfortunately, it was an idea he didn't develop much, it is only mentioned briefly in a letter to his brother.  Interesting, yes?  I think of it as being in abeyance, suspended between thoughts.  Waiting for the chord to resolve, and trying to learn not to need it to resolve.  Living in the moment without reference to past or future (Tolle).  Or to put it in Buddhist terms, learning to shut off my monkey mind and just sit with whatever comes up.

not sure where I'm going with this, just rambling.  I start classes next week, so it seemed like a good moment to look back over the summer.


  1. There was Mike's Hard Lemonade in Montana - and nobody invited me??!#$%! I am hurt!

  2. lol. well OF COURSE I would have invited you if you'd been there-- that was at the house before we went down to the camp.