Beauty, Interrupted


Yes, it’s been a week and a half since my last pile of posted mental blatherings.  I know.

I guess I’ve been searching for my muse.

I’ve checked under sofa cushions and beds, rifled through bathroom cabinets and my briefcase.

It is apparent that my muse has embarked on that African safari that’s always been a dream of mine.  I hope she sends pictures.

Last post was an organized lamentation of my inability to foster plant life, and I just wanted to let everyone know that Ms. Sunshine (my sunflower…and yes, if you weren’t here last week, I DO name everything) isn’t dead.  Rather, she’s just regrouping.

I’ve preferred to say that her yellow blooms of which I’ve grown so fond are passing through the stage of Beauty, Interrupted.

Kind of like Beatty, Nevada — Beauty, Interrupted is state of passage.  No one ever really stays there.  Rather, it’s more of a weigh station on the road to Elsewhere.  Ms. Sunshine has wrapped herself in a cocoon, to emerge again at a later date with her petals of gold and cinnamon-hued heart …

…that is, if I conjure the patience to await her rebirth.

I’ve thought of this blog entry for over a week now but have lacked the requisite words to put it to screen.  Reason unknown, but it could likely stem from my head being up my ass or just an onslaught of “other” going on in my life right now.  And honestly, I’ve been a bit impatient as of late.  When I’m impatient, I get frustrated.  When I get frustrated, it’s like a pasta chef trying to make noodles with a screen door and a Qtip: completely unproductive.

Patience — the bane of my existence, my muse’s mortal enemy.  Perhaps that’s why my muse caught the last train to Clarksville.  More than once, she’s been inspired by a catchy tune, but more importantly, it puts her far away from the grasp of my IMpatience.

When I think of Ms. Sunshine, my frustration stemmed from impatience.  You see, instead of acknowledging that she was going through some sort of floral menopause, I got irritated that she wasn’t all she was when she came into my life:

Vert stalks in a petite planter, supporting radiant blooms that emulate the behemoth star that shines its light on me every day.

It never occurred to me that maybe she’d come around again.

I wonder how often I’ve done this: get bent, give up, and move on.  Oh, if you don’t know me, I’m brilliant at leaving things behind.  When it comes to the art of the breakup — job, things, love — yeah.  It’s a talent.  And it’s a shitty talent to have.  Here I was, ready to chuck Ms. Sunshine in the trash bin for Tuesday’s pickup and then late last week, she perked right up again.  While her flowers were done and ready to pass-on, her stalks remained strong from my incessant (read: obsessive) watering and deepest wish she would become again exactly who she was when we met at Whole Foods.

She will — in another year.

You see, I learned that sunflowers bloom annually.  Once a year. AND (get this…), a sunflower isn’t really one flower, but it’s made-up of 1000-2000 individual flowers joined at a common point.  (who knew?)

I didn’t.  Hell, I didn’t even bother to ask.  I just got pissed because it stopped looking like it did when I bought it.

With my muse on leave, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this.  And thinking, I have been.

My impatience has been gruesome lately.  Road rage aside (though that has been a component), I’ve been damn near unable to bear what hasn’t proceeded according to my agenda and immortally frustrated as a result.

Someone special reminded me this weekend about the frustration that can stem from expectations.  It was appropriate, considering a childlike mini-tantrum I’d unleashed on a chunk of unsuspecting sandstone during a climbing outing.  But then and there, I realized I’d done it again: gone and gotten myself disappointed.  At 34 (creeping up on 35) you would think I’d know better by now.

I expected to be able to climb something.  Just like I expected Ms. Sunshine to stay frozen in her blooming beauty for my benefit.  Notions?  Preconceived.  Results? Sub-par.  Why?  Expectations.

Instead of stepping back and asking a useful question, such as

“What is there to learn here?”
“What am I missing?”

“What has changed–or what do I need to change?”

I took the path of greatest resistance and stopped asking questions at all.

I’m an asshole.

There’s really not much in life that’s static, much less a given, except for the fact that there’s not much that’s static. (follow me here)  The moment we forget that people, plants, and just plain ‘ol life in general are dynamic, we teeter on the edge of disappointment looking for a heart in which to manifest.  I think we do this sometimes because we’ve got our own bullshit going on and without realizing it, we become resistant to change.  We snap a mental Polaroid of perfection and shake the living shit out of it to see what develops.  When something shows up in the picture we didn’t expect, for better/worse/indifferent,  I think it’s human nature to try to restore our version of the natural order of things.

And in doing so, we run the risk of killing that which brings us the most joy in our lives.

Preconceived notions and attachments to how things should be instead of how things are litter the gardens of our souls, and we’re naive enough to wonder sometimes why nothing’s growing…or going our way.  We’re ready to call a landscaping company to come in and rip the whole thing out and start from naught, and all because we’re too damn impatient to wait out the winter.

My life has become quite full — and fulfilling as of late.  Yet today, it occurred to me that maybe it’s too full.  I’ve sought-out things to fill my time and enrich my life and there doesn’t seem to be an hour of any day wasted.  Whether with friends or working, in class or writing, climbing or gym-going, my free time has whittled itself down to those moments prior to falling asleep on a book at night or the moments I steal when the alarm disrupts my dreaming at o’dark-thirty AM.  Is quantity quality and what’s the benefit of a full life when it leads me to leaving ME behind and I start acting like an asshole?

Maybe your definition of asshole and mine are different, so let me explain mine:

*not paying attention to things as I should, from traffic to my diet;
*snapping at friends because I’m frustrated with my own BS;
*setting aside all I believe in and forgetting to breathe, be kind, and most of all…

be patient.

Haste has never delivered me a golden ticket, an Oompa Loompa, nor the accompanying boat to float on a river of chocolate.  It has, however, caused a whole lotta f-up’s and palm-to-the-forehead-slapping moments that leave me wishing I’d been — (yessssssssssss, Preeeeeeeeecious) more patient.  So riddle me this, Batman: why is it that “intelligent beings” (term used questioningly) like ourselves, consistently revert to…being stupid sometimes?

People, like plants, pass through Beauty, Interrupted on occasion.  They’re not their usual selves — a bit pissier, fatter, duller, dumber, selfish, or melancholy than the selves we’ve come to know and love.  I know it’s true in my case.  The wonderful thing about Beauty, Interrupted, though, is the power that dwells within it.

It’s a place to regroup, learn, and reassess.  To return to the self we know we can be and emerge from that cocoon recharged and ready to conquer. And oftentimes, emerge better than when we retreated.

Just like Ms. Sunshine, Ms. Annual Bloomer of the thousand flowers…I could learn a thing or two from her.  While I look at her and see the big picture, she’s got thousands of little parts that make her what she is: a gorgeous being giving of her beauty.  Silly me’s been too damn “busy” to appreciate her thousands of parts and preferred to toil over her not being her usual “sunny” self.

But she can’t be “on” all the time, now, can she?

So to those who know me and have seen me lately, my apologies.  I’m going through Beauty, Interrupted.   Not only that, I need to slow the fuck down and go the speed limit, too.  In 34 years, I’ve come to like who I’ve become, but I just don’t like who I’ve been lately.  I’ve felt a bit wilted, a bit overwhelmed.  And a whole lot unlike myself.

I’ve got the Rand McNally out, and I’m mapping a course — don’t you worry your pretty little heads.  It just feels better to blurt-out here, via fingers and keyboard, that I’ve disappointed myself.  I’m capable of so much more, but it’s time to focus on quality and not quantity.  By doing that, I think that overwhelmed feeling will subside and I’ll be able to be a lot more patient … and a lot less snippy.  A lot more Erika and a lot less “what’s her deal?” I do love everything in my life right now, and the balance of what is and what can be will show itself in due time.  I guess all I have to do is be patient.

Maybe that’s why Ms. Sunshine decided to stick around.

She had something to teach me.