A selection from the poem Love by psychotherapist-poet Mitchell Ginsberg:
Yesterday I shared my current love for Annie Rogers’ books The Unsayable and Shining Affliction. Today I thought I’d preserve some of the things I marked as “to remember” from Shining Affliction.
“What you fear most has already happened.” This is the first line of a poem that Rogers writes and shares in this book. What a powerful statement. And it is so, so true.
“Tea Bags is “magic” and has a relationship with Ben, but Tea Bags also has a relationship with me – I animate the puppet, but Ben treats the puppet as I have treated him. Tea Bags might also be an extension of Ben’s body; Ben wants to bring him boots after all, though Tea Bags has no feet. In short, Ben has found a way to put himself into Tea Bags’s “skin”, to guess what the puppet might want as an extension of what he wants. In this way, he is able to guess what a little lost bear needs and to make a tender response.” Ah, such complexities of people and our play!
“I feel suddenly wary. Everything within me is about to be named, boxed, contained and controlled. My hands rest on the arms of a green chair, but I feel as if they could life up and life me out of here. But they are still, lifeless. The top of my head lifts off (a strange sensation), and with it my answers to his questions life and float out of me into the street where they mingle with the smoky breaths of passerby. There is no need to explain anything, I realize.” As someone who is always reaching for words, written and spoken, I’m intrigued by elective mutism and I feel like this scene (where a doctor is asking her why she’s in the hospital after a breakdown) gives me a glimpse.
“I know already how to listen to different silences. There is a silence that lies in hiding, waiting for words, but the words of the speaker are carefully censored, for all but the ones the listener waits for go unheeded, denied, into this silence. This silence leaches confidence and vision from the speaker, so that the telling itself becomes unnatural, estranging, annihilating. This silence is a bog, thick. There is no breathing space within it. But there is also a silence that opens out, as a simple wood door opens out on a clean white field, cold, its long slope strewn with stars. This silence breathes and expands. This silence waits for words, too, and it welcomes the unexpected ones, the uncanny, disturbing, and surprising ones.” Another thing that I’m reading for school is Barbara Stevens Sullivan’s book on Bion and Jung, so I’m learning about Bion’s K, the concept of being totally open to what is true in this present moment, and I feel like this latter type of silence expresses that K.
“The philosopher Heidegger writes, “What withdraws from us, draws us along by its very withdrawal, whether or not we become aware of it,” in What is Called Thinking. He goes on to explain how drawing towards withdrawal can shape who we are: “Once we are drawn into the withdrawal, we are drawing towards what attracts us by its withdrawal. And once we, being so attracted, are drawing towards what withdraws, our essential nature alread bears the stamp of ‘drawing toward’.” Another way of saying this is that the gaps in memory draw us into memory, whether we know it or not.”
“In each moment in every life, there is a gesture hovering, to move toward or away from a truth.”
“I see suddenly, very clearly, that her trust in me changed as she acquired more and more clinical training and experience, until I felt, in the last year we met, that what I said to her hardly mattered. She had her interpretations all ready, and my words were fitted to them. Anything that did not fit could be attributed to my ‘denial’ or ‘resistance’.” This is at the heart of Rogers’ troubles with her therapist and it really strikes me to the core. I think it is the risk all therapists run of getting wrapped up in the academic side of things and forgetting to see the person in front of them. It’s a risk I’m afraid of if I move into this work myself. It’s an area I never want to stop being vigilant about.
I just received my copy of the new book Out of Office: How to Work from Home, Telecommute, or Workshift Successfully by Simon Salt. I purchased this book not just because it interested me but also because I’m quoted in it!
My quote is on page 62, in the section on “isolation” when working from home. I shared:
“The single biggest challenge for me has been that there is isolation when working alone at home. This is how I work best and tends to be what I prefer. However, it gets to a point where you are spending way too much time alone and this is not only a negative thing socially but also ends up being bad for your work because you just don’t get the creativity and stimulation that you need to be pushing yourself forward in the job.”
What To Do About It
The author goes on to write in paragraph form about ways to deal with this issue when working from home. He incorporates some of the ideas that I shared with him as well as some thoughts of his own.
Here’s what I’d shared (that isn’t in the book specifically in this way):
- Get involved in collaborative projects. I seek out short-term projects that I can do in collaboration with others. These often aren’t the most lucrative in terms of payment but they are creaively fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. These can be online or in-person projects and both seem to work equally well even though with online projects I’m still working from home.
- Attend networking events. This is a great way to meet people from a variety of different backgrounds and be challenged to think in new ways about my work. Conferences and small business classes offer something comparable.
- Actively engage in an out-of-home social life. This links to another problem I’ve had which is that I tend to be something of a workaholic who doesn’t take enough downtime since work is always there at home to be done. Making sure that I’m social out of the house gives me downtime and ends theisolation so that I can be fresh for work the next day.
Finally, I added (also not quoted):
“I have tried co-work spaces, working at coffee shops, etc. and that never really works for me. When I am working on my own projects I really need to be at home, in my space, in my routine, doing my thing. By adding in additional projects and activities I’m able to meet my own social/intellectual needs without sacrificing my work.”
Salt’s book is a practical guide for working from home. It’s especially for people who haven’t done this before or who are fairly new to it as it provides a pretty step-by-step description of the ups and downs. I haven’t read through it all yet, just flipped through it, but it looks like there are also a few gems that us longtime stay-at-home-workers can also enjoy. I appreciate that he took the time to consult a lot of us about our own real life experiences and I think that this is especially adds to the book.
Yesterday I shared a poetry fragment from a found but forgotten notebook. Here are three more unedited, unnamed pieces from that same time:
Half drunk by the bedside
As she begins to crush strawberries between her thighs
Orange cat insults master
Bringing natural actions into constructed domain
Music dances across the room
The creepy man had said to her,
“if that’s music tattooed on your leg your boyfriend could learn to play guitar across your thigh”
And though he’s not, her boyfriend that is,
the friendly boy’s guitar notes
skitter along her legs
And his apologies for the simplicity of his creation seem ludicrous for their complexity
He confesses that he no longer even wants her in his bed
And she laughs at this because now she no longer wants to fight being there
It’s all a game and the climax would be anti-climactic now
The build-up from the pressure of the chase and run is the point
Like playing Russian roulette,
Sitting for hours with the gun in your mouth,
thoughts teasing through your busy head and then blast!
And you’re still there
gun in hand in mouth
Realization of empty chamber seeping in
And now what? Nothingness.
Life continues to on
Never as intense as it was before the game’s outcome was learned
She doesn’t want to know how they end
So she runs from pursuit
Vanity drips down her spine
And she arches her back from the coolness of it
Alarm bell rings and she wants to tickle him into morning
Says instead, “it’s time to leave” with a groan
And his not yet sends her to the couch to write the sun up
She sits on wooden staircase to watch Venus rise in the East
She finds faces in the bluegrey clouds of early morning
Sitting behind her, he eyes the cloud she calls a lizard and censors her ideas
Rooster crows and rabbit runs away
This is their existence
Going through old papers I found this …
eyes stare at eyes stare at eyes stare at eyes
thinking that if I stared at you intensely enough,
I could see through me
Blue wraps its way around the night,
winding skin around skin around skin around kiss
moments magically touched by motion
desire devours days
and I stare at you, eyes closed
I watch you and can’t see me
except for those brief seconds when all I see in you is in me
Interconnection interfaced around interlocked bodies
You sleep and I dream you into existence
When you close your eyes I watch you awaken
And when you wake I dream that you are sleeping inside of me
I dream every breath I take is your heartbeat
And every heartbeat I feel is you breathing
Emotions wrap their way around intentions
I wanted to detach until your detachment drew me in
Eyes stare at eyes stare at eyes stare at eyes
Are we seeing anything?
In one of the many New Years blog posts that I read in the past week I saw the suggestion to try to choose a single word to encapsulate your hopes and wishes for the new year. I took my time thinking about what I wanted my word to be. Some of the ones that I considered but that weren’t quite right included “juicy”, “wholeness” and “presence.” When I kept working on my thoughts and hopes and ideas for 2014 I finally landed on the right word: STORY.
The Stories I Tell Myself
This is an excerpt from The Museum of the Lord of Shame, a chapbook by Gary Rosenthal, which he describes in part on his website:
“Not everything in the soul is sweetness and light. This poem evokes that part of the soul that often presents the first major initiation in inner work.”
I love this excerpt quotation from a longer piece that’s also got some other really great points and imagery. The source is Ollin Morales of Courage2Create.
“Before our new selves can bloom, we must explode, we must break, we must shatter, we must thaw…
Every new birth must begin with a cry of pain. Every healed heart must begin with the prick of the needle carrying the healing thread. Every rise must be preceded by a sudden, sharp fall. Every recovery must be christened by a brief relapse.
The first step down a new path must, evidently, cut away at the old path—and that cutting hurts. It takes a lot out of us, and we are exhausted.
What can comfort us at this point of our journey is knowing that this is all normal: nature goes through a similar process in the beginning of Spring.
Everything in nature breaks before it blooms. The frozen pond shatters before it can flow freely again. The bud of a rose cracks before it opens. The sun stabs at the moon right before it rises.
So it is with nature, so it is with you.”
I spend a lot of time in other people’s homes, mostly for petsitting. I never go through their things or look into spaces that aren’t right out in the open. I just think that’s rude. But I do really love looking at the things that are out on display in their homes. One thing everyone has, of course, is lighting … and it’s always interesting to see the lamps that people choose for their homes – especially the lamps that are clearly chosen for decor as much as for function.