This, lover, is zen.
Let me describe to you my now: my shadow, and my light.
I’m standing at this moment, this place with shadow on the one side and light on the other, and it fractures in so many ways. The shadow is that I am behind and disorganized. I say "behind" as if this is some race or that something is looming, but it’s become so gross that I feel incredibly accomplished if I DON’T wait to email back until the other party is furious with me for lack of response, or that Dan and Anna do not come to me wanting to know if I EVER intend to launder anything, or if not would I please stop doing it half-way so they can find the things I’ve cleaned, or sorted, or washed but not dried. My shadow is that somehow I cannot find even an awkward rhythm in my life at this moment, and I am inside an increasingly chaotic whirlwind of "not done" and "out of time."
The light is that I am happy. Blissfully, quietly happy. I do not walk around in euphoria, and I am not Snow White singing to the birds as they flit outside the kitchen window, but I am happy. I feel good. I feel . . . not content, but good. I am working on too many projects at once, yes, but what I get done on all of them give me joy. I know part of the reason everything is so messy is because I am perfectly willing to put down just about anything to go take a bike ride with Anna (who has just learned how), and will let the ride go on a bit more, and then a bit more, and then a bit more. I want to sit on the couch and talk with Dan, or linger in the kitchen, or watch one more episode of Lost, or nibble on his ear, or bury my face in his neck, or just feel him breathe. I’m not savoring up my family in some big dramatic scene; they’re just here, and they’re a happy distraction. I get caught up sometimes in just looking at them, watching Anna’s easy grace or catching Dan in an offhand moment and thinking, goodness, but he’s just more handsome with every bit of grey he takes on.
The shadow is that I have too many writing projects, too many ideas, too many things to sort out. I need to research the things I need to do for THE SEVENTH VEIL. I need to submit HERO. I want to write, both the other one I’ve picked up again and SMALL TOWN BOY, to say nothing of TEMPLE BOY. I want to practice writing short. I want to write more in my blog, and in my journal. I want to join forums. I’m lucky, some days, if I get anything done at all. But the light is that so much is happening, and so much might be happening soon, and more important than anything else, I feel at peace with everything that is and will be and might be. I don’t feel anxiety or anger or helplessness. I feel curious, and eager, and I even manage patience sometimes, too.
The shadow is that I am in a lot of pain, again. I’m maxing out on all the therapists, and leaning hard on the Vicodin (for me, that’s a pill and sometimes two a day, but that’s more than I want, and more than I’ve done in some time), and sometimes at the end of the day I have to just sit still and ride the hell. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it’s dull, but it’s always stealing my focus, to the point that at the end of the day I have to say things to myself, like, "Now we are shutting the doors and locking them. Now we are going to the stairs. Now we are washing our face. Now we are taking all the pain pills we can take, and something extra to sleep as well." It is part of the loss of organization. It’s part of my utter fail on my exercise program, because I know a long session will make my head spin. It saps my energy, and means that the one bike ride will wipe me for the day. Some days it is every damn weird condition I’ve ever had all packaged into one. And it’s all because I hunched when a car hit me at less than 20mph.
I can’t say "I don’t care," because it’s a pretty big shadow. But I’m not unhappy, and this is actually the easiest light to find. Tonight I finished a book, not my favorite in the world, but it was fun to read, and while I read it we cooked steak on the grill: free steak from my inlaws, and they were huge, big-as-a-cakepan steaks we knew we could never eat all in one go, so you could pork out and there would STILL be leftovers. We had green salad with it, mixed greens with spice and crunch and walnuts, mandarins, red onion, garlic ginger wontons, crumbled feta and white wine vinagrette. I made it myself, so not only was it the best damn salad since the last time I made salad, but it was my salad, that I made myself. While the steak cooked and I read, Anna flitted from the deck to the house and Dan went out for the ingredients to s’mores and a bottle of Pelligrino for me. I drank from the bottle, the whole bottle, while we ate steak until we were stuffed, then made s’mores and roasted marshmallows until we seriously had the most packed-in stomachs in the state. I finished my book, then read a book to Anna, then watched more TV with Dan while he, quite without even a hint, picked up my feet and rubbed them.
So that’s my zen. It’s hard to hold and it isn’t a life of roses and wonder, or at least not without the thorns and some parts you’d rather skip if given the choice. I always wanted peace, but never much liked the idea of a peace that looked mostly like someone being stoned. This is not stoned, nor bliss, nor anything more than it’s ever been. I am not finding beauty in the fact that my neck feels very swollen and sore, that I just can’t seem to shake it. Those marshmallows are going right to my belly. But I’m okay with it. Not loving it, but I’m down with it. There are just too many good things, and even when those pale a bit, there’s too many good things that might be coming, some I don’t even know about yet.
It’s just addictive, feeling good. You want to hold onto it, and you learn to milk whatever you get to find it. And after so many, many, many MANY years of whispering, "when this happens, I’ll be okay," to myself, over and over and over, for some reason the past three months have been "it’s okay right now," and pardon me, but I’m extending that out as long as possible. Life, lately, makes me want to laugh. Not in a Julie Andrews spins on a mountaintop way. Not in a let’s-tell-everybody way, except I guess for right now. But I’m not shouting and throwing rose petals. Actually, I’m feeling like my muscles down the front of my throat are heinously swollen, and I’m going to take the fully drug monty in two shakes. And I’m going to go to sleep telling myself, sternly, that tomorrow I WILL finish my PT exercises. No matter if it takes all day and if it hurts a bit. But I’ll also take photos of Anna and the school rabbit she’s babysitting until Wednesday, and take another ride on the bikes, maybe all the way to the swimming pool, and I’ll swim with Anna even though I don’t much care to swim most of the time, and I’ll take her to Target and buy her an aluminum water bottle like mine, and we’ll do some shopping, and Dan and I will finish that disk of Lost, and hopefully I can write a few more bits of the submission material for HERO, too.
So that, for me, is zen. Maybe not Zen, but it’s got a z on it at the very least, and it’s enough for this Iowa farm girl.