The Imperfection in the Tapestry

Those times of depression tell you that it’s either time to get out of the story you’re in and move into a new story, or that you’re in the right story but there’s some piece of it you are not living out. — Carol S. Pearson

I had heard for years that Indigenous American weavers purposely wove an imperfection into their tapestries to show their humility. God was perfect. They were not. Then I read somewhere, someplace, sometime that no, it wasn’t about humility. The intentional imperfection allowed life to come through.

I like to think that our lives are tapestries, with each experience changing the warp and woof, giving a rich texture to our life stories.

We are smack dab in the middle of staging our house for sale, which means we are ridding it of the tapestry that was us. Tom’s 7000 (that’s not a typo) classical CDs are packed, as is our collection of 3000 (also not a typo) DVDs. The pieces of art and craft we have gathered over the years are being carefully wrapped, packed, and stored until the final move. My writing shed is not longer my writing shed, though it will be where I write once the staging is complete.

I will create a new writing shed when we reach our final home in Sequim. In the meantime, writing shed has become a state of mind for me.

I started this blog so I could change my story.

My generation was the great believer in closure. Where my parents ignored, stuffed, guarded secrets, let shame isolate them, I dug up buried secrets, analyzed them, learned that that which seemed shameful was shared humanity.

I thought I would understand and by understanding would be able to unravel the parts of the tapestry that had haunted me, press a delete button for those parts of my life that were painfully without understanding.

During that last eleven years in my hometown Tom’s dad died, my mentor died, our beloved cat was killed by a car. My mother died.

I spent a good deal of the time trying to undo the loss of innocence I experienced when my uncle molested me, and in so doing, lost even more innocence. In a way, I hit bottom. Bottom is a good place. It shows you the boundary. I learned that trust is about boundaries. Mine. It is up to me to set them, protect them, and act when they are violated.

It occurred to me that until that moment I sat on my uncle’s lap, laps were a safe place, a refuge, a sign that I had found home. I think a good portion of my life I have been trying to get back home.

I did find home when I returned to my hometown. The home that is me—my life. I became my own refuge. I also found my family. Tom and his children and grandchildren. They are the children and grandchildren of my heart.

Uncovering secrets, shedding light on shame, analyzing, attempting to understand are all good things. They do not, however, give one closure.

Life doesn’t give us that. What it gives us experience. As we live and love, we cross paths with humans whose warp and woof reflect a wide realm of human experiences. Some have been damaged by their experience. Others have learned compassion.

We can direct the warp and woof of our tapestry. If our aim is perfection, it lacks texture. It is lifeless. If we let our experience change it, we learn to endure and celebrate.

Experience. It is the imperfection in the tapestry that let’s our life through.

Mature Women Wanted

Mature Women Wanted
Link posted on Craigslist, Gigs:Talent

So I’ve been wondering how to market myself and there it was on Craigslist: Mature Women Wanted.

Could it be more clear?

There’s a new book out titled Too Big to Fail that documents the bailouts last year that brought our economy back from the precipice. I believe the bailouts did indeed bring us back from the precipice.

But . . .

We, in the form of the powers that be (not even sure who they are at this point), didn’t learn the lesson. Or at least didn’t ask the right question: How did we get to the precipice in what seemed like overnight?

Bailing out a drunk, drug addict, or gambling addict, because they are too big to fail just sets them loose to get drunk, use drugs, or gamble another day and they always end up at the precipice once again – and expect someone else to rescue them.

Oh, and along the way they gobble up the money, so when it comes time to pay for necessities (oh, like health care, food, shelter, education), there isn’t any left.

We need a new economic system. That was Michael Moore’s point in Capitalism, a Love Story.

The fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the failures of communism. Twenty years later, the fall of Wall Street signaled the failures of capitalism.

We might not need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but, we definitely need to identify the failures of capitalism. I think its biggest failure has been its denial of interdependence.

If you’re too big to fail, than you are dependent on those who are smaller than you to prop you up. Which means you really aren’t that big or productive; you’re just all puffed up. And like George Amberson Minafer, you need to receive your comeuppance in order to mature.

I’ve seen a version of this dysfunction play out with a friend of mine who has been battling the local school district to advocate for her autistic daughter.

The local school district has a one-size-fits-all approach to autism, which seems to be built on the premise that autism is a disease that should be approached much like leprosy was in Biblical times.

The autism class in Livermore comprises thirteen students from the ages of 5 to 9 – kindergarten to third grade. Try putting “normally” functioning children into this situation and you would have problems.

But when you compound that with the different brain wiring of children with autism, you get a train wreck – or to be poetic – a cluster fuck. The special needs of these children, such as sensory needs, are treated as inconvenience for the autism class. If a child’s unique sensory needs are not met, he or she is punished for the resulting behavior.

For you and me, it would be as if someone had locked us in a windowless room for 3 days, turned on a light, cranked up the heaviest metal music they could find, and left the light burning and the music blaring for the entire seventy-two hours –– then accused us of being an animal because we reacted to the lack of sleep and sensory overload.

Frankly, I don’t think any of the students fit the size. But my friend’s daughter definitely doesn’t, and instead of trying to meet her needs, they have labeled her as a wild rabid animal.

I see these two issues – enabling the greediness of the too-big-to-fail – and my local school district’s philosophy about autism – as symptoms of the same thing:

Fear of compassion and failure of imagination.

Compassion means the willingness to bear suffering – to feel what it is to be in the skin of the other who is suffering.

Imagination – well, as John Lennon pointed out, we don’t fly across the country because of the Wright brothers, we fly because for generations humankind imagined what it would be like to fly.

Fierce individualism is an American trait. It has its value. But the truth is we are interdependent. We are born alone and we die alone, but in between we rely on the tribe of humankind and the earth, its inhabitants and the ecosystem to live and thrive.

So we need a new paradigm and with it a new economic system – one that values imagination and compassion and recognizes interdependence.

Mature women definitely needed here.

Dragons Never Fear to Tread

I was quite pleased with my post yesterday, where I waxed poetic about slaying my dragon. Then my friend Jim pointed out that dragons have a different meaning in Eastern mythologies. They represent raw power.

I was annoyed with him for disturbing my moment of satisfaction with having slain my dragon. Jim often annoys me because he forces me (okay no one forces anyone to do anything) to dig deeper with his well-maybe-not style of questioning.

I want to dismiss these questions by assigning them to the cynicism bin – where they are sent to be disposed of with no regard for what they might mean to me. I think cynicism is the flip side of a coin that has cynicism on one side and sentimentality on the other. Cynicism annoys me because it, in my opinion, dismisses things by assigning them to bins where they are sent to be disposed of with no regard for what they might mean to the cynic.

I hate when I impale myself on my own prejudices.

So, today I did a bit more googling about dragons and found this interesting link to a site called Dragon Tango. It’s about a sound sculpture that depicts Eastern and Western dragons meeting. Here’s from the Website:

During a trip to Asia in 1994 Amanta and David were in Hong Kong gazing out over the mountains of Kowloon. Kowloon means “nine dragons”. Their thoughts came to rest upon the contradictory and mysterious nature of dragons worldwide. Amanta and David wondered: what does the dragon mean in today’s world? What would happen if an eastern dragon met a western dragon? The dragon quest began.

Dragon Tango

Check out the link. It’s very interesting.

Then I remembered the movie “Dragonheart.” The story tells the tale of the last dragon joining with a disillusioned dragon-slaying knight to stop an evil king who was granted the potential to be immortal. I love this movie. For one thing, Sean Connery is the voice of the dragon and, of course, a dragon would sound like Sean Connery. That is embedded deep in our DNA, probably from the time we lived in caves.

And, I loved it because of how sympathetic the dragon was.

So, I still trust what I wrote yesterday. But maybe there is more.

I think what I was trying to get to is change and how we deal with it. I’ve heard people laugh that horses are so stupid they run into a burning barn. But they do that because that has been their home—what is familiar to them.

And, oh my, if we humans don’t go running into the burning barn time after time. We seek the familiar, even when the familiar is not good for us (think bad relationship number four), because it is comfortable. We know what to expect. We know that story. We suck it up and ignore whatever pain that story might be causing us because it no longer fits—like a pair of shoes we have outgrown.

I think we rarely move easily into change. I think we are usually catapulted into it by life events and for me, it usually means facing the dragon’s breath and letting its fire burn away what is no longer useful. I don’t go willingly into change.

I think that the point of facing the dragon is to show a willingness to be transformed by change. And that slaying the dragon with compassion (if that is the mythic image one is using at the moment) means understanding that the dragon is sacrificing itself so change can happen, much as we die because—well, there just isn’t enough room on the planet for us to be immortal.

I just became the dramaturge for the play “Metamorphoses” at Los Positas. It is a wonderful play. It includes this line of dialogue:

“Transform me entirely, let me step out of my own heart.”

So I must thank my friend Jim for annoying me—making me feel discomfort. I suspect he will annoy me again.

I have known Jim for close to fifty years. His mother was my mother’s best friend. I know she misses my mother. The downside of living a long time is you live long enough to miss your loved ones.

What I Want to Say

The first assignment in my Literary Hybrid class at last year’s Iowa Summer Writing Festival was to write a list that responds to the question, “What do you want to say?”

I wrote down favorite product instructions (and, yes, they really are product instructions):

For best results use joy.

Let go before you think you should.

And then Isabelle Allende’s comment that experience is what you get right after you need it.

Which led to . . .

I’m approaching 60—the age, not the speed limit—and it’s making me think. More like churn. About my life. And what it means to be alive. And what it means to be authentic.

Even if I live to 106, like my great grandfather.

Or 99, like my grandmother.

Or 83, like my mother.

For best results use joy.

Let go before you think you should.

Experience is something you get right after you need it.

That’s what I want to say today.

What do you want to say today?