I just want to write a post script.
It’s funny how simple it all gets, and what devices can be used to help the pieces curve, slide, and lock into place.
Last night, it was cigarette tubes.
I like to roll my own smokes. I know there are plenty of people who call themselves lightworkers who have great judgments against smoking and smokers. This fascinates me, and, when in a park, happily smoking on my patch of grass, it always amuses me when someone walks by and makes sure they time their puny but powerful cough to coincide with marching, nearly imperceptibly seething, right past me.
Oh, how fragile you are, I think to myself. Oh, how certain you are of your beliefs, so certain, in fact, that you impinge upon my very behavior. Ooh, ok, I guess this means, this round, you win. Hope to do this again with you, when you feel it unnecessary to judge me. Keep coughing. There you go. Buh-Bye.
That’s how it goes for me, as these coughing people walk by, all trying to tell me how much I am hurting them, each of them punctuating their utter conviction that they are so fragile that a puff of smoke can undo them. I don’t agree, but I honor their beliefs and do not smoke in their presence. Whatever.
Anyhow, I roll my own smokes primarily because I don’t want to spend $50 on something I really only have to spend $15 on. I invested in a good rolling machine, and just a few days ago bought a luscious blend of regular, mint and pipe tobacco. I’ve been drying it in a huge bag since I bought it, and it’s dry enough to make smokes with.
I started to roll my smokes, but have only 100mm tubes, the long ones. And I cannot get my machine to cram the tobacco into the long tubes. Every ciggy I roll comes out a dud.
I felt so much rage last night, so much bitterness, so much inconsolability, because I couldn’t get my tubes to work. Here I have two boxes of 100mm tubes, no pre-rolled smokes, and no idea how to roll these things right.
Intensify this powerlessness by having just enough money to be turned away at the tobacco store if I were to go in there for a box of the short tubes I actually know how to work in my machine.
OK, here I sit, knowing I will want to smoke in a little while, having a huge bag of baccy and 200 tubes that are too long, so, no smokes for me.
I sat there and stewed in it for a good, long time.
And then it hit me.
All at once, it dawned on me, this is not an unfixable situation. It is like all the situations in my life. It requires just a tiny bit of openness to seeing things just a little differently.
What if, I thought, suddenly, what if I just take a short tube, put it up to the long tubes I can’t seem to get to work, and then cut the long tubes into shorter tubes?
How about that?
And then it was simple. From there, it all became clear.
The things I know to be true, about all the things I can have if I keep on in this vein, committed to awakening, to expression and to joy, maybe I have been withholding them from myself not because I am mean, bad, or broken, stupid or powerless or the evergreen victim. Maybe I just need to modify myself, change my definition, go from long to short, from nurse to writer, from I Refuse to I Will.
Maybe it really is that simple.
I see now that the last few weeks of crazy underemployment, this has not been something that has been done to me. I set it up so, in the final days, I would take a look around and say, gee, there really is nothing keeping me from trying.
And it’s not just the financial/energetic push I have recently felt that I am referring to, but a deeper sense of permission. There are those close to me, who have never really approved of me. Not really. So why on earth should I care if they approve of me now? Why give it a second thought? It’s a proven impossibility!
What if I do the things which they have always contended I cannot, should not do? And what if, in the final analysis, they never once uttered a word or constriction, a word of discouragement? What if I interpreted certain things that were said and done in the moment to stand for great truths that they themselves never had a hand in constructing? What if, in other words, it turns out they had my back.
Just look at the words I use when honestly describing the feeling states within these two realities. In this exercise, consider, if you are conflicted over a choice, to do this sort of word painting, maybe you’ll get gifts too.
NURSE: No one gets me. People suspect me. I am not allowed to speak openly and honestly. I am a threat to the status quo. Go along to get along. Focus on him, her, the one in the bed. Smile when they are hateful, rarely risk reminding them to speak kindly, take the abuse. Keep on doing tasks. Task, task, task, task, task. Neglect your needs for as long as you can, all of them, on every level. It’s not about you. It is about the person in the bed, the person you’re making money for, the relief you will feel next Thursday.
WRITER: Now what? I like that thought, let’s spend time on youtube researching. I like what my friend said about that thought. Let’s see how this will play out. I’d like to go meditate on Lookout Mountain. I wonder how to write a screenplay. I want to go take a walk. God, this group of writers is even weirder than I am, but they give themselves such glorious permission to be weird! Now, an essay about cigarette tubes? Really? Well, it may not be this particular piece that I wind up reading to an audience at Carnegie Hall, but I’m gonna help someone struggling, feeling alone, in a bathtub, almost ready to give up. And now, look! I get to meet all the people I look up to. Everyone understands and respects me here, and the ones who don’t still appreciate me. People get me.
You see, when I daily make the choice to put on my scrubs and go to work, this is what I am turning from, and toward. At least in my mind. At least until now.
The truth is, I spent a long time not wanting to love the nurse I became, and that’s pretty sad, because she gets hardly any love anyway. You will never know the kind of crap a nurse has to take just to keep her damn job. You will never know the degradation she willingly takes from her patients, the families, her colleagues, and, worst of all of them, her bosses. And how we all do it so willingly, so lovingly, and usually without complaint.
I turn to that sort of service and away from what lights my heart up every time I put on my uniform.
And that is getting harder and harder and harder to do. No wonder I feel such visceral relief when I am canceled. No wonder I feel heaviness the night before I have to work.
I am not going to live like that anymore.
I will pull shifts, but it is for a discrete amount of time, and it is solely for the purpose of keeping things afloat here, and for purchasing the very few tools left that I need to make this happen.
It matters not to me anymore if I fail miserably at writing. I know, given the sort of energetic feedback I have been getting, that this will not happen. It can’t. It’s just physics. It is not possible to fail.
That doesn’t mean that my success will look like what you imagine success to be. I know now that, for me, success is living the life in which I feel unfettered, and am in company with those who are similarly unshackled.
And that’s why I will be able to function in nursing just fine until the writing thing takes off. Because even there, now, I sense freedom.
I have never been a victim of circumstance. And this chorus of disapproval of which I speak, please know, they may very well see even this disapproval differently than how I interpreted it. I needed a prison from which to escape, a dramatic exit, a flourish and bow like a modern day Houdini. I wanted high art. I gave myself high art. I like action, surprise and plot twists. That’s what I spiked my punch with.
I can no longer take my reality for granted.
I am not willing to see the things/events/people/circumstances in my life as anything but holding the highest intent for me now. And never has anyone ever come into my reality and really harmed me. Oh, I can complain about the mistreatment, but how much of it did I imagine, just for effect, just for contrast? I may never know. Sure, harm was done, but to whom, on what levels, and to what end? The harm was the gift, the processing was the gift, and the resolution was the gift. I can’t stay mad. I can’t hold a grudge.
What I know now is that my reality can and will turn on a dime. I am in this moment, no other, and everything here glides effortlessly, and I can make just little tiny adjustments, but still, everything slides effortlessly into place. That is where I have come to be. A place of effortlessness. It’s all poetry and symbols now. It’s all metaphor and remembrance now.
As always, I have no idea what any of it will look like. Who am I to limit All That Is with my word-pictures? My pictures are markers, gongs that go off in my trunk, reminding me to take notice, that this is something, someone, somewhere that I really should remember from long ago, that this is where I need to go next. But how it all shakes out? Who knows? Who cares?
I have this moment, here. I have solved the smoke problem. I have figured out the beginning of the end of the nursing career. I have decided that the money will, must, take care of itself. I won’t, can’t worry on that now. I have enough to keep going. I have needs that must be met, I must apply myself and quickly, but it can and it must and it will get done! I will do it! I have begun! And the writing will come up, pull me in, and carry me forward, as it should, as it always was going to, and as I always feared it wouldn’t while fully and completely trusting that it always would.
And there is probably not one nurse I have worked with who will ever pick up a book of mine, but that’s ok. They were never my intended audience. They were just keeping me company until I found the courage to sing a song in a cadence and language I didn’t even understand.
Funny how, once I began to simply hum it, ever so softly, and came to know this was a good song, even though it was an original, funny how now there are others singing with me, harmony is filling my days and my nights, whether dressed in jammies or scrubs, and I have never been happier.
So, I will solve problems by standing them on their heads, and sometimes I see now, it doesn’t hurt to turn myself upside down, just to gain a different perspective, just to see that the problem is just that. It is not a knife to my throat. It’s not a threat of exile. These are leaps of faith, these problems. And whether it’s doing the obvious and making my smoke tubes the length they want to be, or getting a refurbished printer and cranking out a book proposal, it’s just working in an original way with the same old materials.
Micro to macro, macro to micro. Am I, when all is said and done, someone who hangs out at night with The Teachers and Bashar? Could I be one of them? Could I be someone they go to when they need help? And could it be that there are miracles afoot, identities and habits and cycles lying broken and blessed on the ground? And is it not so that I am deeply loved, richly blessed, cared for and nurtured beyond my current comprehension?
If all I choose to see is mercy, joy and peace,how can my problems only turn out to be harbingers of mercy, joy and peace? Discovery, joy, surprise and laughter? Knowing and clarity and simplicity and great depth?
And if all of that is true, how can my problems not, whenever I say so, be solved?