Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The orange tree in my backyard is blossoming. It smells like peace.

O! Blessed Inspiration!

Last Saturday was Earth Hour. I observed it alone.

I did not know how this would go. The notion of an hour of darkness appealed to me as a notion. Such an hour would force creativity. Friends would connect over conversation instead of television. Lovers would have few options other than to get close. Clever games would be invented, secrets shared, candles lit. But all of these virtues required the presence of another person. And last Saturday, at 8:30 p.m., I was alone. What's more, it was my first evening alone since the break-up. I had not wanted to give myself too much solitude, out of fear that I would reflect too much and therefore analyze too much and therefore obsess too much. But now I had to be alone with myself in the dark for one full hour.

I lit the collection of candles gathered on my kitchen table, trying not to notice that the only matches I had were from the pub where I occasionally met the fellow (the one I just lost) for drinks. I stole my brother's yellow writing pad, found a pen with a nice glide, filled a wine glass with water, and--at exactly 8:30 p.m.--shut off the lights.

I thought I was going to write a story about a young woman facing a dark room after heartbreak. But as I poised my pen over the paper, I realized I was burned out on writing stories about young women like me. So at the last moment, I took the dark room with the shuttering candlelight and put someone else in it. Someone completely different. Someone who had never made so direct an appearance in anything I'd written before.

And in that hour of writing someone else's story, I managed to be honest with myself without obsessing. When my phone alarm went off at 9:30, I kept the lights off for another thirty minutes, not wanting to interrupt what had begun so unexpectedly. I had found something sacred and rare. It was one of those moments when the story rises up from some place within, some place I hadn't thought to look. The character spoke without my guidance, the action came and went without force. It was natural and it was necessary.

It was also poorly written. Which is why I am working on it still. Nevertheless, the story excites me. More importantly, the heart of the story excites me. Which brings me to my bit of gratitude for the day.

All day today, I thought about my story. I work as a personal assistant, and I had one of those days--as I occasionally do--where 90% of the work I was asked to do is fairly mindless . . . folding laundry, stuffing envelopes, etc . . . Last week, days like today threatened to turn my mind into a churning stew of what-if's and if-only's. Not so today!

Thank goodness gracious, not so today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Of Heartache And Pockets . . .

My heart broke last Monday night.

And that's all I'll say about it. I've outlined the breaking of my heart to too many people this week for it to be theraputic anymore, and anyway, the last thing I want is to create a blog that exists for the purpose of pressing my woes on to the world. This blog is not about heartbreak. This entry isn't even about heartbreak. It's about the healing of heartbreak. Or no, you know what? I'm going to go one step further and say that this entry is about the joy that results from heartbreak.

When I lost this fellow, I called on very nearly every friend I have. And very nearly every friend I have responded with massive, wide-open hearts.

My brother, with whom I have dissected and analyzed everything from the role of religion in politics to what it means when your ex changes his/her myspace profile song, sat with me to dissect and analyze the nature of heartache.

My friend Ryan allowed me to pull him away from his writing to watch nine episodes of Futurama. Nine.

Alo, whose schedule does not mesh well with mine, checked on me regularly until we could find a time to talk, at which point he gave me some of the best relationship advice of my life.

Angie talked to me on the phone for a good hour or so, promising prayers and support while I healed and then distracting me with conversation about how rare and remarkable our friendship is.

Frazzini called me immediately and offered to meet me somewhere to sit and listen to my ranting and wailing (never mind the fact that she lives half a land mass away.)

Bruce stayed up way past his bedtime to share what he's learned about love.

Nora carved time out of her Friday night (an evening usually spent with her boyfriend) to drink tea and listen to my story, carefully offering some advice, but generally just validating my feelings and sharing the occasional insight.

Drew didn't tell me much about any of it, only that he understood. Then he watched The Office with me.

Jill distracted me with funny stories about her weekend.

Jackie, who had not heard from me in a year or so, immediately called me back and listened to the whole story, responding--as she always has--with nothing but heart and understanding.

By the time the week was up, I felt so blessed. The hurt is still there, absolutely, but with each conversation, I feel a small bubble of peace, which gradually expands into a safe little pocket of joy. Now, all these little pockets of joy are crowding out the sacs of pity and regret. Heartache is confronted by Gratitude. I'm not expecting a pure victory for Gratitude and its Pockets, but I can't help but notice what a difference it makes.

I've been wanting to start a themed blog for a while, but I haven't been able to commit to a theme . . . until now. I'd like to make a practice of Gratitude. And this will be my practice. This little bloggy thing here. This is where I will come to be grateful.

Starting now.

So to everyone who came running when I called this week, thank you. It meant so much.