Notes on the Journey

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Live Strong

I'm damaged.  It's 46 degrees in Albuquerque and I think it's warm.  I've even got the door to the balcony open.  In California, this would be cold.  I think my blood has gotten thicker.  And, five thousand feet seems normal; except I'm still trying to work out the effects the altitude has on cooking and baking.

I've been cooking.  Amazing for me.  I haven't cooked to any extent for over thirty years.  When I was working, I didn't have time.  And, when I was off, I didn't want to.  The mentality when I was off work was to enjoy every second of it and rest as much as possible, because when the next job came, I wouldn't have a second to myself.  But now, I have time and I'm actually enjoying being in the kitchen and cooking.  My friend, Judi, gave me a series of cooking lessons for Christmas and it's been so much fun learning to cook and trying things out.  There's something very Zen about cooking...washing, chopping, mixing, stirring.  And, it's so satisfying when it turns out well and tastes delicious.

But, I do find cooking for other people to be more fun than just cooking for myself.  Plus, when I cook for myself, there's usually too much food, and I'm not always able to eat it before it starts to go bad.  I'm learning to freeze things, which is also new for me; and, particularly helpful when I end up with too much food.  I'm getting ready to bake bread.  I've pulled out some recipes and my friend, Mary Karen, who makes the most delicious bread, has given me her recipe, so now it's time to try it.

I made bread in my early twenties in my hippie days, but it never turned out that well.  It was very dense and the loaves were always too small.  I think I didn't get the rising and punching down part right.  But now, I'm ready to try again.  Hopefully, my touch will have improved with age.

I've felt very solitary lately, and spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking has been very nurturing.  My adjustment to not working in the way I'm used to is still an ongoing process.  I've got this misconception about how at some point the adjustment will end and I'll get into some kind of groove with it, but I think not.  I think the process of living, which is what it is, will continue unabated, and that the adjustment to what each day presents will be a constant unknown.  It's very 3D of me to think that at some point I'll know what's supposed to happen every day; to think that my adjustment to being retired from script supervising is a finite thing.

The truth is, there is no normal, there never has been.  There is no end to adjustment to daily life, and no known future stretching out before me.  But, there is more comfort with the unknown, and I like being able to create each day as I want depending on what shows up or how I feel.  I still struggle somewhat with guilt over what I "should" be doing instead of what I am doing, but I'm getting better with that.

I watched the Lance Armstrong interviews with Oprah on television the last couple of nights.  His mistakes are huge, but we've all made huge mistakes.  The difference is that his process is playing out on the world stage.  We've all lied.  Maybe not to the extent he did, but we've done it none the less.  We've all hurt and betrayed people, sometimes knowing we were doing it, and sometimes doing it out of ignorance and unconsciousness.  And, many of us have doped; maybe not in competitive sports in order to gain an advantage, but doped none the less.  And, we've all done things we knew were wrong in order to gain an advantage.  We've all been in denial in any number of ways.  It takes courage for any of us to come clean after perpetuating a lie, but it takes particular courage to come clean on the level that Lance Armstrong is doing it.

I'm amazed that the interview with Oprah went over two nights and lasted for two and a half hours.  After watching it, I felt it was a bit over done.  Too fine a point had been put on it.  Too much public humiliation had happened.  Digging for details of the offenses and asking how he feels and what he's said to his children seemed overly invasive.  I thought he handled himself very well under what must have been intense pressure, but he's honed that skill over a lifetime.  All he can really say is that he lied and acted very badly and hurt a lot of people and reiterate over and over how sorry he is for doing it.  Coming into consciousness and taking responsibility for his past transgressions is probably not enough for a lot of people though.  We tend to want to punish people for their mistakes, to make sure they're feeling enough shame and guilt over what they've done.  This behavior makes the recovery very difficult for whoever is being crucified in the moment.  But, I do feel that Lance Armstrong has the ability to recover and live a different life, no matter how hard people would like to make it for him to do so.

Lance Armstrong has had two big wakeup calls in his life...cancer, and the revelation of his lying and doping.  How many wakeup calls have we all had?  I've had multiple wakeup calls, and I can't say I've always paid attention to them, which is why they've come again and again and gotten worse and worse until I did.  Who of us is able to throw the stone?  Truthfully, none of us.  We would all do much better to take what's happening to Lance Armstrong to heart, look within and heal the things we each have to heal than to point fingers at him.  Anyone who plays out this type of drama on the world stage is doing it for all of us.  Before the lies and doping came to light, he was living the life that many people would like to have had.  He was showing us what was possible, showing us what any of us could accomplish with hard work, focus and concentration.  And now, that everything has fallen apart, he's showing us what we all need to heal.  He's showing us another kind of courage.

It's easy to look at Lance Armstrong and think he's a bad person, but he's not.  He did some very damaging things, both to himself and to other people, but that doesn't make him a bad person.  We can't throw the baby out with the bath water.  But, it's what we tend to do with people.  We love to label people as good or bad or selfish or...whatever...choose your adjective.  And, once we've decided someone is bad, we're done with them.  But, doing a bad thing does not a bad person make.  We've all done bad things.  Life isn't black and white, good and bad, right and wrong.  Life is complicated and messy and hurtful and sometimes hard to figure out, and the worst things can, and often do, have silver linings if we look for them.

Lance Armstrong has a long journey ahead of him and a lot of personal work to do, but so do we all.  And, opening our hearts in compassion to him in the shared process of coming into greater awareness, will only help all of us.  If we can open our hearts, even when things are difficult, then we're well on the way to having better lives.

So, let's open to and utilize the lessons Lance Armstrong is highlighting for all of us.  Let's open our hearts.  Let's Live Strong.

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