Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stumbling Blocks

A lack of confidence is the heaviest anchor we can put on our creativity." I heard this comment made by one of the judges on "So You Think You Can Dance" q few years back and thought it was flowing over the brim with wisdom. I think it applies to all of living. A lack of confidence is the heaviest anchor to much of what we experience.

There is a trait that I admire so much in others and strive every day to increase the capacity for in myself. Wild abandon. I have a son who laughs with wild abandon...no inhibitions. I have a husband who plays with wild abandon...no fear. I have a daughter who loves with wild abandon...no holding back. I have a son who races toward every goal with wild abandon...no hesitation. I have a son who jumps into life head first with wild abandon...no restrictions. I have a son who protects with wild abandon...no thought of consequence. I love it!

All of this speaks of confidence to me. Confidence that what they believe in is right, who they love will love in return, who they protect is worthy of any sacrifice, that stretching the limits of their capabilities is a worthwhile way to occupy their time and expend their energy, that they can reach the goal and win the race, that life will hold them by the hand or grab them by their hair, fill their memories with bright moments, and fill their minds to the brink of genius.

Me? Where do I fit into all of this? I used to be a lot like that. Somewhere along the path, I took a turn and ended up sitting on the bleachers. Too often I am a happy spectator. I am an easily contented person. And I'm learning that there is a fine line between contentment and complacency, and that it is too easy to believe that a lack of confidence is not hiding behind a veil of contentment.

I so admire my family and others who live with a pinch of recklessness, who let the adrenaline flow freely and step into each day's activities with gusto. I look up to those among us who don't always think through where an adventure will lead them, or stop to consider who will pick up the hat they toss in the relationship ring. I love it when I see my children offer their hearts to friendship without expectation of being given as much as they are willing to give.

I spent too many years being a tad too fearful, being overly concerned with the reactions and opinions of people who were merely passing through my life. Now that I am on the twilight side of the hill... I yearn to feel the excitement that made my heart beat faster when I was younger. I think it's time to toss the restrictive bonds that a lack of confidence has bound me with in the last not so few years, kick off my shoes and run through the wildflowers in my barefeet... without thinking about the spiders that may be lurking in the grass. I want to feel the sun on my face and not worry about what wrinkles it may cause. This fall I will inhale the aroma of burning leaves and not be concerned with how smoky my clothes will smell, or if a spark will sputter out as it bleeds through my shirt sleeve. I will approach strangers with a smile, and an interest in what they have to tell me...to teach me. I will laugh till tears fall, dance in the aisles of the grocery store, and sing to my waiter when he delivers pizza to our table. I will taste more, hear more, see more, be more.

Because of all things we attempt to create while mortals, the creation of lasting relationships should be of highest import, the list of friendships we create should be long...very, very long. And, even as a woman of "artistic" bent who has made heirloom Santa's and nutcrackers and other "artsy, crafty" things for my posterity, I believe that our own characters, our own life stories, not just well written... but well LIVED, should be pre-eminent in those things we create. We will, after all, take only our character and intelligence with us when we step through the veil. And of all that we leave behind as a legacy to those that loved us, our life stories will be held most dear.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's in a word?

What's in a word? What does that mean, anyway? Lots of things are in a word. Words evoke emotions in us and can spur us to action or lull us into inaction. ie: emotions and actions such as love, anger, regret, forgiveness, anxiety, excitement, comfort, sorrow, laughter...

A favorite word of mine is "amae". It's a Japanese word (pronounced ah-mah-ay), which means "the expectation to be sweetly and indulgently loved" Is that beautiful or what? And isn't it really what we all wish for?

I came across this expression and the ideas that accompany it years ago in a magazine article. I wish I could remember what magazine. At any rate, the article discussed the way we in America put such a high premium on "independence", how we're taught to strive for the supreme acheievement of being able to stand on our own. Not that that's an entirely bad thing. But, it does close us off somewhat to the possibility of being "sweetly and INDULGENTLY loved". The way a baby is loved, the way we love our babies. The way nearly every woman on the planet dreams of being loved by her husband. The way women so often express love for one another in time tested and time worn friendships.

What's in a word? In the word "amae" I see hope. A vision. A way of loving to aspire to.

I watched my daughter sweetly and induldgently love her husband last night. It was so touching. He had surgery yesterday and was in such pain... he suffers from anxiety and his pain meds made his heart race to the point that his anxiety, coupled with the side effects of Lortab, kept him up all night. She put a cloth to his face, rubbed his shoulders, helped him take deep breaths, repositioned his newly pinned and wired leg on pillows... she spoke softly, played his favorite music for him, and gave up sleeping herself to see him through the night. When she came dragging out of the bedroom this morning, it was to bring him some juice and fresh fruit, to call his doctor for guidance in how she could bring him more comfort....and to mow the lawns so he wouldn't worry about it not getting done while he was laid up.

I've watched the way he sweetly and indulgently loves her since the day they first met. He has been the answer to a mother and father's prayer that their daughter would be protected and cared for throughout her life. They have come to depend on one another for this exchange of tenderness. They each feel precious and cherished. They experience amae in their lives.

So... what's in a word? Ahhhh..in amae I see fulfillment, security, and contentment.