If you keep asking questions you’ll keep getting answers

My therapist always warns me about asking “why”. I remember the first time he did it and even back then I knew why asking why was a bad idea. Why questions tend to lead to more why questions and rarely result in helpful answers.  My therapist just wants me to be happy, to be content, and asking why is not the way to get there. I know that, but I still say…

So What!

I’m not seeking contentment. I”m not seeking happiness. I’m seeking the truth.  For that I would rather follow the advice of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. She says is fond of saying, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” These are words to live by. Yes, there is wisdom to be found even in children’s programming and Magic School Bus is one of my favorites. I watched it all the time with my kids when they were young and I’ve recently started watching it again with a three year old friend of mine.

He’s really into the episode about the Haunted House so I’ve watched it probably half a dozen times. In this episode, Carlos is trying to build a musical instrument.  Try as he might, his instrument still sounds loopy. He doesn’t know what he did wrong. He doesn’t know what he is going to do to fix it. The only advice Miss Frizzly has is, “Well, if you keep asking questions, Carlos, you’ll keep getting answers.”

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately and I have been getting a lot of answers although most of them have not been that helpful. My biggest questions are, “Why is my best friend not talking to me?” and “Why is my daughter not talking to me?” These are difficult questions to answer when the person with the answer isn’t talking to me. Logic would suggest that I just give it up, let it go, get on with my life… but I don’t. I just keep asking more questions.

Why can’t I move on?

Why do I care?

Why do I believe what I believe?

Why do I like what I like?

Why do I do what I do?

Why can’t I stop asking questions?

This is the behaviour of someone who is searching. This is the behaviour of someone who is missing something. But what am I missing? I have everything I need, in fact I have more than I need so why do I still feel this hole in my soul?

Well, I think that I have finally found the answer… and no, it is not helpful but it is the truth.

It’s an answer for which I have been searching nearly forty-seven years. It’s an answer which has been there the whole time but one which I have never allowed myself to look at.  It’s an answer I haven’t been able to look at until now. It’s an answer I have probably been training my entire life to receive. It’s an answer which could not be found by asking. There is no way to find this answer. It had to come to me which is strange because it is not something that is out there. It is something that is in me. It is something so basic to who I am. It is what burns at the core of my being. It is something so primal that there is no language to explain it. It is not an answer that I could find by thinking. It is something that I needed to feel.

You see, I was put up for adoption at birth. That not really a big deal. It’s certainly no great revelation. I grew up knowing that I was adopted. I understand a lot of the implications of being adopted. Adopted people tend to have more problems than the general population and the reasons for this are pretty straight forward. There are always those questions about where we come from. There is an understanding that someone who is considering putting a child up for adoption is likely to have a stressful pregnancy. We know that stress can affect fetal development. Open adoption has worked to remedy some of these issues but there is still something more going on. There is still something that we don’t want to look at. We are still told that adoption is a beautiful wonderful thing. It takes a child who needs a home and places that child in a home that needs someone to love.

What could be more beautiful than that?

We could stop asking questions right now and just go along our merry way and if you want to be happy, I highly recommend doing just that. Stop reading right here because you don’t want to know what I am about to tell you.

What really happens to a child when that child is put up for adoption?

This is not a question which can be answered through observation. The adoption process is very personal. The child has no memory of the birth. Well… at least no explicit memory. But I was there. I did go through this experience and recently I became able to remember. But it’s not your typical memory. There are no details, there are no pictures, there are no words. It’s more like a psychic connection. This memory has been sitting inside of me all along without me being able to understand it. Somehow, through the course of everything that I have been through I am now able to decode it. I am now able to give it words.

This is what happened to me. This is how my life began and this is why I have spent my entire life searching. I remember life before I was born. I remember being in utero. That womb was my entire universe. My mother was the be all and end all of everything. Upon my birth my universe disappeared. Everything I ever knew, everything that made any sense, was gone. You might say that this experience is not unique. Every child goes through this at the point of birth and I would not refute that. We have all been through this trauma and it’s probably the greatest trauma we will ever experience until we die.  It is probably a good thing that we don’t remember it.

But my trauma was different. The trauma of birth for an adopted child is different. I never got to be held by my universe. I never got to connect with my world. I never got to experience all that my time in utero was preparing me for. I was born to a foreign world, surrounded by aliens.

Anyway, now I understand it and that is pretty fucking cool. Now I know the trauma that I have experienced and I can begin to heal… if I want to. I’m not sure I do. I now understand that I have this huge gaping wound but you know what? It has served me pretty well. Sure, it makes me more sensitive to pain but so what? At least it’s real… and it’s mine.

—–

I was given something else to think about yesterday. It was suggested that I could get more of what I want and cause a lot less trouble if I just kept my mouth shut. That is really good advice. I’m actually pretty good at keeping my mouth shut I would rather not. I would rather just share everything that is on my mind. I guess that is where this blog comes from. Still, along with my insistence on asking questions, speaking my mind has probably caused ninety-nine percent of my problems. I’m pretty sure that my best friend would still be talking to me if I had learned when to keep my mouth shut. Also, I might have to quit drinking if I want to practice keeping my mouth shut. Those two things don’t seem to go together very well.

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You are only as good as everything you are

An old friend of mine, someone I haven’t hung out with in far too long, someone that has been on my mind a lot lately, was fond of saying, “You’re only as good as your last record.” It’s an expression used in the music business but their are similar ones for athletes, actors, writers and I guess, just about anybody.

I’ve been aware of this sentiment for a long time. The line was used in the Bachman – Turner Overdrive song, “Rock Is My Life, and This Is My Song” off the first album I ever bought with my own money, Not Fragile.

bachmanturneroverdrive-notfragile-cover

This was not their last record but it was by far their best. To me, Bachman – Turner Overdrive will always be as good as this. Unfortunately, Randy Bachman and crew did not see it this way and by the time I actually saved up enough money to buy, Not Fragile, the band was all but done. I don’t know if it was the industry’s belief that you are only as good as your last record or that the band had bought into that bullshit.

And yes, I do consider it bullshit! When we judge people based on their last action, their most recent failure; we are not seeing the whole person as a whole person and we are fucking up.

We all fuck up so don’t freak out. But if we can’t recognize when we fuck up we can’t get better. And you know what? Getting better doesn’t happen without fucking up. I know that there are people who aren’t interested in getting better. That’s fine, I don’t always feel like getting better either. Change is scary, but change is inevitable. Getting better means admitting that we aren’t the best, and for some of us, that sucks.

Well, let me go on record as saying that you are the best YOU (at this moment, in this time) that you can be. You are a product of your successes and your failures and you are worth every one of them. You were born, you are alive, and you have the same right to be here as everyone else. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

But you are more than that; you have the capacity for change. You are also the victim of change. If you aren’t pushing for getting better, you will get worse. But even if you try to get better you might fail. If you try to get worse you actually have a better chance at success.

But, that is your choice.

There is no staying the same.

I hope that you will try to be better even if it means failure. I still have the words of Yoda ringing in my head, “Do or do not. There is no try!” I’ve been busy just doing what I do but maybe that is bullshit as well. Maybe it’s time for me to do something new. Maybe it’s time for me to boldly go where I have never gone before.

What happens next

The future has arrived. I am now sitting in that point in time which I have long anticipated; long feared. I woke to frost on the ground and snow is anticipated this evening. Winter is here.

For the next four months I will be focusing on divesting of almost everything I own. I will be preparing to sell my house in the spring and I will be recording my music and preparing a live solo show. I have many loose ends to tie up and much to create in preparation for my new life.

I have no time for distractions.

So why did I just learn that Thomas Dolby is in town tonight? I feel like I have been so out of touch. Whether that has been intentional or coincidental it has served to my benefit. Granted, no matter what I do, I am going to be far more unaware than aware so the key to success must be in paying attention to the right things. That sounds like a formidable challenge to say the least. While I may never know the true cost of my ignorance, I continually find myself aware of things that only seem to cause me harm.

But can I actually control my awareness to make things better, or should I be grateful for any awareness I possess considering how rare it is? Ignorance may be bliss but so is death. If I’m going to commit to life any aspiration for ignorance seems antithetical to life.

Awe, but awareness does not necessitate action. I can still make a choice or I can choose to not decide and allow time to take it’s toll. But isn’t that an action? Perhaps action is unavoidable. Perhaps it’s only intention that matters. I intend to live so I guess I’m going to do whatever happens next.

Choices

I don’t know why I decided to try writing right now. I don’t know if I have enough time but I probably do. I probably have just enough. I have two hours before leaving for Duluth but I still need to shower and get packed. I’m taking some comfort in the fact that Venus is almost always late but no matter what I’m going to be scrambling up to the last minute. Whatever I decide to do, something is going to be left by the wayside. Is this really the most important thing to do with my time?

Last night was Halloween and what was suppose to be my last pedicab shift for the season but I had a personal request from a customer to drive them after the Vikings game next Thursday so I agreed to come in one more time. It’s not so much that I have a hard time saying “no”, it’s more that I have a propensity to say “yes”. It’s how just about everything in my life has come into being, but it’s also how I wind up feeling overwhelmed.

Even working last night seemed barely worth it. It was cold and rainy and I worked my ass off. I hardly slept last night in anticipation of today but it was probably worth it if only because the alternative would have been worse. Halloween is my favorite holiday and for many years I spent it partying my ass off. I believe working my ass off is better even as I’m struck with nostalgia. Halloween last year was the best! I also remember playing a Halloween show at the old Uptown Bar… but I digress.

I’m trying to decide if I should bring my laptop to Duluth. I don’t need it. Chances are I won’t even have time to get online or write but what if something amazing happens and I really want to capture the moment? NO, I’ve never heard of pen and paper. Anyway, I probably will, just in case.

Time to hop in the shower and wash off the rest of last night’s makeup…

Stress is a part of life

I have four chronic illnesses. All are exacerbated by stress. As a result, I put a premium on reducing the amount of stress in my life. Still, not all stress can be avoided. Not all stress should be avoided. Some stress is actually beneficial. Sometimes a crisis is just what we need to move forward. Picking and choosing what stress to take on and which crises to entertain can be a challenge and is stressful. Today is a day of that kind of stress. I don’t mind that kind of stress because I know if I handle it well it will mean less stress in the long run.

 

What do I want?

I recently heard an author state that the first ingredient to story telling is that the character needs to want something. It doesn’t matter what it is. I could be a glass of milk but as long as the character is seeking something the reader will follow to see if they get it.

Well, I’m the main character in this story so what is it that I want?

That’s not as easy of a question to answer as one might think. It is the question that sits front and center in my brain today yet I do not have a clear answer.

Theoretically, I have the day off so I am free to seek whatever I want. I say theoretically because when you are an independent self-employed artist type you never really have a day off. Also, when you deal with chronic illness and injury you never get a day off. Every day I am seeking something. I am seeking understanding, I am seeking fulfillment, I am seeking purpose and I am seeking connection.

Today is a gift.

I can go in any direction I want. It’s a beautiful day and I could just get on my bike and ride. With no plan or expectation I could just see where the day takes me. I love days like that but what I want now is some sort of direction. I’ve got my dreams and they give me direction but right now they seem too far away and I can see no clear path to get there. I am at a point where any step I make will be a step forward yet I stand here, looking all around, frozen, not knowing which way to go.

Life, or at least making life choices, is easier when driven by needs rather than wants, but as I strive to simplify my life I’m discovering how few needs I actually have and most of them are fulfilled at the moment. I got a good night’s sleep, had my morning poop and my addictions to caffeine and nicotine have been satisfied. I’m sure eventually I will need to eat but it’s not like I have to go hunt or gather my meal. At best, that will take up half an hour of my day.

This is not boredom.

My life feels very full these days, often overwhelmingly so, yet in this moment of quiet contemplation, I am aware that something is missing. On this day without structure, without demands, without needs to fulfill and without challenges to overcome I am presented with an opportunity.  I have an opportunity to discover what is missing in my life.

How will I rise to this occasion?

Will I sit in meditation or will I take action?

Sometimes it’s better to just do something, anything and sometimes it better to just do nothing, to listen to the silence, to wait for the answer to appear.

For today, what is my motivation?

For today, what do I want?

… tune in tomorrow to find out.

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