Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sitting Through Loneliness

During this time in my life I am single and have been for a bit now. In the past, for me, being single meant being unlovable or undesirable, even something to fix. I would see myself getting older and alone and that would feel terrible to me. It felt important to couple up so I wouldn't be alone, so I'd fit in with the rest of the world and to prove to myself that I am loveable and desirable. For some reason I wasn't able to see that for myself and needed someone to show me.

I'm happy to say that my perspective on this has changed. Being single isn't something that needs to be fixed. It's another way of being in the world and although it isn't what everyone is comfortable with, it's a legitimate way of living in the world. It doesn't prove that someone is unlovable, undesirable or incapable of being in a relationship. It simply proves that people can be comfortable with themselves outside of romantic relationships.

One of the challenges I'm finding while in this space of singledom is loneliness. Yes, I am surrounded by family and a few close friends (when our schedules permit) who I make deep and meaningful connections with but I still have moments of loneliness.

During those periods of loneliness I used to do everything I could think of to make the loneliness go away. Old thought patterns around it would lead me to begin searching for someone to date or putting myself out there as someone who would very much like to date. I felt as if it was something that I needed to fix or cure by coupling up. But, that's really never worked for me if I'm really honest about it. It may work for a brief period of time but it doesn't last. The loneliness comes back.

So I started thinking about what it was that I really needed to do with these, or in these, periods of loneliness. Buddhist teachings tell me to sit through it. Don't pick up the phone, don't send out an email or a chat message or do anything to distract from those feelings. Just sit through them. Allow yourself to feel them. 

To say it's difficult to sit through them would be an extreme understatement. But I'm finding that by allowing myself to sit through the feelings I am better able to understand them and find their core. It's even sometimes productive in a creative sense because some of the world's greatest pieces of art have come from these dark spaces. Not that I've created any great piece of art, but the potential is there.

Of course, as someone who tends to read and research the things that are challenging, I did some online research on the subject of sitting through the loneliness. A couple of articles really stood out for me around this. One is over on Lion's Roar by Pema Chodron titled Six Kinds of Loneliness. I highly recommend reading it if this is something you've been thinking about yourself. The paragraph that really stood out for me is this one:
As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. To the degree that we’ve been avoiding uncertainty, we’re naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms—withdrawal from always thinking that there’s a problem and that someone, somewhere, needs to fix it.
Yes. We deserve something better than resolution. An open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

Another article that I found fascinating is over on 2machines. The article is titled What Facebook is Doing to Your Brain Is Kind of Shocking. Honestly, I don't think it's all that shocking anymore, but there are a lot of valid points in the article. I also recommend watching the videos (not the smaller marketing videos - the other ones) embedded in the article. There are some interesting TED Talks and one video titled The Innovation of Loneliness.

What the author describes in the beginning of the article is something that I could have related with in the past. They are exactly the things that I would have done to make the loneliness go away. But, in the end I would have come to her conclusion, as well:
I have plenty of friends on Facebook and Twitter and close relationships with family and loved ones, but the barrage of chats, likes and tweets don’t do much to assuage that piercing, sharp sadness of loneliness. In fact, it makes me feel just a bit more forlorn. 
I'm really glad I've come away from this way of thinking about loneliness. I still have more practice to do, for sure. As painful as it is to sit through it, I think that in the end, I am grateful for it. 

How do you handle those moments of loneliness?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Perspective

Throughout the day I thought a lot about my past romantic relationships and the path I've taken to be sitting where I am at the moment. Single and comfortable with it. "Have I really become more realistic about love or have I given up entirely?" was the question that continuously showed itself today.

As I sat here this evening contemplating a blog post around all of it I read about the passing of a dog that I met once. The tears began to flow and after sobbing over the loss of a wonderful dog and someone's greatest companion, suddenly the thoughts and contemplation seemed unimportant. Definitely not a priority.

Death and loss seems to put the past and the present into perspective. The past is something to learn from, for sure, but what's really important is right now, the present. The people in my life right now, my close friends and family - blood, adoptive and chosen - and the love that we share are what's important. I wish to spend the rest of my days loving them, helping them and watching them grow, live and find happiness.

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Point

The blank page is so bright.

There is a want inside of me. More of a need. A need that is gnawing and clawing away at my rib cage. The feelings are there. So many of them. But, the words are few. Patching pieces together. Searching for a way to weave the letters into words, the words into syllables, then the spaces and the punctuation together in a way that, first, makes sense and, second, says what I'm feeling. What's happening in my head.

Old patterns are hard to break. Re-programming sometimes feels like a numbness. You turn some of it off completely so there's room for reason, for awareness of thoughts. Turn the spicket on to a drip so you can see where the thoughts go. Then stop and ask why. Why? What is it that I really want in this moment?  Why am I feeling this way? Which way are my thoughts going? Towards an old path?

Change direction. New perspective. New path.

That dark hole, that hole still exists. It may always be something that I carry with me. I may, for the rest of my days, be climbing in and out of it. From that darkness a question is constantly whispered, "What is the point?"

What is the point?

The point is to live and love and give. The point is to make others smile. The point is to help others in this life. The point is to find happiness within. The point is to have a point in this life, in this world. The point is to make a difference.

To one or to many. Make a difference. Inspire good. Be the point.

That's the point. The point of all of this. The point of this life. The point of my life. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Radio Interview

Update: In case you missed the live broadcast you can hear the recorded program here:


Tomorrow night at 6pm PST I'll be on Portland community radio KBOO 90.7 FM talking about The Butch/Femme Photo Project book. Tune in to the Out Loud program from 6pm to 7pm PST. If you're not in the Portland, Oregon area you can stream the show online. Here's the link to the promo for the show and more info on streaming.

The show will be uploaded and archived at this link about 24 hours after it airs in case you can't tune in during the live broadcast.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to talk about this awesome project. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quiet & Choices

Awesome things are happening with the book, which I'm crazy excited about. Yet, at the same time, I find myself craving the quiet and solitude. I think I'm feeling more vulnerable these days and less courageous with that vulnerability. Hence the quieting down of this blog and my presence online.

Also, this man is very wise.