Some of you reading this may have been hurt by me, this past year, as I did what I am going to try to describe in this post.  I am sorry if this is the case for you, and I can offer, in response, only a thought from Audre Lorde: “Caring for [oneself] is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

This is my first blog post since September. It has been, for me, a long “season” of silence, as well as general retreat.

It began with six weeks “away” — in another country, in another climate, in and out of another language and culture, other rhythms.  I slept a lot, walked along the river and along ancient city streets, became a regular at the open air markets.  I stood in front of paintings until their colors sank in, or I had heard all that I could hear from them.  I stepped out of the ways I had been living and understanding my life, and, in the process, came home to my “stripped-down” self again.

“Just stop.”  That was the verbal version of the message I received.  It came, first, through my body and my “heart”, then into thought and rational articulation.  I realized that, in order to move forward as I now was, and was now called to be, I had to just stop doing what I had been doing.

This, of course, is nothing new.  It was not even new for me.  It was simply my latest experience of the tried and true slogan of all recovery programs: “If you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.”  Just stop… and DO things anew.

When I returned to Sarasota and my every-day life, I wrestled with various demons–some of them personal, and some that come with our culture’s current framing of what it means to be retired.   But I did just stop doing many things that I had been doing.  In particular, I just stopped assuming that I had to be productive, or that I had to hold on to the kind of recognized achievement and position I have had in the past.  Practically, I pulled back from almost all of the engagements I had gotten myself into, and began to do only what I was sure my new life–my life now–was to include.

In the course of doing this, I know that I have confused people, who were expecting me to act on earlier interests and commitments; and I have exited relationships  without adequate explanation (though I tried).

But if I am to offer anything to others, other than the real gifts of caring and prayer, it can only be what has, and  is, solidly taking root and shape in me, now.

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