Aimless 1.3

Cathy Tea

I’m discovering joy in sharing as truthfully as possible.

Sometimes, sharing myself truthfully means sharing my confusion–for I don’t always know how I feel. I don’t always know what is true for me.

Sometimes, it’s simply an act of putting a thought or idea out there to see how it feels as I write it–then to see what idea comes next, what feeling pulls after that.

Sometimes, it takes deep exploration and lots of different attempts at expression before I hit upon one that resonates.

Tara Mohr wrote about this recently in a post called “Becoming More Honest.

I need time, time spent finding out what it is that I have to say.

A lot of the time, I don’t know what the honest thing is for me. I don’t know what’s real deal, heart-of-the-matter truth for me. I don’t have access to it at first.

–Tara Mohr

This is it for me. I always strive to be honest–and often, when I’m communicating, it’s just the tip, not the deeply resonant truth, that I express. It takes time, and long conversations, and coming at an idea or a feeling from many different angles for me to reach a view that feels like truth.

Cathy Tea

Jim and I have conversations that have lasted over thirty-five years–that’s how long we’ve been together. And we still sometimes need to keep spiraling in to see what is really the truth, and as we do so, discovering new angles and new aspects of ourselves–and as we change through time, too–what feels like “truth” to us shifts, also.

It’s a luxury to have a person or two with whom one can explore ideas and thoughts and feelings deeply, through years. It feels village-like to me, and I think of Gurdjieff who grew up listening to his father talk with his old friends, carrying on the conversations that they’d carried on for decades–for their entire lives.

Cathy Tea

My grandfather would talk with me whenever we were together, and I would strive to find the questions that would take him deeper and deeper–but really, all I needed to do was listen. I’m not sure how many people my grandfather had to talk with. Certainly, I never met any of his old friends, and my grandmother seemed often to be striving to keep away from where the deep conversations with her husband might lead her. Yet he kept a journal, volume after volume after volume. He called his writing philosophy–and I think it was also literary analysis. He was after that long journey to find what was for him truth.

Cathy Tea

He and my grandmother lived in the deep woods, under Douglas firs and big leaf maples, and standing outside, one could not see the sky. We sometimes hiked up Tiger Mountain, following the old logging trails, and we would come into clearings where we could look west to the Puget Sound and sometimes, even, the blue ribbon of the Olympic mountains across the water. My grandfather would breathe then, throwing open his arms, opening his chest to the sun or the clouded sky, and he would say, “I can see! There is something wonderful about being able to see the horizon! Looking out… wondering what lies over it. It pulls you, you know,” he would say.

Cathy Tea

And then, as we continued our trail back under the forest canopy, his shoulders would hunch again, and he would look down at the needles on the forest floor. “A man needs sky,” he would say. “It’s a primal instinct–something ancestral in us. We need to be able to look out over the horizon to see what comes next.”

Cathy Tea

My grandfather would love the landscape of the desert valley where I live now, where I can see over 60 miles to the south, 30 to the west, up the steep mountains to the north to where the mountain meets sky, and to the rounded mountains kissing clouds to the east. He would say, “Here, a person’s thoughts aren’t crowded in. Here, you can look out until you can see the truth.”

The practice of keeping this blog–of deciding early on to just risk it and write like no one cared–that freed me to simply say what I wanted, keep saying it, circle back around, and say it again. Writing a legacy story, too, gives me that recursive journey, back and through the patterns of life over and over and over again.

Cathy Tea

Sometimes, with my blog, I’m in the deep forest. It’s not claustrophobic for me, though. It feels fecund–maybe I can’t find the truth in the humus, but I know that this rich forest floor with its dark moist scent is the ground where the truth can grow.

The joy I’ve discovered in keeping this blog is that sometimes I discover my truth, sometimes I miss it, and, as I express and fail to express what I want to say, I have come to find acceptance and appreciation–love, even–from others.

That’s the great and unexpected joy that’s come to me through the practice of keeping this blog and sharing my Sims’ stories.

Cathy Tea

This is the rich ground–this is the conversation that feels like the ones I’ve shared with Jim for over thirty-five years, that feels like what Gurdjieff’s father and his friends talked about all their lives, that feels like what my grandfather was seeking when he emerged from the dark forest to look out over the distant water.

It felt risky at first–like most of us, I can tell so many stories of times that I’ve shared insights that felt important to me only to have my ideas–and myself–rejected. The witch-burning-stake was an icon that has, at times, felt real to me. And I learned so early in my life, while I was still small enough to need to hold a grown-up’s hand while walking down the street, that when I was glib and charming and cute, others would love me, but when I struggled to express myself or when I expressed ideas or thoughts that frightened others or seemed unusual or out-of-the-ordinary to them I was shunned or ignored or ridiculed or hushed.

Cathy Tea

I learned to keep the voicing of my stumbling and sure steps to truth to myself–and once I found my truth, then I knew for sure it was to be shared sparingly. I have been blessed with close friends and a life-long partner who will listen when I share my truth, and who will sometimes even listen while I stumble in trying to uncover it.

Yet this blog has given me something broader: it’s let me share this stumbling journey with a community.

And when I find that I can share all of myself–the cocky-sure cheerful self who holds up the glittery mica of truth on the surface, and the pondering wavering self that maybe says it one way one time, and another way another time, always looking for what’s deeper within and not quite seeing or grasping it, but looking still–when I find I can share all of that, and still be accepted and appreciated, then I realize I don’t have to hide at all. And maybe even ever.

Cathy Tea

For even when rejected or criticized or not liked, I know that it is the real me that I’ve put out there–the me that sometimes knows what I’m saying and sometimes doesn’t. And there’s something very powerful–very liberating–about putting oneself out there, and discovering that acceptance and rejection maybe don’t even matter that much…

For it’s myself that’s out there, and I will shift and change, too.

I can feel that there’s more I’m trying to get at–and I know, too, it will take time to circle back, stumbling or sure-footed.  The truth I started out to express was the joy in sharing myself and being accepted and heard. And the deeper truth, that I’m following now, is that this acceptance opens up the safety to allow for rejection, also. This brings a more sure joy–for the safety and freedom that I feel to be able to risk ideas and expressions that some will reject, this opens up freedom to follow this trail wherever it might lead.

Cathy Tea

I just finished a week at cello camp. We’re all older cellists, women and one man in our fifties through seventies, and we, none of us, have been playing cello all that long–ten years at the most, which isn’t very long for an elder cellist! And today, on the last day of camp, we each took turns playing the solo part of Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras, that haunting, gorgeous piece for soprano or solo cello and cello orchestra. As we cycled through, with each of us taking our turn to play the solo, while the rest of the group divided the three supporting parts, we played in this same safe space where acceptance and respect opened up room for risk, mistakes, failure, and great success.

It didn’t matter when our notes quavered or shifted sharp or flat, or when our tempo lagged or rushed, for the accompanying orchestra of colleagues held this space of acceptance and even celebration. We were playing Villa Lobos, and that was all that mattered. Failing or succeeding, hitting right or wrong notes–somehow that wasn’t an issue. In this space created by a community of musicians what mattered was hearing our notes and playing together as, stumbling or sure-fingered, we moved through the music closer and closer to discovering that music’s truth.