Library Books

I need to accomplish something, even if it’s something dumb like finishing one of these goddamn library books I keep going out to get.  Stacking them on my nightstand, fiddling them back & forth, back & forth from one hand to the other, reading & re-reading the front and back cover before diligently returning them to their metal box, perfectly intact and on time.  Just one finished book, then it would start.  One accomplishment would lead to another and another and another before there was a stack piling high up and past the sky and when he looked back, when he looked back at me if only for a second, all he would see were stacks and stacks of books.  Library books of accomplishment.  He would have no other choice but to turn around, come back and push a stack over just to see me again.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED. FROM TEACHING.

TEACHING IS LEARNING.  Who knew :)  And to think, I have not been teaching long, bits here and there, so what this process brings a month, year, lifetime from now?  I can only imagine it gets better and deeper with time.  Exciting.  It’s like the saying, ‘you never know what you’re going to get’, because it literally is a grab bag every experience.  People are pretty much the most unpredictable of all the predictable ions out there.  And I assure you, this is a good thing.  People surprise us.  And who doesn’t like surprises?  I know I do.  It’s that moment when we stop trying to figure out what the surprise is going to be, that the wonder of the surprise takes over.  It is not magic, it’s actually quite a good amount of work.  Work, practice, teach.  When you make it your job to show people the light they didn’t know they had, you can’t help but see it in yourself.  Grab a friend or stranger – and tell them a story.  You’ll end up teaching them, and yourself, as you give what you thought was yours, away.

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”
(Maya Angelou)

Gosh, I Love a Good Story, Don’t You?

To know or not to know, that is the question.

I’ve been filling myself up with stories. To the brim. Fiction, non-fiction. My own stories and those of others. Love, hate, reasoning & pure surrender. I am bursting at the seams with stories I want to tell and those I want to take me over. Closing my eyes I can see them floating inside. Little dots of thoughts bouncing back and forth from one corner to another. They overlap and collide, blurring their roots like fading ziplines, trailing a soft echo of light. As I watch from a distance, it almost looks like a summer of lost lightning bugs, fervently working to find a place, a path, an answer. As humans, it is hard to not have an answer, so we search even without knowing, for a solution. But as I stand still, & watch all the dots being lit by literature and lyrics, conversations about coat racks & yesterday’s scene stuck in a still frame, I know the answer they are buzzing to find might not ever be found.

Knowledge is great. Give me an epic on neurological pathways and both my mind and heart begin to flutter. Knowledge can be life changing and empowering. It rushes in like love, surging unbeknownst chemicals through every channel out the top of my head. Next thing I know, I’m wanting to dump the entire contents of REI into a knapsack and haul my new hiking boots up the farthest trail I can afford. But what happens when I find the route, camera in hand? The dirt starts to narrow, and as the air cools, I’m left face to face with a sunset of colors I swear I’ve never seen combined in this way before. When I get back and someone asks what I found, all I can seem to mutter is “God, it was really beautiful.” Words, a camera, their efforts suddenly seem small. It’s like asking whether or not you believe in such a thing as a coincidence. Research brings us so far – connectivity of the mind, ability to invent and interpret – but somewhere, the facts fall away. And we’re left with that same black summer sky that we quickly fill with lightning bugs. Searching. Lines of lights, piecing, one dot to the next. What’s the answer? I want to know. What’s the answer? Please, just tell me. But then, something shifts and suddenly, more than ever, I have this urge to let all the lightning bugs go. Send them on their way and see the summer sky as it is, without the effort of a million moving lights.

Story after story. I fill up, then let them go. In with the new, out with the old, one story after another. And no matter how many times I let them go, some will always find their way back. The ones that really matter, always come back.

I came across this story the other day from Radiolab. Actually the way in which I found it is a story within itself, a breadcrumb trail I’m glad I followed. This piece is the perfect example of how heartbreakingly beautiful all this unanswered madness can be. 

Much Love.  Sarah