Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pulling The Trigger, Or My Year Of Grieving Dangerously


A gun metaphor seems appropriate for Charm City, even though the murder total is down from last year.

This morning while I was avoiding doing any sort of work, I came across the opportunity to train to be a volunteer docent at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). AVAM is my newest most favorite museum. It is filled with untrained artists, lots of local color, and the quirkiest, best, most non-museum-y gift shop ever. You would think I would jump at that opportunity, as I am sure it comes with free stuff, like memberships, etc, and I am all about trading.

But I am having a hard time pulling the trigger.

There are other things I haven't done that I could have, a few opportunities here and there that I have passed on by doing nothing.

It's hard not to beat myself up about this a little, but I recognize that is ridiculous.

The second year of grief, which is over halfway finished, has been marked by constant motion. CONSTANT. From finishing the tiny house to showing it at the White House to moving it to Delaware to packing the townhouse to moving the bulk of our stuff to storage in Baltimore to cleaning and fixing the townhouse to rent to finally moving to Baltimore (take that, grammar check). CONSTANT MOTION.

Now we find ourselves in a purgatory of moving, staying with friends and looking for a house, settling into routines that will be upended and re-established when we finally move into our own space. When I am alone, I have been melting into a well-loved reclining rocking chair by the window, working periodically but mostly watching the world outside the windows and listening to the dogs snore (and bark wildly whenever someone walks by).

It's not relaxing, necessarily, so much as it is just stopping. Not moving. No motion.

So when it's time to move again, the laws of physics kick in. Inertia. It's hard to get the object in motion.

Even for things I know I will enjoy, it is hard to get up out of the chair to make them happen.

I think this is part of my Year of Grieving Dangerously. Now that we have made a huge move and instituted changes, the real work begins. I am writing, which is immensely satisfying, and I am in a state and a city I love, which I have waited for years to come home to, but the interior work that requires simultaneous action and reflection is still in progress. I think the key is to do it whether or not I want to. To make plans and go into the world.

Very complex. Very difficult. Feels impossible.

It is every part of the first two and nothing of the last, but still. It's that part of nothing to look forward to and every possibility in front of me at the same time. It's the part of grief that isn't wailing and weeping and woe-is-me-ing but is just as potent and powerful and capable of sitting you on your ass. In a well-loved reclining rocking chair by a window. Waiting for snow.

Trying to pull the trigger.




  1. "In Japan for an international conference on religion, [Joseph] Campbell overheard another American delegate, a social philosopher from New York, say to a Shinto priest, "We've been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I don't get your ideology. I don't get your theology." The Japanese [Shinto priest] paused as though in deep thought and then slowly shook his head. "I think we don't have ideology," he said. "We don't have theology. We dance"

  2. Argh, Mark. It's like a mystery wrapped in an enigma...

  3. I know, right? It took me a long time to realize what that meant. But it seemed so fitting for your post. I take it to mean this:

    Live. There is no better ideology or philosophy or deep meta physical thought process than to simply get up every day and live. Dance. Move. Be transcendent. Life sucks. It's a fucking monster. Who cares? No one.. so Live. It's like giving life the finger. :D