And then the dog came and lay down on my feet

2011 was quite a year.  I feel obliged in some way to memorialize it, think through all of the things that I have accomplished since this time last year, but I've been stalling all day, wondering what I could possibly say that I haven't said already.  My family (natal, that is, not immediate) has been going through some fairly interesting (read: transformative, difficult, painful, enlightening) times, and there were a flurry of emails yesterday and today recalling (obliquely) all that has passed.  My brother, my sister, my mother, my mother's partner, they've all been through quite a lot of tough stuff.  But me?  Well, I've just spent the year learning to see.

Which I can now, most of the time.  It's been nearly twelve months since my surgery and, for the most part, my eyes are fairly stable now.  I don't have to put drops in every other minute or even (which I did have to through most of the summer) every hour on the hour, but usually only when I wake up and before I go to sleep or when I've been exercising fairly hard.  I do still have to wear reading glasses now, which was expected, but I find myself looking out at the world without glasses--and forgetting that I am not wearing glasses.  It is, in many ways, a dream come true.  Now I am one of those cool women who can take her glasses off once she is finished working (i.e. reading, writing), you know, with that flourish the twenty-somethings in the movies have who are studious but sexy (once they take their glasses off, of course).  Never mind that it seems odd for all of those twenty-somethings to need reading glasses, but there you go.  I'm one of them.

And what do I see when I take my glasses off now?  Ah, well, that would be telling.  I've told you as much as I feel is appropriate given that there are always others involved in the difficult times that we live through.  But there is so much more that I've learned these past twelve months that I haven't found a neutral or compassionate way to say.  Things that I wish I could say because I understand certain of my reactions more clearly now but which would do my listeners little good to hear, even if, momentarily, I might feel better saying them.   Things that I am still somewhat angry about, even as I have learned to let go of certain expectations that I have tended to have.  Things that I actually no longer feel the need to say because I understand why they wouldn't do any good, but that others might wonder about.  It's a good place to be, better than the place I was in this time last year.  I hurt less, I feel less angry.  But.

But.  But what?  What else do I want, other than world peace?  I have the most beautiful dog in the world lying here on my legs (okay, she was, but she just got up to go lie under the Christmas tree).  I am sitting on a comfortable couch (actually, a chaise longue--did I spell that right?) in a spacious, uncluttered, and colorful room.  My husband and son are at the other end of the apartment, playing Skyrim together (or arguing game play, I'm not entirely sure).  I have one more day before classes start to get my course plans together for the term.  I started my new practice regime this evening with a short set of touches, which I am going to build on gradually over the next few weeks until my arm is strong enough to do a full 20-30 minutes again.  I have even found a new shampoo that makes my grey hair look youthful and gorgeous again (Lush's Daddy-O, if you're interested).  Nothing in my life could be better than it already is.

And that's saying something, because things have been hard over the past couple of years.  But they're not anymore, not at least in the way that they were.  Not so much because certain things have changed; they haven't.  I still live in an apartment, not a house.  I'm still waiting on that promotion.  I still need to write my second book.  But because my view on things has changed so that I don't see having a house or getting promoted or publishing more simply to have published as something missing from my life anymore.  What do you do, what do you think when you reach this point of calm with yourself and your life?  I don't know, I've never been here before.  I think what you do is get back to your writing time once winter break is over, which will be good even if I haven't had as much of a work-free break as I might imagine I wanted.  I am, however, somewhat less clear about where I go with certain other things.

Like, let's face it, family.  And love.  And memories.  And disappointments, longings, hurts, missed opportunities, loss.  Things unsaid but deeply felt.  Things sitting like giant elephants in the room that nobody but me seems to feel or see.  Maybe my vision is still clearing, maybe the elephants really are all in my imagination.  Or maybe they are really there, but harmless, nothing anybody needs to be that concerned about, even if they do take up a fair amount of room.  I think for my own sake I may still need to look at them a little more closely, but--and this is worth acknowledging--at least I am not afraid of them anymore, not like I used to be.  Even better, I have named many of them, acknowledged the power that they have had over me.  And I have stopped identifying what they whisper to me as the truth.  I am still tempted, I am afraid, to try to get others to admit that the elephants are there and that they can see them, too.  Perhaps it is enough for me simply to know that I see them and that they are not figments of my imagination and that my fears of them, if overblown, were appropriate under the circumstances.  I don't know yet, I can't quite tell.

I know, this is all rather metaphorical and oblique, but that's part of the problem that I'm still working through.  What is real and what not?  What is something that I need to do something about and what better left unsaid?  At the moment, truth be told, I feel fairly numb.  Not numb as in numbed so that I cannot feel, but numb as in not really feeling much of anything because I don't need to, I'm not afraid anymore.  Just neutral, apathetic in a good way, no longer suffering.  At least, most of the time.  When I can see the elephants clearly for what they are.  When I have a dog at my feet.

Yup.  It's been quite a year.  I'm not sure I'm quite ready for 2012.


  1. As Napoleon once said: "I am a fragment of rock thrown into space." I spent many years not understanding it. Now I can't deny it nor am I sure how one lives with it: "L'absurde n'a de sens que dans la mesure ou l'on n'y consent pas."

  2. Such a beautiful post. Thank you.

    Perhaps this will provide a modicum of comfort: Apatheia is not not-feeling, but rather not being dislodged from inner peace by strong feelings and catastrophic events (emotional or otherwise) ... (this view is in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers somewhere).


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