Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Great Expectations

Before I left for this trip, I had plans... big plans...like I always do. I was going to turn my blog into a travel blog. I was going to finish that memoir that I have 100 pages of! I was going to consider an MFA, maybe even apply. I was going to read all the books I have on the wish list in my head. Or wait, I was going to take little video clips and make that short documentary. And of course, I was going to stick to a regular exercise plan and maybe even learn, yoga. I was definitely going to meditate. I mean, if I don't do all these things now when I have the time, then I'll never do them, right?

Since I was a kid, I have always lived in between that half lit place of having a secret belief that I am special girl with extraordinary powers destined for great things and that half dark place that believes I am unworthy of any of it, destined to suffer great pains, pains which come with some strange sense of responsibility that I am supposed to do something with them. And I call it "that" place, because I don't think I am the only one living there. I mean, surely I was given some love for words because I am meant to write down these life stories. I am meant to pass them, maybe even help someone else going through something similar. Or am I meant to help myself make sense of all the shit that has happened? Is my interest in writing a memoir because I really feel it is an important story to share? Or because I am still trying to organize trauma? It doesn't help when the only things I've written that have been widely read capture some of those moments. Forget the penny for my thoughts, I'll take 10,000 reads on BlogHer in exchange for the most violating experience in my life. And with a blog, it makes the purpose of the writing all confusing. I think, should I now link that BlogHer post to that sentence? But for what? Do I need one more person to read that? The answer is simple: No, I don't. Do I regret it? Of course not. Am I proud of the writing? Yes. But where I am at a loss is where my stories belong. Do my travels belong on a blog or in a journal? Do they belong in a book or shared across a dinner table with a friend? Do my childhood tales of survival in a single parent home belong in a series of essays or a fictional YA novel? Does the story about how I put my best friend's brother in jail when I was 18 belong in an opinion column or shared at a women's empowerment rally? Maybe in an office with other victims of sexual assault? Or does the sudden loss of my grandparents (whom I was estranged from) three weeks after reuniting with them belong anywhere but in a conversation between my brother and I when we sneak away for coffee in one of our treasured visits? My biggest fear is that maybe they aren't meant to be anywhere. That maybe it has all just been a string of terrible random events. That maybe I am not special, just unlucky sometimes. And after some of the things I witnessed in India, I actually believe that, in fact, I am very, very blessed.

When we started out on this trip, I journaled every day and though I didn't blog very much, I was excited about it when I did. Right now, I am not writing at all. Not in journals or blogs and I'm not sure what that means or why I am writing about this here. I am taking lots of pictures, but the writing is nowhere. Like most of my plans, the motivation has slipped through my fingers and I haven't the interest or the strength to chase them. Have I truly lost interest? Has traveling been too intoxicating to focus? My New York City therapist would stop me at this point and tell me that she doesn't buy that I lost interest but that somewhere in me I might feel I don't deserve it. I don't think I have ever bought her theory and yet at the same time, there is a little piece of me that thinks about it. What is at the bottom of the belly of the beast of self-sabotage? What aids in the slow acid-filled digestion of choking one's self over and over again? Of tying one's shoelaces together time and time again so you can tell the other runners that you totally would have been there if you could have gotten those knots out. Is the writing paralysis because I don't know where my stories belong or because I don't know where I belong? And what's with this word belong that keeps coming up? Or is that word the answer: stop trying to belong and try accepting.

Last summer, while trying out a few yoga poses my friend was teaching me, she told me that yoga was not about pushing yourself, but accepting yourself where you are at in that moment in your practice. Traveling has not revealed new things to me about myself but it has helped immensely with accepting the kind of woman I am becoming. When that bullshit Hindu priest trying to sell me a spiritual package told me my mind was butterflies and that I lacked concentration, I had never heard truer words about myself, and surprisingly they didn't bother me. It was kind of a relief for someone to say that to me, no matter how much of it was a recycled line they feed to a million other tourists. And here is where I get even more confused, I tell myself that it's true, that I do lack concentration. That I never follow through with the millions of ideas that I have and then I'll suddenly come to and find myself on a bus bouncing along through Nepal, and I'll think but I'm in Nepal right now. I may not have that book finished, or figured out what to do with this blog in the future, but here I am, traveling the world just a year and a half after getting some wild thought in my head, that after I got married, this is what I really wanted to do.

This New Years, I don't have any resolutions (except maybe learning how to cook). I know myself to know that what stands in my way is not lack of interest or concentration or time, but navigating myself out of that half dark world that still has a hold on me. Somewhere in that third dimension of not failing and also not succeeding, I have built a comfortable home that keeps me unsatisfied but content, unrealized but unstuck. I have no idea what the future has in store for me, but I know that me "figuring it out" has never worked.

We have been in Nepal now for almost two weeks. The country has regulated black outs so that everyone enjoys a piece of the power grid for certain times of the day. I have gotten really good at fumbling my way through an unfamiliar space in the dark, but most of the time, I just stick my hands out in front of me and pray that I don't stub my toe. Is there anything more to it, that that?
Lumbini, Nepal (Birthplace of Lord Buddha)


SteveB said...

I've really enjoyed your posts about your travels. I've liked seeing your perspective and found your reflections thought provoking.

Are they "meant" to be here? That suggests a philosophical underpinning that requires more thinking than the average comment, but I'm glad they are here. I am enriched by them.

As for feeling like an impostor, I think everyone does. I've had a very successful life and career by most measures (I think) -- but I'm consistently nagged by the "you're faking your way through it" type of feelings. Every year, I think I get a little better at dealing with them and accepting me for me, while trying to continue to make myself a better person.

It's New Year's Eve here in California, but probably New Year's Day already in Nepal -- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

daleboca said...

What a beautifully written piece. You are so unique and intelligent but also so accessible. You articulate well slivers of what many of us feel. Happy New Year Tony. I really miss you. I miss our blog. I miss our dinners. Write when you want, what you want, and where you want. Fuck it. There is no "should"- just what you feel inspired to do. And if that means that we do not get any posts for a while, so be it. You can live it now and write about it later:)

Lindsey Anthony-Bacchione said...

Wow. Thank you both for such insightful encouraging comments. These really meant so much to me. Thank you and daleboca, I can't wait to see you in the new year!

Carmen said...

this is one of my favorite things you have ever written...i agree with daleboca, the slivers of what we all feel. it struck a chord with me :)

so honest, and insightful and smart