Day 90 - When You are Surreal
This morning Pam Cordano and I nailed down the details for next week’s creativity retreat. By the end of the call, I was running up and down the stairs because it seemed the best outlet for my excitement.
It is SO FUN to create the thing you needed ten or twenty or five years ago, the thing that might have changed your life, the thing that might have steered your ship, finally, to a sea of joy. Putting a retreat together as a collaboration is more fun than doing it alone because, for one, high fiving yourself is called clapping and does not have the same exuberant, celebratory effect.
What could I create now for myself that would open up Door C in the future when I all know now is Door A and Door B? That’s what this 93-day project was all about. How could I bring about change when I wasn't even sure exactly what I wanted to change. I knew I wanted the perfect poop, but I also knew I wanted to enter mystery.
Frosty Hesson texted me this afternoon to say the big waves have departed and it’s safe for me to get into the water to have my first surfing lesson with him.
Tuesday is day 93. On day 1 it never, ever occurred to me I might finish up this journey out in the water with a legendary surfer. There’s a book I love called Mariette in Ecstasy, by Ron Hansen. Mariette, at the end of the book, has a conversation with God, and she asks him what He wants of her, and he says, Surprise me. (I hope I have this right. My copy is in storage, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t dream that whole scene.)
I thought that was a wonderful ending. We work so hard at knowing where we are, at not getting lost, at knowing what is going to happen next, and sometimes we know ourselves into a torper and we aren’t alive so much as safe. And maybe the universe doesn't want us to be safe so much as in a steady state of opening, of revealing the wonders and surprises of who we are.
I felt like I threw myself off a cliff with this project. I had no idea where I was going to end up or even why, exactly, I was doing it. I heard Annie Lamott’s son, Sam, say on his podcast How to Human that the rule in his house when he was growing up was that you finished your projects. It didn’t matter if they were bad—it was the finishing that mattered. I threw myself wholeheartedly into this project. The past two weeks have been a little odd because I was thinking What have I done? Why did I do this? But now the finish line is just steps ahead, I see why I did it: so I could finish. It feels good to complete something. Historically, I’ve been a quitter. If I didn’t like something or was uncomfortable, I’d quit. I thought quitting was my superpower. I thought it was what kept me safe.
I’m all for quitting when you feel as though what you are doing is throwing acid at you and your soul is suffering. But I’m also all for just sticking with something because I said I was going to do it. I like the feeling of follow-through: it’s like taking a complete breath: Inhale. Exhale. It’s Whitman’s yawp. It’s Buzz Aldrin sinking the flag on the moon. It’s watching a movie called Chasing Mavericks while flying to Indiana because it was one of the movies on offer and then less than three months later surfing with the main character.
When adoptees meet their biological family members, almost always they use the word surreal to describe the experience. It’s sort of like magical, but more slippery. It’s like if you woke up in the morning and went to the kitchen to make breakfast and you found yourself in someone else’s house. Would you continue to make toast? Would you scream? Would you check to see what they had in the frig? Salvador Dali, a surrealist, said, “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”
I have a feeling that being relinquished and adopted made me a work of art. I am a surrealist as are all the adopted people and first mothers that I know. We are surreal. Our lives are surreal.
I’m coming to terms with all of this. Being different can be really painful because often you don’t feel mirrored by those around you. You don’t feel right, real, valuable, seen. (I should be using I instead of you but I don’t feel like it.) But then you find others like you, others who have lost their mothers, their homelands, their primary identity, and you mirror each other and you settle; you get to work. You live your best life. You become so you it hurts, in the best I am settling into home way.
It’s the opportunity on the other side of the trauma coin. It’s so cool.
See you tomorrow.