Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cross-stitching life

Can you start life over? Can you undo a lifetime of---well, I'll just call it what it was-- brainwashing and make yourself into who you could have been, should have been?

For nearly four years-- well, really five years-- since the October I read 'Dance of the Dissident Daughter' I have been feeling my way along, looking, learning, unraveling, reweaving. It's like one of my cross-stitch stockings. I got to a point and realized that I had made a mistake. The pattern was wrong and it was ugly- lopsided. Wrong. And unfortunately the ugliness had bled into the stockings I had made for my children. (An interesting metaphor that actually says more than I even intended-- ) So it was time to decide what to do with it. Did I hang on to it and live with what I had? Not terribly tempting since it left me in the same place essentially. Did I undo part of it and fix as much as possible? Tempting- it's hard to unravel those little stitches and even fixing it a bit is going to take quite some time... or do I take it all out and start over?? (That is going to be a LOT of work!) OR should I chuck it all out the door and just start over???? Sounds the easiest in many regards but isn't really-- after all I have to pick a new pattern, buy new thread, new cloth,etc.-- and life of course isn't as easy to get clean as an Aida cloth.

But the old had to go. It was untenable to try and salvage most of it and just repair bits. There was simply too much wrong with it.

So, little by little...

here, a really bad part. Undo that.

Ugh! that bit there is completely backwards-- you have to take that out!

And this is completely the wrong color.

Life had been based on what would be-- on there being a life after life that would reward the pain and struggle in this life. Life wasn't based on there being any value in it. The "stocking" had no value in and of itself. It was something to be made because you needed to have something to show for your time on planet earth.

And that is essentially it-- I didn't have anything worth salvaging because it wasn't a life, it was a travail that you went through to get to the other side. My theology would adjust and I'd see my role on the planet differently but essentially it was all for the same purpose- to come to that day and have the Father tell me, "Well, done good and faithful servant." I was always waiting-- eternally waiting--- for??? Maybe to be what we all want to be- (and that for some is not as elusive as it was for me)- accepted as a REAL person- for who I WAS. Who I AM. (...although I had the problem that much of the template that had been used for the pattern of who I was had been tampered with- altered by the force of religion-- really generations of religious background that may even have been imprinted at this point in my DNA and family issues that had never been dealt with. )

So I looked it over, this stocking, and realized that what I was left with was---


and it was going to need to be started over- or at least as close as possible.

and the process of undoing has been long and painful

and is still going on.

But what I have before now me is good-- because I have gotten a good deal undone and I think I have figured out a way to add a new bit of Aida cloth rather than unraveling the whole bit. And what I have so far is good because it is done with my own hand, with my own ideas and my own conception of who I am and what I want. I know I would be a different person had I been raised without the restrictions of religion. I know that I would have made completely different choices had I not believed certain things-- and that is important because it leads me to a better place since now I know that I would have been a better person had the circumstances been different- so there is something to aim for. But also because now I know that much of what IS good about me now had nothing to do with the way I was raised. (in fact to the contrary-- my intelligence was stifled-- after all, outsmarting god or smarty pantsing your way to unbelief was a quick road to hell. Dangerous!...Now there is an effective control technique! After all, if you nurture your intelligence, if you ask too many hard questions or the questions take you to the wrong place- with wrong being doubts about god or even having different beliefs about god- then you will lose your faith which ultimately leads you to destruction -the unspoken ever present scary place... hell!Believers like to pretend that they don't want to scare people into belief in god but that is what their statements always lead them to whether they will admit it or not)

I finished a book called 'Superstition' last week (see earlier post). The author, Robert Park Prof. of Physics at Princeton, goes after superstitions of all kinds but really what he does alongside that is show what it is inside homo sampiens that has led them to accept superstition that is out of sync with reality today (although I think he could have gone further with this point) And he also shows how humanity has evolved and how the ethic of "doing unto others" is really a part of that evolution. (That's one of those things, you know-- this sort of innate, deeply ingrained prejudice that I grew up with- that people who didn't believe in god weren't really good people, that they might try to be good but they were always overcome by their real (corrupt) nature. And as many years as I have worked at undoing that mythology, it still lingers. Always more to unravel.)

So here I am-- standing at the brink of a beginning.

We, Maurice and I, want to travel-- to Key West (some more!)- to Epypt (I really want to see the pyrmids!) -to the ruins of Troy--- Our travel will always be geared around some bits of history we want to smell, touch, feel... We also want to go to Princeton and the east coast to see Fitzgerald's home (After having read 'This side of paradise' the idea of seeing the places he writes about is really intriguing).

I have a new job-- but my new job is really more than a change in where I am going to be in two weeks. I got this job as a new person, based on my experience and who I am-. When I started the job I currently have at Libaria at Grant M.S., I was hired as a body. The principal could have cared less who I was or if I loved reading, etc. I could have sat in the library here doing nothing and he would have been happy as long as the kids could get a book when they needed it. The new principal is not much better. She really only wants a body. I truly think she thought I would stay here and do what I do for less money- and while the money is not the issue- it does symbolize something in the system I work in. And it symbolizes something for me personally-- for one thing it's me saying to the world, "I have too much experience and give too much to this school to take less than what I have now" and it's me saying to myself, "You have something to offer- give it." It's me saying "I am not just a body. I have value."

"We are all standing at the station. The train is always leaving and the soul checks it's watch and wonders if its his time to go." -Cole, character in Key West, episode: Act of God.

"And the true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets: to find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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