Thursday, May 22, 2008

Divine Discontent

The storm of my discontent finally broke. It was an unusually warm morning here in Portland last Saturday. I awoke at 630am, immediately showered and waited for my sister to arrive. A highly atypical outing for us, we were driving up to Vancouver to see Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand, co-captains of the F/V Time Bandit, featured on Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch." As my earlier post about "Deadliest Catch" details, I love this show to a peculiar degree. I find that I could endlessly write about what draws me towards the show: the Hero's Journey, the authenticity of these men and their intense connection with nature, the sea and how it is the one thing I both fear and revere the most, my immense attraction to various aspects of masculinity, memories of the boyfriend who turned me onto the show, and so much more.

When I stumbled upon news that the Hillstrands would be doing a book signing in Vancouver, I knew I had to go, especially after posting about my love of the show earlier this month. So, I enlisted my sister N to join me, who I turned onto the show a few months ago and who has become an equally avid fan since. We fervently discuss who our favorite captains and deckhands are and why we feel such an intense connection with the show. So, the book signing was a no-brainer for us.

We arrived early and purchased our books and stood in line outside, where the Hillstrands would be signing books under an awning. It was a very casual setting, at the Clark County Skills Center. There was a teenage punk/alternative band playing, a dunk tank, a handful of classic cars being featured, and booths set up with information on the Center and its educational offerings. We stood in the unusually hot 10am sun, looking through the photos in the Hillstrands' book, Time Bandit, and eagerly agreed to indulge in hot dogs afterwards.

There was something instantly magical about this day but I had no clear notion when I awoke that this would be the morning of absolute enlightenment... that all my dreams, my hopes of being alive and realizing myself as a writer... would be illuminated, revealing the most lucid direction I am to take with my life. I had no idea that all the symbols, internal and external struggles, and seemingly unrelated experiences and thoughts, would come to such fruition.

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The discontent had been mounting, to a deafening degree. I've stood at my crossroads and with a disturbing amount of patience, I have waited. There was no wind about me. No stirring. Just the density of my restlessness. Motionless. Soundless. Absolutely still. I strained my soul repeatedly, trying to glean some indication of which direction I should take. Come on soul, you should know. Nothing. The exigency within me did not subside. I knew I had to go. But where? Could I really be satisfied with randomly choosing just one direction? And while each direction looked equally appealing (and vague), my ridiculously indecisive nature would not allow me to step toward any one of them. So, I waited some more.

My mind started turning against me. Why am I discontent? Why can't I be adventurous and inspired where I am now? I'm going to Paris for the month of July, after all. I'll come home and the writing will be here and more will reveal itself. Maybe I'm just so close to realizing that dream that I'm feeling antsy. No. That isn't it and false attempts to convince myself never work. Travel specials on PBS kept taunting me. I was equally fascinated with each and every one of them. The two hour special on the Adirondacks captivated me wholly, as did the Equitrekking episodes in Vermont and then the South and then Wyoming. That damn Rick Steves and his back doors to Europe! My head was spinning.

I felt the same spinning sensation in reading all of your amazing blogs on moving to France. My horse dream haunted me and I was literally feeling twitchy. The wise voice of Joseph Campbell lingered, like a small bird swinging on its perch in a birdcage with no bottom. This bird (Campbell) repeatedly whispering, you can't have the Hero's Journey in your own backyard, you fool. I highly doubt Campbell would call me a fool but I like a bird with a little provocation. I need it.

The cloud cover of discontent started pressing down upon me more rapidly. It became oppressive. My mind tried to present substitute fantasies - I would hear John Mayer on my iPod and fantasize about us falling in puppy dog love, him writing a song about me and serenading me on the porch of our remote countryside home. After seeing "Lars and the Real Girl" and loving it, I watched "The Notebook" five times in one very hormonal weekend and fantasized that Ryan Gosling and I might meet in a little coffee shop down in the South, trading playful glances. I know... you just threw up in your mouth, didn't you? Me too. Yep, I know this pattern all too well... trying to convince myself that falling in love will quench my yearnings. It is a substitute fantasy that my mind always veers to when I'm discontent. But I know better, in my heart at least. Kind of backwards, isn't it? My heart knowing better than my head. Well, it does. It is an escapist fantasy - the idea of a relationship being enough to sustain me. And that substitute fantasy never lasts, nor do the substitute relationships.

This immense discontent has lasted over two months. No doubt it has resided within me for quite some time (a lifetime?) but it has become unbearable in the past two months. Previous bouts of discontent throughout my life have encouraged me to make changes, but the changes were always a band-aid, a temporary "fix" to keep me going a little while longer. These band-aids never required much from me, maybe a slight leap of faith here and there but no ultimate vulnerability. I tell myself that I cannot keep doing this temporary fix bullshit. I know myself better than ever now at age 31. There is a price to that consciousness. And when you heed that consciousness diligently, as I have for many years now, it never lets up on you until you actually live the life you are supposed to.

The past two months in particular have truly been introspective hell, standing in the middle of my crossroads and reaching the exasperated point in which I yearned for, and then tried with great force, to conjure up a massive train (let's call it the Fucking Choo-Choo to Bliss Express) to barrel me down in this damned crossroads. I felt like I was hoarsely screaming to the universe, "here I am! Is all this consciousness for naught?! I don't want to end up spending my life in this bell jar, suffocating myself with thoughts and dreams unrealized!"

Apparently, the universe listens. The train came, the bell jar lifted. But the train was no train. It was a butterfly, a blackbird, vertical shadows dancing upon me on a bridge. Yes, it was on the Columbia River Interstate Bridge that it all lifted, the divine discontent finally gave way completely, and my soul expanded over the river... it expanded over the largest river flowing into the Pacific from North America. The symbolism only presented itself later. I was in the moment and I've never felt more alive.

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Last night I sat at the kitchen table in my apartment and looked at the bottle of Jack Daniels before me. Just enough left in there for one decent drink. As I poured the remainder of the Jack into my glass, a smile broke across my face. I realized that when I bought this fifth of Jack, I was really at the edge of falling into that deep discontent. This drink would undoubtedly taste different than the first drink off the bottle.

I looked out the window and a light rain was starting to fall. The weather changed drastically since last weekend, when we had temperatures well exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It was in the 50s now. The contrast mirrors my own weather change. I opened the window a crack to soak in the comforting sound of rain and a train sounded in the distance. My smile deepened.

The enlightenment of Saturday was put into solid motion yesterday. I've secured approval from my amazing boss and I submitted my 30 day notice on my apartment. There is no false ambiguity, no forced motion, no restlessness. Not anymore.

I dream of the sea constantly these days.

I know where I'm headed.

I know I'm a writer.

This is my Hero's Journey.


...to be continued.....

15 comments:

Randal Graves said...

Time Bandits was a cool movie and love, once you find it, is overrated. ;-)

Aw shit, I have to go grab my bus or I'd write more! I'll do that tomorrow, but that last part is a wee bit cryptic. You're not becoming a deep sea fisherman type chick, are you? Moving out of your town? Up north? Down south? Over the ocean?

La Belette Rouge said...

What I love about divine discontent is that of you stick with it and don't try to fill it with false pleasures and short term fixes the answer will come.

I am ridiculously happy for you and cannot to witness where this journey takes you and your writing.

As I told you, when I first told He-weasel about your weekend adventure he was pretty sure you were about to take to the sea. I knew that your adventure could not be limited to one element but must contain all four. Water,land, air,and fire; North, south, east, and west. All four directions leading you to your self. Yep, I am wearing my Theory pants.;-)

I am so glad that you are seeing what we already know, you are a writer with a depth greater than on any sea which the Time Bandit has ever traveled on.

Richard said...

The discontent had been mounting, to a deafening degree. I've stood at my crossroads and with a disturbing amount of patience, I have waited. There was no wind about me. No stirring. Just the density of my restlessness. Motionless. Soundless. Absolutely still. I strained my soul repeatedly, trying to glean some indication of which direction I should take. Come on soul, you should know. Nothing. The exigency within me did not subside. I knew I had to go. But where? Could I really be satisfied with randomly choosing just one direction? And while each direction looked equally appealing (and vague), my ridiculously indecisive nature would not allow me to step toward any one of them. So, I waited some more.

That is a great paragraph. I think it would be an excellent opener to a story and would urge you to use it as such.

I had an interesting experience this past Sunday. I went with the kids to St. Josephs Oratory (mostly to experiment with taking panoramic shots). We also toured the Nativity Scenes museum. Something I have done before, but I was never very moved by them. I saw them as cultural variants on a common theme. This time was different. I experienced them as art (probably for the first time in my life I experienced art as art – and I can’t really explain it any better than that). I didn’t see cultural expression in Nativity Scenes, I saw an artist’s work. I saw the love, the time, the energy invested in the work, not the work itself. It was illuminating to experience them as products of the love of creation rather than sundry objects of utility, commerce and a means of sustenance.

I need to recapture that love of creating. To do because it is good to do. Not because it has a point. Not because it feeds me or defines me or brings me any status, but because it indulges my soul.

I was similarly reminded of this on Wednesday as I took the kids to see Go, Diego Go Live! Again, I was struck by the enthusiasm of the performers or their love of what they were doing. I had previously noticed that when I had seen Cirque Du Soleil’s Saltimbanco with Sofia last year (or was it the year before that?).

Cassoulet Cafe said...

You ARE a writer. Wow. I can't wait to read the next part!!!!

b said...

Randal... Love is overrated, especially when one expects too much from it. When I've entered relationships in this substitute frame of mind, it doesn't take long to realize the error of my ways! Of course, we all want love to whatever degree!

Haha. I was trying to be cryptic! :) Stay tuned...

b said...

LBR... Very true. Often, the discontent really plays tricks with my mind and I try to convince myself to engage in one of those short term fixes permanently. Never sustains me.

Haha... so everyone must be thinking that I'm headed to become a fisherwoman, eh? Well, the sea is an immense part of my journey. After all, I fear nothing more than the sea itself. Time to face those fears.

Yes, the crossroads is very symbolic of water, land, air and fire. As well as north, east, west, south. It all comes together within me and now more than ever, I'm ready to live that outwardly.

Thank you so much for your friendship and inspiration as I've bumped along these past few months. Thank you for championing my writing and embracing my depth. I am so grateful that I can go to level four with you and not freak you out! :)

b said...

Richard... Thank you. I'm happy to hear that you think so highly of this paragraph. My hope with this new direction is tied very closely to a book, to finally writing and publishing what I know I have in me.

Thank you also for sharing your experience at the St. Joseph's Oratory. So touching that you were able to feel the love, time, and energy of the art. It is really difficult for me to express those moments adequately with words but the feeling is so deep and profound.

Engaging in that "love of creating" is essential. When we start prioritizing the things we do based entirely on practicality, I think we do neglect the soul. All it asks from us is that we are true to it, that we yield to it in some way. It does not expect its output to be measured in terms of success. It only seeks expression and authenticity. And when we do indulge our soul, everything expands in such a lovely way.

I'm so happy that all these experiences stirred something within your soul. It is the essence of being alive, in my opinion.

b said...

Cassoulet Café... Oh, thank you so much! Just hearing other people affirm that I'm a writer touches me to a degree I cannot adequately describe.

And you have a lot to do with this awakening, actually. After reading your post on roundabouts, my mind could not let go of the roundabout image. I knew somehow that it was somehow linked to or some kind of alternative way of perceiving my crossroads dilemma. Wait till you hear what comes of that!! :) So, thank you for inspiring my journey!!

dancingdocdesign said...

so well said,crossroads ,yet paths interconnected, like a labyrinth from Chartres- and oh, looking forward to your wakings dreams!

Randal Graves said...

b, oh sure, we all want it, it's just a matter of figuring out whether we've found it or not. And we might not figure that out until we're extra old.

If you're going to be cryptic, you have to start leaving more tantalizing clues. Some of us are a little slow. :)

Cavalock said...

can't wait for the next post... really, 'The Notebook' five times in a wkend?

alisa said...

great post....i'm so impressed that you met the guys from the time bandit! Classic. Keep writing and congratulations on moving through to a new place.

Zen Chef said...

Holy shit!
You are inspired.
These moments of intense presence you experienced are priceless. You're good. You're really good! :-)

b said...

Dancing Doc... Yes, very interconnected and indeed like a labyrinth from Chartres, which I will be able to see with my own eyes in a month's time! Thank you for lending your beautiful spirit to my inspiration!!

Randal... Often, we can hold something so tightly or even so loosely, that we fail to really see what it is. Well, I was purposely cryptic and then again, my vagueness is apt as my followup post reveals!

b said...

Cavalock... Haha. Yes, admittedly 5 times! (Blushing) Believe me, I had a hard time posting that sad fact! :)

Alisa... Andy and Johnathan were great and it was so great to meet them in person. Especially, Johnathan. I have such a thing for him! ;-) Thanks for the encouragement... your upcoming journey has been a huge inspiration for my own! Thanks for sharing it!

Zen... Holy Shit! I am inspired! Haha! :) Yeah, these moments are intense for sure. So much so that I think they freak some people in my life out a bit. But they always reveal something incredible if I ride the storm out. And I never feel more alive than in the break of the storm! Thanks for your ongoing encouragement! It means so much to me!