I made a decision early this week to close out my Facebook site—actually, the decision was made during my therapy, which just so happened to be on 1/11/11. I don’t mind social networking, but it is really, really distracting and addictive. There were several reasons for this decision: first, I find myself finally in a position where I can think about going back to work (the drug combination the doctors have me on is working wonders) and secondly, I really need to distance myself from other people for awhile. When, and if, I return, I will—more than likely—“friend” most of the same people over again, because I’ve enjoyed getting to know them or renewing old friendships. But, for right now, I need to be solitary. And very, very quiet. And reflective. Most of the people on my friend list, I will keep in contact with through e-mail. I’ll miss a lot of news, but for me, going “cold turkey” is the best way to deactivate a habit.
I don’t know why this feeling comes over me, this need to be alone, but I know I need to follow where it leads. That it happens in cycles probably seems odd to some, but I’m also sure some will understand. In any case, I am certainly not surrounded by people. My son spends the vast majority of his time reading, writing, and studying. Plus, he is the quiet sort. My husband is at the lab from 8:30 A.M. through oftentimes 7:30 P.M. and sometimes beyond. When he is not there, he is studying for his final classes and comprehensive examinations due to be taken at the end of summer—as well as doing the normal repair, maintenance, etc. work that is a part of having vehicles, homes, and so forth. I do not socialize up here in the tundra (I’ve never been, nor will I ever be, the “let’s do lunch” sort) nor do I spend much time on the phone. But, still, there it is—people. Who are, by the very nature of being people, distracting., especially to an empath like myself. And whose problems and bits and pieces of everyday life find their way into my consciousness, prompting me to respond, worry, or stew. I’ll still talk to my closest friends, and my family, as well as follow the blogs of those who have them, but that is not the distraction having a certain number of friends online at my fingertips entails.
I am going to spend this time in further reflection, in meditation, in research, in writing. My guess is that it has a lot to do with the close of year seven for me, which will come in the spring. A seven year, as I have mentioned, is a year of introspection. For some, the New Year brings the beginning of a personal year. For me, it seems to always be my birth month. Whichever way one looks at it, the seventh year in the nine year cycle is a year to reflect on the past and plan for the future. This year, which in its countdown months, is presenting itself as a time in which I am clear-headed for the first time in a long time (also due to the medications) and can actively write and research to my heart’s (and mind’s) content. For those who dismiss numerology as hogwash, so be it. But, my life does have a series of patterns, based upon the nine year time cycle. And, I’m not going to argue with my intuition to go with that flow.
In a year or so, hopefully less time than we think, our lives will again be turned upside down, and we will be making a decision as to whether we stay or leave the area. This excursion up here in the frozen tundra of upstate New York has been a rough one, for both my husband and for myself. And, out of all of the six years up here, this year has by far been the most troubling—almost as bad as my two year. For the first ten months, debilitating and persistent pain, as well as other troubling symptoms, kept me pretty much housebound, taking medical tests, or going to many, many specialists. My thoughts were mostly in dealing with pain, from which I know I learned some very valuable lessons, among them the acceptance of myself as I am. As far as my husband goes, skilled and dedicated scientists are usually in demand, although it took him almost a year—his three year–to be in the position he currently holds when the one for which we came up here was like fitting a round peg in a square hole. But, for me, the recession that started in the 1970’s and has pretty much continued in this area, effectively killed most new opportunities in the field of education. I do not know the “right people”, nor have I been physically able to make the contacts I needed, or scour around for the sources I could use. The university cut-backs have meant the positions are already filled when they are advertised by those already within the system, and the classes I was assured would be picked up were lost in the bureaucracy of a pretty much bankrupt state. The same goes for the public and private schools. And, getting NYS certification really was just not worth my time, as the cost was prohibitive without at least a remote prospect of a teaching position. All this was as the universe dictated. Each and every time I tried, my illness would return full force. Or, the position would not be funded. Or, it would not materialize in a number of ways. Or, I just didn’t get it. Now, as we face a major decision, I want to be prepared, emotionally, physically, and academically, for what lies ahead, whether it be in volunteerism or teaching. In short, I am compelled right now to FOCUS. I’ll let my instinct lead to the specificity of that focus. But focus I must. Because I feel a change coming, and the time will be right.
My blog posts will, more than likely, represent that focus. I have a lot of unanswered questions, and several avenues from which to choose. Like Frost, I will probably choose the road less traveled—just as I have always done. That rarely traveled road has put me in some tough positions, and has certainly seen its share of obstacles, but following my heart has always meant I would not be bored. And I will listen closely to what the universe is saying. I will be quiet so I can hear it.
So, Friday my Facebook site will be discontinued, at least for a time. And the work begins as I listen to the universe and lay the groundwork for my personal future.
In the wake of the Giffords tragedy, I’ve been trying to put my thoughts in order. The young man who was the shooter is still, in many ways, a mystery. He is non-cooperative with the police, no one knows really what his true motives were, and most agree that he was seriously mentally disturbed. That he had no known connection with Sarah Palin and her “cross-fire” website, no known connection with the rabid right wing, has not stopped speculation. Political motivation, not surprisingly, was the first place the authorities looked when creating a profile. So, even though there are no obvious connections, that was the can of worms that was opened. And, now that it is opened, there is no stopping it. It has been too long in the coming.
The left wing is pushing. For too long, the left has been the target of the virulent ranting of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, et al. The right wing is pushing back. There is, after all, absolutely no connection between the shooters and the Tea Party radicals that has been found. Both sides, as well as those in the middle of both sides, are frantically attempting to defend themselves or blame others through all forms of media. Reports of violence on both ends are being dug up and dragged into the discussions over and over again. Who is right? Who is wrong? Why, when at most the shooter is simply a seriously troubled young man who snapped, is the focus on the idea that violent rhetoric is the public danger at this time?
It won’t be long until someone on one side or the other will cry, “CONSPIRACY!”. What drew us together as a nation in the wakes of tragedies such as 9/11, the Oklahoma bombing, this event, and other national tragedies, will be poked at and prodded until it becomes a galvanizing symbol for one politician or the other. The battle cry will ring, and off we will go again. Palin will once again have people in her “cross-hairs”. The rumors will fly that Homeland Security suspects right-wing involvement. The right wing will rant. The left wing will rave. The nuts of either side will get nuttier. And things will stay, well, pretty much the same, except now there will be yet another poster for the insanity. Another example through which to inflame the public. The media will cater to the lowest common denominator– an angry, exhausted, and suspicious public– to further their personal goals, issues, and popularity. And the amount in their bank accounts. Or the votes. And, as happens most of the time, a gullible public will fall in line. On both sides.
I can see both sides. I do feel that a good point is that the violent rhetoric must stop and civility must be restored, as the nastiness has just gone too far. Friends are divided. Families are divided. Anger is, once again, threatening to cloud the issue, as long-held animosities are brought into the fray. Yet, I do agree that there was no obvious involvement of the young shooter with the right wing fringe. There is even speculation about the involvement of the young man with the occult. Will that lead to persecution of innocent Wiccans and Pagans? Much as the controversial mosque plans close to Ground 0 led to the persecution against Muslims? Was Laughner anti-Semitic, which has also been suggested? Will the truth, when it comes out, just lead to more division, as one side or the other gains the upper hand on issues that have little or nothing to do with the actual crime?
The issue of violent rhetoric has little or nothing to do with the actual shooting. But, the issue is now on the table, largely because of the state we are in as a nation, and there can really be no going back, as both sides now have to save face. So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? Will we allow yet another polarizing event to further our antagonism towards one another? Or will we take the issue that has arisen out of this senseless tragedy and realize it was articulated for a reason—the reason being that the anger and violent attitudes people have towards one another because of differences in opinion is so close to the surface that the first thoughts in peoples’ minds in the face of a national tragedy is that of a conspiracy on the part of one side or the other. That people, the backbone of this country, are being USED by unscrupulous talking heads and politicians to further polarize the nation through vicious rhetoric.
Giffords has been threatened before because of her stand on various issues. So have members of her family. Politicians on both sides have faced the possibility, and the actuality, of threats of bodily harm to themselves or to their loved ones. That this issue is uppermost on the consciousness of the nation has been proven, once again, by the way the chips fly when a tragedy occurs. That the useability of this tragedy is uppermost on the minds of those who are either on the defense or the offense, and have something to gain, is tragic, in and of itself. That the whole mess of violent rhetoric has just gone too far is the most tragic aspect of all, because it reflects the attitudes of an entire nation. Violent rhetoric does inspire violence in people who are on the knife-edge of despair, or mental illness, or discouragement, or anger, and it is no surprise that this rhetoric was the first thing people looked at when the details of the shooting hit the airwaves. I’ve had it directed at me, personally. It is frightening. It needs to be calmed, to become rational discourse between those who disagree, not inflammatory efforts to inspire fear in an already frightened public. Yet, the pointing of fingers before the facts are out must be stopped, as well. We are either going to draw together as a country or we will fall apart.
So, while I do feel that the issue of violent rhetoric should be addressed in the wake of this tragedy, both sides, from the politicians down to the very backbones of this country, the people, should take this as a wake-up call and stop acting like children. The right wing isn’t evil. The left wing isn’t evil. Democracy isn’t perfect. Communism isn’t of the devil. People do as people will do. Difference is not deficit. We are not all zombies on the same path. Nor do we have to be. Yet. The point is, will we learn from the tragedies we face as a nation? Will we take the issues as they arise, relevant or not, but there, close enough to the surface so that they boil over and spew out in fresh waves each and every time a tragedy occurs, and address them in a civil and coherent manner? Or will we let the talking heads, the rabble rousers, the violent rhetoric by politicians on either side or in the middle, continue to lead us down a path from which there is no return?
Blogging has never come easy for me. I’ve started and stopped a half-dozen times. This is largely because, I am sure, of recurring bouts with depression, and during these bouts, it is hard enough to even get out of bed, let alone write. So, what am I depressed about? I have an adoring, brilliant, and much younger husband whom I love more every day. I have three children who, while they struggle, are fairly healthy, not into drugs or crime, and who all finished college. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a warm house in which to live. So, I shouldn’t have these horrible bouts with depression, which can last as long as three or four months. Depression which I could put down to a lot of things. About being stuck up here in the middle of the northern version of the backwoods of Appalachia. About having listened to the wrong people and getting two and almost three pretty much useless degrees, About having a chronic illness for which there is no cure. About being 55 and pretty much too old for anyone to even consider me for an academic position, especially since we moved to this backwater area of New York State. About being 55 and being told I am “over-qualified” for any position outside of academia. About dashed dreams. About just not being good enough. For anyone or anything. But, especially, not being good enough for myself. How everything I’ve attempted to do to raise myself up, has instead, many times, seen me dashed to smithereens upon the sacrificial rock of society—adding up to just one word: Failure. In my own eyes.
I think that a lot of us face disappointment in ourselves to one degree or the other, quite possibly more than we face disappointment in the eyes of others. For me, attaining for and reaching my goals– for which I put my so-so life at great risk—were to be a means to an end: get the hell out of a life where I was spiritually and emotionally suffocated. Or take the risks that would bring me to the disappointment I am forced to deal with today. Because life after the risks hasn’t been a piece of cake; I haven’t been able to taste that pie in the sky. But, really, is that the point of taking risks? So much of what we do to better ourselves, to change our lives, to follow a different path, to shake us out of inertia, comes with the warning: proceed at your own risk.
Because this is the thing. This is what keeps me plowing through depression, as hard as it may be. Although I still wonder how to get myself to the point where I am good enough for ME, I know one thing that makes even the periodic and troubling depression worth it. And that one thing is I took the risks. I didn’t settle for mediocrity. I didn’t settle for emotional abuse. I didn’t settle for making the best of a bad situation. I didn’t settle for so-so. I didn’t settle for staying safe. I set goals and some of those goals I did not meet. Some did not work out. Some did. Some knocked me flat on my face. So, while, yes, I am disappointed in myself, I am angry at ME, I have to struggle with periodic depression about certain circumstances being what they are, I am still better off than I was before risking everything. When I traded security for reaching for something better. When I realized that I could be depressed AND suffocated, or I could do something about it. So, now, when I suffer through these bouts, I know they will be self-limiting. I took those “leaps of faith” and jumped off the cliff with no safety net. I was bruised and battered when I reached the bottom of that cliff, but I was ALIVE. Some things were better. A few were worse. But, I experienced life rather than just allowing it to proceed while it numbed me into acceptance. I chose to BE, not just to be.