Day 363

8:45AM:

This notion of finding purpose and value in others, in this being part of my Uncarved Block, to be for and of the people, it rubs some the wrong way.  I had a politely heated conversation with Naturopath last week about it.  Its influence is reflected in yesterday’s post about “taking care of myself, so I can take care of others.”  My position is that taking care of myself for others does not devalue myself.  Finding connections with others, being loved and living with them, being hurt and harmed by them, this does not devalue myself.  Hers is that it will lead to self-destruction due to neglect; martyrdom; undue self-sacrifice; broken hands; not being of the people, only for the people

I have my purpose – love, care, Tz’u, Don – and that cannot be a bad thing (as long as it does not lead to self-destruction; martyrdom; undue self-sacrifice; broken hands; not being of the people, only for the people).  As long as it stays an imperfection and does not fall victim to the blackness and its much-too-easy, oil-slick-like slipperiness into the darkness, it cannot be a bad thing.  As long as it stays mine, my beautiful imperfection, and as long as the blackness doesn’t claim it as its own, as a flaw, it cannot be a bad thing.

How the hell does this connect to The Lorax?  The Lorax speaks for the trees.

This video I found reminds the world – nay, screams at all those who I rub the wrong way with my purpose – why I do what I do.  I speak with (not only for) the exceptional but exceptional, with the amazing but marginalized, with the “disabled”:

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Day 280

6:30PM:

I got to talk to my barber today; it was only him and I and so (I think) Barber was a little more forthcoming with his thoughts.

I started out by asking him how he was doing, to which he jovially and optimistically responded that he woke up this morning with a smile on his face and his mind working, and that’s all for which he could ask.  He’s always been that way.  It is an endearing affect shared by few, one that I feel when interacting with Habitating Family Friend, one that makes life feel warm (even when ice cream is involved).  Then, I asked if he will take any time off in October, like he did last year when he went back “home” to Italy for a couple of weeks.  He responded by telling me what I already knew, things that we had already talked about and – I guess – is the stock answer he gives to all his clients (including me in the past): in the old town in which he grew up, in which his family lived until coming to Canada, there was no one.  His family in that town had either passed away or moved, so he had nothing there to which he was drawn.

Then, he shared new stuff.  He started talking about his wife, who had passed away suddenly a few years ago.  Barber, who is in his seventies, spoke about finding purpose in her, in her love.  Barber talked about going out with couples and friends just not being the same after she left; how if he found someone else, it would feel like he was cheating on his wife; about his love with her – intertwined – and that she was a part of him forever.  It was at this point that I was two seconds away from crying; the only thing that stopped me, the single action that brought me back, was that Barber was smiling.  Barber was smiling because while this might appear to be self-imposed loneliness to some, while this might appear to be not finding value in yourself, while this might appear to be flawed, solely finding purpose in another, it is not.  Barber was smiling because he was not sad about sharing those years, because it reflected his purpose, which was not his wife.  Barber’s purpose was revealed in his wife, it was revealed in his intertwined-ness with her, it was revealed in their love.  He was smiling, imperfectly vivid, about his purpose: love.

In keeping with that and yesterday’s post, my purpose is ever-more clear: helping others, being that support for others, finding value in others.  This does not mean engaging in my purpose in a flawed way, with the blackness driving me into martyrdom, into mental illness, into it screaming in my ear, into vulnerability to its toxic charms.  This means ensuring I am strong enough, wise enough, loving enough, courageous enough, respectful enough to best live my purpose.

This purpose might be imperfect, but it certainly is not flawed.  It might make me tired, but it does not exhaust me.  When flawed, I have tears in my eyes and blackened poison in my veins.  When imperfect, I have a smile on my face.  When imperfect, I find value in others, in helping others.  When imperfect, I am able to best live my purpose.  How does this translate into life?  I would never think about doing a 70.3 Ironman Triathlon; when imperfect, I would do it to support a friend.  I would never think about doing a 10K on three days notice, just having done a long, draining run today; when imperfect, I would do it to support the good and not-so-publicized cause of Alzheimer’s.  I would never think about taking on two jobs at once, working 30 days out of 29; when imperfect, I do it to support my Mom.  I would never have thought I could forgive infidelity, something I was sure would rip me apart, stripping me of every trustful part of me; when imperfect, we recovery, we take it one day at a time, we focus on love.  How does being imperfect and best living my purpose translate into life?  When imperfect, I am vivid.

Barber is going to play the accordion at a local retirement residence tomorrow, finding purpose in providing music and happiness to those less fortunate.  This Intentional Act of Niceness will not give him pause, will not make him think, because it is him, it is the truest version of him to be loving and demonstrate care.  Even after his wife, he continues to find purpose and imperfect vividness in love.

If I find purpose in love, in helping others, in (potentially) being the new dawn/Don of Tz’u, I know that cannot be a bad thing (and not only because barbers are those Fool-like Shakespearean characters that never lie, that enter onto the stage to reveal the truth, the meanings behind it all).  I know that because engaging in that purpose, imperfect as it is, is about being vivid.

Now, I just need to figure out how to best be vivid, so that I can find truthful purpose in love.

Day 258

11AM:

The bad experiences don’t help break bad habits, bad habits that are brought on by the blackness, bad habits that the blackness uses to turn beautiful imperfections into cancerous, soul-eating flaws.  To clarify this latter poetic ramble, my thoughtfulness and desire to be active have been warped by my blackness into bad habits: obsessing over counting portions and calories, not being able to sit down without shame and getting into the habit of working through meals.  My blackness distorts my thoughtfulness into over-thinking, hyper-vigilance and thoughts of self-harm to stop thinking so fucking much.  These bad habits are reflections of these flaws, distorting the “me” version of me and taking me away from my trueness and nature, my ease, making it harder to breath.  I am not the only one who struggles with this, finds it hard to reclaim imperfections from the blackness.

Regaining these from the blackness, breaking these bad habits by regaining our imperfections, there is a section in Tao of Pooh about it.  About imperfections v. flaws: “Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don’t like.  But once we see they’re there, we can decide what we want to do with them.  Do we want to get rid of them completely, change them into other things, or use them in beneficial ways?  The last two approaches are often especially Useful, … they allow those transformed characteristics to be added to the list of things we have that help us out” (58-59).  My thoughtfulness is an imperfection, in so much as it causes me to over-think sometimes.  I accept this part of me and I love it.  But the blackness dug deep inside to screw these imperfections into flaws, turning this over-thinking into something self-harming and abusive and reinforcing bad habits to make for damn sure that they stayed.  Breaking these bad habits – therefore – is not just about reclaiming healthy, regaining your imperfections, but also about accepting these imperfections as beautiful parts of you.

But back to my point, while bad experiences may be the impetus or the motivation (that one-too-many, the fight, the doctor’s scare, the crying husband), breaking bad habits is about the good experiences.  Good experiences keep you going along the path, that light up the darkness ahead.  Saying, “I’m doing this,” is Day 0.  It is the bad experience impetus, the second before the starter’s pistol, the (to abuse a metaphor from Lao Tzu, the Taoist philosopher) moment right before you look down at your feet, deciding to take the “one step” that will begin the “journey of a thousand miles.”  Day 1 is getting past the bad experience and taking the first step in that thousand mile recovery journey: the first uncounted portion of food; the first snack indulged in (even if it is two apples, to quiet the obvious mental hunger); the first night drinking socially, not emotionally; the first “smoke break” that is not taken; the first time you come home to worrisome husband and calm his nerves.  These are steps on the path.

So while my recovery stems from the guilt, the weight loss, the isolation, the mental and psychological anguish, these are not steps, they are bad experiences, they happen on Day 0.  They are not going to break my bad habits, but motivations they are.  Steps for me (aside from the obvious aforementioned ones) are being able to gloat about an awesome vegan lunch, looking in the mirror and realizing I don’t care or that I don’t want to run to the scale to “check” (still waiting for these), tasting food innocently given to me by a child or made by a loved one.  These are the good experiences that keep me going along the path, these are steps on the path to reclaiming my imperfections from the blackness by breaking the bad habits is has bestowed upon me.

Breaking bad habits, one day at a time, reclaiming beautiful imperfections from the blackness, they do not start at the bad experience, the impetus, the Day 0.  Breaking bad habits starts here – with action and care and try and courage.