One rather illuminating experience I’m having as I grow up is the process of learning that certain ideas and concepts that I was dubious about as a rebellious youngster are actually true. I guess that’s why cliches are cliches – there is a truth present that is so obvious it is thus repeated over and over and although its repetition makes it annoying, it is no less true.
I started thinking a lot about this over the weekend because I had a long solo drive to and from Aspen to work on some wedding flowers. As I drove, I put my ipod on shuffle, which meant that I ended up listening to lots of the tunes I loved when I was in high school and college (when I was collecting the majority of my music). Music always carries vivid memories and nostalgia for me.
One thought that occupied my drive was that old phrase “TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS.” This is one of those quintessential cliches that, as I age, I realize is straight up capital T truth. Over time the physical and emotional wounds that feel so permanent when they are fresh, actually do heal. Just little scars and fleeting recollections remain.
I feel like my Ashtanga practice has given me more faith in the imminence of healing. When I’ve been struck by an injury or illness, it feels like it will never stop, like I will be in pain forever. But slowly, week by week, modification by modification, rest by rest, healing occurs. And I’m still there, on my mat, doing the same darn poses.
I think back on the heartbreaks and aches and those dramatic nights when it felt like the world was going to collapse around me. And then I realize, once again, that here I am, years later, doing just fine, not much worse for the wear. Yes, if I brood on a past wound long enough, I feel a tingle, but it’s not as all-encompassing or devastating as it once was. And it’s really quite amazing just how fast the years go. How so much can happen and yet, life continues, with changes that feel insignificant or even tiresome on the daily level, only noticeable or meaningful when observed from the distance of years.
In college, I learned about so many theories. At the time, I was skeptical of much of what I was reading. I felt open to everything and yet not trusting of anything. Sometimes it felt like the theories I was reading about at my fancy liberal arts school were simply the elaborate constructions of ivory tower philosophers, unconnected to the complicated and diverse “real world.”
I took a number of courses on psychoanalysis taught by a feisty little Jungian analyst that I greatly enjoyed. I remember in the intro class to psych she taught us about the basic theories of transference and countertransference in the analyst/patient relationship. I found this idea to be totally unbelievable, having been in therapy forcibly for much of my adolescence. How could anyone possibly fall in love with their therapist? I had only ever despised mine!
Only after I began to look at the concept of transferring emotions and desires in a broader context did it begin to seem at all relevant. In the spring of my Junior year, I became infatuated with a Continental Philosophy professor. My roommate carried the same infatuation, so we talked about him all the time. He was dapper, he talked expressively with his hands, he was a total Francophile, his wife was the school yoga teacher and he was utterly charming. I loved his clear blue eyes and the direct and caring attention he gave me as his student. He was boyfriend/father I had never had and always wanted. He was also 50. Weird, right? It was a passing phase of infatuation that fizzled after getting blackout drunk with my roommate at a dinner party with him, his wife and another philosopher professor. Ah yes, college….
My recent head-on collision with transference was brought about by my new NPR habit. I love listening to Public Radio while driving around town. It’s really quite educational and stimulating. Anyways, over the past few weeks, whenever I hear Obama speak on the radio, I am filled with this boiling rage. Sometimes, I even shout out loud, “LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!” When I realize that this man actually has a Nobel Peace Prize and yet is conducting a drone war, killing thousands of innocent people, it makes me cringe. Listening to his calm voice and those pretty words and noble semantics make me feel so betrayed and so hurt.
I feel this visceral anger and disappointment but I know it’s not actually directed at our President. Although I proudly marched down to the voting booths with my fellow liberal students in 2008, and I sacrificed study-time to phone bank for HOPE, after his inauguration, I quickly became disillusioned, realizing that I couldn’t expect anything more from him than from any other dirty politician.
It’s my father.
My relationship with him is civil these days. We politely talk on the phone, chat about his vacations and my job hunt. We have not raised our voices at one another in a good couple years. I don’t feel great anger or hatred towards him like I have on the past. I feel quite accepting of him, his faults, his positive attributes and his handicaps in the whole fathering realm. I even feel real loving compassion towards him these days. I keep a beautiful black and white portrait of him as a child on my bureau with a little pin propped up against the frame that reads, “Love More.” It makes me smile and think fondly of him, because how could anyone not love a child?
But, despite the calm waters on the suface, there must be some lingering baggage, some unresolved anger I feel towards him. And now it is all directed at our President (which is funny and odd for so many reasons, number one being my father is staunch Republican).
When I realized this the other day, I felt better afterwards. Just recognizing what the root was made me feel more peaceful. And after that, I felt a bit silly, laughing and realizing, “Oh yeah, that whole transference thing. It’s real!”
That’s all. Ramblings and daddy-issues aside,
I wonder what other things I will soon learn to believe in….
Growing up is fun.