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Monday, December 10, 2012

Staying Connected

This time of year I always think about family. I realize that a lot of folks do, but it's not always a positive thing. For me it's a double-edged sword: I grew up in a close family, holidays being a blessed melee of chaos and relatives, screaming kids (us!) and adults making every effort to ensure that a great time was had by all. I remember sitting at the kids' table with my cousins, eating Cheerios for breakfast and singing 'happy birthday' to Jesus before opening a huge pile of gifts. I know how lucky I am and I'm so grateful to know such a wonderful childhood. The only part of this that's difficult is that it can highlight the relative isolation of adulthood. Now it's my responsibility to reach out and create that blessed chaos in my own life, and I'm completely clueless. As an adult, I'm realizing how much the psychological ability to connect can effect our ability to stay connected to the folks in our lives. Not exactly my forte (once again, unless you are a horse or a dog;-) and I feel it.

I suppose the way in is to connect to the warmth and joy of my happiest memories. It's true that memories can be equally effective at creating a rift and a desire to remain in a bubble, but there's some choice here. There are so many things I have no control over (a realization highlighted by the fact that I'm writing this on my daughter's computer because mine died suddenly, ahem) but I can certainly decide what I choose to remember. I can be a broken person surrounded by broken things if that's where I choose to let my thoughts linger, but that's no place to be. I find that our lives can follow our thoughts very closely, and sometimes our dreams. Far better to dream of happy things. I often dream of animals.

My favorite recurring dream is of riding a horse. It's vivid and realistic except for a liquid, sow-motion effect. It's a grey fall day and I'm galloping along with friends. I can smell the wool of my jacket, the sweat of my horse and the pungent leaves; I can hear my horse breathing heavily and the thud of footfalls in the soft earth. The wind has a bit of an edge to it and it stings my cheeks in the most invigorating way. I look down at the hogged neck of my sturdy piebald cob and am flooded with feelings of love and trust for this animal that feeds my soul with every fluid stride. The trust is mutual and we are a team, both of us entirely in the moment. When I wake I try to hang on to the moment, that memory of connection, but it slips away like all dreams do and I wake to my reality.

I know it need not be just a dream, but the future. It keeps me moving forward and seeking that connection. It gives me hope and something to strive for. But connecting to right now today is a bit more challenging. I find it interesting though, that even in dreams it's animals teaching about being in the moment and connecting. Perhaps that's the key. It IS Murphy that facilitates so much of my participation in 'the world out there' right now. Sometimes I feel badly about that, though I'm not sure why. He certainly appears to enjoy his job.

But here's the thing: "Now" is the only moment we're sure of. How do I connect and find joy right now? I won't attempt to answer that question here, but just to ponder it and do a bit of brainstorming. Just giving the idea some attention will take me a long way to improving things. I am connecting to the spirit of the season this year in a way that I haven't in a long time. I think it's a start, and a good sign. At the very least I am appreciating the thought process that's occurring and am gratefully anticipating a positive move forward as a result. Or maybe the key is to abandon thought and let something more ephemeral be in  charge for awhile. It's worth a shot, right? :-)

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