I’m still alive

Hebba-lubbo, frebbends! (Does anyone remember the PBS show Zoom?  Ubby-Dubby language?  Anyone?  Beuller?)  Are you wondering where I’ve been?  Why I went AWOL?  Have you missed me? *looking up, fluttering my lashes*  Well, I feel a need to justify my absence anyway.  Silliness aside, I need to take time to write again. 

I am anticipating the end of the season for my job at the living history museum, Old World Wisconsin.  By the end of next month, I will need to make up those wages by doing something else.  Fortunately, my previous employer still values my skills as a proofreader, and I have been able to contract with them for some work I can do at home.  Hopefully, I will be able to pick up some new voice students as well.  I have been spending my home days working on those enterprises and helping Steve with the book business.  So, I have not been spending my home time in leisurely rambles of creative writing.  And the memory card in my camera is full, so I haven’t been taking pictures.  I have been thinking, though….

Steve and I will soon be hitting the 5-year milestone in our relationship.  Our first date was October 4.  The evolution of our partnership has been an intense journey toward maturity, and keeping that energy going is quite a commitment.   The other day, I went back to some of our early e-mails (yes, I still haven’t deleted them) and came face-to-face with my former self: a grieving widow struggling to be a single Mom for the first time.  Yikes!  The more dramatic e-mails were the ones I exchanged with my 17-year old daughter.  Our grief, our survival, was such a strong agenda that we were hardly communicating anything besides our fears, our wants, our upset feelings.  It was very hard for us to listen to each other and be generous.  Steve stepped into that gap and calmly spoke his observations without judgment, even when my daughter’s anger was focused on his role in my life.  A metaphor that he uses is “clearing the windshield”.  We often have so much mud covering up the clarity of what life is and how we want to live it.  Steve has always come back to articulating his vision, one that he’s known since he was very young.   He’s been very patiently illustrating it over these past 5 years, and I’ve only recently felt that my windshield has been clear enough to see it. 

I have been reading a little book he gave me — Finding the Still Point: A Beginner’s Guide to Zen Meditation by John Daido Loori.  Here’s the nugget I will keep returning to:

“From birth we have been conditioned by different events and people — our teachers, parents, country, culture, neighborhood, friends, and peers.  Everything we cherish — our positions, attitudes, opinions, all of our attachments, all the things we think give our life identity — is found in our conditioning.  Now here we are, decades later, trying to live our lives out of this random programming we call “my life”.  We feel so strongly about parts of the program we are ready to die for it.  And it is all created in our own mind.

There is no escaping the fact that getting beyond this accumulated conditioning is a long process.  Thirty or forty years of programming takes time to work through.  We look at the thoughts, acknowledge them, let them go, and come back to the breath.  Day by day, we uncover what is underneath all of the conditioning.  What we discover is called freedom.  It is called human life.  It is called wisdom and compassion.  It’s the nature of all beings.”

Living freely is the reward of maturity.  Cleaning the windshield is an arduous, stinky task at times.  I am tempted to hide behind the caked-on guck and call it my safe cocoon, expecting my partner to join me there.  He will not.  Is that ungenerous?  Or the most loving thing a friend can do?  Sometimes I have a hard time deciding.  Even when he doesn’t join me there, he has waited for me to emerge.  He finds that very frustrating at times.  He would like to see me free.  He would like to see all people free, including himself.  His sadness and disappointment when we are not free shows in his face and posture.  I think of where my daughter and I used to live.  We have emerged joyfully from that place.  We know freedom.  But we are still cleaning the windshield.  There is more to be done, and the view from that one clear corner is my inspiration to continue the work. 

I am alive.  I am maturing.  I am working on my life.  And I enjoy taking time to write about it every once in a while.  Thanks for listening!


29 thoughts on “I’m still alive

  1. Awesome post! I want you to remember something, whatever the mind of man can conceive and make himself believe, he will achieve. That goes for ANY thing. All you have to do is walk towards your dreams by faith and believe you already received it. Feel as you already got it and head towards your goal.

  2. Another lovely post, Priscilla. What a stalwart and wise friend you have in Steve and I’m sure equally true in reverse. Be well and clean the windshield. I like that … taking it to heart. Loved that book, by the way.

    Good luck with work. 🙂

  3. Hi Scilla
    Vertical storage issues, and the obvious idiocy of ‘heavy box, icy step’ combinations aside, I find myself growing increasingly fond of Steve……Though I try to keep a clarity in my own vision, I’m often more of a ‘smudger’ than a cleaner…It’s nice to know you’re on hand to keep his leather moist….
    Lovely post Scilla

    ps. Having seen the amount of books in your abode, surely one would tell you how to download the images from your memory card to your computer..??!**?

    • Yeah, the images are in my computer, but they’re still in my card as well. Until I download them to another backup, like a thumb drive thingie, I don’t dare delete them. Is that paranoia?


      • Aha..No indeed!
        I too follow the double back up principle……
        (and don’t get me going about paranoia…I used to be so paranoid people started talking about me behind my back!)

        Do hurry with the thumb thingie though…I do like a piccie wi’me posts.

      • Well, I bought a new memory card. Just haven’t plopped it in and started shooting yet. “Possess your soul in patience” as Sir Arthur (Conan Doyle) used to say….


      • Oh you know me..I’m just contrary…..
        But it is funny how you can find yourself agreeing with totally contrary quotes simply because of context…I’m usually all for patience…But now I want to see the first pics on your new card.
        Lets leave it to Arthur and Dante to argue the toss while we take photos and wax lyrical on the web.

  4. Dear Scilla,
    This is an amazing piece of writing, such a thoughtful post. My sister and I are traveling together and I was catching up on my reading this morning–I am SO far behind. My sister looked up and said, “What do I want out of life?” I read your post aloud to her, and it was perfect for the moment. I felt as though two of my friends had gotten together with me for coffee and thoughtful conversation.
    There is such eloquence and wisdom in your writing. When your season ends at the museum, I hope you would consider writing a book, either a memoir or a fictionalized version of your life and the growth you have experienced over the last five years. I hope you will consider it. I will buy the first copy, and one for my sister too.

    • Dear Naomi – traveling, conversing, musing about life with thoughtful folk….what a wonderful life! I will definitely think about how to make that a reality. Stepping outside of the system grid and eschewing “the tyranny of the urgent” allows you to ask those really important questions and take time to listen for the answers rising up within. I want to be wise. I wonder if others do, too, and if we can help each other pursue that goal against the currents of our cultural trends (like the one that keeps telling me that gainful employment is supremely important!).

      • Dear Scilla,
        I think you are exceptionally wise, and you also have a way with words, which is a winning combination. It is harder, or at least it takes longer, but one can still write while working at another job. I think you could just start by doing what you are doing, which is writing smaller pieces for your blog. If you were to collect the ones featuring your personal stories and look at them as chapters, you would find that you are already well on the way.

      • Thanks for the encouragement! That has been a dream of mine, but I always find a way to disqualify myself at the beginning. One of the big muddy smears on my windshield is the fear of failure.


  5. Wow.. I am behind with my reading of blogs but this post of yours was most definitely worth reading.. I have lots of mud at the moment 😦 working on clearing it away as much as I can.. thank you dear Scilla for this wonderful quote..

    • Thank you for your concern, Jamie. I am currently working 5 part time jobs and just not making time to post. I really like blogging when I have lots of time to myself, but I don’t like trying to post just any old thing out of obligation. So I am waiting until my schedule gives me time to luxuriate a bit in my thoughts so I can write or photograph something well-considered. I prefer slow food and slow blogging. I appreciate you asking and checking in very much! 🙂


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