Nice. That quote got me thinking. And thinking gets me posting, so here we are. :)
Coming out of a strange and difficult weekend, I’m curious about how to emerge from behind my own bullying concept of who I am and what I am meant to do in life. The German poet Rilke wrote, “Explore transformation throughout. What is your most suffering experience? Is drinking bitter to you, turn to wine.”
Yeah, I thought. Turn toward what pains, what causes suffering. Don’t run from what you know yourself to be. This introspection that cradles, this extroversion that paints of our universality… isn’t that art? Isn’t a purpose of good writing, music, architecture, etc. to bring forward the suffering and offer it up as both a communal and endurable gift?
If I brush against something and knock it over, I don't pick it up right away. Partly because of an odd belief that inanimate objects can be punished: what was it doing there, in my way?! Later, when I pick it up, sometimes I find a better place for it. Other times I get rid of it. Either way, it makes me think. I'm more reactive than pro-active, and I'm pretty comfortable with that. Perhaps by definition? My proactivity is usually channeled into changing the design of my life such that it will contain different, hopefully better, things (and situations, and people) to react to.
My life got knocked over a year or two ago, and I left it where it lay scattered. Slowly I've picked things up, one at a time, and looked at them as if for the first time. I try to share these reflections, in my livejournal.
Coping with absent-mindedness
I am no longer allowed to "set things down for a minute". If I want to take a load of laundry over to the washer, remove dirty dishes from my room, and refill the sippy-cup of water I keep by my computer, all of these objects are required to remain in my hands until the tasks are completed. Here's the sink, I set down the dishes. I shift the laundry under my arm and refill the drinking cup. On to the laundry room, still holding the cup. The cup stays in my hand while I start a wash. (Sort of like a game of sloshball, but all the time!) Back to the room. I want to set the cup down. May I? I look at the place where I'm likely to put it. Yes, that's where it belongs. We can put it there. It seems I'm able to remember where things 'go' if they have just one 'proper place'. If something is needed in more than one place (i.e. sunglasses), I get two (or more) of them. I take off my sunglasses and try to put them where they go. There's already a pair of sunglasses there! So they have to stay in my hand until I get near the other 'proper place'. In a pinch, they can go in my pants pockets, but only the upper right one. (The other pockets are 'proper places' only for other particular items; only the upper right front pocket is 'free' for additional things.)
Only visible or otherwise obvious 'placements' are permitted, so I can react to them, preferably at the same moment when they are needed. "Does anyone have a pen?" I'm handing you the pen before you're done speaking, because I only have one, and it's clipped to the inside of a particular pants pocket. (Unfortunate corollary: if you forget to return my pen, you do me a slight unkindness -- I only have the one, in its place. If I remember, I'll sit and watch (the pen) until you are done with it.)
I live in a very small room, the smallest in this co-op house, and I can see most of the things in it from where I'm sitting right now. I have a loft I use for storage. I have very little idea what's up there. I won't move into a larger room until I've either gotten rid of all the stuff up there or made it visible and therefore operative.
Deliberately adopting OCD patterns very nicely compensates for ADD patterns. Because you see, the first rule of forgetfulness is you don't remember you have a problem.
There are also some fringe benefits of this set of habits. It leads to an unintended level of 'preparedness', since objects will gravitate toward being in the place where they are needed. So much so that people often ask if I was ever a Boy Scout. Ha! They'd have left me for dead. OK, maybe not, but they'd've spent a few days looking for me until a helpful trucker dropped me off at the camp.
Story: The Spare Sunglasses
I'm driving in my pickup truck. My friend Mike is in the passenger seat. It's a sunny day, and I'm wearing sunglasses. "Can I see those?" he asks. I take them off and hand them to him. He casually puts them on. He looks at me. He goes back to looking at the passing scenery. A few moments pass. In a single motion I reach up above the passenger-side sun visor, pull out an identical pair of sunglasses, flip them open with a shake, and put them on. I look back at him for a moment, then return my attention to driving.
It's like that.