“Embrace the incarnation.”

I’m not huge into new year’s resolutions.  If I see a change I want to make in my life, I don’t wait until January to do it, or I’ll procrastinate it for the same reasons I do during the rest of the year.  But the new year does mark the passing of time and it has a way of forcing some reflection. So here’s my inventory for 2019.

I had some real growth in healing my relationship with the feminine. I learned the sensibility of rest.  I learned to stop running from pain and running at things so hard.  I learned how to sit alone and tolerate (even love) myself without having 7000 things to distract me.  Maybe learned is too strong of a word—I GLIMPSED this on more than one occasion.  And that was pretty powerful. 

I finally finally finalized my divorce.  It seems it’s never really over but I have a paper showing it’s done.  There’s still a human in the world with a seemingly large amount of animosity toward me that I am going to raise a super fun little boy with.  That animosity is a weight.  It ties us together and will probably continue to do so for years to come.  And I will live with it.  

I tried dating.  I did my best.  I got my heart broken.  I ended up confused.  I realized I still have a lot of healing to do in my relationships with men.  I carry very little judgment for how people behave during and after divorce. Marriages that don’t work are gnarly.  Marriages that do work should probably be a little gnarly too if everyone’s being honest. No benefit from judging.  Overall I learned that I like men. I probably can’t live my life out as a celibate monk or a lesbian (believe me—the thought has crossed my mind because it would be so much simpler… !?). So I will keep trying. 

I learned four is way better than three. R is four now and he is FUN! There were so many hard feelings that lifted somewhere in the transition from three to four.  I learned I really like building things with Legos—definitely my favorite of his toys.  I learned pretend play with cars and jets is my least favorite.  Jets on Navy Missions, as he loves to play, are doomed to missile attacks and death.  Cars always crash.  It’s a lot of carnage for my delicate soul.  But let me build a house, car, car wash, desert buggy, phone, record player, elephant, airplane, gas station with Legos and I am in!

Puppies are no picnic.  Even if they only way 2.7lb.  Even if they are the most adorable thing anyone has ever seen.  If you don’t like the idea of excrement everywhere or if you’re not in the habit of going outside for two minutes 400 times a day—puppies are a great mental exercise. 

R has been asking for a puppy (and a dog and a cat and a kitten and a baby sister) for a while.  I realize that you don’t buy a dog for a four year old—that’s delusional. But if I’m being honest, the decision to get a puppy came out of grief from said masculine relationships.  Something about swearing off men.  It would have been seven cats except that I couldn’t tolerate the cat hair.  If I’m REALLY honest, a part of me wanted to become that old woman that crochets with her ten cats by her side and drinks chardonnay while watching Dateline and soap operas.  I saw the appeal for a minute.

But maybe this is where that masculine energy I’ve been working off of since my teens came in handy.  I couldn’t do that.  At least not now.  So I have this sweet little ball of fur that absolutely loves me even though I’m not sure why.  And we have a plan for potty training now so I am starting to love him too.

So there’s the update from 2019.  Now what about 2020? First a little story.

I took R to the swimming pool at the rec center with his cousins when I was in Utah over the holidays.  I was excited because he’s been doing swim school and has made such great progress.  We arrived at the rec center full of anticipation.  When we entered the pool area, everyone was out of the water for a swim break.  R looked over the massive play structure in the wading pool and cried, “This pool is awesome!”  We waited on the side.  The jets of water began to spray throughout the play structure. The life guards blew their whistles signaling that we could enter the pool. This followed by an eruption of delighted screams as children charged the pool from all sides.  

R screamed with terror.  I spent the next 30 minutes trying to entice him into the water, trying to get him to relax and enjoy the pool.  This concluded with me carrying my screaming child to the side where I dumped him into grandma’s capable arms.  I was angry.  As it was happening I saw how ridiculous it was.  How many of my friends and family have I observed wanting their kids to participate in “fun” things and then get frustrated when their child responds with fear and anxiety?  A lot. Maybe all. I should know better. Still here I was. Indignant thoughts about how much I had spent on swim lessons–“What are we even doing this for!?” I asked my sister.  She has four kids and with a kind, been-there-done-that attitude, she listened to my rant.

It was shortly after this I realized that maybe I should just let myself be 36.  Maybe I should let myself embrace the incarnation.  I’ve done all this soul searching and learning about consciousness, spirituality and love.  Part of this has been motivated by the hope that maybe it will help me skip some of the suffering.  I’ve realized that my suffering is all of my own creation.  So why can’t I stop creating it?  

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this of Ram Dass’ quote and I found it particularly helpful:

“Embrace the incarnation.” Essentially what he meant was this: He had spent enough time in meditation and transcendental and psychedelic states to understand that what we call “reality” is all an illusion. He knew that we are in fact not these bodies, nor are we these lives. He knew that consciousness is a divine dance—that it’s all projection, that none of this is actually TRUE. He knew that we are all ONE, all God. And yet, he also understood that on another plane we ARE here. We ARE separate beings in these weird meat bodies, with these particular personalities, dramas, and gifts, performing in this strange play. 

The trick of life, he said, was to understand that none of this is real, but to embrace the incarnation, anyhow. Throw yourself into life, despite the fact that it’s all a dream. He knew that he was not really this guy named Ram Dass (he was actually God in disguise, just like you and I are) but he played that character beautifully—with big-hearted compassion, with endless curiosity, with love and humor, and with a mischievous wink that seemed to say, “It’s all just a game, but ain’t it Grand?”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Instagram 12/23/2019

So my resolution (if this can even be called that) for 2020 is to embrace the incarnation. 

  • I’ll make all the mistakes that 36 year olds make. 
  • I’ll hustle in the way that 36 year olds hustle.
  • I’ll spend money on stupid 36 year old things.  
  • I’ll worry about vain things the way 36 year olds do.
  • I’ll mistake accomplishments and material things for happiness.
  • I’ll give the passionate speeches that 36 year olds give about political, religious, corporate and educational institutions. 
  • I’ll make the parenting blunders that 36 year olds make.
  • I will worry too much about the cleanliness and furnishings of my house.
  • I’ll modify my diet in ways that probably don’t make sense.
  • I’ll read the books that 36 year olds read. 
  • I’ll write the stories that 36 year olds write.  
  • I’ll talk to god the way 36 year olds do, in moments of pain or as I relax into sleep.  
  • I’ll let my heart bleed for the suffering in the world.
  • I’ll put on my big girl pants and go to work and make dinner and pay the electric bill.
  • I’ll waste time watching TV.
  • I’ll wash the dishes and wipe little boy bottoms and snuggle and kiss and yell…

…because I only get one year to be 36.