Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twenty Five to Life

I hear the winter of 1986 was excellent. Perhaps my conception was the grand finale to one of those blessed days on the mountain which decrescendo over a winding descent into city lights, having spent, incinerated, seemingly every cell's energy - only the warmest coals left glowing after stoking the fire of life with laps over fresh fallen snow.

A little prematurely, four weeks so, the hormones and essences of life synchronized between child in utero and host mother elected Labor Day for the waters to break way for my arrival. Stubbornly, breached, I delayed that til the early hours of Tuesday, arrival crescendo to emergency C-section, all six pounds of me exiting the womb at 2:44am, September 2. My mother thought I was beautiful. Everyone else noted the misshapen nose still imprinted and off balance from the curves of nesting against her spine. They called me Yoda. She called me Jennifer Elaine, after my paternal grandmother. The resident staff of St. Luke's labor and delivery ward took note of only the latter of the names, thankfully.

A heap of living between then and now, but that was the moment celebrated this weekend as I traveled the miles between Salt Lake and Boise for a time that must be among thousands by now, musing on the precious and temporary conditions of life. Thought that of all we have as human beings, no matter who we are - none of it couldn't be lost or dissolved in the contents of a day. Not even our stories are entirely our own. We drift through these moments on borrowed time and at the mercy of a universe of changing circumstance. We can take ownership over what we give, but not what we get given.

Not knowing what tomorrow may bring - what's to be invested in? Relationships, experiences, whatever makes one grow in love and gratitude - that's all I'm truly banking on, at least. I drive long obnoxious miles for that end because really, such is what I'm driven by. The cost dissolves in the dividends: love is worth its expense, worthy in spite of or maybe even because of - its impermanence.

As the now reigning majority, mine was a home broken over time, love and lust lost between the entities that created me. Even fleetingly, the powers of attraction, passion, lust and ideally love witness their lasting merit; entire lives are borne of mere moments shared, in connection, in synthesis, whether the instincts and emotions make it for the long haul or even through the night.

Adulthood is no longer pending. Not at twenty five. You're in it, whether acted upon or not. I've got ideas about what I want, have the foundations established in the first half of my twenties and then some, have forward-thinking hopes and intentions. That doesn't really matter, though. I could die tomorrow or live a thousand years and what surfaces of meaning in all of this, what I've spent the last week plus change musing on, is real, meaningful love for life and my people, which doesn't require perfection or poise or even a state of being "pulled together." As you may know, I'm often scrambling at the wiles of a full schedule and deep seeded wanderlust - grace, patience and tolerance go a long way in preserving relationships in the tumult of life.

Perhaps the most remarkable transition of adulthood is going from approaching the world for the taking, the exploit, with unskilled-as-of-yet hands and heart, demands, needs, expectations - to pure, whole hearted love that seeks to give, understand, nurture, as is, for better or worse, knowing intuitively that it's worth it even if painful and with invisible returns.

Not that I'm there. I surely haven't fully arrived, but the wheels in me are turning ever forward. Learning continues. Loving, so much that it hurts is a choice I've made, openly, knowingly, with intention. In the act of prayer, more than a few times I've been returned powerfully that I am to be an active part of the answer, that the universe has invested in me; I have been given much - and even in the act of making requests, they require action, choices, discipline at the junction of awareness and loving. Giving back. Knowing or desiring to know how, when, where, why, to whom and what is to be given. And firstly - to love oneself enough to give love and support inwardly, which makes all the difference in reaching out.

Another transition: I've been thinking about Facebook and what it implies in its brand of "friendship." In contemplation of technology's artifice, the opportunity provided for people to interact in means unprecedented - much of which I'm grateful for, there's a magic in being to connect with friends past and see how their stories are unfolding, and knowing things and events are happening with little effort can be really great. However, sometimes retaining connection is not for the better, is not appropriate, windows that would naturally and/or intentionally shut are kept open by social media. I don't believe the validity, importance, value of a connection is diminished in its end any more than a novel or movie - endings are part of life. When a connection is grown out of, moved on from, finitely over - is it appropriate or healthy that either party be updated about the comings and goings, relationships and current images of the other? Never in the history of mankind has this been the case, at least not without a human third party, or stalking - which was previously regarded as sociopathic, creepy, and illegal. Is this a normative change we want to embrace? Perpetuate?

I've 'unfriended' very few people since I first joined the site in 2007. I've never gone through and 'weeded' as I've heard some people describe. It all seemed sort of like human farming, a bit of a grotesque approach to connection.

But I get it now. I've heard expressions of open contempt and derision for contacts maintained online, kept for entertainment, to feed competition, pity and criticism. That's not a friendship, and that's not honest. I think the more we feed into that sort of approach and even abstractedly christen it friendship, the more a falsely presented environment of scrutiny, criticism, unkindness and ultimately injury is fostered. It's sick, it's cyclical, it's harmful, and I want no part in reinforcing that. I want to be a real person and share loving, whole acceptance with others. I don't want to edit my posts for audience, I want to just post, as I am, with integrity and a whole heart.

I did some housekeeping this weekend and closed a few chapters of Facebook "friendship." My guiding principle in my decision was this - would I, or could I, sit down and share a meal with this person, exchange stories and feel sincerity and mutuality and human goodness? There were no's, and logistically and practically I'm not going to be seeing most of my FB contacts anytime soon, some maybe ever. But I did recognize that I have much to be grateful for and many connections to nurture with time and over good food in the future.

25 to life: I'm conciously taking you full on. Being real. Loving hard. Come what may.

Cheers to that.


Clancy and Katie Black said...

Happy Birthday! I know with Clancy just turning 25 and 25 for me coming up in just a couple of months we've been having a lot of the same feelings...but you put it into words so beautifully. Glad we made your facebook cut :)

Becky Baird said...

I remember that day. Oh yeah, you were a stubborn little thing even then. I remember your insistence to do it by your own self early in life. I remember your equal passion for analyzing life and for embracing challenge and adventure. Right from the beginning your were this same courageous soul you are today. We, your people, are lucky folk! PS: Great anaylsis and insight about FACEBOOK. I agree!

Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Smith said...

Ah, 25!

A mile marker in life! I always enjoy reading your insight. Thanks for sharing.