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December 9, 2009

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.

As a mother, I have my feet in two worlds. Surrounded by my children I have a near constant glimpse into Beginner’s Mind.

I don’t live there though. I have become conditioned. Molded and shaped by a culture I have always found suspect.

When I was a child, I lived in my head. Day dreaming through every hour, every moment. School made little sense to me. It never seemed that the lessons connected with anything that mattered. Rather, it all felt like an artificial forced march toward some unhappy future I didn’t want anyway.

Off the bat, college was far more interesting and exciting than any of the 12 previous years of schooling. It was still school, however, and my first experience with college, at 18, was so stressful I returned home before the end of my first year. There were no dorms, so I had to pay rent on an apartment I shared with veritable strangers. I had no car, no job, and no money. I remember once going almost a week without my asthma meds because I couldn’t afford my prescription. It was really rough biking to school every day while wheezing, and I don’t recall why I didn’t ask for help from friends and family…or perhaps I did. I don’t know. In the end, it was a classmate of mine who heard me struggling for breath and offered me her own inhaler.

Time and maturity have taught me that some things (like breathing) are just non-negotiable.

I have now been unemployed for a full week. There seem to be few jobs that fit with what I do, or who I am. It seems I am lost in some weird limbo of being both over- and under-qualified for everything.

I don’t and won’t miss the New Mexico Free Press, but I do miss collecting a paycheck for a job in which I could use my design, writing, and photography skills.

There are possibilities on the horizon, but they’re nebulous. And I am paradoxically frozen by some weird inability to do much more than pore over internet job listings and bemoan my fate.

I have all this time to read, to write, to lay the groundwork for a business I could probably build successfully and yet…I’m tired. Just…tired.

I have a headache and no idea how to access Beginner’s Mind and become once again filled with the joy of possibility. I am an optimist and a pragmatist at heart. This is not me.

But my inhaler is full, and I can breathe. Perhaps I need to look once again at the very basic truths, and work my way up from there.

More shall be revealed.

The other day, I dragged myself through snow and ice to sit with three high schoolers I lovingly call my “mentees.” They go to Monte de Sol Charter school and, they’re writers. On paper I’m their mentor in this writing endeavor…but what that really means to me is that at 4 pm on Mondays I need to show up for them and for myself, and talk about words.

And write words.

I pulled out my dog-eared copy of Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg, and flipped to a random exercise. Starting with “I am..” and writing in terms of a dream, we put pens to page (fingers to laptop) and wrote for 6 minutes. Here’s what I stumbled upon in doing so. Edited only to change typos to real words. 🙂

I am a persimmon. I don’t even know what a persimmon is, really, but in my dreams I have a thick green skin pocked with something…dimples and ridges and bumps. I can’t move, I try to walk through a white world, nothing on any side of me above below, the sides…I reach out in my persimmon skin and try to feel something …I am used to a tangible world where I can touch taste breathe feel but I can’t, everything void of sensation and movement and there’s just me, a persimmon walking through this world of nothing.
I reach out further farther and break my skin, reach out past myself as I search. There’s no pain, so I push my other arm through and feel a breeze on my …skin? I have skin that is smooth not rough and dimpled and ridged like my persimmon self. But I can’t see, can’t hear nothing yet just white….so I tear at myself, ripping the persimmon bits from my face and head and body and step away from my self, letting it fall all around me…little fires ignite in the remnants of my skin. That persimmon that was me.
What on earth is a persimmon? I picture it like a little kiwi fruit or something. Or maybe it’s orange? I don’t know. I don’t look back at the fires raging over what I left behind, just head out into the world of endless white, straining my eyes to see something where there’s only nothing….only nothing…nothing to feel to hear to see to taste.

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