Sunday, December 27, 2009

Waiting at the Crosswalk

This time of year I don't get out to photograph much, so I like to poke around in the year's files to see if there are unpublished possibilities in there. Today I was looking at scenes from our trip to Chicago, and got stopped by two different images I could swear were taken from the same place.

We were about to cross State Street, I believe, and what I remember is the stairs up to the elevated, but at the same time, just before I shot the stairs, I seem to have shot a crosswalk. So -- what the heck -- since the two experiences seem superimposed, I'll see if I can superimpose the two photographs to capture that odd memory of having been in the same place but seeing two completely different things.

And so this image emerged, a surprisingly graphic representation of how I've been feeling this last week or so about my spiritual path. You see, I'd been thinking-- well, probably it was my ego that thought this -- that I'd been climbing steadily toward a new perspective, but in reality I'm beginning to suspect I'm still just on the same path, in the same dimension -- and maybe even standing still.

What's interesting is that there are rails here -- presumably protecting me from cross-traffic -- but when I get to the top -- or the other side, depending on how you view it -- I can no longer see the path ahead: instead, there's a door. I thought I knew what was on the other side, but now I'm not so sure...

I love this process (as you can tell); it's like exploring dreams. And part of me is itching to climb these stairs and get to the other side. But another part of me is wondering what "traffic" I might be closing myself off to in the process -- which is tangled up somehow with some concerns I've had lately about where this path is taking me.

It seems like I should be (uh-oh; a should -- look out!) gaining in compassion, and some part of me thinks that would mean I'd be more engaged with the world and with my fellow humans. But what actually seems to be happening is that I'm spending more and more time at home, and am less and less inclined to "go out and mingle." My worries about this surfaced again last night, when we went to see that great new movie, "It's Complicated" (which I loved).

A friend of ours came late to the theater, and, seeing that there was an unusually long line for tickets, she asked if she could cut in with us. We of course agreed, and as we chatted before the movie began I learned that she had spent some time on Christmas Eve serving at a soup kitchen downtown. She told me some of the sad things she had seen -- apparently they had also driven by Tent City, Seattle's wandering homeless community -- and I could feel myself wondering again why it is that my work isn't leading me into that sphere.

I get that we can't all be Mother Teresa. But... perhaps it's the protestant in me: what is faith without works? Thinking about this, standing in front of my coffeepot this morning and feeding my daughters' fish, it occurred to me that the pulling back and staying home could easily be a response to the Empty Nest. And though the day-to-day chores of child-rearing are now pretty much over for me, the girls are pretty unsettled right now: perhaps my motherbird instincts are what's keeping me fluttering so close to the nest? Or could it be my husband's unemployment?

What's great is that I'm not actually flagellating myself over this. I'm sufficiently detached from my ego to be able to say there's little blaming or shaming going on. It's more just a wondering: is there a course correction needed? It's good to ask the question; better still to sit and be patient long enough for the answer to become more clear, rather than dashing across to the other side against the light, on the assumption that that's where I'm supposed to go or what I'm supposed to do.

And so another scene from Peter Pan comes to me, one set on the Jolly Roger near the end of the play, after Hook has set his trap for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys:

Starkey (in a stage whisper): "What are we doing?"
Me, as Gabby the Cook (also whispering): "Waitin' "
Starkey: "Waitin' fer wot? Dinner?"
Me/Gabby: "There'll BE no DINNER!"
Starkey: "So what are we waitin' for, then?"
Me/Gabby: "I dunno."
Hook (shouting): "The Lost Boys and a FAIRY, you fools!"

Yup. Feeling a little foolish. Feels like I'm waiting, for something I'm not altogether sure I believe in. I've not been doing my normal job -- feeding the pirates -- but spending my time whipping up gooey treats in hopes of capturing something pretty elusive. And now? Only one choice: We Wait.

Sounds almost like Christmas hasn't happened yet...


M.L. Gallagher said...

I love the poetry and the symbolism of this post Diane. And, I particularly appreciate the insight.

Like you, I've been waiting -- on what I am not sure. My partner and I have been going through some angst over goals and common ground and I find myself on very uncommon ground of simply being in the relationship, not making the relationship happen.

Tentative grounds for my peace of mind. I'm far too accustomed to 'making' people open up, talk, share, be engaged. I'm not at all accustomed to simply being in that place where I am engaged in being, not doing.

Thank you so much for your words. You inspire me to simply breathe and be. Breathe and be. One. At peace. In the moment.

"Only one choice: We wait."


Maureen said...

I am reminded of "Waiting for Godot".

And of these lovely lines by William Stafford: "To be a discoverer you hold close whatever you find and after awhile you decide what it is and then, secure in where you have been, you turn to the open sea and let go."

I think we're getting there.