Tag Archives: brooklyn

Self-Contained Heart

9 Feb

Couer_LevitéThere is a walk I know so well, it becomes shorter with each passing. East to west, and back again, the street on which I reside runs one way across four miles to New York Harbor. Then against the current runs back again to my landlocked, hillocked Brooklyn berm and a little bit beyond to East New York, where it terminates.

Ideal walking conditions exist for the duration of a journey in either direction, and conveniently, the best coffee roasters in Brooklyn have a shop about two and a half miles west of my front door. No need to zig-zag, I just go directly there, and it’s a perfect way station to everything else I adore downtown.

I am, actually, ideally situated. Unless I’m going to my new motorcycle writing job in an office two neighborhoods to the north in Williamsburg. Then forget about it. It’s a misery involving public transport.

But anyway. Anyway. I am ideally situated. And I actually regret that the journey grows ever shorter as my mind wears soft the edges of every landmark along the way. Nothing is entirely erased from my attention, but now the scenery is just quiet background material that gives my mind a little too much license to run to extremes.

Tonight my round-trip journey was evidently an experiment in the amplitude of my emotions. On the way to a celebratory evening, I was all playlist-induced positivity and hopefulness. Homeward only a couple of hours later, listening to the same music while I begrudgingly saluted myself for making responsible choices, I scraped the absolute boggy bottom reaches of the pits of despair (that will always make me think of The Princess Bride).

I debated hopping on to a bus to shorten the grueling duration of my thoughts, but the true and earnest part of me knew that walking home (and texting a soul friend as I set my course) was the only cure for a bleak mood. So I did it. And by golly, as my steps neared home, the amplitude soared and sank and then reached the even keel of a solid midline.

You wanna know what did the trick? Walking meditation produced a bounteous truth, friends. I’m talking major stuff from minor obsessing. Swinging my little tote bag full of coffee beans (of course I stopped for those, are you kidding?), I let my mind trace and retrace the contours of an indelible impression made upon me by a certain blue-eyed someone earlier today.

Ohhhh but the mark of this occurrence was like the century-old cowboy graffiti on the canyon walls of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. This was deep stuff. This was good stuff. This afternoon I walked into a perfectly eastern-lit room and watched a set of shoulders and chest rise up and pull back in an opening sequence to a smile that lit eyes and then wandered mouthward for a grin and a startled hello.

I was everything that lit this moment for this man. And I say, I note, that this uncultivated, unsuspecting and unchoreographed. I was tumbling into this space all aflutter because my actual office reeked of some sort of construction fumes, fumes that ol’ blue eyes himself here had caused with his own manly machinations in the space.

I felt my own being spread into a slow smile as I carried myself to where he sat and plunked down, leaving empty plenty of other rows of seating around us. Pointed, I was. And sharp with my “you fumigated my office” accusations. I didn’t say that, but whimperingly implied it and then extolled the virtues of my new motorcycle writing project office, to which he countered, “And I bet that reeks of grease and exhaust.”

Oh no, quite the contrary, it’s modern and beautiful, thank you. (And later I was to realize that I am actually living the dream of having a writing office in a garage full of motorcycles, but that’s another topic entirely!)

But truthfully, I was backpedaling and avoiding eye contact because, goodness. That was a reaction. That was the reaction of someone I have not seen in quite a little while because I’ve been so busy living my dreams, making dreams come true, dreaming big. You know, all that stuff you’re supposed to do when you “do you.”

Et voila! That was it. I nearly stopped in my leaden tracks as snowflakes began to fall in the cooling air tonight. “Scarcity increases demand.”

It’s not just an economic principle. And I’m not talking about “playing hard to get.” But I am referring to what my friend and I have long termed “The Monastic Vibe.” That amazing, impenetrable, unobtainable aura you project when you’re actually only focused on getting work done, for yourself. It’s less about feigning hard to get, and more about actually living as yourself, your whole self, in your life. When you exist that way in the world, you not only feel better, but you project a radiance unique to the unobtaniums of the world. You are not just a simple take-down, readily available, easy to find, crumbling edifice of a human. You are a rare and scarce specimen of human achievement, and by golly, people want you.

So there I was, limping home, murkily revisiting every lost hope of love and tumbling into an abyss of forgettable self. When a few mind’s eye replays of a glowing look startled me back into head-held-high belief in my own scarcity:demand ratio. Then I realized that the reaction Mr. Blue-Eyed Tiger had when I walked into the office was the same brightening of spirit that I can’t help but exhibit whenever he walks into my workspace. It’s a total uplift of shared but scrupulously contained excitement. We hardly know each other, and I’ve been putting this one on the way, way back burner to examine it for veracity of feeling. (New habit, trying it out, thanks, Soul Friend.)

Realization complete, I felt a smile return to my countenance, and then my mind bookended the revelation with the recollection that when the Blue-Eyed Tiger left the office today, after he put on his coat, readied his earphones, and was walking to the door, his look back was for me and me alone. I raised my eyes in an office full of people, found him looking directly at me, and then seeing me look, he waved and bid his farewell.

That is what I thought as I climbed the stoop to my front door: “Those looks were for me alone.” Scarcity increases demand. I’ll keep those looks, thank you, and live in a way that’s true to my heart and keeps me centered on my course. That’s where I’ll find my midline-walking equal, and our eyes will meet in rare understanding. Oo la la!

Do Whatever You Want

29 Dec

IMG_1983

It was the best kind of double-take. One that I certainly didn’t orchestrate, because I was playing invisible on tonight’s urban hike. It was finally cold enough to wear hat and scarf and gloves, so I was nestled into a woolen cocoon, winding my way around and through the rotary at Grand Army Plaza with a private glee at having used almost all the criss-crosswalks on my round-trip.

Brooklyn was mine, it was all lit up above and dark below, and the statues hovering above Prospect Park were luminescent cutouts against a dusk that only I raised my eyes toward. Everyone else was looking phoneward. Except the runners, moving smugly in spandex robotron packs, but I couldn’t begrudge them their mutual glee at finally being able to use our winter gear. Finally!

Hidden under my hat too were earphones, which completed my little private universe with a delectable new Michael Mayer mix from Köln. I’d rather expeditiously obtained my fancy new NYC ID card from the library, which will now enable me free access to sooooo many city institutions, and I was carrying a parcel of actual photographic prints picked up from the drug store. Photos! On paper. Picked up after work, in the manner of regular people with jobs.

The total effect of all this fast-walking list-ticking was jubilance. I felt my spine doing that thing they’re always talking about in yoga, “lifting upward away from the pelvis,” and I guess my open heart was more conspicuous than I realized, because by the time I reached the main commercial street near my apartment, I noticed a repetition of actions I haven’t marked in quite some time. Handsome souls were actually lifting their faces from their phones, and looking in my direction. I automatically assumed they were watching for the bus, or trying to ascertain where their beautiful girlfriend was, so I just kept bounding along. But then I saw one handsome actually crane his neck to maintain his view after I passed a large tree.

Well, I’ll be darned. All that stuff that my craniosacral massage therapist and everyone intelligent in the world says is true. When you feel good, you look good. I’ll probably go back to shrugging my shoulders up around my wish to be invisible tomorrow. BUT tonight I was as bright as those statues, because just like them, I assumed no one was looking up at me.

Overwintering Your Heart

24 Dec

IMG_1556All summer long, I watched my fuchsia plant react to sunlight and heat the way I do, shriveling up and running for the shade. Except the poor fuchsia couldn’t run. It doesn’t “have agency,” to put it the way I heard someone on the radio describe the imbuing of inanimate objects or ideas with motility.

There wasn’t much I could do for the fuchsia’s placement, given the limitations of my south-facing, 50-square-foot (extremely wobbly) deck. But because I was working at home this summer, I provided the fuchsia with agency. I went outside several times a day and picked up its planter and moved it to the rotating pockets of shade cast by the slotted railing throughout the day. It wasn’t enough, though, because it was just too hot for the poor thing. (Next year I will finally get a canvas sail shade!)

So my fuchsia went dormant. Summer dormant. And when the autumn came, I repotted it with a plan to bring it indoors for overwintering in my building’s basement. Everyone online says fuchsia’s have to be the basement, because the house is too warm to let the plant know it’s winter. But honestly, I hate the idea of putting the plant in this building’s particularly grim basement, so I put off the move until the first frost.

…Which never, never came in this El Niño winter. It’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now. So, since September the fuchsia has remained where I left it outside. I peeked at it every morning, just to see how it was doing, wondering how dormant versus dead it was. Then, a few weeks ago, right around the time my Christmas cactus was in full, vibrant bloom indoors, I noticed bright, new pink bulbs forming at the end of the fuchsia’s healthiest branch. It was loving life, getting ready to bloom again.

I know I should be horrified, I know I should feel bad that the plant is confused in our weird climate pattern. But I am so happy to see that it’s living, and it actually obviously just needed me to leave it alone for a while cooler temperatures so it would recuperate.

Meanwhile, the plants I brought in for the winter, my kitchen herbs, have died. I researched this move, too, but fearing a sudden drop in temperature during a two-week trip abroad that I was taking in November, I skipped the step of repotting outdoors and letting the plants adjust to the new confines outside before dragging them inside. Well, that was a mistake.

And this mistake was something I was lamenting this morning while I did yoga in the presence of a withering rosemary plant on the window sill. I’d moved it inside, then closer to the heater when the window got drafty and cold, then again closer to the window for more sunlight when it was warmer, trying to help it weather the ups and downs of temperature fluctuations, and yet there it was, regretfully having to make its exit because it preferred to roam free outdoors. The soil was wrong, the pot was wrong, the depth was wrong, the poor plant, which never really got established this summer outdoors, was now overwatered, over-coddled and overcome.

So I googled “saving a rosemary plant brought indoors for overwintering” and found a helpful website that basically told me I did it all wrong (but in a very polite fashion), and I frowned. To lose a plant life is not something that happens often in this apartment. I am the plant rescuer! I am a hero! How could I accept this defeat?

Then I saw a helpful and very relevant quote in a column next to the overwintering article:

A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.
—May Sarton

And I exhaled. Okay. Yeahhh… even though a plant loss feels far more severe than discovering that a skirt no longer fits (even immobile, plants are alive, of course), I guess it’s something that happens, even to the best gardener.

I was sort of not really accepting this truth, promising myself and the universe that I’d have all the right overwintering materials and practices in place next year (this is only my second year of having a real garden), when some more fortuitous words leapt into my frame of vision.

It was my new mantra, one I’ve written about on this site previously, but not one I was ready to actually live out until my return from Spain and France a month ago:

“Stop leaving, and you will arrive. Stop searching, and you will see. Stop running away, and you will be found.” 
—Lao Tzu

I moved the plants around frantically, just like I move myself around frantically, but they only really flourished when I could let them rest in one place. Given the right conditions and a little time to take root, plants are pretty resilient.

Already, only one month into my new practice of not flying away from New York the minute I get antsy or a little to close to getting what I want at work, I can tell that I’m getting stronger, and new work ideas are arriving. If I want all my big career moves to happen, I have to stop moving. If I want to enjoy all that I have, I need to stop looking elsewhere. And if I want to be discovered as the whole person that I can be when I just sit still and let myself be whole, then I need to stop running to the airport. Constantly. Although I’ll definitely enjoy my Delta Gold status next year!

 

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