A Photograph of me without me in it

A Photograph of me without me in it
A photograph of me without me in it

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Painting Experience

My friend Steffany, who is a painter, convinced me to join her for Stewart Cubley's "The Painting Experience," which was in Seattle this past weekend. Steffany paints beautifully. In fact, an image of her painting "The Blue Iris", accompanied by Mary Oliver's poem "Praying," hangs in our bathroom, where I see it several times every day. Steffany sent my partner Ann and me the image with the poem when she heard about my first brain tumor. The poem and her image still give me solace:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak

I do love silence, and am more often silent than speaking, but words interpret my world and my experience for me. Some, perhaps Mary Oliver, Stewart and Annie (another experienced facilitator), might suggest that my words clutter my mind, getting in the way of my experience of the moment and of God (and perhaps those are just different words for the same thing.)

Silence has been calling me lately: I'm reading the book Full Catastrophe Living, which is about meditation; I meditate each morning, sitting or lying silently and quieting my word-filled mind; I'll take a meditation class for people dealing with serious and chronic illnesses beginning Thursday; two of my professors have begun each class with a short meditation. 

A few weeks ago, in church, we said in a prayer: "We bring to you, in silence, prayers too deep for words." In the silence that followed, I remember thinking, "I do believe that there are prayers too deep for words, but I have no idea how to access them. How do I do that?"

This weekend's painting experience was about this life below the words. Steffany had told me that I didn't have to be a painter to participate. In fact, she said, "The Painting Experience" is not really about painting at all: it's about the process.

"What process?" I wondered. I thought, "Maybe it's like the writing process that I taught my high school freshman: First: Find a seed idea, a place to begin. Then collect ideas around that seed idea…and so on until finalizing and publishing. Maybe the painting process will be like that." (It wasn’t.)

Though we painted for ten hours or so across the three days, more than I have painted in the rest of my life combined, Steffany was right, and I began to glimpse the idea of what process it was that we were exploring. At first, however, I just noticed how talented some of the other painters in the room were, especially when I compared them to me.

At first ,when I was painting I looked around and noticed the beautiful works by the other painters, obviously more schooled and experienced than I am. I kept riffing on T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in my head: "Am not a painter, nor was meant to be."After a while, I gave up the refrain. Steffany was right. The experience was about the process, and I began to intuit what that process was. I don't have the words for it. Perhaps there are no words.

Here's how the day would begin: the twenty of us would sit in a circle in chairs, be welcomed and thanked for being on time. We would be told that we would not get direction. We would have a blank piece of drawing paper, some brushes, and a lot of paint. We were to paint, to engage ourselves in our work without being attached to product. We were not to comment on one anothers’ paintings. That's it. Then we would go paint for a couple of hours.

At some point in my painting, usually when I was stuck, Stewart or Annie would stop by and say something like, "Did you think of painting anything you haven't painted? Paint that," or "I see you've used the wide brushes. What would happen if you tried a smaller brush?"

So I would keep painting. I wanted to explain, and I think once I did, "I'm not a painter.” In fact, I participated in this experience because I am interested in using writing in therapy as a therapist and wanted to experience a medium in which I'm uncomfortable. Several participants introduced themselves as therapists, and the person near me told me that she came because her therapist had suggested it, so I thought that maybe I had come to the right place.

Sometimes, my writers may be uncomfortable with their writing like I was with my painting. The point, there too, won't be the product: it will be the access to the world beneath consciousness, beneath our current language for who we are and what we are experiencing. 

However, I wasn't just thinking about my future clients and my future career. I wanted to find that space in myself, to learn about the self beneath the words. So I painted.

My first painting was a chaos of yellow and red tones circling in the middle of a greater chaos of blues and greens. That's how it started. Then Annie suggested I try a small brush, and I brushed three characters in a diagonal line, each steady amidst the chaos in a different yoga pose.

The painting made sense to me: I see myself as one who lives in a chaos of time and emotion, and yoga and breathing bring me steadiness. When she returned and saw my new figures, Annie asked, "If you were going to paint something elsewhat would it be and where would it go?"

I painted roses in the only spots left. I don't know what those roses meant, but they were solid and steady, like the yoga figures, and they seemed right. Annie came again, and I said to her, "You're going to make me change it again, aren't you?" She laughed and let me begin a new piece of paper. I was trying to let go of my investment in the product (even though I don't see myself as a painter), but it was hard, so I kept singing Little Feet in my head:

You don't have to close your eyes 
You don't have to turn away 
You can't expect to take the right road every morning 
When you start to feel the words get in the way 
Listen to your heart 
And what it has to say.

The second time I faced a blank piece of paper, I used browns and greys to paint a giant sand dollar. A wave's ending, white and brown, kissed the sand dollar's edge, and to the side was a lavender and white scallop shell. A glimpse of the green and blue water sparkled with white and red and purple.  The corner of a red towel showed in the upper corner, as did part of the upside of a child's yellow shovel. The sand all around sparkled with browns, reds, purples, and greens, as the sand does when you look at it up close. A brown footprint was partially evident at the top of the page, and I thought, "This painting is about how beautiful even the sand is." I knew I needed to put the dark imprint that my cane makes everywhere I go in the sand, but the logical place would be towards the sand dollar's middle, and that wouldn't be beautiful, so I painted my cane's imprint at the shell's upper right, partly convincing myself that I might walk that way. I sat back, looked at it a while, then painted a break in the perfectly formed shell. 

Annie came by. "What's this?" she asked, pointing to the break. When I answered that the shell had been broken by my cane, she nodded, pointed to the cane's imprint, and asked, "What's this?" I told her that it was my cane's imprint, but she was clearly confused. After all, the imprint wasn't on the shell. She sort of nodded. "My cane breaks things everywhere I go," I said. "It's sad but it's just how it is." She asked, "What's your feeling in this painting," and I said, "Sadness." She told me to paint that sadness, patted me on the shoulder, and walked away.

So I moved the cane mark onto the shell and covered the painting in blue tear drops, large and small. When she came back again, I was exhausted: "It's more authentic now," I told her. "I'm exhausted. I'm going to rest."

Touching that sadness is hard for me. I am so thankful for my life and so grateful to see the beauty around me, and I tend to live in that joyful place. My painting took me to a different place, perhaps a deeper place (but perhaps not), a place of sadness that I don't yet honor as I will one day. I had painted a beach scene, a sand dollar, perfect and whole. Then the cane fell: broken sand dollar. Tears, big and small, trite but true. That's the place I don't want to go, to that place of pain. I seek wholeness and joy and peace, and I don't want to feel that large crack in my heart, even if Leonard Cohen was right:

There's cracks.
Cracks in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

I rested deeply Saturday night, and Sunday morning I began again with a clean white piece of paper. I returned to the theme of brokenness and painted the scene from inside my car after the accident that happened on the last day I drove: June 12, 2012. 

There was the solidness of the door and the confusing shatter of glass: rain dripping from the sky as the firemen cut the roof off my car to get me out. The sky lit with the siren's rotating red light. The fireman at my window: "Are you alright, ma'am?" and me, "I think I'm fine, but I can't get out of the car." His double-take as he noticed my crossed eye and somewhat paralyzed face: "I'm okay. My face is like this because I had brain surgery." My glasses had flown from my head. Where were they? My body felt insubstantial, vulnerable. Remembering, I painted a ghostly hand, not solid, not even in its outline, apparently unconnected to anything--or anyone.

I sat back from my painting, breathing slowly and deeply. Stewart asked the story behind the painting. I told him the story and that the painting didn't feel done, but I wasn't sure why. He suggested that I fill in the hand. No, that wasn't it. I know what it is. I painted, upside down and in the far right corner, my glasses: the most solid image in the car. 

Then I went to my zero gravity chair and took a nap. In the afternoon, I painted with bright colors and big strokes: flowers, a wheel, a black bird, and a vine through it all. The vine reminded me of photographs I took before my surgery of rusting cars in meadows. The return to a time before this intensity gave me a much-needed break. 

I went to my chair to nap again, and found another painter in my chair. Apparently, I wasn't the only worn-out painter. She said it was awfully comfortable but relinquished her spot so that I might take my rightful place. After resting, I rose to sit in a circle with the leaders and the other painters for closure. Only there would be no closure. "It's over," said Stewart, "so let's not talk about it." 

In the morning, when I had asked him why not talking about the art was so important, he had said, "The less you know about what you are doing, the more authentic it is…. The process is about unconsciousness, where the painting and the painter aren't separate, and words bring back consciousness." His words reminded me of Eugen Herrigel’s Zen and the Art of Archery, a small and important book that I haven’t read for 25 years: “Be the arrow. Be the target.” "What the heck did that mean?" I wondered at the time. I have been exploring that question for a quarter of a century.

Though consciousness is not the point, perhaps consciousness of unconsciousness is at some point appropriate, and so, for now I write, the words spilling from me like wet paint from a brush. 

Perhaps someday I'll be beyond the words, but that time has not yet come. So for now I write. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Coming Out

Today, I presented at an orientation for this year's incoming Masters of Social Work class at the University of Washington's School of Social Work, where I go to school. Earlier this week, I presented to the incoming MSW students who are part-time, like I am (though I'm more part-time than they are, so this group and I will graduate together even though I started two years before they did.) Afterwards, I hung around until the last person had left for lunch, and several students introduced themselves and talked with me about their disabilities and their interests in working with people with disabilities and advocating for Disabilities as a Social Justice Issue. It's been great to meet some of my peeps, and I'm excited about some of the work we may do together to improve the climate at the UW SSW for people with disabilities and to improve among social workers who graduate from the UW the understanding of disability as a social justice issue.

In my talk, I compared coming out as a person with disabilities (I don't have to come out, but people with invisible disabilities do) to coming out as a gay person in the previous decades. My partner Ann and I often talk about the dramatic change in attitudes towards and laws concerning Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (BLGTQ) people in the twenty years since we got to know one another. One of our theories is that change has come (and still has a ways to go, I must acknowledge) because so many people who preceded us came out, even when it wasn't safe to do so. Thus, so many people know someone personally, love someone, who is GLBTQ. The coming out has humanized a life that was too abstract for people who didn't have personal experiences.

I encouraged my classmates with invisible disabilities to come out, so that the people in our world see us and come to know us. I encouraged them, too, to get involved with the work of making this world--starting in this community--more aware of people with disabilities and the issues we face.

The power of coming out has been on my mind since Ann read aloud to me the WNBA basketball phenom Brittney Griner's memoir In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court. Griner is 6'8", athletic, and generously tattooed. When she's interviewed, she's sweet and humble and speaks with an unusually deep voice. Once I saw her signing a fan's life-size poster of a photo of her with a snake wrapped around her body.

I expected the memoir to be an interesting story about an interesting person, but not well-told, like K.D. Lang's memoir from a decade or so ago. It wasn't. It was an in-depth story about an gritty person, beautifully told. (I'm guessing that co-writer Sue Hovey of ESP The Magazine had something to do with the writing's quality.)

The memoir closes:

I have spoken my truth, and most people didn't run away from me. They weren't afraid of my sexuality, or my appearance, or my emotions, or my shortcomings. They weren't afraid of my desire to walk a different path from the one that society tries to choose for us all--the safe path. If I wanted to play it safe, I would never get out of bed in the morning. I stand out in the world, and I love that about myself. I didn't always feel this way, but I've come to discover the more I embrace who I am, the more I connect with other people. And the more I connect with other people, the more I learn about myself. 

We used to say that being gay was the last socially appropriate aspect of one's identity to denigrate. It's not okay to make gay jokes anymore without some awareness of the inappropriateness. I don't think people generally accept making fun of people with disabilities (I've only been mocked twice in the last seven years, both times by teenage boys from a distance), but it does seem that it's okay to discriminate against people with disabilities. For example, pregnant women can decide to test for whether their unborn child may have disabilities and may decide to terminate the pregnancy for that reason. I wonder what would happen if they could test for sexual orientation. 

The discrimination I see now is more subtle than name-calling. It's okay to think that people with disabilities need too many resources. It's okay to serve us with exhausting and long rides to the places we need to go. It's okay to make us explain and prove over and over again the many things we cannot do.

It's really not okay. 

 It's okay to pity us, but as the writer Isabel Allende wrote in House of the Spirits about poor people: "The poor don't need charity. They need justice." Those of us with disabilities need justice. We need to live in a land that sees us as humans with meaningful lives to lead. 

Like the inspirational Brittney Griner, I am speaking my truth. I am connecting with my peeps. As I age, even with these disabilities, I am becoming more myself. 

Maybe one day the world, starting with the UW SSW, will understand how hard it is to live as a person with disabilities in this society. And maybe one day, the world will understand that we have meaningful lives to live and much to give the world. Then, maybe, we will live with greater understanding. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


A few weeks ago, when I was frustrated with some of my younger classmates, my professor recommended that I read Kathleen Dowling Singh's The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow. I thought my professor was recommending the book because I am negotiating generational differences with my classmates, and I thought she was sending me to a resource that would help me negotiate those differences more gracefully. Perhaps that's what she intended, and perhaps I learned those things, but I also learned to think about my life--the particular place where I find myself in my journey right now--differently. The learning is relief. It is also humbling. 

My professor pointed me first to a poem by Jan Richardson in a chapter on forgiveness, a chapter I needed to read, and next came the chapter, "Humility."  Yep, it's humbling to admit it, but I need that one, too. In fact, I needed all the chapters from here on out.

I have a lot of strengths, but--to be honest--humility isn't one of them. Perhaps this is genetic. One of my father's oft-repeated sayings is, "It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am." In the home where I grew up hangs a cross-stitch of another of his sayings, given to him by one of the nurses in his office: "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys." Now, give him credit for his sense of humor, and note that perhaps both the humor and the pride are part of his apple tree, and perhaps this apple didn't fall far from that tree. 

Dowling Singh gives me a new way to think about humility. Her thinking goes beyond the punitive: “Pride goeth before the fall.” She writes, “Pride has nothing to do with the radiant and holy.” I’d like to live in the radiant and the holy, so perhaps my journey will take me away from pride—or beyond it. She also writes about pride as something beyond gloating, inwardly or outwardly. Pride is about our ties to ourselves, what she calls “selfing.”

In her penultimate chapter, Dowling Singh writes extensively about self-reference, saying that in order to be wise we must enter "experiential rather than narrative attention.” As a writer of two memoirs and blog that’s entirely about me, this worried me a little, but it’s also a truth that makes sense to me. I have even written about this idea myself. When I thought I had finished my first memoir, I wrote an afterward in which I confessed:

“Where is all of this recalculating taking me?” I wonder. My life’s route changes with each recalculation, but the destination, which I finally come to realize is death, does not change. Like the cliché says, life really is about the journey. Or maybe it’s about the moment. Which moment? The moment that is now.
I begin to wonder if my life is more like the still moment in a poem than like the journeys of an epic hero. In this paradigm shift, I wonder if I should sit still and watch closely rather than trying to defeat my foes. I wonder if it’s time to stop recalculating, time to breathe and look around.
As I write, I realize that when I have faced blocks in the road, I have always sought a new route. Though my routes have changed, I have remained much the same—always looking for a route.  I find a new route, and I charge (or hobble) away in a new direction. Perhaps I now need to sit where I am and look around. And just be. I wonder how to do that and what it means. Once again, I feel a little lost. Once again, I don’t know the way. This time, I don’t know how to just be.
But I guess I can only be lost if I am going somewhere. If I can just be, maybe my destination doesn’t matter. Perhaps I cannot be lost if I am not going anywhere.
Oh boy. Here I go again. Or here I am at last.

So in my writing I have already imagined that I need to move away from narrative and the life story that narrative reveals, but I have not known how to move in this direction. I believe I am a memoirist, not a poet. Poets, I believe, are profound and deep in a way that seems beyond my ken. That is why I quote so many poets. They bring truths into the light that are only hinted at in the shadows of my narratives. Kathleen Dowling Singh is a poet.

Dowling Singh quotes the poet David Waggoner as if she and he had read my unfinished memoir:

Stand still. The trees
ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever
you are is called Here.
The forest knows where you are. You
must let it find you.

How do I stand still? Dowling Singh tells me that I must let go of my stories and of the storyteller, which would be letting go of myself. Uh-oh. I've said I'd like to be wise, but this blog is entirely self-referential as are the two memoirs. Besides, I’m a Southerner, which means I tell stories. I’m not yet ready to relinquish my stories—or my self.

After I read this chapter on relinquishing the story and the storyteller, Ann and I had dinner at Paradise (at Mt. Rainier, which is heavenly but not heaven), and at dinner I told her that I would have to give up my notion that I might become wise because I must tell stories, and Kathleen Dowling Singh says that wise ones go beyond their stories. I have stories to tell, stories that in the telling I find healing and hope to connect with others who seek healing. I feel compelled. I really just must. I’ll say it again: I am not yet ready to relinquish these stories—or my self. So I guessed I would not be wise.

In fact, before brain surgery I did not fear death: I feared losing my sense of self, and I have been quite happy to have maintained this sense and to have so much to say about it—about myself. Also, one of my favorite poems is Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” which begins, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” Joyfully self-referential.

“Uh-oh,” I was thinking. “Wisdom is not for me.” It seems odd to actively choose not to be wise. I wondered if this were like a deal with the devil: I would keep myself and lose my soul. 

Fortunately, I read on, and in the final chapter Dowling Singh writes, "Telling the story is pivotal, as it highlights both our wounds and the sense of self that the story explains…. Healing can begin in the experience of feeling understood.”

Whew. I don’t have to give up wisdom. I simply need to accept that I am on a journey and have not reached a destination, if wisdom is my destination. (I had thought my destination was death, but perhaps that’s the same thing—or at least along the same path. And I wonder if either death or wisdom are really destinations, or if they simply are.)

As is so often the case, I need to slow down and to see that my journey is a human one, and in my humanness I have a process to go through. I had thought the wisdom might be in my writing, but perhaps the writing is simply a part of the journey, and I need to accept, humbly even, that I am on the journey and am not yet so close to being wise as I had hoped.

So how do I begin this journey? Fortunately, Dowling Singh points me in a direction:

1. Tell my story, and then perhaps I will be “willing to see through [my] narrative to the truth.” (I think I have a start here.)

   2. Experience intentional silence. (Each morning now I sit quietly for thirty minutes, and I am noticing how overactive my mind is, how insistent it is on amusing itself with distractions. I am beginning to experience what I have heard: my mind is not me. Also, in October I’ll begin an eight week course on “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction,” which as I understand it is meditation for those who deal with serious health conditions. I’m committed to learning more about meditation. So I have a start here, too.)
3. Practice silence. (I’m not ready for entirely silent days—and  Ann’s probably not ready for my total silence either—but Dowling Singh gives me a step along the way, which she calls “Essential silence” which is “to speak only as appropriate, only if it is essential.” I think I’ll try this. A new start.

And then perhaps I’ll discover the next step, which I cannot now see. Perhaps I’ll learn again (I am always re-learning this lesson) to slow down and to accept my awakening as a process that will take time. As the wise Oscar Romero said:

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
 The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction 
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
 Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
 saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one 
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
 knowing that they hold future promise.
 We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
 far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
 liberation in realizing this.
 This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
 It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
 a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's 
grace to enter and do the rest.
 We may never see the end results, but that is the 
difference between the master builder and the worker.

So we cannot do everything, and we cannot see everything. This is what it means to be human.

And what about my pride, a pride I have buttressed as my vision has doubled and decreased and my balance makes me totter rather than stride? As Dowling Singh writes, “Divine pride is grateful ownership. We own the nobility of our own essential being, but we own it gratefully.”

So perhaps I’ll grow in humility and gratitude in a way that I cannot now imagine.

I welcome myself to the human race, which is not a race.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Invitation

Sunday, my partner Ann and I participated in our dear friends' Pam and Allyson's wedding. In the ceremony, I read Oriah Mountain Dreamer's poem, "The Invitation" and Ann worked with three others to do some complicated arranging and rearranging of candles--(and, because I sat right behind Pam and Allyson, I worked to make sure that their long white dresses didn't catch on fire. That was my most important role.)

The weekend's events (cocktails Friday night, rehearsal and lunch Saturday, rehearsal dinner Saturday night, praying for clear skies on Sunday and outdoor wedding Sunday evening) celebrated their love for one another and their sometimes painful and always truthful journey to one another. They celebrated their commitment to living full lives, and so they also celebrated family and friends. It is a gift to be among their friends.

The celebration was love-affirming and life-affirming. We witnessed this coming together of six lives (Allyson, her three children, Pam, and their golden retriever, Sunshine), and "The Invitation" introduced this theme of commitment to a full life at the beginning of the ceremony:

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

The two of them, individually and as a couple, bring such joy into my life. They make music, laugh, and live their lives together in such a lovely way. Pam and I have been friends for 17 years or so, and Allyson has entered my life in the last four. 

Allyson and I have a lot in common, so it's no surprise that I loved her from the start: we're both introverts who aren't shy; we both love words and love to laugh; we both love Pam.

Pam and I have walked with one another on some joyful, fun paths and through some tough terrain over these years. We photographed bears at the top of a waterfall as they tried to catch jumping salmon in Alaska; we had massages in Antigua, Guatemala, the afternoon we had planned to visit some ruins (and then made reservations for our partners the next day); Pam lived with Ann and me for a few months when she and her previous partner (also a dear friend) were going through some rough times; Pam laughed with me about the absurdities of "competitions" when I was in rehab after neurosurgery, and she brought me chocolate chip milkshakes from Baskin Robbins in order to return some bulk to me after my weight loss; (Forty pounds later, I had to lose some weight); Pam and I have visited our friend Lori, who has cerebral palsy, together, and in those visits Pam has been showing me how to listen; Pam played her guitar and sang Sara Hickman's "Simply" at Ann's and my commitment ceremony: 

I'll tell you simply I'm fallin' for you;
I've never felt this way before.
I don't need flowers and I don't mind tears;
I just need you through the years.

(My dad said, "You said Pam sings, but I didn't know she could really sing!). The list of our adventures together goes on.

This wedding reminded me and Ann of our love for each other and our own commitment ceremony (before our marriage was legal) and then our wedding. We held hands and remembered our years together and our recent anniversary trip to Paradise at Mount Rainier. 

In addition to thinking about Ann's and my commitment to one another and to leading full lives, this weekend has me thinking about the nature of friendship. What is friendship? Hours together, lives and stories shared, kindness and laughter, loss and shared grief, listening and living truly.

When I was in junior high school, making friends was hard for me, and perhaps I learned then to cherish the friends who seem solid in my life. Now I feel lucky: my partner Ann loves me in a way that I never imagined possible, and friends fill my home and my life. 

Life has at times seemed hard, but these days I feel mostly tremendous gratitude, and the appreciation seems so simple. As my North Carolina man James Taylor sang: 

The secret of life 
Is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, 
There ain't nothing to it.

It really is so simple, isn' it? And love, which seemed complicated when I was trying to make it appear in the way that I had grown up believing it should be, is really simple, too. As J.T. continued: 

The secret of love 
Is in opening up your heart.
It's okay to feel afraid, 
But don't let that stand in your way.
'Cause anyone knows 
That love is the only road.
And since we're only here for a while, 
Might as well show some style. 
Give us a smile.

Isn't it a lovely ride?

Yes, J.T. It is a lovely ride. When my heart feels big and open, I feel such gratitude: for friends and family, for the beautiful outdoors and music anywhere. Such joy is so much simpler than I have sometimes tried to make it. 

I'd like to stay in this place of trust and truth, this spacious place of gratitude, knowing that I am okay and the world is okay--miraculous, really. 

If only I could. When I'm wise, I will.