About Me

I'm a "deep fried" mama for two reasons: one, I grew up in the South, and two, my three wonderful kids leave me feeling that way a lot of the time! If you feel that way too, then this blog's for you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Hawk

Since moving to the country, I’ve had the chance to reflect on a great many things. I’ve had as much quiet and solitude as my children will afford me. This has led to both small and large breakthroughs for me. I’ve found perhaps the first kind of peace I’ve ever known, as I’ve been able to really and truly relax with no neighbors for whom I need to perform. One thing I’ve found, though, is that when stress leaves your body, the adrenaline and cortisol go with them. This means that you are dog-shit tired a lot of the time. I’ve also had physical aches and pains, which I think are partly due to the reduction in stress hormones, but also feeling new pain that I haven’t felt before.

As I wrote last time, when my parents left, the reality of our relationship hit me. I realized that these were people who didn’t stand up for me, and who didn’t support me or even know me in any kind of real way. I hurt all over for days. I thought it was just the pain of feeling this loss, but I now realize it was more than that. As a child and as an adult, I’ve acquired the belief that I’m supposed to be able to handle whatever comes along.
I’m supposed to be strong, capable, and competent. My dad was all of those things, and when I was growing up, I wanted to be like him. I thought I just wanted to follow in his career path and take care of my family the way that he did. It turns out that I have been trying to emulate these other characteristics as well—always feeling that I have to be “fine” no matter what happens. I realize now that I can’t be, and more importantly, that I don’t have to be.

I’ve had to confront my own shortcomings and failings, and realize that they are as much a part of me as my successes. This is something my dad hasn’t been able to do. He can acknowledge a flaw or a failing, but not without some reason or excuse why it occurred. There is always some external justification for the behavior. As much as I don’t want to believe this, I have seen it over and over and over again, and I can no longer deny it. Some people reach this point at 10, others at 18, some at 25. Me, it took a little longer. It’s such a clichéd disappointment to find out that your parents are all too human. I think I resisted because I didn’t want it to be my truth too. Another cliché, but one that also happens to be true, is that there are gifts wrapped inside every tragedy.  The gift of all of this pain is that I realized I no longer have to be like anyone. That’s both freeing and frightening at the same time.

I watched a hawk the other day, floating on a slipstream current about 50 feet above me. He was hunting in a field, but the wind seemed to be controlling his movements. It was holding him and trapping him at the same time. I watched a little longer. Then I realized something. The hawk wasn’t trapped or even being held. He chose to be right where he was. He allowed himself to be held, but also held up, by the wind. The buffeting currents mattered not to him. He kept his focus on his hunting.

As I watched, I realized that I need more hawk in me. I need to feel the pain of the things that have happened to me, just as the hawk feels the current of the wind. But, I don’t have to let those events control me or shape the direction of my life, any more than the hawk allows the wind to control where and when and how he hunts. It’s a very Buddhist notion—to notice events, pay attention to them, but then let them pass by. We often think we have to resolve every bit of sadness or anger that we have in order to be happy. What I think I got from watching the hawk is that we can choose to be happy no matter which way the wind blows—we just have to hold onto our own sense of who we are.

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