unplanted

sometimes, a good thing comes along

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There are big things swimming in my brain tonight.

Save for a few encounters with some good folks, the past few weeks have been pretty darned difficult. I’ve found myself moving downward and downward, sinking into yet another pit of grief and frustration. All the while I’ve been trying to force myself to get out and *do stuff* and I’ve been trying even harder to read more. Lately, I’ve been reading quite a bit about Taoism and Buddhism. Eastern philosophy has become my thing lately.

But then, there are days like today where I can’t even force myself to pick up my copy of the Tao Te Ching; meditation seems impossible and my only sense of comfort comes from going straight to bed, which is exactly what I did after work today. And for a while, it felt pretty good. But as I lay there, I came to realize what a defeatist I can be and that, while it does feel pretty good to simply give in and accept these circumstances as my fate, I get tired of listening to myself. I get so frustrated that sleep won’t come, that my brain won’t shut off. So I turn to my laptop and follow my daily routine of pacing around the internet. E-mail first, of course.

And there it was, among the rubble of spam and whatnots—a message from the guy I’ve been using as my numero uno networking contact for the past, oh, five months or so. Apparently, he’s finally interested in my interest in the as-of-yet-only-sort-of-developed writing center I’ve told most of you about (and if I haven’t, well, I probably will soon). So there’s a glimmer of possibility here. We’re going to meet at an as of yet undecided date and talk about potential opportunities for me—including a role in the development of the center.

Needless to say, I’m quite psyched. I’ve been running in circles ever since. And I’ve checked my e-mail oh, say 47 times in the past 3 and a half hours.

But here’s the thing: I’d emailed him earlier this week, hoping (as I have been for several months) that there might be some new developments in the possibility of me working at the center. Sadly, he responded to that message with a “sorry, no job for you here” reply (okay, he was much nicer than that, but I read it as a dead end and have since felt quite hopeless.)

In the meantime, I poked around at some of the books I bought last weekend (at Elliot Bay, I’m proud to say; I’m not too fond of spending money at the place where I currently work. And besides, I’d much rather buy a used book than a new one. It’s like choosing between a rescued pup and one born on a puppy farm. But I digress.) I’ve been doing some self-exploration, trying to find a spiritual outlet that appeals to me right now. It’s part of the grief process, I know, and I found that the quest came on rather suddenly. Most religions don’t appeal to me so much—I’m not looking for something to worship, but, rather something to guide me, something that will challenge me and comfort me at the same time. I’ve fallen into Christianity several times before and have found myself more dismayed each time.

So I’ve been reading about meditation, and about Buddhism and Taoism. And I’ve been wrestling with one of the larger tenets of Taoist philosophy, that the path of least resistance is often the most successful.

And as much as I tend to try my darnedest to control things, as much as I *want* even when I don’t know what to want, I’m finding, slowly and happily, that passivism is, perhaps, the way to go.

One time, long ago, some friends of mine said I was passive and I resisted that notion (of course, they were referring to certain—ahem, personal—aspects of my life in which I am quite aggressive). Of course, this happened back when I was in the Navy, when I was 20-something and pretty darned stupid and I didn’t even really know what they were talking about. But ever since then, I’ve thought that aggression was a positive aspect (in regards to certain things; there are, of course, limits and reasons for aggression as there are with passivity). And I’ve thought about how my passive nature was seen in the eyes of others. I can’t remember too much about what I was like then—young and stupid enough to get engaged to a guy I didn’t like. Passive enough to stay married to him for five years. Passive enough to leave my life behind and move to Puerto Rico for two years without putting up any resistance. Passive enough to watch things dwindle into a big ol lump of misery.

But again, I digress. What I’m learning now is that I’m still not in touch with that part of me—aggressive or passive. I know that the one person I knew back then, Krystal, (the one who first called me passive), one of my closest friends, might say that I am stronger willed, more confident, smarter and more in control. But I’m wondering about that sense of control—how good is it for us to try and control every aspect of our lives? How much energy do we waste when we force things to move forward or backward? How many opportunities are missed when we take risks, make choices that may end in unhappiness?

And how much of the past six months has been made more difficult by my own controlling nature?

When I think of the good things that have happened to me since I moved back to Seattle, I realize that each of them occurred because I was taking the path of least resistance. I haven’t actively pursued new friendships, but I have them and am in constant awe of how fortunate I am to have been given them, what an honor it is to be connected to folks I never knew until I lost Scott. And even though I’m ready to leave my current living situation, I am constantly reminded of how I came to live with Cyndi and Charlie, how it just so happened that Charlie was the only one to respond to an e-mail I sent in a mad panic, how it just so happened that there is a spare room in this house, how it just so happened that Cyndi and I get along so well, (and how it just so happened that I came to be not-so-allergic to a certain cat and have developed quite a fondness for her). I am reminded, too, of the four jobs I’ve happened into since I got here, how I pushed and pushed to get other jobs, how I sent out a hundred resumes over the course of a few months and got rejected from every single one.

I didn’t try to get any of the things I now have. And yes, some of them do frustrate me a bit (I’m thinking mostly of a certain job at a certain bookstore), but they’ve kept my head above water. And that’s been a huge thing. I do have a big head, after all, and it’s quite heavy.

It’s all been chance. All of the things I have now have been a result of following the path of least resistance. And I wonder—where does coincidence end and the Way begin?

Is coincidence real?

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Author: Kim Sharp

more later

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