Friday, September 26, 2014
What makes the soul happy? What makes you happy? Beyond the superficial day to day things?? What goes so deep you feel like your whole self could fall apart into a million pieces?
What is that one constant that pulls us.. pulls you.. through your life.. or the things gets you beyond what you can't bear?
I find myself asking myself this more often the last couple years.. not because I am a miserable person that should die already and spare the world my suffering.. but because I want to be of worth and value to myself and to others. To find meaning where, honestly, there really isn't any when you scrutinize it up close.
For me, my constant has been books.. Specifically, the written word. Whether science or poetry, fiction or fact.. Books have been a true companion through life.. not necessarily a disappointment.. The very first thing I ever wanted to be "when I grow up" was a writer.. A writer is god-like in the ability to create words, worlds, emotions.. to educate, enlighten, empower.. Imagine other things that you have been inspired to feeling or action after reading something? Have you ever really stopped to consider the power that you or someone has by their writing?? That's pretty freaking awesome, is it not?
There are many things I've contemplated wanting to "become" from the earliest age.. a fireman (but 'girls' couldn't be firemen in the early 70s could they? according to my parents), archaeologist... (specifically an "Egyptologist") I wanted to write though since I read my first book.. to tell stories or write poetry.. intermittantly through the years, I had wanted to be a librarian.. (I fell in love with the library at 5.. all those books! For ME!) but there's always the writing.. or did I want to be an astronomer? An astronomer-archaeologist? No! A writer.. or historian, a writer.. and oceanographer.. an activist for Greenpeace and a poet or writer.. A historian, educator (specifically Military History), writer... poet, writer-poet, artist, photographer (oh but my vision is crap.. so..) back to the writing, or perhaps a Civil War Historian? Nevermind.. a Bookstore owner! and a writer.. Perhaps a poet and entrepreneur..(aka Bookstore owner.) For brief moments off & on I wanted to become a layout artist, a book editor, a travel writer.. but regardless there's that constant. The word.
And yes, I still want to study history.... but I've had serious contemplations of "what do you do with a BA in English" moments.. and after well-over 20 years it's been, I've returned to school.. mid-40s looking to learn. Who gets a degree at my age?? Who interns at my age? Why don't I have my act together better?? Why don't I settle? Why haven't I found my niche, my joy.. my center? My permanent peace? Is it possible? Maybe.
It takes time, experimentation, and patience.. which I lack in spades. Why aren't I happier?? Why can't I just be in the moment and enjoy things more? Why can't I be happy with myself? Why can't I just enjoy being happy without feeling guilty for it or that it's not mine to have or without worrying I'm stealing it from someone more deserving? I like being happy.. Being happy is fun. I like to do fun things, I like learning fun things.. I want to put fun things into practice.. What is fun? ..what is fun?? Someone I met once asked me that.. and while I don't know him or his motivations, (and honestly I can't remember what I answered back) History is fun. Perhaps I said that.. *shrug* who knows?
I know I'm new to this.. and I'm not so good at it.. but I do know Being 'soul happy' is fun when it happens.. Imagine you are happy at any given moment.. it passes. Being happy to the core never leaves.. You know what it is that brings you peace.. you know what keeps you breathing in & out every day. If you don't it's important to figure it out.. and I'm still working on it.. it doesn't have to be the one thing.. It can be many things. I find myself recalling somewhat recent days when I was so happy it hurt..
1. a beautiful random day in Berkeley.. I was feeling like crap.. but the light came out from the clouds, I was walking and I knew where I was was where I wanted to be. I was a lotus on a tranquil sea.. (yes, I was walking but I was a lotus, dang-it!) I was content in a sea of homes, people, and whatever else, the tapestry of the town.
2. I was looking at the Community College catelog and found an ART history course I wanted to take.. my heart leapt out of my chest thinking of taking this class.. Of being made to write a paper on some art-related thing.. I often think of these things as 'life cheats'..people making you do things that you're more than happy to do.. What's the catch? What's the angle?? All I could do was sing in my head.. "OMGOMGOMG.. I can get credit for this class!!!!!" I ended up not taking it as I was on waitlist.. but you get the idea.. freaking awesomehappycamper- awesomness! Whenever I think of this class or things that bring me joy I get so happy & content. Things like this stay with me as creative things do. always. Art.. poetry.. music.. words: changable but ever-constant. Memories and words that stay with you in the library of your heart.
3. California History.. You can study this?? You can make it your major and they won't beat you for it?? When can I do this??? Can I start now?? I can't tell you how many times last Spring that I walked back home from school on clouds of pure freaking joy.. Joy.. I haven't completely "shrank myself" over it.. but it's a lot of things: history, reading, books, learning.. so much learning! Topics I care about: social justice, equality, civil rights, environmental issues, exploring, the Depression, the Trans-Continental RR.. photography! (who gets to work with Calisphere?? How do you get that job?) The fact that it was my first history class in over 20 years. The fact that teacher was freaking awesome.. amazing.. intelligent.. and inspring.. yeah. whatever. This class brought all those things I used to care about back to the fore. To life. It was a good class.. greedy me would love to have more days and experiences like this in the future. How?
4. History on Cal Day.. Filtering through the "you should be a history major at Cal" the constant theme of learning, and flexibility.. They let you read! BOOKS!! Lots of books! Lots of reading.. lots of learning! They want you to learn stuff! They want you to specialize! They freaking help you?? Seriously? Why would a prof help me? Why would they even give a flying.. rats! I want to do this!! This is how you get on the path of keeping the good stuff in your life in an ever-learning adventure.. pursue.. ..and keep working on it!
5. Volunteering at the library. "History: You're soaking in it.." This is something that's happening to me right now.. on-going.. along with what volunteering I've done with the Berkeley Historical Society.. I'm constantly stopping my thoughts and waitiing to see if security is going to throw me out and one of the librarians are going to tell me to f' off.. but so far, so good. The happiness is sometimes guilt-inducing how happy it makes me some days. This stuff I'm doing touches on so many things.. psychologically and emotionally.
The library has always been my temple.. my Church. My sanctuary.. Fade to 5 year old Meeko sitting "Indian-style" in an egg chair at the Nora Public Library.. (Indianapolis).. a small pile of books on her lap, big "anime eyes" of joy.. lost in whatever I was reading.. 4th grade at Westfield Elementary learning the Dewey Decimal system, reading & learning the 'parts' of books and the card catalog.. being frightened out of my mind by the librarian but determined to enter the fortress of books and read every one if I could.. Middle School where my most favoritest librarian ever Catherine Whitson looked at me once, knew and trusted I could be trusted with books.. and would personally hand me books to read every week before they even went on the shelf.. Days I would sneak away from classes during filmsstrip sessions or National Geographic documentaries to help shelve books or check books back in... When she transfered to the high shcool, knowing I wasn't the one she was directing her ire at for people disrespecting the space.. helping with year-end inventory..
Flashing back to today.. being asked to do stuff that maybe an intern could probably do.. Death Indexing, filing files.. whatever asked.. I am so glad and grateful! I don't know how long I will be allowed to do this but.. I am happy. There's a peace that I often think no one will get or understand that comes over me.. a joy that can't be scrubbed away.. the same can be said when being allowed to help with Historical Society things..
Both of these things involve history, elbow-deep in it: the active contemplation of history.. Berkeley history.. California history.. history and its role in the bigger picture.. the people that breath and are history.. The people that have lived it here and surround us.. Each person is an expert on their life, their moments.. Each person has value of some kind.. When I'm around these people.. I want to know their stories and the things they know. One can't necesarily. One can wish.
Whether doing all this in the end helps me in my quest for a writing career (I have no idea what I want to write about at this point, I used to think I would be a great fiction writer.. but seriously??) or another local historian.. or a "professional" volunteer.. (that is, making a 'career' out of volunteering my time to the city in some way or another) who knows? I have been and continue to be in a constant state of disbelief and joy. I need to remind myself it's real even if I'm not.. I'm a temporary ping on the radar.. easily replaced but hopefully useful while I'm still there.
So whatever it is, these are just things.. days spent.. moments passed. But the peace. The peace and contentment is there.. and will be remembered regardless if that thing or things that remind us is taken away.. one remembers the peace... that stays. That's where (I think) soul happy lives. My next task I suppose is how to gather up these things and square them with myself. Box them up, take them out & look at them in little bits, and make them function in my life on a regular basis. To not get overwrought if these too are passing phases. To try & not flatten myself because I have no one to discsuss these things with anymore or that I'm alone in my joy. I'm purging here.. because it's overwhelming some days. The cups of joy and thought are too much to carry sometimes. Personal.