2.02.2008

groundlessness

I've been trying to wrap my mind around this idea of groundlessness. The last few weeks, I have found myself especially drawn to noticing and photographing trees. I have been particularly focusing on their groundedness...their roots, how they run deep and pierce the earth through this slow and rythmic growth, in order to survive, to thrive, to live. I think I have been wanting that, searching for it and reaching for similar security in my own life...being planted, rooted, into something so that the worries and the sorrow that floats around in the world doesn't lift me up and take me away. My sister and I have been talking a lot over the past few weeks about our desire to control our situations and our tendency to want to get in the midst of things to get our own understanding and perspective...to be grounded in our ability to somehow effect the outcome.
Interestingly enough, earlier this week I started reading this book that I had bought several years ago. In it, the author talks about this idea of groundlessness:
"When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something. We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way. We can shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality. There is definetly something tender and throbbing about groundlessness."
I think that when I come into that realm...where I can't seem to find ground...the panic of it all usually sends me searching for some kind of stability. And, if I can't seem to find it, or if I let myself feel whatever pain may be stirring about...I can usually start to view it all with a judgemental eye. It is bad. It hurts. Let's make the pain go away, yes? Let's grab some control. She goes on to say:
"Things falling a part is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."
It is quite a challenge...to just give it all room. To not allow attachment to a specific way of interpretting it all. To not search for a way to escape or to assign our limited perspective as the "truth" to the situation. Really, it is just about allowing the moment to be what it is and not trying to make it something else. It's letting go of what we think it should be about or what we don't want it to be about or what we hope for it to be about...and then just making room for what it is. Because, really, what else can it be?
"When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don't know what's really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don't know. We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there's big dissapointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may be just the bginning of a great adventure."
I have been stirred and challenged by this reading. I've been thinking about how, in my own life or in the life of people I care for, I can look at situations and label something as "bad" or something as "good"...but really, I don't know. I'm exploring a bit more of the peace of groundlessness...and that, if I can look at the in-between state of affairs as a place where my heart can open wider towards myself and others..."groundlessness" is really the only place to be.

4 comments:

Nonnie said...

so true and a wonderful way to look at things.....in harmony with thoughts and feelings being expressed these days.... and encouraging
ly

GG said...

I liked this blog, Jessie. I'm not sure I really understand the point you are attempting to make but I think I do; or at least it started a thought process in me about groundlessness that clarifies my life for me.

I realy believe that I was grounded for the majority of my life. It started in 1937 when I was 9 years old and my Dad started drinking and became an alcolhoic. Even then at that tender age I felt a need to be there and grounded for my Mom and my newborn sister. That continued for years until I was in my senior year of high school and I worried over my plans I had made. I had applied to the College of Mortuary Science in St. Louis, Missouri and carried on a correspondence with the President who misread my handwriting and thought my surname was Grave (no not a pun) but that had been his Mom's maiden name and he thought we might be related. I was really looking forward to getting away from my troubled home and striking out on my own. But at that same time my Mom finally got the courage to divorce my Dad and I knew I could not leave her. She had always been a wife and mother and knew not how to make a living for herself and my 2 younger siblings. So I lost my groundlessness and became grounded again. I got a job where I worked for the next 41 years, got married, had 2 kids and lived a grounded existence. My life was not my own because I had responsibilities with a mortgage, debts and a family to put first.

My kids grew up and left home and my wife died and I became groundless. A totally new experience of solely being responsible for only myself. I can say that in the beginning I didn't like being groundless. It was scary. Since the death of my wife 11 years ago I have known the full impact of groundlessness. I will be 80 in June and I don't worry about the inevitable approach of death. My kids and grandkids are on their own and my great groundkids are all babies and definitely grounded, Ha! Oh sure there are troubles in the family and sometimes I am involved but I mostly float above them because as a grandparent it does not pay to get too involved. Recently I made a decision to get involved by doing something I felt I needed to do despite what the outcome might be regarding the family's feelings. I was groundless in that decision because I felt a freedom to make that decision, regardless.

I'm different in my old age. I don't give a second thought to broken mementos I cherished. I dont fret over plans I was looking forward to that suddendly got cancelled. I don't feel sorry for myself when a friend neglects me. I don't feel guilty for neglecting to attend a funeral for someone I have long known. I feel groundless. I don't worry about what others think of me. I don't get embarrassed often...how can I when I am at an age of forgetfulness and don't even think to look at my calendar until the next day and realze what things I was supposed to do yesterday. I just say , "Oh well." Groundlessness gives me a feeling of freedom...of being free.

The best example happened last week when I went to a huge funeral for a friend. I was dressed in my best bib and tucker and the preacher was right in the middle of his sermon when my cell phone went off and his sermon was accompanied by a few bars of "Singing In The Rain". The preacher didn't miss a beat but I nearly had a stroke. Odinarily I would have been mortified. The dead lady in the coffin was a great singer and piano player and I knew how she would have enjoyed the music and busted a gut at my embarassment. So I just acted like it happened to someone else and I hoped no one knew it was my phone. I was groundless and when the funeral was over and we were outside and many many friends who I hadn't seen in years greeted me with fondness I really appreciated the feeling of groundlessness. I left the funeral feeling happy and I laughed all the way home thinking of my boo boo. I floated above the scene in my mind's eye knowing I didn't cringe in embarassment....on the other hand I really didn't give a damn! GG

Cory said...

I love this Jess. There is so much to process in this post that I haven't quite absorbed it all yet. I appreciate your challenge of new perspectives and understanding. I am truly blessed to have you in my life sister! Looking forward to reading this over and over again. I love you

daisies said...

you are so incredibly lucky to have sisters to talk about this stuff with ... i miss mine ...

i heart that book, i read it lovingly and slowly last summer ...

xox