places that scare you

en route to the badlands. july, 2010

i saw this on a fellow blogger's site (miss kim):

Confess your hidden faults.
Approach what you find repulsive.
Help those you think you cannot help.
Anything you are attached to, let go.
Go to places that scare you.

-Tibetan advice-

line number four has my name all over it right now. anything you are attached to, let go. 

easier said than done, tibetan monks. but i'm trying. i guess you don't really try at stuff like this, tho. the idea is NOT to try. that letting go of's hell sometimes.

and the last line........that's right up persephone's alley. going down into the basement in the dark. swimming in the ocean at night and having your feet touch the muddy seabottom, slimy weeds. moonlight flickering on the surface. that kind of stuff has always repelled and at the same time, fascinated me. 

confess your hidden faults......yeah. that's a big one, too. how about pride for starters? and competitiveness? and being judgmental, critical, gossiping... 

approach what i find repulsive. i guess that would be facing my faults and thinking of doing something with them other than let them dominate me. 

the middle line i can handle. help those you think you cannot help. i have a bit of a pollyanna attitude in that i feel optimistic a lot of the time. even when i really don't feel the best, i know somehow, that things will get better. must be from a childhood of being dragged around the world as an army brat, never fitting in, always being the outsider, feeling left out. you identify with the lonely kid and that stuff never goes away. so yeah, if i can reach out and cheer someone up, say something nice to someone and see a frown turn into a smile, that makes my day. 

we all have this power. 

so i'm trying to let go. but this letting go is elastic, i think. we open our arms and let our children float away from us but if we do it right, we create this space, this sort of magical net that attracts them back to us. for holidays. for phone calls when you need to hear their voices. 

i have to repeat a statement that was written on another blogger's site, it is too good not to share. the author was commenting on how it feels to let go of our children and her words struck me like a slap of salty, freezing water:

we release our little ones out into the universe of fat stars and weathered chimes

now that's goddamned poetry. 

life can be so gloriously messy, confusing, difficult, and earth-shatteringly beautiful. and emotions sometimes feel like a car crash in an intersection with splattered oil, shattered glass. sirens, flashing lights, the entire fucking, wonderful mess. or as kazantzakis said far better than i:   the full catastrophe.

like the buddhists advise, if you're lonely, just feel that. if you're sad, just sit with it for a while. these emotions we're given, they're gems. they're gold. we just don't always see it that way. especially when we're feeling those we don't particularly like, and allow them to take us over, to strangle, to suffocate us.

since i'm feeling somewhat existential right now - floating in that purgatory of
"i know i've got to let these kids go but i freaking miss them at the dinner table"
 (although truth be told, i'm doing my best to really feel this transition, knowing that it's rich, rich, rich) --- i'll leave you with another lonely foto
south dakota, july, 2010

ever try just sitting with an emotion? let it flush your veins, fry your synapses and shoot out your fingertips?

it's like they say about the weather around these parts --- if you don't like it, it'll change in 5 minutes. 



  1. Go to places that scare you. What a haunting and startling suggestion. I love it. Super post.

  2. Sometimes it's hard for me to just sit with an emotion, even though I know this message. Pema Chodren talks about it (beautifully) in her book When Things Fall Apart.

    I know that if seriously stressed all i need is a needle and thread or some wool and sticks and i'm good.

    And the quiet you hear right now, so very loudly, will not always be this way. Time really does help.

    sending hugs,

  3. Loving this post. Sometimes I feel like we blast through whatever is happening just to get through... so good to just sit and be and feel every once in a while.


  4. Beautiful. Love the shadow pic of you at the bottom, and the notion of going to places that scare you.

    I'm scared to let go of the things I'm attached to! I wonder what those monks would think? Hmmm ...

  5. Love this post! I think that this Tibetan advice is an excellent exercise for reflection. I think the most challenging line would be the one that involves letting things go that I'm attached to. I've been better...but it's still soooo hard.

    Have a good weekend! :)

  6. must be from a childhood of being dragged around the world as an army brat, never fitting in, always being the outsider...

    As an air force brat, I can only say oh yeah. If I wasn't moving my friends were. There was a lot of good in that though, I'm quite happy on my own, but to this day I still feel like the outsider.

    And this has absolutely nothing to do with your post, does it?

    Ah well, off to explore.

  7. I love your reflections. Each line makes me think. I`ll come back and reread this.
    Today I heard of another of our friends` death. Is it the fall? I am feeling weird. And I am glad I find others here in blogland who help me. Yes, you can help those you think you cannot!

  8. This is a wonderful and inspiring blogpost. Excellent.

    But I take exception with the top photo. Badlands? I've spent half my life in snooker halls and I know they say being good at snooker is a sign of a misspent youth; in my case, it was a misspent adulthood as well although I haven't played for a few years now.

    I wrote about snooker and my involvement here:

    I've had a lot of fun in dingy snooker halls playing well into the early hours, supping beer and staying alive. Yes, places like late-night snooker halls attract some nutters and I've seen some nasty fights; unfortunately, a snooker cue is a handy and effective weapon. But it didn't deter me as I loved the game so much.

    I played for about six years or so in the Paris Championships. Great snooker hall, terrifying area of Paris, especially at night.

    Ah, happy days!

  9. P.S.

    The full catastrophe. Ah, Zorba again!

  10. It's not easy to sit with your emotions but it can be very therapeutic.

  11. Places that scare me? Having spent 10 years inside burning buildings with a fire hose and air pack, there aren't many places left that scare me. To me, the pool hall looks scruffy, not scary.

    There are tools, and then there are possessions. Tools, you own; possessions own you. It's one way of looking at things. Ironically, something that is a tool to one can be a possession, an attachment, to another.

    I have not hidden faults; mine are just so very obvious (at least to me). "Defects of character," I call them.

    And my long history of chronic depression, that is something I've learned to sit with, since there are not a lot of other really good choices (conversation, medication, and meditation notwithstanding).

    Perhaps I should blog about this in my own space, rather than taking up yours. But thanks for the ideas.

    Wonderful post, as always.

  12. thanks willow - but it's the tibetan monks who deserve the credit! x

    oh i love that book lori, and pema chodren's writing in general. you're a wise woman -- converting anxious energy into creative energy.....must remember that.

    thanks dear

    japra - you are right -- i spend a lot of my time blasting through! sitting isn't easy but we learn so much about ourselves.....


    reya, i'm scared to let go too. and i can only guess the monks would tell us to do it anyway ;-)

  13. cheryl, it's one of the hardest things for sure, especially when it's one of your kids -- yikes!! but let go we must, after all, that's what we raise them for, right?

    you have a wonderful weekend as well, and thanks for dropping by-- xxx

    hi haphazard - a fellow army brat eh? make a solid point in that an itinerant upbringing forces one to become more independent. and i don't think you're alone -- at some point i think we all feel like outsiders.

    anyway - thank you kindly for your thoughts and for visiting my blog!

    dear geli -- i am so sorry to hear you lost another friend...this is so sad.

    i can only imagine how you must be feeling, so i will write you a separate email -- til then, sending love, hugs and my deepest sympathies, sweet geli.



  14. dd -- well now i've gone off to read your entry on snooker and have been properly schooled by "The Jet"!
    who knew pool (what we yanks call the sport is rather boring compared to the much more colorful snooker) had its share of headbutting and a top 10 song (we're all snooker loopy had me tapping my foot)

    i'm impressed you id'd the foto -- i rather liked the image for its blood-red fiery hell sort of feel, but a pool hall in south dakota it is....

    and yes, here we are with zorba once again! xx

    loree -- not easy for sure. but therapeutic, even if we're not always in the mood for it, right? ;-)

    r-bear, most things pale in comparison to that which you describe. i can't imagine one moment in a burning building, let alone 10 years.

    i really liked what you said about tools vs. possessions. very wise words. i will remember them...

    thank you

  15. A very big warm hug for you.
    One thing I do know for sure is that nothing stays the same forever and as you said... if you don't like it, just wait and it will change.

    take care
    be well
    have fun

    x Robyn

  16. sis...that first year is so full of new experiences and emotions ....let the new patterns begin w/o attachment to an outcome....and hug yourself w/ yoga

  17. robyn, one of these days i will make friends with change.

    thank you for your wise and loving thoughts♡

    sister, that's a good one, not attaching ourselves to the outcome. i needed to hear this today. thanks always deb dear. love you much.


  18. 'and this too shall pass' is always a good standby to hang onto; hope all is well? loved the food for thought here Vx

  19. Letting go of children is one of the most difficult things to do. It has taken me many decades to do!

    A very thought provoking post, and a very evocative photograph. One visual can say it all.

  20. val, that is a good saying, comes in handy at times like these. i'm doing fine, tho --thanks for asking♡
    how about you?? checking your blog and looking forward to more amazing stories...

    sending xxs and oos amanda

    ann, wow, many decades! guess it's sort of one big transition over time......

    thank you for visiting and for your thoughts, as always



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