Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Internal Lives

I’m taking afternoon naps with Natalie Goldberg’s book, Thunder and Lightning. I mean to read it, but I am a scant ten pages into it. Part of not reading it is the desire to take two hour naps on the weekend, which I love. It feels so luscious and luxurious and like it is in some ways doing exactly what Goldberg advocates: engaging the wild mind of dreams. The other part of not reading it though is that she is writing about understanding and delving into one’s internal life. I love that process, both in myself and in other people. I love hearing about and seeing how other people experience the world and make meaning in it. I’m fascinated in myself the ways that I experience my internal life and translate it to the world so that it is experienced and understood in the range of “normal,” which is to say that I understand that that experience of translation and that construction of normal is a process in which we engage in this life. The past few days, however, with my sister visiting have been a process of being with someone whose internal life is not translating to the external world in the range of normal. It has been painful and disconcerting. Part of the pain is the difficulty of reconciling normal ranges of being. I profoundly resist that as a queer feminist. I want the range of normal to be large and expansive to allow for the greatest amount of joy and satisfaction in this lifetime. Yet I realize that the joy and satisfaction come from having a body and mind that are healthy or aiming toward healthy. My sister is aiming that way, but sometimes, or as in the past trip, often she bubbles up into angry or anxious or paranoid or other emotions in that range. She describes herself as wanting to live a “real and authentic” life and yet she is unable to hear conflicting information and consider the possibilities that the greatest help to her may be a medical intervention. It was a profoundly disturbing thirty-six hours. It makes me recoil from Goldberg and her analysis of her internal life and her exhortation that I should do the same. I don’t want to dwell in my internal life after watching someone else’s internal life seemingly fall apart before me. I know I’ll feel differently in a few days. Change is the constant of the internal life. For now, I’m reading small books of poetry and bits of a memoir and trying to recover my own self which was of necessity so protected and guarded during the visit.

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