Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the space between

Do you know what the space between is?

No, it's not a Dave Matthews song, whoever said that, you're fired. (Does anyone else associate Dave Matthews Band songs with making out with people in college? No? I'm the only one? Right then, moving on.)

The space between is the space that exists between where you are, and where you want to be. It can be an emotional space, a physical one, a spiritual one...whatever. It's the gap between reality and expectations, it's the sinkhole into which unconditional love and radical self-acceptance falls and cannot get across. Mind the gap and all that jazz.

During the holidays, the space between grows even wider for people like me (read: people with abnormally high expectations of themselves.) In my own mind, I'm supposed to host parties, make homemade food, have enough funds to buy each family member and friend the perfect thoughtful-yet-unexpected-present-that-each-person-was-missing-from-their-lives-yet-didn't-think-to-ask-for, make quality time for my loved ones (not just buy them perfect presents, that's shallow), and constantly express the Christmas Spirit while others are driving me crazy with a lack of their own. The natural sadness that comes during the holidays is to be shoved down and carols are to be sung even louder, otherwise I'm a Grinch.

Holidays are hard like that. We try to have the perfect Christmas, or Hanukkah, or New Year. We build up our expectations, or we look around at what others have, and what others are doing. We are told that this is a time of rejoicing...and any feelings that seem less than joyous are put aside, judged, or squashed down. Mixed emotions at the holidays are never quite as accepted as they are during any other time of year, no matter how normal it is to experience grief, loss, disappointment, or longing. We judge ourselves for not feeling what we think we should feel... and it is there that the space between widens even more.

A couple weeks ago, I was seriously feeling down. I wasn't where I wanted to be in most aspects of my life - career, friendships, health, family, job, funds in my bank account, personal sanity time allotted - and Benni, my favorite of favorites and the only relationship I'm kicking ass at these days - sat me down for a bit of a pep talk.

Life is like a game of miniature golf, he said. If you only have fun when you score holes in one, then you're not going to have much fun. Learn to enjoy playing the game again, no matter how well you do.

That's what he said, more or less, between feeding me cheese while I sat crumpled on the kitchen floor and letting me interrupt to blow my nose in a very pathetic-like fashion.

Learn to enjoy the game again. Remember how much fun it is to play, to be playful, to be unconditionally accepting of whatever knocks on our door, whether it be joy or grief or anger or love? It's all part of the game! It's supposed to be there!

And it is there that the space between closes a bit.

There is a bridge between where we are and where we think we should be. It's called love, and it's the only way to get across. The holidays give us ample opportunities to see love expressed everywhere - but most of all, in ourselves, towards ourselves. We don't need to be anything else than what we already are, and we don't need to be anyone else than who we already are. We are enough - and we are loved because, not in spite of that.

(photo credit: I got it here)

Happy holidays, everyone. May your days be merry and bright (and brimming over with unconditional love.)


Wine and Words said...

I collapsed my space this year. Ain't no parties held, ain't no gifts purchased, ain't no cards sent. I grinched the tree and might make cocoa. Hard year and I'm ready to see it gone. But The Space In Between Us...is also a great song by Building 429 :)

(don't fire me)

Merry Christmas!

Bathwater said...

I am so glad to see you post I was just about to go searching for you. I'm sorry the holidays have caught you feeling down, they are effecting me that way too this year. I am glad to see I am not alone though and that I am in such good company.

Benni is right enjoy playing the game, you've got a good coach there.

I'm going to keep this in mind as a forge out he new year, "We don't need to be anything else than what we already are, and we don't need to be anyone else than who we already are. We are enough."

Merry Christmas Tracy!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Lucky for me Hanukkah was over a couple of weeks ago- because really the planets are FUCKED right now and I feel like everyone is to some degree feeling grinchy-
The planets will sort themselves out- and hopefully so will everyone else by the 29th- Just in time to cheer in the NY!

Love and peas-

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mind the gap is such a good image for this post. I will forever picture the space between the platform and train now when I'm discontent with where I am.
So many of us go through life comparing ourselves to ridiculous ideals. There is nothing wrong with striving and giving your all but there is something amiss with not enjoying what you've already accomplished. I need to constantly remind myself (I am driven), and you put this so eloquently, I've got some new ways now to look at it. Thank you. I'm glad you had a good friend to help you in that down moment, and I hope you have a holiday that's at peace. :)

Avo said...

Huh, we have such different world-views...
Glad to hear you're find ways of crossing your obstacles!
Happy holidays!

Lori ann said...

i'm sorry you had those feelings that upset you so. but i'm glad your sweet Benni was there for you.

i'm hoping you can let the 'should's' fall away and like you've said, let the love for what you live be your guide for a (guilt free) inspired life.

i've been through every bit of this Tracy, so i really understand.

have a merry, loving christmas dear.
with love,

* said...

This is the first Christmas we haven't done family cards, mailing out at least 50. Less is more, in so many ways...

Here's to more breathing and less running!

Happy holidays, dear Phoenix!

Carissa Thilgen said...

beautiful post and so true. I definitely am one to put too many expectations on myself and the holidays, and both usually fail to meet the high level I set. in the stress of my day to day, especially at this time of year, I often forget that life is about playing the game. wise words, benni :) I'm hoping this weekend I can recharge, refocus and hopefully shrink that "space between" ...

till then, I hope you have a very merry Christmas my dear. thanks for being your amazing, inspiring self. can't wait to see you soon! :)

Deech said...

This is a good post.

The one thing I think you are missing is that you may think you are alone in these feelings.


I have been a serious Grinch this Christmas Season. And to be honest, I really wish it were over 90 seconds ago.

But his words are true. The Magic is in experiencing the game...not necessarily the end result.

This Joker raises a glass to you chica! I know you will enjoy every bit of this holiday season and beyond!

Nick said...

After those Christmas storm clouds pass, look for a bright, sunny new year.

Anthony Duce said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on the space between… I wonder though if that space isn’t the best place over all to enjoy life. The holidays, the events themselves, are more memories enhanced over time, or as expressed by others, what a good time they had or will be had. Some really are great, but most to me are too commercialized, so much so, the expectations so high, in the end, expectations are not reached.
If you are here writing and thinking and expressing ideas, you have already accomplished much of what you need to be doing in the space between. It’s as you said: It’s called love. It’s where the real emotions that make up life are. Or at least that where I see it, most of the time.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday, and enjoy the space between.

Gwen said...

I think people get more depressed around Christmas because we do put all of these super high expectations on ourselves. But what a great man you have!!! Benni is so right that its about enjoying the ride!!! Now if I can only remember his words in my heart from here on out. Love you girl!!! Hope you & yours have a blessed Christmas!!!

P.S. I may have been falling out of the chair and just caught an artsy wine glass shot or two. ;)

Taylor K said...

Happy Holidays. :) I hope that your space between is forgiving, relaxing and void of holiday expectation. Let me know if you'd like to write another I Believe list! Merry Merry, Taylor.

Robin said...

Say what? I'm enough. Who knew? This has totally turned around my holiday. So glad you started posting again! Love ya girl. And thanks for the comment. Been missing you. Seriously.

drollgirl said...

good post!!! the holidays can be so hard for many, but they can be great too. it feels like everything is building up to a frenzy....CHRISTMAS! NEW YEAR'S! it is kind of wackadoo, but it is also good to find a way to roll with it.

i am in a better place (i think) thank last xmas, and it feels nice. a bit of hope and appreciation go a long way in life. so many ups and downs, but it is good to try and find ways to be content.

i am babbling. and i am not listening to christmas music, so i haven't changed completely. LOL!

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh what wise words here! Thanks for the visit. Happy holidays!

Dave said...

I believe we (the world) has turned Jesus' BDay into a stress filled consumer orgie. So I did what any reasonable (loathing) man would do: Pushed all the shopping and cooking and card sending and wrapping onto my wife! Now I just sit back and read the card as they arrive and enjoy the tree. I may be a terrible person, but I'm enjoying the crap outta this Christmas! :) Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

kj said...

tracy, i wish i had ample time to write a long(er) response. i will say this:

you are a wise heartful person. that is very clear. you write with the gift of precision and humor. you show up. i am glad to get to know you. i like you.

i offer this hope to both and all of us: let it be what it is this year. and next year too

with love

Eric W. Trant said...

Wow, you really are a basket case, aren't you. ;)

My brother said to me a couple of years ago: You ever feel like it's going ~too~ good?

I said, Going well, Bro, not good. Yeah, sometimes. Don't worry, it'll get worse. Then it'll get better. So it goes.

Benni is right, you know. I love his analogy! I smell some plagiarism coming on...

Anyway, a couple of Christmases ago I was in a house I hated, with a girl I was supposed to be broken-up with but we still had (and still have, she's my baby's mommy) mad sex, having been passed over at work for a promotion (I was training my new boss), and my neighbors had just (allegedly) killed my dog, and were constantly affronting me in the yard when I got home.

And on top of that, I'm divorced, and it was my first Christmas without my son.

Oh, God in Heaven did I break down. I sat on that window seat that needed fixing next to the cracked window that needed fixing in a room that smelled of mold because of the window seat and I coughed up golfballs of phlegm.

Men aren't supposed to cry like that. Not ever. I had shit coming out of ducts I never knew I had.

And my nose! How do you chicks deal with all that crying? Does it always come out of your nose, or just on those ~special~ occasions?

Anyway, I was draining, hard, and I had a lot dammed up. I hadn't cried like that since that time in the stairwell at the "Kid's First" divorce seminar, and before that since birth.

(My thirties have been a BITCH of a decade...)

My girl didn't get it at the time, not like your Benni. We were in a hard place and she mistook it for grief about my ex-wife.

So, I've been on the floor, too, in my own basket.

This year, I couldn't be happier if angels were flying out my ass. I'm not sure how that would make me happy, but I think it captures the mood.

Here's to Tracy farting angels!*

- Eric

*I blame the drugs for that image.


Merry Christmas to one of my FAVORITE online friends. I'm glad I found you in 2010 and hope to see more of you in 2011.

Wishing you and yours the best, the happiest, and the healthiest.

JJ said...

I still invite you to follow my blog. You are a deep thinker, I have enjoyed your posts and responses to my posts, and most of all, I am always positive! Enjoy the holiday season!!

The Disconnected Writer

Scarlet-O said...

This was such a beautiful post Phoenix. One of the most beautiful I've ever read... I'm sorry your holidays gave you the blues instead of the reds and greens for a spell... but I think you wrote your way out of it... and I think your life is actually going lovely, cuz like you said, love is the most important thing isn't it.

Merry Christmas and Love to you


Maggie May said...

Merry Christmas, lovely souled girl!!!

akka b. said...

GORGEOUS POST!!! I loved absolutely every letter of it. Thank you. For real.

Nick said...

Bing says have a good new year, even if you do think he's second banana to a Diamond.

Barbara said...

Wishing you a Happy New Year, my good buddy! Let's hope it's a better one than last year!

Jo said...

Well said! Happy holidays to you! Here's to an amazing 2011!!

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