I'm feeling guilty because I haven't been my best self lately. I dislike this feeling, the sense that I've let myself down, that I could've been more patient, kind, or beautiful in any given moment. I think we all harbor these tiny dragons inside of us that sometimes magnify in size and seize control of our minds. Then the thoughts that come spitting out burn the skull & can't be trusted. Shakespeare said, "Love all, trust few." Maybe he wasn't talking about people after all. Maybe he was talking about thoughts...how much of what we ponder is potentially harmful, and very little sparkles us down the right path. I've spent a decade trying to develop my intuition and learning how to tune into the subtle machinations of my gut. And what have I discovered? I'm still figuring it all out.
My senior year in high school, I became obsessed with the British author, John Fowles. His novels weren't just eloquent but emotionally resonant and provocative. So I fell in love & read all his books, ending the year with his stunning work, The Magus. To finish the final chapter of the book, I drove to Pierce College one Sunday evening, parked in an empty lot, then headed up a long flight of stairs to the performing arts center. Taking a seat on a bench outside, I gazed over the view before me, the endless sprawl of north valley, and felt immediately at home. It was breezy out but warm, and I was comfortable in my jeans and green sweatshirt. That day, I enjoyed finishing the book in solitude with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand. Turning to the last page, I felt a sense of jubilation. I knew I wanted to be a writer and an English teacher. I wanted to devote my life to literary pursuits. And the thoughts which sparkled out, honest and ecstatic, were ones that could be trusted.
Now years later, I live the life I once imagined long ago, working by day as an educator and by night as a poet. Even when I'm not writing, I'm writing, and I see umbrellas dangling under my ceiling in the dark. The other day I started wondering about how spiders mate, and this afternoon I kissed a pen because it seemed to be whispering something to me. On my best days, I am not Mehnaz, cynical mammal with a sweet tooth. I am Meh-Naz-Maz...the blushing protagonist in my own redolent fairy tale. And when I live in this hyphen, where reality meets imagination, I have less reason to feel guilty. To be confused.
And the truth is I've suffered my fair share of confusion. I've wasted hours, days, and weeks thinking about things I wish I could've turned into poems instead. There have been afternoons I've hidden in bed and obsessed over the speech I bunged up the day before or the seemingly cruel words of a friend. I may as well have a Ph.D. in over-analyzing and second guessing. And when the spell of incessant thinking becomes my routine, I feel like I'm stuck in some labyrinth inside the dragon's belly. My actions, consequently, are not those I'm usually proud of.
Thoughts. Can('t). Be. Trusted.
I trust the thoughts that emerge from this meeting place of imagination and concrete reality. But when I abandon the fairy tale...when I sink into the humorless, festive-less place of ordinary rumination--or when I jump too high, forgetting the pragmatic vicissitudes of my life--I lose the art of thinking beautifully. And I feel this loss of power. That day at Pierce college, I settled into the hyphen and was able to think with my heart. I reflected clearly, without pretentiousness or guilt, but intuition.
Negative or positive, a beautiful thought is laced with both mud and star dust. It's paradoxical, and it's authenticity may seem ironic. But I think it's genuine. What would it mean to train the mind in such a way? This week, as I drift through my life, I want to remember to think from this place of dream-icity. I believe our lives, like fairy tales, are stories with a fitting message. The moral isn't always clear, but it helps to trust that our journeys are guided by one.