"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Wednesday 20 August 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

A Buddhist monk approaches a hot dog stand and says "Make me one with everything".

This past week and this as well, sweetie and I are on holiday taking a break from routine and work. It makes us happy, at least this is what the lovely Mrs H says. She teaches me so much. Not intentionally of course, but in this case by modelling the extremes of a cycle we all fall into as humans.

Much of human existence, at least the part not preoccupied by survival (not the television programme), might seem to be distilled down to that very American phrase 'the pursuit of happiness'. It is likely that scholarly essays exist on this idea. It is not my intention to add to that body here, but simply to reflect that for me the traditional idea of happiness seemed too strongly connected to possessions or ownership or control, all things that had little attraction in the past and almost zero attraction now. 

For so long I was certain real happiness existed, but had eluded me. Contentment seemed to be what I could settle for; the knowledge that I was doing the best I could under sometimes impossible circumstances. I knew something that would make me happy; to be fully female.

It is clear to me now that gender congruence alone does not create happiness. One might say it removes an impediment. I know that for some, that life path is the only viable one. After, one moves on and the challenges of life return. Happiness is not the automatic result.

My attempts here to understanding my dual nature, my queerness some would say, has lead me to wonder what there is to cherish, if not happiness.

Watching my sweetie, it seems to me that the 'happiness search' is a cycle that involves analysing the present situation followed by planning for something 'better'. An inability to live in the moment then sabotages the very goal of happiness, as this wonderful thing we plan takes place and moves into the past, regret follows and the planning for the next happy occasion begins.

For me this trip away from home with my sweetie is about moments to savour. Worldly moments yes. Good food. Beautiful scenery. Friends to visit.... Those sorts of things. I have enjoyed it so far, and look forward to relaxing with books, but this issue of happiness wants to be explored first. 

If happiness exists, it lies elsewhere and absorption with moments of joy almost seems to get in the way. That cannot be right. If we instead assume that happiness is an illusion, replacing the cycle of planning and waiting with something more fulfilling, just what does that look like?

As I sit on the sandy beach looking out at the water sparkling blue under an August sun, Aadi slowly materialises, as though in her way she is trying to sneak up. "Interesting thoughts you are having there. Maybe you will put this into one of your blog posts?" 
I never know how she will look in these dreamtime meetings, but somehow I always know it is her. "I've been pondering, yes." A butterfly came toward us from a long trip over the water and landed on her outstretched hand. "Something you are wondering about. Ask, Halle" 
"Is it fair to say that from your point of view happiness is meaningless Aadi?"
She placed her free hand above the butterfly like a shelter.
"In what you would call this moment my consciousness is here with you, and also consoling another Halle who transitioned thirty of your years ago and cannot imagine how she can carry on without her partner of twenty five years.  As I tell you this, I am with yet another version of you who just died in a mysterious car crash and is trying to figure out why he still is conscious and can see his dead body and mourning family gathered. These are just three of an infinite number of 'places' I am engaged in 'at the moment'. My perspective is *different* shall we say." 
She had a glint in her eyes as she told me that last part. I was about to suggest that she really didn't have time for me because I wasn't in any sort of trouble, when she interrupted the thought. "It is all about perspective you see. Isn't this a beautiful day Halle?" 
As I was about to answer clouds darkened and rain fell so hard I could just barely see the lightning flash that preceded the thunder by only a second. Just as quickly the clouds parted and sun was shining again. Aadi raised her hand, and the butterfly perched on her finger flapped it's wings and fluttered off.
"A beautiful day indeed Aadi". 
" From a certain perspective, mine, happiness is replaced by joy. Joy for the knowing that nothing in life is wasted. Everything you or any of your uncountable incarnations does adds to our totality.
Your acceptance that both female and male reside within is part of a new perspective. It is part of our joy Halle.
The fact that you are here with me on a day when there is no crisis to deal with tells me something of your perspective, and it is a good thing. You know that as long as you live there will be hard times when it will be difficult to remember this moment and this way of seeing the world. Come back to it as often as you can my dear. "

I am left with the question about happiness. Somehow it seems that this pursuit is no more or less valuable in life than any other. 
Love yourself 

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Embrace the Child

I really am too busy to be doing this writing, but it is as though some power has grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me here, telling me this is important! This is for now!

Those children dancing about in their innocent joy of my previous post might seem frivolous. I am not a frivolous type, take my word for it. Yet, when I meditated upon the difficulties in the world, and wondered what could possibly be done, my heart gave me that vision. It was for me to ponder what it meant. 

Children don't come into the world to hate, or even fear others. They begin looking for and accepting warmth, safety, ... love in other words. Finding fear is the shock. Being taught that dancing about and being childlike is childish is a surprise, but then being threatened with punishment for being a child ends the story. Soon enough, other learnings take the place of the search for loving warmth and safety. Our race has survived in a hostile world. We are prepared by natural selection to be survivors. Learning and adapting means getting control of your world by any means at your disposal. Watch children and how they manipulate those around them. It can be gentle and loving. It can be horrendous. Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn. 

I was a child of a relatively safe home, but learned early on that asking for the girl-toy got me in trouble. By the time I could figure out that I hated being pushed to the boy's part of the playground, it was clear that it was "man-up or be in trouble". The rest, denial, self-loathing followed too easily. Yet in the scheme of things, being trans and unable to do anything about it is small potatoes.

I wasn't asked to shoot my first firearm until I was 12. My father enjoyed hunting. I did not. Nobody ever forced me to use one ever again, so I have not.
Please understand, living in Central Ontario, Canada it is obvious that there are many whose lives depend upon successful hunting and fishing. 
Teaching children respect for nature and the ability to feed themselves is right. 

Teaching children to hate and kill is not.

 p.s. Thank you Lindsay for the comment. Here is a video inspired by that lovely thought.

Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

Monday 4 August 2014

Why Deny the Child?

A slight fog was rising as sun filtered through impossibly tall trees in full leaf. In my dreams I usually find myself near water, but today, a forest glade. Sitting with legs crossed there upon the beach blanket was a child, so small and delicate; she couldn't be more than three or four years of age, reading a book. Her yellow dress spread out around her was trimmed with white lace and flowers were tucked into her braids. She looked like a forest nymph. I recognized the book immediately from the illustration; Alice in Wonderland.

She almost giggled as she said "Ah, Halle, you found me at last." I felt puzzled at this. How did this little girl know me? I couldn't recall searching for anyone, let alone this little lady of the forest. "Our daughter loved this book too... I am sorry, but I don't recognize you."
Closing the book and putting it aside, she turned her face toward me and reached out an arm and her open hand as though to invite me to sit beside her. "Sit with me then, and I will teach you."

My mind had been churning with wonder at who she might be. Perhaps Beth at that age? Could she be our Grand-daughter, less than a year old in my time, but maybe in this magical place, a bit grown up and so very wise; yes, that was wisdom in her shining blue eyes and slight smile. More than anything else, her expression and manner exuded love. "You want to know who I am, or will be, or was, don't you?" My eyes widened at the seeming contradiction between her childlike appearance and commanding presence and all I could manage was a nod, then "Are we family?"

"It is a very large family, and yes, you and I are one there dear Halle."

The thought came as a question in my mind, are the greatest truths really so simple? to which her voice replied in my thoughts, Do not keep the child from your heart, for truly, whoever receives love as a child does, shall know peace. "That is how you think of life isn't it?" Her hand was upon my own, and I felt so light, and young and somehow, in this magical place, suddenly I was the little girl's twin and we got up together and danced around the blanket like a couple of... children, filled with the joy of being and unaware of the difference between childish and child-like. In that magical space those little girls danced about, knowing somehow that the world could be a wonderful place, if only we remember the child who desires only love and a place to dance and sing without thought of the judgements of the world.

I am awake now, and the radio is playing in the background, a solemn voice telling me of explosions in Gaza, and Tel Aviv, and demands that the fighting should immediately cease and diplomacy forced upon the combatants.

Forgive them, for they have forgotten so much... 

Sunday 3 August 2014

Self Image ~ Letting Go

Echos from his life:

"No, I'm not surprised that I haven't heard from them. Why would anyone think of me, anyway."

When you are convinced that you are a screw-up, it spills over and makes amazing messes in every area of your life. Even though you are hiding your deepest feelings, feelings that come from a place dark and self-loathing, it is obvious to others that you are unhappy, and they all think you are unhappy with them. "Who wants to be with someone who is always down?" and around and around it goes, each circle a bit lower and tighter than the previous one. 

I am not a screw up. I have confidence in me (cue Rodgers and Hammerstein sound track from Sound of Music please...).

So, why is it that I am still the one to call family members? How many times do they think I am going to want to hear "oh, hi, I was just thinking of you... " as they realize who it is on the other end of the line. 

Yes, this pattern is an old one; a holdover that threatens to keep me in that past. Who doesn't think that when something happens over and over that maybe, just maybe, it is your problem and not someone elses'? How dare I have self-confidence under those circumstances? Well, it is not their fault that they are stuck in my past. Finding a way to bring them into my present is proving to be daunting however. It just might be that in some perverted way, they are comfortable with my past. 

For me now, it is about rising above my past. Yes, that person was, sadly, a reminder of bad times and someone who really was not fun to be with. I am carrying his baggage, but not much longer. Bit by bit it is being left at the roadside... nope, don't need that... oh my, look at this old thing. It never really did fit me, so time to ditch it all. 
The pack gets lighter and my heart with it. 

The wonderful truth is that my sweetie has noticed a lighter and happier me. Our kids and now grandkid knows this version. We love one another. I am not a stranger to them. 

Who doesn't stop now and then to wonder what might have been, or how we might have done things better? We learn from experience. 

Eventually, all the knowing has been gleaned. The chaff needs to be left behind.

"No, I am not surprised I haven't heard from them. It seems they don't want to know the person I am now. "