waiting on the front porch

she just stood there on the front porch waiting for her will to come and get her she was packed she had a suitcase full of noble intentions she had a map and a straight face hell bent on reinvention she was learning about please and huge humilities then one day she looked around her and everything up til then was showing and she wondered how did i get here without even knowing where i was going? ~ani difranco

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Location: montreal, quebec, Canada

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

what are YOUR orange shoes like?


well, i finished the essay at around 3:30 this morning, and i was so hopped up on caffeine that i probably didn't drift off until some time around 4. my alarm, of course, was set for 6:30, because i figured it would take me an hour to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head to the shuttle for 8.

i'm glad i had that foresight, as it took me an hour to do anything other than press the snooze button.

sometimes i can function of very little sleep, other times it feels like i have to remind myself to breathe. today was one of those second times. maybe it was because in the few hours that i napped, it had rained again and i woke up to a soft grey sky; maybe it was that i literally had just enough time to throw on the clothes that i had dropped at the foot of my bed, grab my computer disk and head out the door; but whatever it was i just couldn't shake myself awake.

i must have looked like the funniest sight: wild (and red-) eyed and wild-haired bee, stumbling towards the bus with her briefcase full of school books in her purple fall jacket and her orange shoes.

i bought my orange shoes to wear to a maceo parker concert back in july. they have bows on the top and thin rubber soles. i love them first of all because they're orange, second because they're slip-ons, and third because even though they're shoes, i can still feel the earth under my feet when i wear them.

i sucked at meditating the first couple times i tried doing it.

i don't know if it comes across in my writing style here, but i can be a pretty excitable person. people have described me as 'child-like', 'bouncy', and 'full of energy' my entire life, and i remember my mother once exasperatedly telling me to go to my room and try to just sit for a while.

i couldn't. there was this force that seemed to propel me off the ground, in the same way i couldn't handle silence, or being on my own.

but the idea appealed to me - meditation - the idea of sitting still, and allowing calm to enter and flood my being. i just wasn't ready for it yet.

when i was in my early 20's, i met a good friend who introduced me to buddhism. i had dabbled a bit already, but with his influence i started to seriously read the dhammapada, and books by thich nhat hanh. i was really struck by the idea that every action could be a meditation, if one stayed in the present moment and remained mindful. with that awareness, washing dishes could be a meditation, or reading a book, or soothing a child after a fall. anything.

i liked how that idea felt under my skin, and i started trying to remain more inside the moment. which was very hard for me to do.
i can be a squirmy bee, for sure. i plan lots, dream big dreams, and can be the 'what's next?' girl if i'm not careful.

this summer i travelled by myself across the country to b.c. for 6 weeks. i had a lot of friends and family out there, but in essence i was alone. this was meant to be a sort of self-test. the last time i had travelled alone anywhere was to california in 2003, and i crashed and burned on that particular venture, so i needed to know that i could take care of myself for an extended period of time.

this year, in fact, has been about me learning to take care of myself, by myself, with no safety net.

i didn't just go to b.c. to test myself, though, i went to heal in a lot of ways, too. most of my family i hadn't seen in at least 10 years, if not double that. both sides of my family, since my parents' divorce, had just gotten progressively more and more pissed off at each other. living that far away from the drama, it just looked to banane and i like some gigantic, immature game of telephone.

i spent the first 10 days of my trip in vancouver, with the aunt that i hadn't seen in 17 years. and while i was there, i found out a WHOLE lot of family skeletons that i was uncomfortable - to say the least - with. like ginormous, racist ones. i felt myself biting my tongue the entire time.

at the end of the week and a half, i escaped to victoria for 3 days, and for those 3 days i did approximately the following, in varying amounts:
  • talked to met on the phone
  • slept
  • ate
  • drank wine
  • biked around
  • lay on the beach

oh, and i also watched the quarter-finals of american idol. but i digress. on the second day, i found myself on gonzales beach, which is the beach in the picture.

to be honest, i love the ocean, and i love the beach by the ocean, but gonzales was a bit too crowded for me. so i started to walk. away. away from everybody and everything.

before i knew it, i had reached this stillness, both exterior and interior, that i had never felt. i could feel my blood pumping in my wrists. i could feel the sunlight splitting over my head. i was aware of each muscle in my foot bending and squeezing its way across the sand.

that was my first true experience with mindful walking, and good lord, i got addicted. for a walker, there really is nothing better - to just concentrate on the movement. each tiny, impossibly infinite movement.

i realized early on that my snazzy orange shoes were going to fit the bill for the fall months when it got too cold to barefoot my meditation around montreal.

and so when i stumbled out of bed this morning, and had to go back to my bedroom five separate times because i was so tired i kept forgetting things, and i couldn't make coffee, i decided to put them on. so i could feel the pavement beneath my soles, the soft fall grass, and try to pierce through my space cadet uniform.

it was hard. at first i kept noticing things and thinking about how much i wanted to blog, or take pictures of. ooh, look at the contrast of those red berries on the yellowing leaves of that hedge! that line from that sexton poem - i could use that in what i'm working on. i have that story due for next wednesday. etc., etc. so i started trying to incorporate my five senses.

the air smelled like nothing but cold. all of the fall colours (tree, and leaf, and burning bush, and house) stood out at once soft and incredibly vibrant after the rain. i listened to some girls speaking spanish together at the bus stop. i felt the soft cloth covers of the poetry books i've been carrying around to read at any small moment. and i felt myself sigh, just a little bit, and realize again, just how lucky i actually am.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Deb R said...

Those shoes are juicy!! YUM!

Love this post, Bee. But then I always do love your posts. :-)

9:48 a.m.  
Blogger Deb R said...

PS...I almost sent you an email about Blogrolling, but I'm going to wait to see if I hear from you in case you figured it out on your own. But be sure to e me if you need help - I'm more than happy to walk you through it.

9:49 a.m.  
Blogger Susannah said...

this is a lovely post Bee (though i don't know how you function on such little sleep, you poor thing :-)

i don't know if my comment worked on the post below, but if you want me to put your links on for you i can - email me lovie. it's v easy. i could make you little sidebar banners too ;-) x

10:05 a.m.  
Blogger Scott said...

Those shoes are so fitting for a Maceo Parker show. He is so great isn't he??

Scott

11:09 a.m.  
Blogger Jessie said...

these words are like one. gem. after. another.

i wish we were in a writing class together. this is one of those pieces that leaves me sitting here thinking: yes! and yes! and yes!

ps.
sunlight splitting over your head sounds absolutely divine. ;)

1:52 p.m.  
Anonymous swampgrrl said...

I'm in love with your Maceo orange shoes. Me likey!

I traveled alone last in 1987 to Ireland. It was scarey and exhilarating. Weird too. In my big Irish family, I'd never really been alone.

I did a silent 10-day sitting meditation retreat in 2002. I freakin' squirmed my way through the entire thing! now i practice meditation in motion.

you go girl!

2:24 p.m.  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

this was such a beautiful piece of writing and a reminder to me to sink deeper into the moments of my day, to look at every action and movement as a prayer, as meditation.

2:31 p.m.  
Blogger kerry said...

bee this is so great. i hope you find yourself siighing some more.

10:07 p.m.  
Anonymous ceanandjen said...

My orange shoes are Keen mary janes...and I love their comfort and funkiness. (okay being literal her! ha ha) Colored shoes rock! And your orange shoes.....sooooo cute.

I resonate so much with the difficulty you have with being in the moment. I have to say that since moving to Portland, I do stop to take things in. I do see and appreciate the colors and the smells and air...and the m.o.m.e.n.t.s I think that part of this has to do with the fact that I am SO MUCH HAPPIER here, and the part has to do with the fact that I feel at home here. My surroundings feed me...they comfort me. I actually stop to look around and breathe it in. I don't do this all the time; I do need to remind myself, but when I do, I feel so much better. It is a work in progress, just as I am a work in progress.

Thank you for the gift of your heartfelt and wise words...again.

Love to you....

10:41 p.m.  
Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

Hmmmm I love those shoes...you cutie pie. Great story ove,
xxx darlene

1:26 a.m.  
Blogger Vesper said...

"when it got too cold to barefoot my meditation around montreal"

i LOVE this line so much. i love that you've taken meditation and made it MOVEMENT. not to mention you've made barefoot a verb!

1:26 a.m.  
Anonymous lydia said...

Hi again,

I go to a weekly buddhist group here in the UK and find the philosophy really helps me too. I have the attention span of a knat and sometimes find it hard to focus, so I realy need to incorporate mindfulness more into my life. The flat needs tidying so I guess now is as good a time as any..

Beautiful writing by the way. We don't tend to talk about 'fall' over here, but it's got such poetic connotations. I love the idea of a 'purple fall jacket' with orange shoes and all those colours of autumn swirling around.Such a strong image. The last paragraph too, with its soft cloth covers of poetry. Seems to say everything.

3:24 a.m.  
Blogger melba said...

My mind wanders ALOT when I do yoga. I try to be mindful and I have to keep bringing myself back. It is difficult but worth it.

6:05 a.m.  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

LOL. Oh my goodness your description at the end-about all you wanted to do at that moment. I get pulled like that too-and sometimes it just turns into an inner cyclone and drives me nearly mad.

I loved your walking meditation and those shoes are fabulous.

I think I need to take a nap myself-as I went to bed at 2 after drawing late.

Glad you got your paper done.
Love you

11:22 a.m.  
Blogger Hulles said...

Big congratulations on finishing your paper. I personally don't own orange shoes, but if I did and I was of the female persuasion I would surely want a pair like yours.

I really liked the idea of every act being a potential meditation. I completely agree with that. The effulgence of the moment is how I think of it to myself.

Also, I am curious if the burning bush you mentioned said anything.

12:33 p.m.  

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