“It was through the discovery and exploration of the unconscious that Freud made his major discoveries, chief among them that from birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; we hunger for sexual pleasure, we dread sexual pleasure; we hate our own aggressions–anger, cruelty, the need to humiliate–yet they derive from the grievances we are least willing to part with. Our very suffering is a source of both pain and reassurance. What Freud found most difficult to cure in his patients was the resistance to being cured.
Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments

So last night I was on my yoga mat. (Yay! I did it!) It had been a very busy day, including an unexpected trip to Kingston to get something fixed on my car — an hour and a half round trip to Kingston alone — and lots of up and down the stairs to the basement, so instead of taking a vinyasa class, I took a yin class. Lots of quiet, lots of long holds of poses, lots of deep focus. And right there I realized my problem. Dang it.

I don’t actually want to stop being chaotic in my head. I mean, I do of course, I do want that, but unlike the last time, this time I am solely motivated by getting this weight off me. That’s really what I’m doing all this for. The inner chaos is a torment, but this time it’s really just a weight loss strategy with some side benefits I happen also to like. No wonder! No wonder I’m fighting myself with all I have about being mindful. No wonder. I’m doing something I don’t want to do.

And yet I do want it. The essential Freudian dilemma. I am resisting the cure I am desiring.

Now what, Freud? [I insist on leaving out that ‘r’ every time I type his name, so “Feud,” which is surely some kind of Feudian slip, right? 🙂 )

But seriously. Now what? I do want that quiet. I want it. I want the peacefulness I had. I want that centered feeling. Perhaps I’m still too unsettled in my psyche by this relatively dramatic uprooting of myself from suburban Austin and lots of people to a rural place that’s quite gorgeous and also fraught with new challenges to learn about, and no people. Maybe my psyche hasn’t caught up with my body — it’s still en route, maybe somewhere in Virginia, if it took the first route I took in the big truck.

Maybe this is why it’s the change in my body that is satisfying me, and why the change in my mind isn’t happening yet. Does seeing this make it change? IF ONLY. HAHAHAHA. If we could think our way out of problems, change would be easy, as my husband says on his therapy website.

I remember when Jeff, my food coach, said something antithetical to the therapy-focused position I’d held for years: at some point you just have to get off the couch. My tendency here would be to analyze this, to mull it over, Why, Lori, why are you being so resistant? Is it an unwillingness to abandon the political fight? Is it…. BLERGH get off the couch. Shit or get off the pot, as my old grandmother inelegantly said. Do I want to let go of the chaos, really? Then let’s do it.


Every other Wednesday I have an hour-long Skype writing session with my friend Marian, who lives in NJ. When I lived in NYC we sometimes met to write together, so I was thrilled when she had the great idea to continue over Skype. We take turns: one session I’ll bring three one-word prompts that we respond to, and when we finish that she reads something she’s working on—the following session two weeks later, we switch. It’s a good motivator to make us get some writing done on our own. Yesterday was my week to provide the writing prompts, and one of the words I brought was “dirty.” I wrote:

The desert was just a whisper of dirt blowing around on bedrock, dirt in the air and in my eyes, but it didn’t feel dirty, it didn’t creep me out, it wasn’t hidden or secretive, it wasn’t cloaked in something else, it was just dirt. Rock ground down by eons of wind and sun, transformed. Ancient bones scoured into smallness, bones of mountain and rock, bones of animals and people, bones of dinosaurs, bones of shells, flying over the face of the earth, lodging in my nose and mouth and entering my blood to join my bones.

dirtThe thing that’s so great about stream of consciousness writing instead of labored, effortful writing, is that you happen onto things you never expected. I absolutely love this distinction between the cleanness of dirt as opposed to the “dirty,” that dirt is a marker of time, of transformation, and that of course links right over to God forming man out of dirt, of us returning to dust and ash. And none of that is dirty. So what is dirty? As I quickly wrote, I understood dirty as having to do with secrets, and ugliness, and shame. If you do a Google image search for dirty (PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT) the pictures are disgusting. And no surprise, the image search for dirt is more like the picture embedded in this post. Loam, silt, sand, cracked earth, black dirt, material for growing things, nourishment, born of this dirt, buried in this ground, dirt. Obviously I knew this — I wrote it — but I didn’t really know I knew it.

The second word I brought was “clean” and I wrote:

Feeling hungry and empty feels so clean, I love the electric blue light of it. It doesn’t feel like a state of want, of need, but a state of WANT, seeking, hoping, blue, white. Creative want, color want, light want, music want, laugh want, breath want, air want, joy want, brilliance want. Being in the dusty desert, grit in my teeth, wind shaking my trailer, blew away webs and cleaned me out, ready for me the next thing.

Writing is such fun, getting into a slipstream of something, the rhythmic run of wants originating from the idea of clean — if you’d asked me to put those together, I just couldn’t have done it.

Did I tell you I’m going to Indonesia in May? The itinerary is coming together: on Java, Yogyakarta and Borobodur and Solo; on Sulawesi, Tana Toraja; snorkeling around the Spice Islands; and then a trip back to beautiful Phnom Penh and a jaunt down to the coast, to Kep — and leaving three weeks from this Friday! I have the shell of the blog created already and as always, I’ll post the link here in the hopes that you follow along.

For now, though, happy Thursday y’all — I hope today you can pause for a second, at some point, and realize how brilliant your life is. As for me, I am back, so filled with things to think about, things I want to write about here — the idea of being incomplete in a way that a partner completes; the color blue; translation; music; being vs achieving; so many things to write and think about. It’s so good to be back. xo