Monday, December 18, 2006

late at night

alien-esque self portrait

ever since i decided (now many months ago) to quit my stable job with the pretty good income and the health benefits, i have spent many nights awake much farther into the night than i would like. my mind races with thoughts of the various life paths that i could choose. there are so many possibilites. i realize i am lucky to have these possibilities (and/or to believe i have them), but they also overwhelm me. i lie awake alternately excited, impatient for a new day, and anxiety ridden/fearful about having to make big and little decisions/choices.

this is how my mind goes:

i want to do something physical, where i am exhausted at the end of the day. i don't want to be in front of the computer all the time. maybe i should pursue baking. baking is beautiful, i love treats and i like to produce something useful.

but maybe i need more intellectual stimulation. maybe i should apply to grad school and study literature.

or perhaps i stick with my graphic design program and see where that takes me. i am enjoying it. (but am i really passionate about graphic design, or am i just enjoying learning and being in school again?)

(at each new idea, i can diverge into all the positive and negative aspects of these paths of course.)

in january i'm going to start, along with others, an environmentally responsible consumer type blog. i want to learn more about ecology, the environment, sustainability, organic products/food, etc. (at this point i start brainstorming about names for the blog, about how to design it, about emailing all the contributors and about what that email will contain.)

maybe i should go to sweden for a while, try to attend a school there.

i want to redo my website really badly. but i should wait until i get a mac. (should i really get a mac? they're so expensive. and i'd have to get all the programs....)

i wish i'd learned carpentry from my dad growing up. it would be cool to be skilled in a trade.

i want to contribute more to society. maybe i should pursue teaching. (that's what the tutoring job you're starting in january will help you decide, kerstin. you don't need to worry about that now.) what about working with the elderly?

i also want to make art.

and pursue some communal/spiritual activities. dance, sing...

and there's always the store fantasy brewing behind all this.

and on and on it goes.

this is all in addition to the nightly time it takes me to review the day, chastise myself for all the silly things i did/said, worry about money and my current lack of health benefits, sometimes think about/remember my grandparents, remember what i plan to do the next day, think about my friends and family and any interactions i had with them, think about any projects i have going on and about the book i'm reading, sometimes think about what's going on in the world (although a lot of these self-centered thoughts i have partially to avoid thinking about what's going on in the world i bet), try to focus on a breathing exercise, patiently lie in the uncomfortable position my cat is forcing me into, until it becomes painful and i just have to move....

it's a wonder i can sleep at all.

i wrote the above a few days ago. then today i decided to reread some audre lorde essays. they are so full, those essays. i reread Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power. the whole essay is amazing, but below are some excerpts. made me think differently about my above list which, in a way, is my attempt to understand what path is most erotic. though i realize that understanding will come from some kind of emotional/experiential resonance, rather than some analytical process, so no amount of late-night worrying is going to lead me to the answer.

The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.

It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work. To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society...But giving in to the fear of feeling and working to capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford, and the unintentional are those who do not wish to guide their own destinies.


The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects - born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women


We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But once recognized, those which do not enhance our future, lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to supress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.


But when we begin to live from within outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves, and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our actions upon the world around us, then we begin to be responsible to ourselves in the deepest sense. For as we begin to recognize our deepest feelings, we begin to give up, of necessity, being satisfied with suffering and self-negation, and with the numbness which so often seems like their only alternative in our soicety. Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.

again, these are poet and badass Audre Lorde's words.


alyssa said...

Oh, how I love your blog! This is such an amazing post! Your mind sounds like the way my mind races, too.
I love the thoughts about "erotic." I never knew that the word had so much depth and depths.
One more thing to throw in, have you ever thought about making films or going to film school?

kusink said...

Wow! I couldn't stop reading your writing.

I recognize so many things of what you describe as your thoughts. Ah, the problem of choice. But remember, there's no rule against changing your mind! When a choice is made, the only person able to decide whether to stick with it or not is you. Only the choice of death is final (sounds a bit harsh, but you get the picture, right?).

And the excerpts - I'm saving the last ones for later. Really brings up thoughts.

Thanks for a wonderful and personal post, dear cousin!

bugheart said...

i love
the self-portrait,
the introspection,
the words of
audrey lorde
{esp. the first exerpt}...
i too
am wide awake
worrying late
at night
even though
"no amount
of late night
will lead me
to the answer..."

Anonymous said...

these audre lorde quotes are so resonant right now... this is a season for long restless nights for me as well, things changing & shifting, paths hopefully opening up. good luck as you explore...

lisa s said...


if you get a mac - get the progams while you are student - MUCH cheaper!!

your mind works in wonderous ways....

and i taught a class in college called the erotic as power.... the first thing we read was that article.... love it dearly....

jenny vorwaller said...

shash....this post reminds me of me a few months ago....i have so much to respond to, i kind of don't know where to really begin!

first, get the mac, the programs are so user friendly, everything else...better. yup, the switch!

and...those things that you fear the most...i think once you take the plunge for them, you look around and wonder, now what was it i was so frightened for? everything you are thinking that seem impossible...i think that they can become normal so quickly, that taking that first step is really the hardest part...and from there, it all gets easier..

i know i sound vague..but i just really relate to your situation right now..

and! i know that feeling of wondering, am i really into this? or do i just love learning about it?

hope you find what you are looking for by listening...xo..

Anonymous said...

WOW...what a post - i was absorbed by your thoughts...many being familiar!
Maybe you could do a mixture of what you mentioned..
Love your self portrait and enjoyed reading audrey lordes words...

Anonymous said...

so spot on for me too! my whole life has turned up the right way in the last week and i'm looking constantly for validation that the choices i'm making are the right ones. you're words were like a little light going on for me. thank you.

Anonymous said...

hi shash!
such a great post and one that really resonates with me. i am in the midst of the same...left my career of 11 years and health benefits for a change. i still don't know what i want to do yet. it's amazingly overwhelming at times. thanks for sharing your thoughts. xo shari

anne said...

hi shash,

whew, what a post. i can very well relate to your mind-wandering. i tend to do the same and a lot of times feel overwhelmed.

on the practical side: do get the mac, i love my trusty apple and i never ever regretted getting it. on the "transcendental" side i love what kusink just said about the problem of choice and only death being final. i'm wishing you faith to know everything will be alright and you will find the right way, because you will just know it. (that will happen, i'm so sure!)

mati rose said...

shash, i feel you! it's a blessing/curse to have so many interests and talents and to wait for the answer of what is the right path. i like you flippin' the script of "what is the most erotic" path today? the rest will follow, tomorrow. i'm done with school and would love to take a walk, etc. with you at any point and catch up. email me:)

Anonymous said...

i really loved reading your post. i was incredulous...i have been through such a similar thing, although i have not yet quit my job...

i agree wholeheartedly that yes, you can change your mind. but for someone like me who changes their mind about the future every MORNING, i found it inspiring to read the advice of one self-help writer: commit to something, anything. just try it for a month.

then you can change your mind again.

it's both a blessing and a curse to have such a multitude of wonderful options, isn't it?