January 18, 2018 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on January 17, 2018

My intention.

Andy, the fearless leader of the meditation program I use, almost always asks this, or asks us in meditation to clarify: what is your intention in doing this exercise? And today a very clear intention struck me. My intention is to connect my life. I suppose the corollary to that is a feeling I have of being adrift and unconnected. To connect – not exactly a new, original thought by any means – suddenly felt new to me, however. It immediately conjured an image of a mother, my mother, furiously – in anger – slashing connections from me as though they were physical things, appendages. Snicker-snack, slash, slash.

At almost the same time, that image was superseded by one conjuring a flood. It made me think, “Am I ready for the flood?” I had let images of myself as a small child and even a slightly older child drift into my mind (Andy: “thoughts come and go and when you realize that your mind’s wandered, return to the breath”), images of me in all these different, basically unconnected places. And I suddenly felt, viscerally (and therefore originally, newly) the sensation of flooding. What if all these “mes” were connected? If my intention is to connect my life, and it’s not just an abstraction, then I must be ready for a flood of new emotions and ideas, insights. It occurred to me that “Am I ready for the flood” would make an okay opening line for a poem I might write. And speaking of writing, I had several ideas for shorter pieces.

While driving W. to the station, I pointed out that neither one of us is “expressed” in any way by the car we drive. He’s not a minivan guy, I’m certainly not a minivan “mom,” so our car doesn’t express or reflect who we are. But then I turned it around almost as soon as I’d said it by pointing out that, on the other hand, the car we drive actually does express very clearly what we are, namely cheap (it’s a 2002 model). Charitably put, that might be couched as “careful with our money.” But before I said this – and I think this is also true – I noted that we are driving a car which doesn’t express or reflect who we are because we don’t know who we are. We’re confused about it. After that, I made the “we’re cheap” observation. “Cheap and confused,” I quipped.

Later, I thought of another conundrum, perhaps also an economy. We have never used or developed nicknames for our children. They’ve never been gender-neutralized with the typical German “chen” or “le” addition (Peterchen or Peterle, for example, which brings the child’s name to the German gender-neutral level of das Kind, not der Mann or die Frau: you would say das Peterchen, but always der Peter, das Mariele, but always die Maria; interestingly, der Junge is masculine, but das Mädchen – there’s that “chen” again! – is neuter). Nor have we ever given them alternate names (my father coined “Nuni” [“noo-nee”] and “Julius” for me). JF, our old neighbor, created one for E., but A. is really firm, “adamant,” “man of the red earth,” impossible to neutralize or make diminutive. Nor do we engage in playful “aristocratic” detournements (a Gabriela would never be simply a common Gabby, for instance, but she could be called “Grabbi,” which has an ironic touch and also implies literacy, knowing that moving letters around within a name can result in amusing double entendres…).

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