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On Mornings

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Morning sadness– it’s an old, familiar friend.  At Camp Betsy Cox, on school trips in middle school, in France in high school, in Mexico, even at my job in New Hampshire the past two [Northern Hemisphere] summers: if I am going to feel homesick, it is when I first wake up.  For most people it seems to be a night, but when I am away, curling up in bed is the best– I am comfortable, I have Bunny, all is well.  But when I wake up, that can be rough.  I think it’s that I don’t know what’s coming next, what I’ll eat, what will be expected of me, how I will express myself in this new place, and so on.  At Camp Bestsy Cox, I said I was sick, and slept through breakfast a couple of times.  Alice and I wound up leaving that camp early because the homesickness was just too much, and since, I’ve been able to successfully be away from home, but it can be a challenge.  I remember in Mexico, even towards the end when I was having a good time, I was surprised to find that I still woke up sad more often than not.  It would pass quickly, but it was still there to greet me.

Maybe I should have said this first: I am doing well here, really.  I am observing so much, I am making connections, my Spanish is flowing better each day.  I am going to have such a rich year here, I know it.  Last week in Palena, I was shocked to find I woke up every day with no sadness whatsoever.  I was almost confused.  But this morning I was greeted by my trusty travel companion, sadness (I’m staying in Futalefú, another Patagonian town, for a few days).  I think it’s especially about missing predictability and ease, which are both lacking here, for the most part.  Everything is interesting and fascinating and new, but rarely easy.  Of course, I signed up for this endeavor in pursuit of interesting and fascinating and new, because I wanted to leave easy, because I thrive in the learning.  Already, I feel like more of a grown-up, simultaneously more flexible and more sure of myself.  But yes, sometimes it sure is overwhelming, perhaps especially in comparison with the ultra-cozy arrangement I had this fall, chez les parents.

But here’s the thing– this time, more than ever, I was able to greet morning sadness at the door like an old friend, laughing (like in the Rumi poem, The Guest House).  As we Woodman-Russells sometimes say in jest, Bonjour, sadness!  Sure, I felt sad, but then I figured out what I needed to do to feel better: go for a run.  After weeks of crouching in my attic room and unconsciously minimizing my height while standing with people shorter than me, it was a relief to return to my body, my full strength and power.  Well, I wasn’t too fast after two weeks off, but that’s not the point.  Running, sweating, working out, this is something that works for me, this is one of my life coping strategies, wherever I may be.  Plus it was gorgeous, on a seldom-traveled gravel road, hills and river and mountain views.  Now I am fully here.

Being a grown-up.  If nothing else, that’s what I’ll practice this year!  Not in the sense of always knowing what’s going on, or of always being competent, but in the sense of being resilient and self-soothing (what a therapist word!).  I am more and more able to take care of myself, no matter what the conditions.   I am able to feel the love of my family buttressing me, even from far away.  I am able to anticipate the reward of navigating challenges like this one, to believe and even to know that I will benefit so much from this entire experience.

By the way, I don’t mean this as a downer.  This afternoon I watched TV with two twenty-something Chileans, comparing Mexican and Chilean programs and talking about subtitles versus dubbing.  Next up: Bob Esponja, aka Spongebob Squarepants (they don’t translate “squarepants”), a good friend I made in Mexico!  I am already thriving on the interesting and fascinating and new.  I am in Futalefú for a few days, before returning to Palena and beginning to get my teaching schedule figured out before classes start in March.  So much unknown, so much uncertainty, and yet me, of myself, I am pretty certain.  I know I am capable of managing it all.  We’ll see what surprises me next.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:32 pm

    Another rich post. I like the italicized interesting, fascinating and new but rarely easy. Yes, that is what you signed up for, what you wanted, what you will thrive on. Your reflections about your process are so honest and wise. And now that you have your new friend Bob Esponja as well as your old friend sadness it has to all work out! I am proud of you.

  2. Cynthia Watkins permalink
    Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:51 pm

    I think the morning sadness makes so much sense. I can feel it, reading your description. But you have great coping skills and you seem to know yourself better and better, a hugely important life skill!

    As far as being a grown up, rest assured that it will never be, “in the sense of always knowing what’s going on, or of always being competent”!! Just not going to happen. We may grow more sure and competent but never “always”. Which helps keep us humble and definitely human, a good thing!

    love, Cynthia

    • Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:28 pm

      Humble and human, that’s the way to go. I’m happy to hear you’re following me, Cynthia! Hope all is well in New York. = )

  3. sally chapdelaine permalink
    Saturday, February 12, 2011 8:42 pm

    Meg,your Mom is my colleague and guru.I love how you write.Thank you for writing about the morning vulnerability.I feel it almost every day.I think it’s about our ability to survive-anthropologically-we have always been most vulnerable at that time of day I so look forward to this journey with you.I am in awe.Your parents have much to be proud of in you.But I know they won’t take credit. Sally

    • Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:29 pm

      Sally, I’m happy to hear you’re reading my blog! You are right, the morning reluctance/sadness comes even when we’re at home, doesn’t it? Thank you for your kind words.

  4. jane woodman permalink
    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 5:13 pm

    Oh Meg, Thank you for being so real. Here I am, just back from a meditation retreat/course, continuing in many ways the same journey – of just meeting life as it is, sadness, mountains, Sponge Bob and all. I am so touched as well by the friends and family that check in here. xoxo

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