Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Toad Thoughts and Jazz Dreams

I haven't written anything on my blog lately because, to be honest, I haven't felt very clever or wise lately.

I haven't felt clever because I haven't been able to come up with things that sound funny. Not even to myself. My brain has been stuffed to the brim with anger from people accusing me of stupid, untrue stuff. I have been tenaciously obsessing over things that bring me no joy or satisfaction.

I kind of remind myself of Little Bit, the time she caught a toad and held it in her mouth, one wiggly leg hanging out the left side. I told her to drop it. She didn't. I said it again, lowering my voice and giving her the hairy eyeball-putting on my best Alpha Dog outfit. That little turd-butt of a tenacious terrier looked me right in the eye and bobbed her head slightly as she swallowed hard. Down went the toad, wiggly foot and all. Even though, in my best dog-mom-alpha tone, I had told her to drop it, she still swallowed the live, bitter-nasty tasting toad whole. In seconds, she was drooling, a few seconds later, she broke eye contact to give her head a little shake, then a bigger shake, sending drool flying. Then she began rubbing her mouth on the ground to try to get the taste off of her tongue.

Well, that's how I feel when I'm obsessing over something. Even when I know it looks ridiculous to my heart and tastes terribly bitter to my soul, my pea-sized terrier-type brain won't let it go, even when I tell myself in my best psychological alpha-dog mama self-talk, "drop it!" I don't drop it. I swallow it whole and try to digest whatever piece of toad-poisoned crap someone feeds me.

Little Bit learned her lesson very well. Now, when I say "drop-it," she does. Immediately, even if it is her favorite toy or a dead rodent. She doesn't want to disobey mama and become a drooling idiot if she disobeys.

I don't learn nearly so completely. I do, however, try to learn something, even if that something is to just pick up something else in my brain in order to keep from becoming a drooling, depressed useless human toad depository.

So, I have been choosing to substitute something that brings me joy. Jazz. How convenient that this summer, I have been taking a jazz history class. I have been hearing and learning about a century of jazz folks. Some of whom I have always loved, like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Bennie Goodman and Sarah Vaughn. I have grown to know and love so many more, and even to respect the position of those whose music drives me madder than a hatter who has a tree-toad in his tea!!

So, Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child," or Coletrane's version of "Every Time You Say Goodbye" or Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing," with Gene Kruppa's bass drum sounding in my brain, replace my obsessing over how to change someone else's stupid obsessing over something that never happened the way they say it did in the first place!!... "Mama may have, Papa may have, but God bless the child that's got his own, that's got his own..." Breathe.

So, now instead of replaying imaginary conversations in my head in which I am eloquent and articulate in defending my honor, I have "I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield..." Wait! That's not jazz, that's a spiritual, an anti-war, peace-monger song. Hmm, well, isn't that exactly what I need in place of an earwax flavored toad in my brain?

Now, if I enjoy my imaginary jazz gospel chorus too much, I have just as much trouble sleeping than if I have toad flavored arguments in my brain. But I'm happier. My feet are tapping. My dogs (especially Little Bit) seem to love it when I sing to them..."Pretty, you're so pretty and witty and-waggy" or "stinkerty dinkerty dink er dink, stinkerty dinkerty do, I love you!" (That one is especially for Indigo-written the day after she...I'll tell that later. Maybe. At least the house finally smells normal again. Mostly.)

After that bizarre side-trip into my self indulgent meditation on my recent cleverness deficit, I'll return to the other excuse I have as to why I've been neglectiong to write.

Not only have I not felt clever, I've not felt wise. I've been having trouble practicing what I preach about recognizing the divine beauty within everyone. As I've already demonstrated, I'm having difficulty with letting go, and that means forgiveness is a slow process for me these days. And, since forgiveness and compassion are at the root of peace and love, they are also the basis from which all true wisdom springs. So, I've sprung a leak instead of taking a springing leap forward in my personal growth.

So, forgiving myself for backsliding seems to be the first step from where I was. I think I've done that. Now, I am finally seeing the divine within those whom I felt resentment against. The lump in the pit of my stomach has gone. I think the wriggling toad has hopped back into its happy place and left me in peace for now to find mine.

I had an awesome dream the other day. I think I have a new happy place. I was swimming like a tadpole in a drop of pure, clean water and I felt clean and alive and excited at being around the others also swimming, exploring that drop of water. There were people and dolphins and amoebas and fish and dogs and frogs (or perhaps toads?) and seahorses and beachballs, all in this little drop of water that felt larger than the ocean and freer than my mind.

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