Everyone and everything dies.

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Cheery, huh? Actually, it is. Stick with me on this one, folks.

Endings and death have been on my mind a whole lot lately.

First off, two days from now will be the one year anniversary of Andrea’s passing.

Secondly, about two months ago, Squee and I broke up, after about four years together. It’s okay, really. I still love and care about her. But things change.

Third, my new job is demanding, and causing me in many ways to re-evaluate myself as a person, in all sorts of ways. I go to bed early, get up early to drive a long way to do a job I’m sort of teaching myself to do as I do it. It can be exhausting.

Last night I came home from work fully intending to work on my side business, do some podcast related work, and attend to a nagging bill related chore too. Instead I sat on the couch, lost at Overwatch for about 2 hours, and put myself to bed early, feeling low of spirit.

This morning though, I feel great. I had plans to get out the door by 6:15, an hour ago. But those plans died on the vine as I realized some other things I had to do. I made breakfast, packed my lunch, changed the cat litter, and realized I don’t have to push myself to do everything and anything all at once.

This is something Andrea knew and knew well. Don’t mistake me, she wasn’t some sanctified guru who floated an inch off the ground, and whom nothing ever bothered. So many of the phone calls and visits we had with one another started off with one of us engaging in a good old fashioned bitching session about something.

But the thing she knew, and which I also know but keep forgetting which is also, by the way perfectly human, is that everything and everyone dies. Every moment dies. Every plan dies. And when they do, they leave the ground where I’m standing fertile and ready to receive this very next moment.

Take this morning. As I made my breakfast, and checked my watch, I thought I might have enough time to change the cat litter this morning. When I went to check it, it was in a terrible state (Sorry kitties!) and I knew that I had to change it. So I did. If that means my commute will bloom up to 90 minutes today (which is very likely), well so be it. That’s okay. I will witness the death of the old plan and welcome the new one.

I know that because of my abandonment issues I have a tendency to want things to last. When I see that long arc of persistence grow around me, I lean into it and get comfort from it. It’s not an entirely bad thing either. It’s immature to divide the world into simple, absolute binaries. Yin contains Yang, and vice versa.

No matter how much energy I pour into anyone or anything in my life, it will eventually die. That’s tragic, yes. But it’s also comforting. Love and pleasure come to a fold, yes. But so does pain and suffering. That’s why it’s so import to just keep swimming, like Andrea always used to say.

The fact that the swim ends is what gives it beauty.

For ages and ages, I've said that my favorite episode of the Big Little Podcast is Number 9, Self-Esteem and Coming Out.

It's still true.  Do check it out.

I was on reddit this morning, responding to a thread on r/ABDL about how to come out to your therapist when I recommeneded episode 17, Ageplay and Finding a Therapist.  We recorded that thing waaaay back in 2011, seven years ago!

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I'm solidly of the belief now that #17 is definitely my second favorite episode of all time, and that nine plus 17 equals a whole lot more than 26.

I remember it being good, but I hadn't listened to it in a while.  So I put it on.  Man, it sure is good.  First off, my friend Liz had super smart things to say about the physiology of the brain, and about telling a therapist about experiences of abuse.  My ex Kacie said wicked smart stuff about the reality of dating an age player and how it has nothing to do with actual kids, really smart, direct stuff.  

And then there's Andrea.  Andrea was so amazing on this episode.  She just was everywhere in the show.  Everything anyone had to say, she had support for, or great contrasting opinions.  She was raw, honest, open, and fantastic.

We're recording an episode of the show this week about grief & loss, during which Andrea will figure largely.  And it's been bittersweet and challenging, getting myself ready, writing up the list of things we're going to discuss.

Listening to episode 17 this morning gave me the warmest feeling about Andrea.  Listening to her wise words, lovely dirty innuendo, and caring talk just made me feel so good.  

There's this one moment, when I'm talking about my confused feelings around face slapping, due to childhood trauma, and I say something funny in the midst of describing it all.  And Andrea wanted to laugh, so much.  And I said it was okay to laugh, and she did.

Even though she's gone, she's still here with me.  

Today, I'm doing some writing and hanging out with Missy in the living room.

Yang is with me

Yang is with me

My boycat Yang is sitting on my lap, insinuating himself between me and the laptop.  It's adorable.  It's a pain in the ass.  It's both!  

Cats are such funny, entitled, loving agents of chaos.  At first I wanted to push him off my lap, and really get to work.  But he's got me realizing it's important to go slow, and pay attention to love.

It makes me think of Andrea.  She was a cat person too.  Her babies, Abbycat and Daddycat, look, weirdly like my Yin and Yang.  She has expressed to me many times how they're lovely pains-in-the-neck, too.

I COULD be writing in my office, at my desk. without company (cat or spouse).  But it's better this way.

I know Andrea would approve.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow
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So this morning, I'm at the dentist (YES AGAIN), getting my temporary bridge replaced (YES AGAIN, AGAIN) and wearing awesome hot-pink dental-light-don't-blind-me-glasses (FIRST TIME) when this thought struck me.

I was thinking about one of my favorite movies, Big Hero 6, and one of my favorite characters in that movie, Wasabi.

I love Wasabi.  He's a neurotic perfectionist, with a plan for everything.  He has outlines on his work desk for every tool, including the place he rests his coffee mug.

Wasabi hates surprises, doesn't like winging it.  He's a man with a recipe to follow.

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That's been his MO for a very long time.  And for the most part, it's worked out for him.  His plasma based laser technology is astounding.  Long before Hiro gets a hold of it to adapt it for superhero use, it's pretty damn cool.

But, it does make Wasabi fragile in some ways.  The reason Fred nicknames him "Wasabi" is because he spilled wasabi mustard on his shirt one time, a fact that drives Wasabi bonkers.  During a really awesome car chase scene, Wasabi actually STOPS FOR A RED LIGHT, because he's used to knowing the rules inherent to a system and adhering to them.  Wasabi can often come across as fearful or timid, because he just wants to have a plan, and stick to it.

But there's this moment in the film when he overcomes this, beautifully.  During the climactic fight with the big villain, Yokai, Wasabi realizes that gravity is really getting quite goofed up by certain inter dimensional things going on.  And instead of panicking, or complaining about it, he makes a key choice: to use it instead.

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He pushes off the wall, and goes floating through the air.  Then he activates his laser hands, and gets in there, chopping up microbots with a vengeance.  It's like a form of parkour, and is awesome.  In a way, he gets a new superhero skill from it. 

So often when I read about (or have written about) mindfulness, it's filled with lots of "here's what you don't do."  But there's another side to that, and Wasabi's little story is indicative of it. It's the magical benefits you get from embracing it.

I have one like that, related to recent events in my life.  Just after Andrea's passing, a whole lot of folks reached out to me (wonderful) to offer their condolences (lovely) and help in any way they could.  (problematic)

What's so problematic about that, you ask?  

Well, in the midst of my grief , I barely knew how I even felt, never mind what sort of help I might need.  I had a few cases of folks who, with the very best of intentions, offered to help me in any way I might tell them.  But the problem was, I didn't have the knowledge, energy, or drive to come up with anything for them to do.  Even the prospect of it made me kind of want to shut down a little.  I was struggling to even get out of bed, I certainly didn't have the "emotional chutzpah" to offer guidance.

To make a food metaphor out of it, it was a bit like they were offering to take me out to dinner, but needed me to pick the restaurant.  It kind of turns the situation and the assistance from being focused on the person needing the assistance to the one supplying it.  Not great.  Under normal circumstances, that's no big deal.  But during grief, not so much.

I wasn't mad about it though.  Instead, I saw it as an opportunity for mindful practice.  I resolved that the very next time someone else I know was grieving, I would mindfully offer them ready-to-go assistance with something I already had to offer and which I knew they could use.

Sadly, such a situation has come up.  Just yesterday.  I won't get into the who or what of it, because that's private.  But I was resolved that when I contacted my friends, this would be my drive.  It worked out pretty well too.

And as I was sitting in the dentist's chair this morning, thinking on the contact I'd had, Wasabi and his change in attitude came to me, and I saw this was the same sort of thing.

I'm grateful for the reinforcement.  Hey wait, I can use that!

 

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow

Tonight, a good friend did something very special for me.  They went out to dinner with me to help me process my grief about Andrea’s death.

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My Helpful Friend is something of a subject matter expert themselves on this matter, having recently had to deal with a death themselves. 

So we met. We sat.  We talked. I almost-cried a few times. I ate steak. It was good.  

One super helpful thing my friend described to me is that I would run into two sorts of pain in my grieving.  

  1. Punches to the head
  2. Punches to the gut

Type 1 punches are the things that make you think, that make you dig in, obsess, dredge up grief you thought you had already worked through and revisit it.  

Whereas type 2 punches are those quick, sharp, knock-the-wind out of you experiences.  Something catches you off guard, and you suddenly don’t quite know how you feel.

Here’s the thing though.  While experiencing these punches doesn’t feel very good, it’s normal and kind of good for you.

Andrea, she carved this special place in my heart, in my life.  I’m utterly, incontrovertibly changed by our friendship.  I don’t want  that not to matter.  I welcome  both the pain and the pleasure of how much she meant to me, and still means to me, even in her death.

I know that that’s uncomfortable.  I know that it’s not easy, not for me, and not for you.

 I’m grateful for the discomfort. And I’m grateful you’ve stuck around to share in it with me.

In a way, that was at the heart of my friendship with Andrea.  On the regular, we challenged one another, called each other on our bullshit.  My friend I had dinner with tonight helped me with some of that too, as we ate, commiserated, and connected.  It was damn fine.

I’m grateful for such good friends, those now gone, and those still with me.  

 

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow