deb talan, and asking questions of myself

September 27, 2010

I like that Deb Talan asks herself asks herself how she wants to feel.

"I could be water to you, and you could be wine" but - "how do I want to feel, I wonder?"

My questions of myself are, I think, more akin to a status update. A quick check of my emotional pulse. A, "how do I feel?" in contrast to Talan's, how do I want to feel? And, on that note, what would it take to get there? I like that Talan makes emotional plans. I've rarely, if ever, possessed that kind of perception.

I have a friend that pushes me toward healthy risk. I think everyone should. He asked me, recently, if I thought he had ever experienced elation without emotional disquiet. I didn't answer. He said, "I'll answer it for you. No, I haven't."

When I was in Uganda, my driver told me that no one would get anywhere in Africa driving defensively. "You have to push," he said to me.

I think that there are more situations than we give credit to where one could ask herself how she'd like to feel, and pursue that end. Sometimes, I feel as though I've been on the defense, giving way to being cut off and pushed into the slow lane, passed on the right, or going 55 behind a sugar cane truck on Bombo highway because I just didn't have the courage to move to the left.

Sometimes, I feel like the fear of emotional disquiet has dictated my choices and - as I well know, no one gets anywhere in LA driving defensively, either.

I took a time out this weekend. My roommate pushed me to it. "You're still motivated by guilt," she said. It was 8:30 pm, and I was cooking refried beans, and bemoaning a night filled with studying Spanish. "I'm mentally exhausted, but I have to do well on this," I said. "No you don't," she challenged me.

I said, "what?"

A friend had invited me to visit, and, an hour later, I was getting into my Miata, and driving through Hollywood to prove that I can make a choice out of desire, instead of guilt.

"You know, you still have all day tomorrow to study" my roommate shot at me as I walked out. "But if you get a C instead of a B for the first time in your life, and you have a really great weekend, then it's not the end of the world."

"It feels like it would be," I offered. She shook her head and said, "Then you really need to do this."

Driving up the 101, I realized a few things about how I'd like to feel.

I'd like to feel like I am free to make choices out of desire, rather than guilt.
I'd like to feel like I am doing something right, when I do that.
I'd like to feel free from the weight of past decisions.
I'd like to feel like I know what's best for myself.
I'd like to feel like my life is a process, instead of a series of pass/fail examinations.
I'd like to feel that criticism is constructive, not a sign of failure.
I'd like to feel free to be different than I have been.
I'd like to feel free to walk away from a thing that isn't good for me, mid stride forward.
I'd like to feel fine with emotional disquiet.
I'd like to feel that moments lived well - not necessarily moments where I got things done, but moments where I had conversations, touched, felt, loved, drank, ate, laughed - are of first importance.
I'd like to feel that the relationship I'm having with myself - the one that Talan sings about - is important, and deserves attention, just like my relationships with people outside of myself.

"It's a strange beginning, comic and awkward grace/In a picture, on the table/I'm in a red dress waiting for a reason/holding a tightly packed suitcase/how do I want to feel, I wonder?"

(photo via this flickr).