An Exceptional Day

Yesterday sitting around E’s mother’s dining room table I had to consciously place the day. Not in “I’m losing it” kind of way. It was the Norwegian national day and everyone was dressed in yards and yards of wool and linen and decked out with silver jewelry and odd shoes. Waving flags. Everyone eats hot dogs for some reason. Hard to miss.

But while I was sitting there I remembered that the next morning – today – I go back to work, just like I had done the day before. That this was a “free” day dumped in the week like a pothole of sorts. I don’t mean that in a negative way, really. I remember as a kid liking it when the car jerked like a roller coaster suddenly and broke up the monotony of a long drive. There were lots of long drives for a while. But that’s another meditation.

The national day is always difficult for me. First, there is nationalism on display. Which is unnerving. That slippery slope of community to exceptionalism. Watching the children’s parade I have so many associations with things in history that looked like this and that didn’t turn out well. It is just the fears of an outsider tapping here. These all-too-human dynamics of grouping always feel precarious. Are precarious.

Today in the news is an article about a five-year-old boy who was sneered at and grunted at by two grown women because he was carrying an indigenous flag and wearing an indigenous costume rather than the Norwegian ones. Mob mentality brings out the ugly.

I have been here 30 years and toyed with the idea of getting a bunad (national costume) for my son’s wedding next month. But in the end, I had to admit it would feel too much like a costume in the theatrical sense. Weird how that works. I have spent more than half my life here, I have changed- been changed – and have grown here. I have no connection to America anymore, and yet… maybe it is just that I don’t want to dress like everyone else. I would feel more conspicuous in the deceit.

But it is back to work now. One thing I have noticed lately – with the new medication – is that emotions aren’t blunted, but they don’t bleed outside of their circumstances. I think it is part of this quiet that has settled.

These last mornings I have done the yoga sequence without music or mantras. I have focused entirely on breathing, as one should, but as I never could. I am content with one single focus, one train of thought at a time. My resting heart rate has dropped. When I am hungry I take the time to cook.

I don’t know what this will mean in the long run. But for now, I am going to take it one bright and shiny day, one hard, sharp day at a time. Stacking them like discrete building blocks. When I teach acting, I tell the students never to try to play love/hate at once. Like red and green, you get a muddy, unexciting smear of whatever. Play one moment of love with your whole body, play one movement of hate. Because that is how we often experience it. Give yourself over (within reason) and allow yourself to feel the fullness of each.

I have caught myself on occasion, wondering if I believed what I was saying.

Now though, I’m beginning to wonder if this is what it is to “live in the moment”.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

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