being gone, being present

So, last week I wrote a bit about what it means, to me, to be present and the challenges and struggles I face to be more aware of what's going on around me. This means being aware of my surroundings, yes but it also means being aware of other people's feelings and listening, really listening to what they say. I'm not a very good listener. I'm a storyteller and I love listening to stories and remembrances. I can absorb stories, can take them in and have them live in me for weeks, sometimes years, but only IF I'm present. I have a problem living inside of my own thoughts, needs, stresses without considering their effect on the people in my life. It is selfish and careless. It makes me a good writer, a deep thinker, a good academic. It makes me a horrible friend, girlfriend and daughter.

I spent the bulk of yesterday working on an abstract for which I have quite a tight deadline. I slept in and had a lazy Sunday. Normally, this is a good thing. But yesterday, M was bored and wanted to spend her day off doing something. I overlooked those feelings in place of my own concern about how stressful this week is going to be, how I really wanted to get the abstract off my plate so I could do something else. Only, the something else never came. Had I really been listening, I would have understood that I'm bored meant, "let's do something"; create a moment; go take pictures at the park or Prairie Gardens or feed the ducks. I should have come up with something to do. Instead I focused in on my work, which in all likelihood I could have finished after softball or gotten up early this morning or any number of alternatives besides shutting M out.

Then this morning, distracted by what was to come today, I took an exceptionally long shower, which left no time for M to shower. Again, only thinking of my schedule and my plans and my stresses. M likes routine. She has a complete morning ritual that is important to her and it's throws off her day when it's hijacked like it was this morning.

I listened to my iPod on the drive to work instead of the radio and it helped me to refocus. The Fray song, "Cable Car" came on and my favorite line cut deeper this morning than usual:

"I'm losing you and it's effortless."

I have loved that line since I first heard the song because I think it's true. It takes no effort to lose people from our lives. In many cases, it's the fact that there is no effort that we lose friendships, relationships. It's easy to think of ourselves, to get caught up in the daily bullshit and forget all the ways our lives are rich and complex and full of wonderful people, people whose feelings and stresses and hearts we ought to consider. Not long after The Fray, Lifehouse's "Broken" began to play.

The broken clock is a comfort, it helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time
I am here still waiting though i still have my doubts
I am damaged at best, like you've already figured out

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain is there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on
I'm barely holdin' on to you

The broken locks were a warning you got inside my head
I tried my best to be guarded, I'm an open book instead
I still see your reflection inside of my eyes
That are looking for a purpose, they're still looking for life

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
with a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain is there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on
I'm barely holdin' on to you

I'm hangin' on another day
Just to see what you will throw my way
And I'm hanging on to the words you say
You said that I will, I'll be ok

The broken lights on the freeway left me here alone
I may have lost my way now, haven't forgotten my way home

I cried through the entire song, deep, gulping tears. It wasn't out of sadness, but remorse. It was a release, an allowance to myself and a reminder that my life is what it is because of the people in it.

M, I'm sorry if I have been careless with your heart and reckless with your affection for me. I may have lost my way, but I know that you are my home.