Today is about studying the blade, among other things.
Among other things. Including wishes. Let’s investigate.
How did we get here?
A poet with amnesia
A lovely thing about ADHD combined with memory loss from traumatic brain injury and Long Covid Goldfish Brain, is that I am regularly delighted by notes to myself that clearly I have written, and cannot even make a guess about what they mean.
Yet again: What did the poet intend? Who can say.
I am the poet and I forget that I am the poet. There has to be some poetry in that.
This is not new
This is not new, I once made an imaginary art gallery devoted to found notes written by me and forgotten, called The Brautigan Wing.
It is more that both the frequency with which I am baffled and the amount of bafflement (AoB) have gone up significantly since my concussion two years ago.
In February, I jotted down a quote from Ryan Broderick, he must have said this on an episode of the beloved, lost but not forgotten podcast, The Content Mines.
“Arm yourself with a hobby or two.”
Arm yourself! With a hobby (or two).
I love this so much. Hobbies or passion projects or side quests or rabbit holes or special interest hyperfocus deep dives. I love it all!
God, I love a good obsession. It doesn’t even have to be mine.
Even more so, I love his phrasing which never would have occurred to me. Arm yourself with a hobby or two.
Exploring the resonance of this…
This phrasing really struck me, and I’m not sure why, maybe because hobbies or enthusiastic passion projects always feel very heart-and-mind to me, so I have never imagined them in the physical realm, like something I could wield.
A special interest as armor, or as weaponry.
It’s not just that I adore a Good Obsession, it’s not just that having a Good Obsession feeds me at a deep level.
I am arming myself with a good obsession. Or two. And doing this enhances my powers. More powerful, more protected. Take up arms. In the form of a hobby. Or two!
A good obsession as a form of self-defense. From the world? From forgetting who I am?
A good obsession or two
A good obsession or two…
Or two! Or more!
Plentiful opportunities to obsess.
Take / Up / Arms
Here is the rest of my note:
Take up arms!
Do this to prevent boredom, stave off the descent into madness, can you be radicalized by that combination of goals?
See also: Obsesssssss, it’s fun!
Obsesssssss, it’s fun!
Truly nothing brings me greater joy.
Whether it’s making a new kind of horchata (proxy! not a proxy! also a proxy!), falling in love with a particular shade of yellow, devoting myself to making strawberry ginger shrub, inventing new holidays, immersing in a character or aspect of myself.
I love when my brain has something to play with…
While you were [doing X], I studied the blade
This is a meme format, in case you’re not terminally online:
“While you were partying, I studied the blade.”
While you were [doing literally anything], I studied the blade.
For me, I always think of it as: “I was devoting myself to the blade.” Strong Inigo Montoya energy.
Or even my forever crush, Cowboy Drag Sharon Stone in The Quick & The Dead, who has devoted her life to being a sharpshooter, both to avenge the death of her father and to make right something she perceives as a failing on her part.
Yes, that is interesting. What am I trying to make right? What am I training for?
What is devoting myself to the blade about?
And: is this the same question as “What is arming myself with a habit or two about?”
I think it is, though I don’t know if I can explain why.
Why do I study the blade, for whom is the devotion…
What is this all about, to me, in this moment?
What is this all about, to me, in this moment?
This investigation is about:
- slow process
- the glorious thing that is a slow-motion training montage
- cumulative knowledge and skill
- studying one thing, while letting all the other wishes percolate (fractal training!)
Mmmm, and also something about my deep love for a Before & After…
What is it about a Before & After…
Obviously this brings us back to my love of a slow motion montage, as discussed last week and possibly every week.
Specifically I live for stories about people who go on ADHD meds and start getting things done! I can’t do this myself due to [reasons, circumstances], but I deeply crave it, and imagine it.
Yes, I dream of a someday something like this for me!
A breath for this beautiful wish. May it be so, or something even better.
What does this remind me of?
The language learning process. Cooking Club, a practice I made up that I want to write about here sometime too. Writing itself, of course. And dance. And yoga or Feldenkrais or Gokhale training.
Any practice where over time some pieces or elements become easier or even automatic. You can track your progress.
And practice helps, even when you think it doesn’t.
Practice helps, even when you think it doesn’t
A playful approach helps too. Curiosity helps. Add compassion and stir.
Sometimes your brain simply refuses to perceive progress. It seems like no ground has been gained.
Then you turn around and suddenly a thing that was impossible is now accessible, maybe even joyful…
Knife moments / before I studied the blade
I keep thinking about knife moments, and this is probably the wrong phrase, apologies if it comes across as violent or triggering.
What I mean is, times in my life when I needed a way out of a situation and found myself unable to extricate myself, for reasons that were what they were.
When I look back on these times, I want to rescue myself, I want to cut myself out of a net.
Of course. That’s what the blade is for.
That’s what the blade is for.
The blade is a knife of self-rescue.
More about retroactive self-rescue here, if that’s a topic that interests you.
Several years ago, I was in a relationship with someone who was sometimes so very sweet to me, so tender with me, and sometimes treated me like absolute garbage, and I was just unable and unwilling to see it or perceive it for what it was.
I kept convincing myself I had to be misunderstanding what was happening, I could always find what seemed like the most reasonable reasons to justify their behavior (they’re stressed, they work so hard, they didn’t mean it!).
Devoted to the endless Maybes? Yes, that’s it exactly. Devoted to the endless Maybes…
Devoted to the endless Maybes
Maybe the tiny crumbs of sweetness and affection were just so sweet, who could blame me for coming back in case there were more.
Maybe I needed the non-sweet moments to be explained away by Extenuating Circumstances, and so they were.
Or maybe I thought that if I could just be patient enough, something would shift and they’d magically go back to being the warm, loving person who used to wildly adore me, like in the beginning, before [mystery reason for everything changing]. Maybe they would stop being a workaholic! Spoiler alert: THEY NEVER DO.
Or who knows, maybe I had already lost so much self-respect that I couldn’t find my way back.
Let’s call it some combination of all of the above.
A moment on the trail
We were hiking. In the beginning of our relationship, hiking was such a great joy. He’d take me to his favorite places, we’d hold hands if there was room on the trail, take breaks to just breathe in the vista and be in awe of the beauty, in love with being in love.
Later, when things changed, he had no use for going slow and being sweet. He just wanted to go as fast as possible, not caring that I couldn’t keep up, continually leaving me behind.
He had no use for me on these hikes, which is a weird phrase (no use, no use for a person, why do I need to be of use??? am I not enough even when I am of no use?), but I’m keeping it.
And I do not know why he kept inviting me, since it was just two people hiking alone.
Out of sight out of mind
He didn’t care when I had ankle pain or knee pain. Once I slipped and fell, and tore myself up on the rocks. He was so far ahead that he couldn’t see or hear me cry out in pain.
When I finally caught up with him, he wanted to know what took so long and I told him I was covered in bruises from falling.
He said that I should have walked on a different part of the path that was safer, and I wanted to say that if he’d been there, he could have pointed out the correct path, but I didn’t say anything. He disappeared out of sight.
Out of sight
Sometimes I read stories like this, I think Reddit is generally where people share these, and I think, “Run away! This is abuse!”
I wonder why I couldn’t have ever said that to myself, or even known this was an option.
He sped ahead until I was out of sight, and waited for me impatiently at the trailhead. On the drive home, I wondered if I would be brave enough to pack up my things and drive away and not look back.
But I knew I would not be, and I was not.
These are all points of self-rescue, where I need a powerful, possibly magical blade to cut the various webs and set this past version of me free.
No judgment for being caught up in the web, it happens to the best of us, just using the blade to cleanly cut an escape path.
Use the blade
That’s what the blade is for. Yes.
While you were being an asshole, I was studying the blade, and I am using it to get free.
Let’s cut the web, let’s set Havi free to live a better life.
Let’s cut the web
Cutting the web of being conned by a narcissist. Who among us hasn’t been there. Slash. It’s done.
Cutting the web of the pattern of Maybe They Don’t Mean It, Maybe It Will Get Better. Slicing through.
Cutting the web of hooked on small symbolic doses of warmth and affection. Just enough sustenance to keep seeking more.
Cutting the web of lies upon lies upon lies. Freedom, babe, let’s get you out of here.
Devotion to freedom. Self-liberation and also doing it for the collective.
This is what we were studying the blade for, actually
This is what we were studying the blade for.
While you were in a hurry, I was studying the blade. While you were lying to me, I was studying the blade. While you were wasting my time, I was studying the blade.
It was a slow process.
Now I am armed and dangerous, armed with self-respect, with passion, with a good hobby or two, with a desire to care for myself and tend to myself, to want better, allow myself to want better. Slash. It’s done.
Retroactive self-liberation, retroactive liberation for the collective, something worth obsessing over.
What happens when I arm myself with a hobby or two
What happens to me / for me / in my life?
Let’s find out. Obviously the best way to find out is probably through doing, through starting, or at least choosing a hobby with which to arm myself.
However right now I am not quite ready for the doing. I am preparing for doing, doing the entry, the pre-.
Who can I consult who is already a few steps ahead on this?
Let’s bring this question to another self, an incoming self or another version of me.
Who is the self who is just taking up the blade?
Who is the self who has studied the blade?
Who is the self who returned from Nanda Parbat (in the Arrowverse) having studied the blade?
Who is my most Inigo Montoya self?
Who is my most Cowboy Drag Sharon Stone self?
Who is the self who is taking up the blade
This self is Brave & Stalwart, trying something new is already so courageous.
This self is devoted to freedom and pleasure, and doesn’t get discouraged by making mistakes.
What wisdom does this self have? What can they tell me?
The version of me who is taking up the blade says: Begin, and begin again. If it’s not working, try a new tactic. Ritual and repetition and trying again. All training is useful. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are a glowing gem.
All training is useful. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are a glowing gem.
Who is the self who has studied the blade
This self is Tough & Self-Composed, agile, ready, grounded, stable, isn’t looking for a fight but doesn’t mind if one shows up.
This self loves patience and plays the long game.
This self does not hold grudges, because they find that boring, but they learn from past experience and say YOU DESERVE BETTER, BABE. And then we act on it, no hesitation, no looking back.
What can they tell me?
The version of me who has studied the blade says: I am with you, I have your back, you are my treasure, I am your sworn defender, I will be loyal and loving with you, you have spent too much time with these unworthy clowns of the world, and I want better for you. I insist on it. Let’s walk our own path at our own pace.
The Nanda Parbat self?
Who is the self who returned from Nanda Parbat having studied the blade, having spent years devoted to studying the blade?
This self is steady, grounded, confident, relaxed, clear, at ease. This version of me has trained not only in the blade but in being quiet, content, steady in habits, devoted to devotion. This self craves horizon, bring on the open road, the open skies.
My Nanda Parbat self says: You needed me to defend you because you didn’t know how to stand up for yourself, but by becoming me you will no longer need me. You also won’t need to defend yourself from those situations because you won’t get into them. You will expect to be treated with the same High Regard to give to yourself unquestioningly.
Who is my most Inigo Montoya self?
This self has a twinkle in the eye, sure they’re dedicated to vengeance, but also they have a sense of humor about it.
Their scars have become home, in a good way, in an intimate way. A way of seeing yourself with glorious equanimity, and treasuring who you have become.
My Inigo Montoya self says: I know my name, I know who I am, I know where I come from, I know what my mission is, and I am ready.
Who is my most Cowboy Drag Sharon Stone self?
I love this question most of all! I love Sharon Stone in cowboy drag more than anything.
This self is quiet, self-contained, very poised and composed, has a plan, and a backup plan, but can also improvise. This self has a wry sense of humor. This self is brave and determined because that’s the only option.
This self is the daddy, to answer the question in every episode of You Are Good (Who’s The Daddy!). It’s Cowboy Drag Sharon Stone, of course.
My most Cowboy Drag Sharon Stone Self: Hang back and notice. Do more reconnaissance. Find out what you’re getting yourself into, and have three ways to get yourself out. Come back to yourself again and again, knowing that no one is going to treat you like that again.
Let’s brainstorm some possible fun summer obsessions
What are some fun hobbies I can arm myself with, as a way of Studying The Blade? Other than making shrub, which I am already doing, and obsessing over the color yellow…
- Do I want to learn how to make hydrosol to spritz and stay cool in the summer heat?
- Do I want to invent a luscious summer dessert?
- Do I want to obsess over waking up early and kitchen jogging before the heat?
- Do I want to treat everything like studying the blade?
I am placing these into the pot, asking the cauldron of wants and wishes to reveal my yeses, my next indicated steps…
Arming myself with a hobby, arming myself with a better habit
I mixed up [hobby] and [habit] and accidentally asked what happens when I arm myself with a habit or two, which is so fascinating because I am as obsessed with habits as I am with a good obsession.
And what is a habit if not a series of patterns and elements, any of which can be changed or rearranged?
A habit is the opposite of a web. A habit is something that does not need slicing, it only needs rewriting and reconfiguring.
What if the work of allowing my habits and patterns to reconfigure and be rewritten is an element of arming myself with a hobby, maybe this is the ur-hobby of my mind.
What is needed? What comes next?
I am going to let these thoughts, wishes, and dreamy sparks do their thing.
We have noticed and named, we have lovingly investigated, and now I’m giving it to the wishing pool, giving it to the mountains and the horizon, giving it to the fire and the cauldron, giving it up to whatever happens next.
The wish has been wished, the stone has been skipped, the questions have been asked, and it’s all beautiful to me.
Maybe I don’t know yet what I am arming myself with, and maybe I am still unsure if it’s the right question or the right imagery, but I love an internal exploration. An exploration like this is like a hike where I can never be left behind, I can’t fall and hurt myself, I am ensconced in self-tending.
And I have a handy knife to cut myself loose from any past experience. While you were reading this, I was studying the blade. Maybe you were too. I love that for us.
What are your wish-obsessions? Come play with me, I love company
When you are studying the blade, what kind of [the blade] are you studying?
How do you want to devote yourself to your version of the blade?
You are welcome to brainstorm wishes, obsessions, seed any seeds, play with any of these concepts in any way you like. Come play in the comments!
Share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, the healing the power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.
Update: I am preparing new bonus materials for the month of July about time and how I prepare for and relate to the different quarters, more about this to come, but anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary (see below) will get these by email by the end of the month…
If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, slow going.
I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.
And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️