Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Joy Thing

Why have so many months lapsed since I last blogged? I think Facebook is the culprit. Well, that and living life inspired, awake and alive. In other words, I've been doing a lot of traveling and going to a lot of concerts. Dancing takes time! But it's time well spent because it's impossible to be unhappy while dancing.

And when happy, I am aligned with my essence. I know that sounds like I live in California, so let me translate for those who don't: When I'm happy, I'm being my true self. And maybe others will benefit from that. (At least my students will, because happy = less cranky! Less cranky is a good thing for them, especially when they ask to turn in a paper late even though the syllabus says on every page, IN CAPS and italics, that I don't accept late work.)

My travels this year have included Hawaii, Italy, Spain, Morocco, the High Sierra for hiking and this fantastic music festival, Seattle, Whidby Island, L.A. and Catalina. I met with two different friends I hadn't seen in 30 years. I met vibrant, fun people from all over the world. And I met a man who has been bringing all kinds of lovely treasures into my life.

It seems I've gathered ten years of writing material in the last few months. Indeed, I have been feeling that fullness that you get when a project has been gestating. The words I've been typing onto the computer page are developing into a new book. This book is about a lot of things. I know by the time I try to get an agent to represent it, I'll have to be able to communicate the bumper-sticker version of what the book is about, but for now--headlong in the creative process--it gets to be juicily undefined. So for now, it's just a book. Or a bunch of words. Or an exploration.

One of the things I am exploring is what it's like to be thrust back into the straight world. It's interesting to be seen and treated as a heterosexual just because I'm in a relationship with a man. Wait a minute. Does that make me heterosexual? Even though I was with a woman for 15 years? When I was married to a woman, did that make me a lesbian--even though I'd spent 30-plus years with men? Why does the gender of the person we love determine our label? Why not their height ("She's a tall-o-sexual") or their job ("He's a nurse-o-sexual") or their ethnicity ("She's an Italian-o-sexual")?

But back to the point that I'm seen as straight. It's fun because I have a double-consciousness, an overlay of the previous Kate ghosting the current Kate. This pentimento can feel delectable, like a secret. It's interesting to me how now I blend in. Let's face it, even in today's world, lesbians stick out. People notice lesbians. Sure, there were disadvantages to being queer, notably the times I was targeted with people's hate, shame or prejudices. But more often than not, people were intrigued. Being a lesbian was kind of like being a celebrity. When we went places as a couple, people smiled at us, knowingly, telling us with their eyes that they were fascinated by our special club. Sometimes people would excitedly ask us if we'd gotten legally married. They'd want us to meet their lesbian friend or sister. They'd ask our opinions about politics. They'd be amped up just to be near people who appeared to be so iconoclastic.

What's funny about the iconoclastic image is that I felt much more parochial as a lesbian than I do now. Back then, I lived a more conservative life. Sure, I was writing and teaching, but domesticity was at the center of my life. Not much risk-taking, not much body and mind stretching, not much reveling in the pleasure of life. I was in that numb, sleepwalking phase that can creep up on you when you're not happy but for whatever reason refuse to face that fact.

I know there are people that don't believe in happiness. But I'm here to say something very important that I've discovered in the last year-and-a-half as I've moved through betrayal, devastation, divorce and into the amazing light of rebirth into a new life: Happiness is not over-rated.

And I'm learning something else. Something even more important. Something I wish I'd known when the shit hit the fan last year. Happiness does not depend on another person. Not on another person's attitude, behavior or words. It doesn't matter if that person is your lover, your ex, your boss or the President. Happiness (and now we're coming full circle) is about aligning with your true nature. When you are happy, you are fulfilling your gifts. You are living your purpose for being here, now, on this planet, in this spot, at this time, in this body.

So. Be yourself. Be happy. I'll continue to work on it too. Then let's check back in soon to see how we're all doing with the joy thing.