Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 11, 2014

Unsustainable.

I attended a workshop on Sunday night with a small group of people.  Among them was a woman I had met once before; we recognized each other, a little hesitantly, and she said, “How do I know you?  Were you involved in something to do with sustainability?”

I replied, “Yes, previously.  I’m completely unsustainable now.”

The more I sit with this reply of mine, the more it seems appropriate.  I’m completely unsustainable now.  Was I ever sustainable?  Was anything, ever?  What delusions did I hold?  Why do we think we can make anything last?  I’m not saying this while wringing my hands at all, simply noting that we, in this culture, seem mighty perturbed by impermanence.  I don’t put myself above anyone in this regard; how many times have I been horrified and panicked at death, destruction, things falling apart?  I think I’m a little less so, now.

Once I was involved with something to do with sustainability (a dodgy term I can’t quite swallow now).  I was an activist.  I helped to create a community farm and a non-profit with the mission of advancing food security through local, sustainable agriculture.  I don’t know what “activist” means anymore.  I used to live in cohousing, too, in intentional community, which, for me was wrapped up in the idea of sustainability.  I don’t know what “intentional” or “community” mean anymore, either.  I used to think it mattered what I called myself, whether it was activist, communitarian, environmentalist, librarian, radical, anarchist, mom, unschooler, writer— and before those, how many other hats have I worn?  how many will I wear hence?  I can’t muster up the urge to care about these terms anymore.  Call me anything you want.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care about Real Stuff, the planet, people, my kid, etc. but I think I’m slowly moving past the attachment to how I’m perceived.  I don’t want to sustain an image.  I’m completely unsustainable.

It helps me to remember this unsustainability of mine.  I have an expiration date, even if I don’t know what it is.  I’ll start projects, finish some, and muck up others.  I’ll parent my daughter, imperfectly, with no guarantees of what kind of life she’ll have in the future, or knowing whether any of us have much future at all.  I’ll stumble around trying to make decisions and hoping some of them are good ones.  I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got.  I’ll keep shedding my illusions of making things last.  I’ll do my best to show up and love fervently and well.

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Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 6, 2014

Hibernaculum.

These are dark times, my friend, when the world spins towards winter, in the gloaming of the year.  I’ve been experiencing some fierce emotional pains of late.  The season reminds me, in its softly graying clothes, that curling up like a somnolent squirrel is entirely appropriate.

The sore vortices strike suddenly.  Sometimes they are breath-takingly awful.  There’s no hope of normal sleep when your internal landscape is wracked by hurricane winds.  I’ve been tracking them, though, trying to predict what sets them off, trying to excavate little underground storm shelters, lining them with downy vows of self-love.  I prepare caches of sustenance: signing up for a peer counseling workshop, ordering a light box, promising myself all sorts of recalibration.

I have been taking a break from Facebook, which is no small thing for a certifiable addict.  It was a bit terrifying for the first few hours, a few days ago.  It seemed clear, however, that spending time on Facebook was accentuating the pains, bruising me further; I was also afraid of experiencing an onslaught of added isolation by withdrawing from a familiar “place.”  The pains are, invariably, centered around disconnection.  I can say with some confidence, though, that stepping away from Facebook appears to be beneficial to me.  It’s allowing me to gather up some of my fragmented concentration and refocus on matters of great urgency, beginning with the basics of self-care.  It’s allowing me to get perspective, slowly, on intimacy, what it is and what it isn’t, and I remember: I don’t have to “perform” in front of an audience all the time.  I don’t have to make myself that vulnerable, especially in the midst of the Pains.  I can spiral gently around myself, in my hibernaculum.  It doesn’t mean I’ll be abandoned and alone; it means I don’t want the loneliness of crowds.  It means I must narrow my circle of people into the dimensions of a womb.

May we burrow into our nests wherever they may be found, loves.  May we ride out the storms on deep breaths and the solace of familiar, warm bodies, in flesh or in memory.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 16, 2014

At the crossroads.

Where is my voice?  Is it aching in my throat, waiting to be jolted free of its fearful attachments?  I am speechless with Love, quaking at the sight of its leviathan proportions, a dragon coiled in the middle of the path.  Love gazes at me with pellucid, unhurried eyes, softening, even as the path turns into a writhing river of frantic eels.  There is no foothold here.  Was that the threshold I had thought I’d crossed, back there in the woods?  What sort of home did I believe was waiting on the other side? How many thresholds remain?  Do I ever get to arrive?  to stay?

If you hold my gaze I will help you stand, the dragon utters silently.

Our eyes lock.  I will trust you even though you breathe fire.  My feet find rocks to stand on, eels sliding around my trembling ankles.

There’s no remedy for who you are, how you see, your supposed lunacy, your attunement to dissonance and masked harmonies, your wandering heart.  I’m just here to tell you.  Don’t try to bargain with me.  I’m not here to take your soul.  The dragon sighs, tendrils of smoke rising from its nostrils.

Can you at least tell me which way the path goes?  Am I supposed to walk, or swim, or what?  What am I supposed to do with eels?  There’s nothing and no one to hold onto.

You can put your arms around my neck for a while, if it helps.

At the crossroads, holding onto fearsome Love for dear life, wondering if the solidity of paths was always an illusion.

 

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 14, 2014

Ultrasound.

Lynn, the ultrasound technician, says to me as we walk down the hall, “I love your red shoes.  I wish I could wear red shoes.”

“You can.  Why not?  Go ahead and wear red shoes.”

“But I wouldn’t know how to coordinate them with anything else I’m wearing.”

“Well, I’m hardly coordinated.”  I think to myself, I’m wearing these red shoes because they were free.  And red.  And I’m wearing olive green pants.  And a red shirt that was also free.  And a tank top underneath that I’ve had for 27 years.  And I’m carrying a bright orange purse.  And my hair is exceptionally unwashed.

She leads me into the little room.  “So your doctor says your thyroid is enlarged.  I’m going to take some pictures of it.  Try not to talk, but you can swallow freely.”  She guides me down onto the table.  There’s a hum and the apparatus beside me rises, and right now I can’t focus on the object itself—the whole room feels like it’s moving.  She presses some buttons and the table I’m on rises as well.  Everything feels a bit untethered.

Lynn is cheerful.  I put on Cheerful like a convenient, mirrored costume and it feels okay for now.

“Yes, please gather up your hair, like that— that way the gel won’t get on it.  And I’ll tuck these cloths around your neckline to protect your clothes.  This is warmed gel—kind of like a spa treatment.”

“That’s a good way to frame it, I guess.”

She squirts the body-temperature gel on my neck and collarbones.  I close my eyes and think, I’ll just take in the warmth.  She is gentle.  Her forearm and elbow are half-resting on my breast as she guides the ultrasound wand on my throat.   Glide.  Click, click.  She taps on the computer beside her.  I try to look sideways at the screen without moving my head, but all I can see are inarticulate blobs.  I give up on seeing anything that makes sense.

My eyes turn upwards to the acoustical tiles on the ceiling.  There are shapes in the holes and divots.  I see faces.  They are winking at me, turning to each other, gazing fondly at me, lying there.

I want to say to Lynn, Do you see my voice in there?  Is it stuck?  Is it folding in on itself, or preparing to erupt?  Can you tell me why my throat hurts?  What is it like for you, looking through my skin?

I say nothing.  I’m not supposed to speak and mess up the images.  She is not supposed to tell me what she sees; she is supposed to pass it all along to the radiologists, who will make their assessments and pass it along to Dr. Kim, who will, I hope and fear, call me.

It’s probably nothing.  I know.  Probably nothing.

My loves are in the table and the ceiling, saying, We will hold you up and gaze down, regardless.

I’m coughing.  “I’m sorry,” I say, my eyes threatening to spill over.  “Are you okay?” says Lynn.  “I know I was right on your trachea, there.  Sorry about that.”  “I’m okay.”

Right there, on my trachea, and it felt exactly like a lump in the throat, the kind that rises and demands attention—action or stuffing.  I’m not stuffing it, I tell myself, I just don’t want to explain myself right now.

“Okay, we’re all done.  Let me help you get most of this gel off.  You won’t need to check out at the reception desk.”

“Thank you.”

I’m out the door in the air, in Florence, and here I am, checking out anyway, racing back to the river in my mind, in my red shoes.

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Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 5, 2014

When I returned.

My friend Sara, who is a consummate heart-inquirer and beloved friend, wrote me a letter.  On paper.  In purple ink.  And in Sara fashion, she dove into the heart of describing her current experience, and posed questions that required a substantial degree of ruminative consideration.  I decided to respond to her questions here.

She wrote:

When you returned to Florence, what was it like? Did it seem familiar and loved, or did you feel like you’d grown somehow, and the fit was different? Did all of us (who you visited) seem less real or dream-like? Travelling changes one’s perspective, nudges our deeper self, shows us what we’ve forgotten or never knew— and then you Return. Huh. Into many open arms and exclamations of being missed, but beneath the words spoken (sometimes) are half-registered feelings and observations. What of those? I’d love to hear.

Oh heavens, Sara. How do you always come up with such good questions?

What was it like to return to Florence? I felt like I limped back into town, honestly. I was exhausted, drained in every way. I had driven 9,000 miles. (I’m still trying to tally a more precise number but that’s the approximate distance.) My heart had traveled many thousands more.

It’s impossible for me to write about returning to Florence without writing about being separated from Tom and my life otherwise being in a state of relative disarray. Sometimes other people ask me about what it’s like to be back in the same house, the same routine, and I want to say, stridently, there is no Same House. There is no Same Routine. I think there is a Big Journey Narrative floating around that goes something like: heroine makes big journey, is forever changed, returns to all that is familiar, integrates journey into her solid, established life back home. But solid and established and at home are not words I can use to describe my recent experience.

Is it familiar here? In some ways, yes, there are familiar aspects to lean on. I’m relieved we could return to the same house, for now, with our very fluffy calico Ophelia awaiting us, and it was gratifying to witness Lily’s joy at being back. She says things like, “Isn’t Florence wonderful? Don’t we have the best house in the world? Isn’t it the greatest place to live?” She says it enough that it makes me wonder, how much is she trying to quell my sense of unsettledness? She realizes that things have changed. We have talked about Daddy moving out and how we came to this decision because we felt it would meet everyone’s needs better. She sees that we still spend some time together, the three of us; she sees that there is still a great deal of affection and praises us all for being such a loving family. We are all doing our best at these new forays into alternate living arrangements, trying to gauge what works and what doesn’t.

I’m here and I see that this is a House in a Place and we happen to be dwelling here. It’s not a bad place, but I don’t feel like I’m at home. I think I’ve gotten better, over the past number of years, at maintaining some sort of equilibrium and letting in some happiness, and those are cherished abilities that keep me going, but honestly, I’ve been sad a lot, and feeling isolated a little too often.

It hasn’t helped that as soon as we returned, I felt an overwhelming internal demand to figure everything out and make sure I would somehow, miraculously, manage to homeschool Lily, manage all our activities, whip out a book, and figure out a way to bring in income such that I could be independently, financially stable. With a very limited budget, and Lily only out of my presence on weekends. Ha. Ha ha ha. And what of integrating everything that just happened on that epic trip? My whole being balks at inner ultimatum after ultimatum. I can’t live like this. That has been ringing in my ears for quite a while.

Yes, I’ve grown, and I haven’t begun to understand my altered dimensions.   Does the place I’m in fit me? Did it ever? Has any place? It baffles me. The questions are relentless, “tiny and frightening” as the poet David Whyte wrote, waiting for me between the trees.

When I set out to write my book I knew I wanted to think about home and community and what those things mean, and it brings me smack into the wall of belonging. Where do I belong? I feel like I’ve been asking that my entire life. I’m less sure than ever that it’s the question I need. It seems to imply that I’m either belonging or not belonging, and my inclination is always to be located somewhere on the radical fringe. I want to find the center, the nest, that accompanies me wherever I go, no matter how my location is defined in relation to anywhere else. I’m not sure that makes complete sense to me yet. I feel like a nonstop nomad who is unquenchably Here.

You ask if everyone I visited seems less real or dream-like. It’s not hard for me to conjure the memory of your house, your cats, your trampoline, your family, expressions on your face, intonations of your voice, where we sat at the picnic table by the lake. But that’s memory, you might say. Where’s the line between then and now? It doesn’t feel terribly solid to me. Maybe I simply can’t bear to accept these time-space distances; maybe my way of coping is through this neat trick where you and the others are so vivid to me. I can spin a daydream like nobody’s business. It doesn’t eliminate this constant ache of yearning but it hangs scented garlands on the sharp corners. I think we humans are meant to be gathered, physically, in mutually-interdependent tribes, and to witness the forces that prevent that from happening stings daily. I can only remind myself that I keep trying to change that, in ways that sometimes strike people as crazy, or creative, or foolish.

The questions reverberate. I can’t stop the aural veils from blowing and lifting, taking shape, dissolving.

“… I would like to beg you, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

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Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 28, 2014

The right tree.

Sometimes epiphanies present themselves in the form of your sassy friend Wendy telling you, in her Australian accent, look, love, that tree you’re barking up?  It’s the wrong one.  

Wendy had invited me and our mutual friend Nancy to her homestead in central New York for the weekend.  “Please help me by taking apples home with you,” she said.  And who were we to refuse?   We harvested a hefty amount of gorgeous Liberty and Cortland apples.  We drank red wine.  We talked about our lives, entanglements, dilemmas, progeny, and about how we choose to conduct ourselves as mortal beings whose days are numbered.

I talked about feeling anxious about how to earn income while homeschooling and writing.  I described my scrambling to somehow discern what I need to do in the next 8 to 11 months (which I had framed as my only window of opportunity to figure everything out).  I explained my idea to launch a small business offering research services to individuals.

“Is there even a market for that?”

“That’s what I need to assess.  I think there could be.  But it will be a huge amount of work, another more-than-full-time task.  I don’t know how I’m going to do all this.”

Wendy gave me a stern and loving look.  “You know, you are a brilliant writer.”

Nancy added, “Yes, a brilliant writer, Jen.  Better than some published authors we know!”

Wendy said,  “You should be writing.  You should be making money from your book and from writing, and going around, talking about your book, inspiring people.  That’s what you’re here to do.  You’re here to show people how you’ve changed your life, and inspire them to change theirs.  You know how you were talking earlier about the necessity of art and writing as activism, to create systemic change at the level of culture?  That’s your work.”

It hit me all in a rush.

Gulp.

I had been using my declarations of pragmatism as an excuse.  I had erected it as a rampart against my own fear: the fear of not being good enough, successful enough, marketable enough.  I had said to myself, “Best to return to ye olde MLS (master of library science), your Marketable Credential, except figure out how to use it to work from home and on your own timetable.”

Call myself a writer?   Consider that anyone would ever pay money for my writing?  It had seemed inconceivable.  Other messages had prevailed, somehow, about what it meant to be a good mother, a solid provider, a reasonable woman.   There was no way, no way in hell, I told myself, that I could ever earn money or otherwise get my and Lily’s needs met from writing.  It was stupid to even consider it.  I had no publications, no connections, no agent, no MFA, no workshops, nothing but a driving desire to write.  I needed to think about Real Work.  And in that grim self-talk, I suddenly recognized what I was doing.  This was not pragmatism.  This was cowering in the face of voices sneering.  Little woman.  Just a mother.  Who do you think you are?  You think you’re important?  You think you have something to say?  You think anyone would value you?  with the coin of the realm, no less?  Stay home.  Keep your head down.  Be humble.  Don’t get out of line.  If you do that, perhaps you can be safe.  I had resigned myself to hunkering down, shouldering my burden, glumly slogging my way through to some Answer, even if it meant tabling my writing until I could return to it.

And when would that be?  In some mythical tomorrow when I’d finally discovered exactly how to homeschool full-time, achieve financial independence (almost certainly full-time), AND suddenly have all this time to write?

Had I learned nothing from my journeys?  Had I not clarified my priorities?  Had I not examined the almighty economy, as it is presented to us, monolithic, unavoidable, demanding obedience, and found it to be lacking?  Had I not avowed my allegiance to an entirely different economy, the Economy of Love?  Had I not proclaimed my unmitigated fidelity to my own heart, to my child, to all my loves?

My loves, waiting.  Excitedly.

There sat Wendy and Nancy, leaning forward, their eyes shining at me.  They had no doubt.  They were waiting for me to do my work.  There they sat, a pair of love representatives, their eyes multiplying two by two, until I could sense all my loves gathered, glimmering faintly and with deep-rooted affection.  A whole devoted throng stepped forward in spirit and spoke.

You have gifts that you must give to be whole.

Nobody is served by your self-abnegation.

You have been called.  You have a mission.

Seize your confidence.

We know you will put your blood and soul into it.

We will not let you fall.

… See, love?  The right tree is right here.  Best to gather your apples from this one.

Wendy's apple orchard

Interested in supporting my work?  I invite you to contribute to the economy of love with

  • brainstorming creative ideas for bringing in income
  • knowledge of the writing world
  • offering your gifts, tangible and intangible
  • caring for Lily while I write
  • hiring me for odd jobs
  • donating if you are able  (if you don’t wish for Paypal to take 3%, please feel free to contact me for alternate methods).
Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 7, 2014

Why I call you Loves.

Loves, I had promised months ago, on Facebook, to explain why I address you as “loves.”  Then I took a whirlwind, three-month journey across the United States, and my opportunities to write were drastically constrained for a while.  (Simultaneously, my opportunities to show up for individual loves was vastly amplified, so it still worked out entirely well.)  Here in my house, in this beautiful river valley in western New England, with the late summer sun slanting across my propped-up feet with their funny sandal-tan, I’m finally starting to catch my breath, reflect, get organized, and reorient to my priorities.

Why do I call you loves?  Who do I think I am, addressing you in this recklessly intimate way?  Do I expect you to reciprocate?  Am I just sort of weird and flaky?  (It’s okay, you don’t need to answer that last one.)

I call you loves because there was a time it was too frightening to imagine issuing that as a blanket term of affection, and I won’t allow such fears to govern my life.  But what if I don’t love everything about everybody?  What if people don’t love me back?  What if people don’t understand and think I’m trying to impose a sort of constructed intimacy out of nothing?  It doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to be perfect.  You don’t have to love me.  You don’t have to understand.

I call you loves because there are too many among us, all our relations, who are never called “love.”  I want us all to be addressed as “love,” whether we have someone in our close circle doing it, or not.  Let it be me, if no one else.  Let me remind you that you are loveable and loved.  Let me use my little speckish powers of writing on the interwebs to call out “You’re a love!  Don’t forget!  Forza, coraggio!”  I don’t need to meet you to know this.  I know all too well how it feels to consider oneself unloveable.  It isn’t true, loves.  It isn’t true.  When you believe this, your demons are playing tricks on you, and they think they are insulating you or making sense out of pain, but they are wrong.

I call you loves because every time you take the risk to reveal yourselves to me, I am honored and delighted.  You transcend the forces that drive us apart.  You commit acts of everyday courage and beauty, and I’m transfixed that you, we, can do this together, under any circumstance.  You say the words you think you cannot say.  You take one step, and then another.  Do you understand how magnificent you are?  Every time I call you love, I want to invoke that magnificence.

I call you loves because sometimes I think I hate you all and I want to break things and wail and have a complete meltdown, and when I call you loves it calls me back to center.  I remember gentleness.  I remember our imperfectness.  I call you love and my heart breaks a little wider and lets in the infinite.  It isn’t fluffy, loves; it isn’t all gamboling in meadows.  Sometimes it’s just holding your hand in the midst of anguished jaggedness.  Sometimes it’s not holding your hand and screaming across thousands of miles but I love you, you stupid fuck-up.  Sometimes it’s gazing upon humanity with profound dismay and every last crumb of compassion I can find, resolving to the end to love if it kills me, because I don’t want to live any other way.

I call you loves because the more I extend tendrils of care and openness into the world, the more you reach back, holding me, feeding me, caressing my hair, treating me like the human animal I am with my needs for tenderness and affection.  And even if you’re not a touchy-feely sort, you can benignly accept the flow of love that I need to emit.  And if you can’t take even that, then you give me the chance to let you go without rancor or expectation.

I call you loves because I object to a culture that views intimacy as weak or peripheral.  I object to a way of life that does not see love as a priority, everyday love, not just some exceedingly narrow view of supposed “romantic” love which is endlessly scripted and constrained.  Love is not a commodity.  Love has nothing to do with making or spending money.  Love is free, and we get to spread it around, if we are not so afraid of how we are perceived and all the real and imagined punishments that may come raining down.

I call you loves because my ultimate home is in your hearts, and it’s a beautiful place to live.

I call you loves because love is the name I call you.

me loving you

 

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 2, 2014

Time, Facebook, connection, and the System.

There’s much to do.  It will be important for me to put some limits on the time I spend on Facebook, I’m realizing.  I’m not sure how to approach this… how much time would be the right amount?  How often?  Will I go through withdrawal?  Will I feel isolated and deprived?  Such dilemmas never existed, not so long ago, before the interwebs.  Or maybe they did, and they were just some other variety of addiction.  I need to remind myself that if using social media is addiction, it seems a lot like food addiction.  With food, you can’t give it up entirely.  Of course, Facebook as a medium could be given up entirely, but not the element it most strongly represents to me: the need for human connection.

It pains me that much of the work I need to do in the coming weeks and months will be done alone.  This degree of aloneness is not what I want.  I feel like the System, if it could speak, would say, “Just capitulate.  Just fall in line and you’ll get your needs met.  You’ll get to see people.  You’ll get to plug into the pre-fab mechanisms and not think so hard.  You’ll get instant, pop-up ‘communities.’  You’ll get to jump through hoops that you’ve studied and mostly mastered.  Why try to do things so differently?  Why do you do this to yourself?”

It’s all paternalistic, destructive lies, that’s why.  Because I want Lily and I to be free and happy to the largest degree possible.  Because I want to concentrate on what matters most.  Because I want to unlearn everything I was told about “how the world works” and my place in it, and listen instead to natural rhythms and my own heart.  Because I believe the System is killing us every single day, and I want us to live.  Because in every act of sanity and supposed “defiance” there are seeds of example sown, for my child and anyone else to reap.

Lily does not go to school.  I do not work for an employer.   If we did have such “authorities” to respond to, they would be the defining elements of our daily lives.  They would dictate our movements and our time.  They would dictate our understanding of safety/risk and what is normal/acceptable/real.  They would insist, in ways both crude and subtle, that the only way to be fed, physically, emotionally, intellectually, would be to submit.  Instead, we are independent, self-employed learners, charting our own course.  Add on top of this the fact that we do not have a conventional nuclear-family arrangement.

Why is this what comes up when I think more deliberately about limiting Facebook time?  Not submitting to the entrenched System makes things harder, in very real ways.  Not just figuring out all our activities on a curtailed budget; not just the huge time management issues that loom large in my awareness, figuring out how to simultaneously homeschool and write a book and develop my own independent, individualized “life research” business, let alone doing all the cooking and laundry.  I still need to connect with people, and I have found that Facebook can play a role in that, sometimes circumventing certain limitations of time, geography, and presence.  It’s not a replacement, by any stretch, for in-person connection, but it can ease the spaces in between.  It seems especially important in the wake of our epic, cross-country pilgrimage, when opportunities for in-person connection were the norm rather than the exception.

Insights?  Suggestions?  I’m listening, loves.

Lily and Jen

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | August 27, 2014

Some disassembly required.

Yes, I do realize this is the first time I’ve posted to my blog in many weeks.  Appalling as that fact may be, the reality of a cross-country pilgrimage, complete with solo parenting a young child along the way, is such that I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into writing here.  Add to that the fact that I switched from uploading photos here to uploading photos on Facebook, where it was a) technologically unchallenging and b) offering more gratification in terms of people responding, and the blog, it’s true, moldered a bit on its little digital shelf in the corner.

Lily and I are not yet back home.  We will return in six days.  Right now we’re in Sherman, New York, staying with my dear friend Liag and her cat Merlyn.  At this very moment, Liag is out, Lily is secluding herself in a different room, and I’m thinking, I had best seize the chance to scratch the blog itch.

The phrase “some disassembly required” floated up through the aqueous strata of my thoughts yesterday.  Much of the time that we’ve been on the road, my attention has been relentlessly occupied, split, sliced, and diced.  The amount of incoming stimuli, information, new experiences, and the concurrent internal scramble to arrange it all into making sense has been overwhelming.  “Overwhelming” doesn’t entirely capture it.  My life, perceptions, being, doing: rearranged, daily.  Upended.  I chose this, of course.  I signed up for this mad mission.

What drove me?  I can rattle off half a dozen reasons that make logical sense, but here’s the one that’s most compelling to me: I followed my heart, or call it intuition, call it whatever words you attach to that which is wordless.  And being foolish enough to attempt to use words, I will attempt to give voice to this heart:

I needed to come apart.  I needed to dismantle the veneers of normality and custom that insinuate themselves.  I needed to disassemble what I thought was home, family, intimacy, community—to let externally-imposed definitions dissolve in the rain until I could see these sacred elements with my own eyes, touch them with my own hands.  I needed to breathe.  I needed great, literal distances in order to feel the pressure ease between my cells.  I needed extraordinary closeness, too.  I needed to break.  I needed to knit together.  I needed to refine my discernment of bullshit vs. priorities.  I needed to show up.  I needed to drink and pour from the ewer of tenderness.

How miraculous to get what I sought.

among the redwoods

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | July 14, 2014

Mount Shasta, California. Doing the right thing.

As we drove up I-5 we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Shasta and it left us a bit breathless.  We continued to gasp at all the delights of the day: the sweetness and generous hearts of Todd and Pam, their home and land all bedecked with fairy lights and sun-catchers and special rocks and the Earth flag, the cozy cabin/sauna where Lily and I are sleeping tonight (in the pictures, it’s the one with the Tibetan prayer flags hanging on the front of the porch; at this moment I’m sitting in one of the chairs, in the semi-dark, with only the light of the laptop and the fairy lights shining, having greeted a curious deer that wandered by in the night).  The wonders never cease: the LAKE.  Swimming with bubbling joy, the mountains all around, the tiredness leaching from my bones.  The delight of once again observing Lily interacting with new people, sharing playfulness.  Visiting the headwaters of the Sacramento River and filling up the water bottles and water jug with spring water.  Walking around Todd and Pam’s glorious garden, deeply admiring the bean trellises, the carefully-tended nine compost heaps, the clearly blissful plants, the greenhouse, the fruiting trees, the exuberant kohlrabi, the stunning veined cabbage leaves, the knock-your-socks-off aromatherapy of basil, the bursting lusciousness of raspberries… oh, it was rapture, I tell you!

I revisited a previous blog post I wrote, From fearful to airborne, written three days before Lily and I departed on our journey.  It was satisfying to read it from the perspective of being midway through this pilgrimage.  I still have to pinch myself that we’re HERE, NOW, all the time.  Here I am, in Mount Shasta, California, the night air soft and warm, looking out at little blue, green, and red lights, listening to the insects singing and the wind in the trees.  Here I am, my beloved Lily sleeping right nearby, resting from all the exploring and vibrancy she generates in her own little powerhouse of a spirit.  Here I am, a skunk suddenly skittering next to the porch as I hastily retreat into the cabin.

I’m thinking of myself at the beginning of June, a bit terrified at making such a series of leaps across the continent, and wanting to hold my own hands and say:  You couldn’t know that you would float in such life-giving water.  You had no idea.  You trusted.  Brave girl.

Pam said to me, when taking leave of us this evening: “You’re doing the right thing.”

Every whistle of wind in the trees, every bird calling, every word spoken by every person I meet, seems to echo these words.

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For some reason I’m having a doozy of a time trying to upload the remainder of my photos from today, which is paining me, because I want to show you these photos so badly.  Gaaaaaah… okay, here’s my temporary fix—I’ll post them on Facebook, on my page.  Stay tuned.

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