Something I wrote a few years back. This life all around me faithful to provide carefully positioned sentinels that stand at the gate against any misery that would seek to make a permanent address inside me–a reminder of where my true north lies, a pointer home saying “This way to your heart”.
Driving down the street the other day,
I detected that fall had had her way—
and under freshly shorn trees were luminous
yellow-gold pools where sunshine had accumulated
—a riotous cornucopia of puddled sunshine in
brief reprieve between darkening days,
like some kind of joy
suddenly rising up to greet me in the dying leaves.
It left me happy for days.
My life has it dying seasons, as well.
Yet the art of dying often leaves me wanting,
absent without poise or polish.
futile attempts made at scooping up decay
of that which needs to die, staring, bare
limbed, at loss, shivering in the wind.
If there is joy-filled reprieve, I often fail to notice it.
This letting go business—I’m not as graceful
as the golden dying leaves.
But what I’m counting on is that spring
always comes and old attitudes, beliefs and judgments
WHAT I REMEMBER IS JAYNE. Jayne Mansfield, that is—the bursting at the seams, large bosomed, blonde bombshell and sexpot of the 60’s. The Hollywood star with the heart shaped pool in her backyard lived a large life in my mind. I wanted to be her. I was nine or ten playing house in my bedroom—as Jayne Mansfield, of course, stepping into the cool darkness of my closet to make out with an imaginary, muscle ripped Mickey Hargitay, while my girlfriends, all the while sighing and moaning, languished on my bed waiting for me to come to my senses and come out of the closet.
Then one day she was beheaded. I was devastated. Riding in the front seat of her car, slamming into and under the backside of a semi-truck, and…off went her head—I imagine right into the back seat! Just like that.
I imagine that she believed she still had a lot more making out with Mickey left to do, but as you know in all things, they end. Time runs out, and all you’ve ever done is all you’re ever going to do. And besides all that, I had already grown tired of making out with Mickey and was feeling the intensity of my puberty bearing down on me in the crush of feelings I had towards the boy down the street.
So much innocence left behind as the crush of life began to have its way with me. I almost succumbed to it more times than I care to say. Lucky for me, I made it this far into my sixties. Surprised to be here now, I was sure I would die before I was fifty. My entire adult life was white hot with extreme busyness and caretaking, and then total collapse—all of which I believed to be a badge of honor I wore proudly.
While at lunch the other day, my friend, Mystic Meena (whose odometer is getting ready to roll over to seventy), happened to remark on a sixty-seven year old actor that had passed away recently. Meena related how television pundits had observed after his passing that at least he had lived a long, full life—to which my friend exclaimed, “Bullshit!” When I was thirty, sixty-seven was definitely old—and death not so unexpected—that is, of course, unless you are sixty-seven. Unless you are ready for it, the pronouncement of death always comes as a surprise at any age. I don’t feel done yet.
Here I am, and the sun is beginning to dip in the sky. There isn’t a whole life left in front of me as I have a series of “holy shit” realizations that I’ve got to begin now if I want to find and use my real voice. My dreams are still the same. It’s just that I have a little less physical energy to realize them with. Maybe the point of the body sliding past the apex of youth is this: it compels you towards your realness. I don’t know for certain. It’s just a hunch I have.
Now that the leaves are beginning to turn into blazing yellows and crimson reds and oranges, into their most flagrant and final stand for beauty, I am wondering how I didn’t see there could be so much splendor in moving towards that inevitable final breath of falling from the tree. What a metaphor to our lives—the grace-filled allowing, the gentle welcoming of age, the coming home to ourselves, finally. Perhaps, the leaning into our wisdom years, of spreading our brightly colored canopy over the lives of those coming up after us as way-showers is what really matters. Personally, I don’t want to waste it, not a single drop, not a single brilliant colored leaf of it between now and the time whatever pronouncements over my impending demise are made.
I am heading towards my glory years; and it going to take some careful planning and execution as I begin to re imagine myself, playing smarter, not harder. There is still time enough whether it be one year or forty years. I cannot take my body for granted anymore. I cannot ignore and punish it. As long as I am able, there is a strict requirement for honor and listening, then supplying it with the necessary rest, nutrition and nurturance it requires. In this one moment I have been gifted. It almost didn’t happen.
Whatever has happened in my life has brought me full circle. I am lucky to get the chance to have a “do over” in the last act of my life, playing the part of me rather than someone else. My fear, in whatever time is left, is leaving this life realizing I never had the courage to live an authentic life.
Admittedly, I am scared. It’s a moment by moment thing requiring a firm commitment. Holes must be plugged in order to enter into right relationship with myself. Gone is the bent towards extremism in my thoughts and actions, doing everything at once or nothing at all. It is not mine to single-handedly save the world.
If I want to live out the richness and the depth of all that has brought me here, I must practice sacredness and gratitude in the gentle or not so gentle breath of each day, in allowing, in letting go, in lightening up, and in laughter, and last but not least, in the flow of words that find their way from my heart to my fingertips. I am rising up and up into this voice that has been given me, flowering quietly or noisily, vibrantly and brilliantly. I am practicing freedom, using the only voice I have to set this prisoner free.
I might be from Venus. When I was a girl of five, I would dream every night of catching the wind and soaring high above the earth. I could see perfectly everything that was going on below. It was a heady, exhilarating experience, and I had no doubt about my ability to run and leap into the sky. I was quite sure about my powers because I was from Venus, you see. And the secret to Venus, in my five year old dreams, is that the clouds surrounding Venus were actually a protective cooling system from the intense heat of the sun where we lived. This world I had traded in for Earth, Venus, was futuristic and beautiful, and we were a highly advanced civilization. Of course, I couldn’t tell anyone where I really came from down here on Earth, but every night I was my own little super hero. This was a nightly ritual I entertained for several years until the world convinced me, of course, that I was only dreaming nonsense.
Now that I’m returning to my second childhood, as they say, I’ve decided that maybe I was right the first time, at least about flying. A week ago, while in deep sleep, I dreamed I was a great bird with expansive feathered wings of black and white, all the while still being me. Life was so big up there that I was near bursting with the deliciousness of it all as I glided down the length of a wide green river below. My wings effortlessly followed a natural easy up and down swoosh, dipping low to the ground, swooping and rising into the air again, catching the currents as they lifted me higher and higher. I could feel the sun warming my face and back as I rose. And I wasn’t alone. Others joined me in my flight—indigenous colorful human birds whom I knew had my back. Other human birds came near to us, too, who at first appeared menacing, but as we got close, they showed themselves as friends and together we banked and dipped, letting the wind carry us further along until we landed on grassy slopes along the river where I was led to their sacred tented circle of community as an honored guest.
As I flew, I couldn’t understand how so many had forgotten they, also, had the power to fly. I wanted to tell everyone on the ground to come join us in this most ecstatic experience. And one or two young human birds, a little afraid to fly, did make the leap into the sky—while I taught them how to bank and dip and rise again, how to catch the light just right.
Life can feel so very overwhelming and congested at times, and it is good to catch the uprising drafts of wind now and then, to see life from up high as though through the eyes of mighty bird. It is easy to feel landlocked when we can’t seem to appreciate the proverbial “forest for the trees.” From my vantage point up there, I knew I was beautiful. There was space enough to travel anywhere I wanted to go, and I knew this was really the natural order of things. There was a seamless-ness to life, a natural ordering as I understood my meaning of being here for my soul’s growth. Up high, it was easy to trade in the tired and old for the sacredness in all things.
It’s been a long path from my five year old self to here as I lean into the wisdom years, but I am coming to more fully understand what fragments, what fails to enhance or bring joy, what stops me from flying when forests are thickened by too much overgrowth, and I am unable to get a foothold on catching the currents. Not that I look for it or expect it, but I understand it becomes necessary that some trees might need pruning. Trees need light to grow, just as humans do, and old growth prevents the fullest measure of light from getting in. Every forest needs a good fire now and then in order to clear the ground, pry open the tight fisted buds and force new life up from the underground.
This is truth: That chaos is completely necessary, as is fire, or water or wind, as are all the elements of the earth. After the burning, chaos is bound to bring order around eventually. It is the natural order of things. Order arising, becoming this thing or that of another order and the cycle begins again.
It helps to have wings. You should try it sometime.
Not so much by relentless hammer blows—
the rubble pound of life,
rather by wind that blows
‘cross water, skipping, skidding, rolling,
smoothing over without care or heed the many edges of things.
Washing past what cuts, what causes to bleed
in sprays and stings, in the steady pulse of waves heading toward land, or in
strong undercurrents without end
wearing things down, leveling them out,
the jewel refined,
the patina rubbed in, shined into the stone.
Change comes slow,
does not relent or flinch, hitherto howls and moans,
sings its wearying song.
All the jagged lines, the gouged holes done in
by the slow increment of time,
the tic toc of year upon year pushing against,
wearing down both stone and skin
And one day, surprised, you wake up
after you’ve become transparent enough,
and the beautiful thing inside,
the truest gem of shimmer and light,
rises up and up and flies.
Apparently, I am having an interesting life between lives lately. The time between sleep and not fully awake has taken on a life of its own.
Stuff I need to know, I suppose, shows up, talks to me. It’s like I’m in school again sitting at my desk, taking notes, listening. White sheets of paper waft down from some other realm with questions on them. Is this a test? Am I imagining? I hear distinct words in my ear. I see things I wasn’t trying to see. And it takes me by surprise when I was just trying to get in a few more winks before stumbling out of my bed. In those moments, I suddenly get it—it’s an aha or eureka moment where truths become more tangible for me rather than just reading written words on a page.
Maybe these little visitations are showing up in the early hours because I am too thick or opaque in my waking hours while fifty other things muddle through my head; or where there is the risk of poor message recall in my dreams while I play telephone trying to decipher. These understandings, visions and voices are never predictable, but surprising when they do show up.
This morning I was in the classroom again. Today’s lesson presented itself before me as I understood the truth of real self, who and what it represents, and who I am in my most intrinsic being-ness. The ocean appeared, as it were, on the chalkboard, vast, watery and unfathomably deep, and I understood it as metaphor of that which I am where stillness is, where nothing is disturbed–I Am That, while above waves are crashing and black storms cracking. There were a tsunamis rolling across the horizon towards land and life as it was known would be no more. I was not this. I understood in this that the waves, the storm, the spaces in-between—the lulling calm intersecting the waves, and the tsunamis were my life—but they were not me even when I believed they were. I was the one underneath it all watching, observant, aware, quiet. Yet there was complete permission in the experience of the storms and waves. I saw it was okay, the emotional life of my life, its pain, its joys, its numbing, frozen places, the spaces in-between, the everything that was happening. It’s just my life, that I don’t have to fight it all, for whom I am beneath the storm remains undisturbed, holds space for it all. It doesn’t mean I’m less or more than based upon what is happening on topside of my days.
Then another thing arose on the horizon of my listening and seeing, the words, “Your thoughts activate the earth.” I realized deeper I am not my thoughts either, but they hold sway over my world as to what appears or shows up in it. My thoughts like waves that come and go, certain habituated thoughts that create patterns and grooves in my life, in the lives of those around me.
I suspect we are more powerful than we know. That our collective thought patterns when amassed over time and space hold sway as to planetary events, weather patterns, global and earth changes. Maybe the tsunamis that we create with our minds or the literal or metaphoric events that befall our lives are necessary in order to clear the deck for bigger changes to come as a kind of answer to our struggle with letting go of our outmoded, no longer useful patterns in thinking. Otherwise, our lives become stagnated and even stinking.
Our lives like waves that rise up, then fall, rise up again and the cycle goes on, all the happy and sad, the tragic, the comedy, the spaces between our birth and dying. Yet we are not the ten thousand things appearing. It’s just our life showing up.
Now the question is how to use this sacred and powerful life that’s been gifted us for the betterment of ourselves, our neighbors and the world? How do we activate our life on this earth and become a force for good by allowing the undisturbed self we really are to influence the life we are living?