We are hilarious creatures. The things we put ourselves through in the name of enlightenment, evolution, understanding, knowing. It’s times like these I wonder if not knowing anything would have been safer. Maybe being asleep is actually a better way to be…
Alas we are seekers, even those of us who live quiet lives, going to work everyday, leaving our little boxes by 7:30 am, work the mundane and go home by 6, cook a microwave dinner and watch reruns of Friends. There is a spark somewhere deep down inside there, there is an impetus to do, something, even if we don’t know what…. and yet so often we don’t, frozen by confusion and fear of the unknown. Yes I suppose that it is safer, to squash that urge and hit the play button on the TiVo… The known path is easier to walk with our eyes closed, we’ve done it for so long. There are those who seem to just live and die and I can’t tell if they were happy with that or not. Is not knowing better? Safer?
I suspect I will never know, because I am not one of them. We are the rabble rousers, the misfits, hell bent on finding the holy grail, the reason for being, we do all sorts of astounding things to find the illustrious golden chalice filled to the brim with the wisdom of us.
One day we will know we tell ourselves as we head out into the abyss. The answer lies somewhere, and with each passing day we search high and low, inside and out, we fire walk, we meditate, we chant, we trance dance until our limbs are numb, seeking, asking, wondering if we’ll ever find the answer. And with each piece of the puzzle we find we sometimes get cocky, we start to believe that we’re close to the end, the answer is on the tip of our tongue.
Since my divorce I have been on the fast track of discovery. I decided 40 years of walking into walls in the dark was enough and it was time to get to know the real me. So 3 years ago I started a tradition. Every year I visit a river and in this river I drop things that represent pieces of me, hurts I have carried, beliefs I have carried, fear and doubts about the anything’s and everything’s we conjure in our head- I drop them one by one, and if they get stuck and stay close to me, I know I’m not quite done with that thought monster yet, and if they float away, then I wish it well and move on.
This year on my visit I struggled for weeks about what I should send down the river. I finished my book, life is good, seriously, I’ve got this…. Yeah right. Isn’t it hilarious when we convince ourselves of that? That’s like inviting someone dangerous to tea and that someone is you- the true you- your soul. Imagine having tea with your soul. Shit, that is downright dangerous.
So we sat there, the river, my soul and me, silent except for the subtle whoosh of the river, whispering with the soul, telling my secrets with a knowing giggle and a smirk, conspiring as they do, and so finally I said out loud what they couldn’t, or what they wouldn’t say because only I could call it by name. Trust and vulnerability.
This is one thing I have never been able to drop into the river. My guard, my shield and my sword. From the time I was eight I have worn that armor, I have carried a weapon, ready, willing and able to strike. And with each passing year, my sword has been unsheathed faster and faster at the first sign of betrayal, real or manufactured. It didn’t mater because I could no longer tell the difference, and the pain was real either way. Striking first saved me from certain death. And I have killed many who loved me.
So, I wielded my sword and stood in defiance against the soul and the river, how dare they mock me. I have lived through all they have thrust upon me. Fuck them, I thought. Sure test me on trust and vulnerability, I challenged like a rebellious child and I sauntered away.
The next day, I broke my collar bone, and after I heard the pop of my bone I could hear the whoosh of the river and the cackling of a crow and the whisper in my ear: Be careful who you invite to tea, young lady, and to whom you challenge with your sword, you’re only killing yourself.