Yesterday I found myself yearning for a wordless place, a beautiful place where I could just be. I was tired of defining, concluding, reaching, yearning, improving, examining and, yes, growing. I fell into a deep sleep after I came home from work, and when I woke up, my head was empty. I couldn’t remember anything. I went upstairs to my work space and plopped and dozed some more with my feet up and my hair squished and matted on the high back of the leather chair where I do my writing. I looked at piles of papers, and I swear every squiggle I’ve ever made with ink on a page was screaming at me. But silently. Because I no longer understood language.
I closed my eyes against the din and breathed. Who am I, anyway? And why can’t who I am be orderly, defined, presentable, and outline-able? Quantifiable? I am nearly sixty years old, for goodness sake. When am I done chewing through the chyrsalis?
One word floated up. Metamorphosis. The butterfly. I usually use the word transformation to talk about what happens to the tomato seed on the way to becoming the tomato. But what about what happens to the caterpillar? It has a body all along. It has eyes and a direction. The tomato seed moves by the wind, by hands, or it doesn’t. The caterpillar moves by destiny, and if nobody interferes with a better idea or a faster route, it becomes a butterfly.
What does all this mean? It means that I don’t know who I am and how I’m helping. It means I really needed a nap. It means people my age are dying or getting shitty diagnoses, and why don’t they just take me, who hasn’t really done anything with life?
It’s Imbolc, halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. The seeds that are already in the ground are now ready to begin a mysterious process called the quickening. The moment when life begins.
I don’t know what’s quickening in my life, because I don’t remember all the seeds I’ve planted. I may have senselessly spread many of my seeds, and they may or may not have landed on fertile ground. This may not be their season. I wish I knew how to contact the Quickener and just ask one question:
Who am I becoming?
Last night when I went to bed, I cried in the dark while my partner held my hand. I’m having a crisis of identity. Everything I thought I knew has flown away. Everything I’m doing, I’m doing for the wrong reasons. All I can do is cry out the fear of never getting there, hoping that I am also wringing out all the wrong reasons and misguided attempts to make up for what I’m afraid I lack.
I awaken. I empty and fill the places that need emptying and filling, which will later need more emptying and more filling. My breakdown seems to be giving way to breakthrough, but only in that I haven’t broken up.
We saw the movie Groundhog Day last night. I noted the stages the main character went through as the same day unfolded over and over again. First, panic. Then, reaching out for help. Then, throwing out concern for consequences, indulging every last fantasy, systematically getting into bed with whomever, just because he could. Then, beginning to notice and respond differently to the B&B hostess, the insurance salesman, the homeless beggar. Then, launching a mission to seduce his director and failing over and over and over again. Finally, becoming a better person: mastering ice sculpting, piano, saving lives, giving a shit, until that last day when everybody in town feels they have a personal connection to Phil Connors, the weatherman from Pittsburgh. He’s given up trying to seduce her. He’s become himself. In doing so, he’s become attractive, and she is now intrigued and buys him at the bachelor auction. They sleep together, clothes on, just sleep. The next morning, it’s a new day.
It’s a wonderful, funny story of how a self-centered, arrogant, small time TV personality becomes a real person with a real community of connections forged by loving acts.
All my fussing about who I am – It hasn’t gone away. But as I stand at the kitchen sink washing the breakfast dishes, watching large clumps of snow falling at a 45 degree angle from the north to my back yard, I hear words begin to play in my ear like a prayer being said for me by the Divine:
Dear one, you have a purpose, a destiny, and an identity, even if you don’t know what they are. You are whole, even while you are desperately searching for things to make you whole.
Dear one, there are answers, even if you don’t know them. Can you be okay with not knowing? There is a time, which isn’t now, and that’s why you feel unready. Can you be okay with not being ready for anything than what you’re ready for? Can you be okay with getting up and washing the breakfast dishes? With your head being empty and silent?
Dear one, can you live from here? Not for a purpose, but because it’s a way to understand the world, to open to Good Orderly Direction, to find peace and flow, by living from who you are right now?
The seed that is quickening, you becoming who you are becoming, can only be nurtured by doing the thing at hand as you, not because it’s the right thing to do but because it the thing to do. Even though you don’t know why.
The most important thing is to be who you are right now, and none other, to get up in the morning, to meet life with life, to care if possible, but most of all to be here, bringing everything that’s in your heart to this moment. That is how to be true to yourself. That is a living prayer that reverberates, is heard, comes back and nourishes you. Even if who you are is hurting, desperate, afraid and breaking down.
Can you trust the impulse, even if you don’t know why? Can you love your loved ones even though it may not take away their burdens? Can you connect with what’s in your heart, even though it may not be what you hoped for? Can you listen, even though it reveals your soft and vulnerable, failing, faltering places?
Dear one, you will get up the next day and do the dishes. The snow will fall. Words will appear on paper through your hand and attention. A seed is quickening, because that’s what seeds do. You are doubting and breathing and crying and becoming, because that’s what people do.
Blessed be. No matter what you do today, you are becoming. Something is quickening.
I listen and transcribe as best I can. I have a scheduled post to put up, because I said so, not because it saves or changes or helps or improves anything, but because it is the thing to do today. Even though it’s uncomfortable and inconclusive, this is what I have to say. So this is what I share.
The sky, a fathomless monotony of close, grey cloud cover, tells me nothing, no matter how deeply I peer. The snow has stopped. I check in with my heart. It’s softer and quieter in there. Still no answers. Can I be okay with that? For just the moment of now, yes, I can. Especially just this tiny moment of now. Over and over again.