I’ve accepted it: twinkle lights really can cure the ailing heart.
I finally strung up a couple of strands in my new bedroom over the weekend, and yes: I feel like I’m back in college. My room is so dark, and the one (small) window faces north, and there’s something about the old school glow of white lights at night that reminds me of firelight and the warmth of being somehow smaller than I am, wrapped in something bigger and warmer. (It’s also like someone could open a box of wine at any moment and start doing the choreography to Tearin’ Up My Heart.)
Have you been getting this latest storm where you are? It poured for most of the day, and it’s not helping my mood any; these dark days have been the hardest kind of short — I so deeply miss the sunlight and the feeling of warm nights stretching out until almost morning. Just for a minute tonight as the sun was going down somewhere out west, the light broke through the clouds and the sky filled with a pink cotton candy glow. I wondered who else besides me needed to see that right then to reimagine a world created for our joy.
I drove home toward the mountains, and through the dark, the peaks turned into the most electrifying diorama: sheets of fog and rain coloring what remained of the sky, and the deepest green you can imagine — a dark forest green like a living shadow — rose up from the wash.
I can’t count how often the wilds of this planet have befriended me when I felt starved for comfort. It’s remembering this basic aliveness that keeps me turned toward hope. There’s such collective sorrow in the world right now, and I think our hearts must be breaking a million times a day, but if I sit still enough to feel my heart beating me, and listen for how the rain plays this same rhythm on the earth, I think of how I can be big like the it: hold what I can and let the waters carve mighty rivers through my heart.
This life is not for the easily-wilted — it constantly asks us to stay open and let all the things happen to us, while simultaneously realizing that actually nothing is happening to us, but just kinda… happening. That’s real maturity, no? To separate our small selfishnesses from the larger story unfolding around us, and still somehow try to remember to leave each other better than we found one other. There are always more opportunities to crack the code and circle back to Center (even if Center feels like a wobbling target sitting on the back of a donkey’s ass somewhere in Siberia).
I’m always asking where Center is in any given moment or experience where it feels particularly hard to breathe, remember something solid, or offer compassion. I’m especially having a hard time offering that to myself right now; I’m trying to remember how to take extra good care of myself in the white wave of exhaustion that creeps over me sometimes, feeling like my ACTUAL joy is somewhere out on the horizon holding a margarita with no idea what time it is or when the electric bill is due.
I’m trying to remember that hard work happens in the in-between, too: between each big step there is the will to pick up the foot and move that thing slightly ahead of its predecessor, until bit by trembling bit, we’re standing at the next meet-spot, calling on Destiny and praying pretty-please that it be sweet and easy occasionally.
The thing we get to try to figure out, I think, is what Center feels like when it hurts just to move, or when the breath is hard to find. We have to bend an ear to the creature in us that remembers what wild feels like — in all its messy joy, missteps and un-conformed creativity.
It’s why I like living in the mountains, even if it’s dark and lonely right now: it re-wilds me. My eyes get wide and the tiny hairs on my skin teach me something about listening to the air. I can never be sure of anything until I’ve felt it with more than one sense.
It’s what I hope for everyone: that we have (or find) something in us that remembers who we are as animals — innately bonded to one another, this world, and to the instincts that tie a taught line from our hearts to the heavens. We get closer to Truth when we are closer to ourselves — they become one thing when we learn how to press through our domesticated fears and into healthy boundaries which can only serve to help us create a more beautiful life.
And when it’s really dark? There are always twinkle lights.