When I left Portland in the spring, I didn’t know how long I’d be gone. I thought I might return sooner rather than later, based on the erroneous anticipation that I’d be the same person and want the same things when the time came to make a Next Move.
What I’m seeing, in the ever-unraveling story of my life, is that every day, every moment, has been a Next Move. Every moment has been in glad participation with me; every day conspiring in my unfolding.
I’ve now been in Arizona eight months. I have no plans to return to Portland.
I had some lofty goals for my time in the Southwest, at home with my family and with the people and places I shared my early life with. One was to do some much-needed healing on my maternal family line, and the other was to nurture my newly-found creative freedom (i.e. leaving my day job and going to work for myself full-time). I made these intentions, once again, with the belief that these were things that had a start-and-stop quality to them; like I could just press Play, and boom! Maternal family line healed! Time allotted: 2 – 3 months! Ready, go!
What’s that saying? “We plan and God laughs”? Yeah.
The first clue that I’d started down a road that would reveal itself as something completely of its own design was when, after leaving my long-term relationship, I expected I’d grieve tremendously. So much so that I just had to get out of the city where we’d lived together. Except, I found grieving the end of the relationship was a thing I’d already been doing for long months as the relationship unwound itself.
I found that what needed grieving most was myself; I’d stuffed my knowing — my intuition — down so deeply in order to stay that I’d cut myself off from even the sense that I belonged to myself.
What followed was a slow reemergence of Feeling, day by day, hour by week. It was a practice of making myself available to the subtle nuances that arose of their own accord. It was coming to my knees in the middle of a sunny day and honoring the silence of my heart with my attention, because very often, it said nothing at all. I learned to forgive myself for repeatedly silencing myself when there was so much my heart wanted to say. The numbness faded over time; I am still learning how to sit and watch the tides roll in and out.
Next was a run-in with the love of my young life, and the reanimation of a love and friendship that, for all my compartmentalizing of what it had meant to me in my twenties, I found was still very much alive in my thirties. I learned (again) that love can be an ageless thing, and also, that it changes. I learned that the gift of love is that it has visited at all, reaching its hand inside you and rearranging you for the better. I learned that love — real, magnanimous love — never leaves you feeling smaller than how it found you. I learned that love is only meant to liberate us.
And for those still peeling apart the layers of maternal wounding, as I am, these months have shown me that healing is often synonymous with accepting, and that forgiveness is often a surrender of what might have been for what simply is. I’ve learned that continuing to participate in a story of woundedness breathes new life into wounds, and sometimes, not everything needs to be understood. Identifying with the patterns of the past keeps us from unraveling ourselves in a new way, or from even seeing that we are recreating where we have been, and coming up surprised when what we expect from the world is revealed to us, again and again.
I’ve learned we always have a choice to simply close the door — not with anger or retribution — but with a desire for peace and the bravery to create something new for ourselves.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that suffering
is a product of the mind.
The Spirit, however, is flawless.
What I see now, many months and revelations later, is that Spirit is always the thing that is trying to emerge from the confusing fog brought about by the mind. Evolution is not optional; the Soul is speaking the mandates of a Universe that is persistently showing us where we are cut off from our remembrance of the At-One-With creatures we are.
I thought that I’d leave Portland, spend some time in the quiet of the desert, neatly wrap myself up and get all “ready” for what Life had planned next. But it doesn’t work like that; we don’t leave one world and enter a void. We step from one stone to the next (and the next and the next), and when we’re ready, we look down and realize — yup! We’re standing on another new stone. And this, in the here and now, is the gift we’ve been handed by the Universe to unwrap and discover.
The remaining task of nurturing my creative freedom has revealed itself as the most important directive I’ve ever been given. It comes to me by way of a guidance that’s been steering me for years:
We are not meant to succumb to the mandates of the outside world. It is not a requirement that we numb and dull ourselves into submission.
More and more, what I’m recognizing is that life itself is a manifestation of the creativity brimming to the surface in every human. The potential to create our lives is a mighty thing, and it is far less work than we’ve been taught to believe it is. I’m seeing how encouraged we are to believe we’ve got to “make” — rather than allow.
I am only just beginning to understand this, and to feel the effects of allowing on my life, and therefore, my work. And though I’ve resisted, I’m coming into deeper acceptance that I am employed by a force so much bigger than my mind can comprehend. Nurturing my creative freedom, then, becomes a matter of getting out of the way — and cultivating a life which surrenders to the Divine that is calling me home to myself.
The months I’ve spent here in the southwest have raised big questions about what “home” even means, and as I survey the last eight months, I see how I’ve been preparing for a home outside myself — some physical place I could put my books, pot plants and sit by a window, mug in hand, writing until the hours stretch long shadows across the land.
But… we make plans, and God laughs.
I am more home now than I’ve ever been, and it is by no means the result of having hardwood floors to pace, or a coffee maker whose operation I understand. And though I appreciate these things immensely, they are no more functions of “home” than the assembly line that produced the parts that comprise a working coffee maker.
In all my attempts to anticipate what “home” would look like when it was time for me to leave Arizona — and sometimes furiously scrambling to make something happen just so I could know what to expect — I have been getting push-back from the All-that-Is. These are familiar signs for all of us, yeah? Those cosmic red lights that keep flashing, hoping we’ll catch the drift and slow down.
A traffic-jam-when-you’re-already-late vibe has been carrying just about everything along in a current that, I’m finally starting to see, is asking for me to pay attention. I’ve been scared shitless to acknowledge it, but the energy just isn’t moving in the direction I expected.
I am learning to follow the things that make me feel big-hearted, even if they require stepping off a cliff into the unknown. I am learning that big-hearted living is the source of everything worth having.
I am learning that “safe” can be a sometimes inert place where we scare ourselves into starving for what we really want.
There is so much world I want to see, and so much of myself I want to feel pressed against the cheek of the Divine. When I asked myself when I have felt most alive and in touch with the power of possibility in the last year, the answer reverberating off all the walls of my Knowing is unquestionably: On the road.
I’ve struggled to come to terms with this decision, because the best reason I can give for why I want to step off the cliff of the safe and comfortable is simply: because I do. I’ve even struggled to accept this desire because the containers I’ve built around myself, who I am, and what I think is acceptable have not included: Leave the familiar, drive, write and see what happens.
I mean, this is crazy. From the outside, it is absolutely bonkers.
But despite my resistance, a very clear truth has emerged: I want this. I am searching for something — or rather, something is searching for me. I can feel it like a lighthouse in the distance, and the circular light of it catches my eyes every once in a while, and for just a moment, I can feel true home calling me closer like a curling finger, whispering my name and urging me, tenderly but persistently: Do not let go.
And so: I am surrendering to the call. I am un-making myself. I am leaning into Truth at all costs, and defending the one sure and liberating thing I know:
We cannot afford to not be who we are.
Even (and especially) if who we are is a little unconventional.
Taking the risk of loving ourselves (and loving what we love without shame) more than patch-working ourselves together from the pieces of what seems to love us is, I believe, the only way we’ll really get to know who we are. (For that matter, it’s a surefire way to discover who really loves us — you will never be an undesirable to anything that truly celebrates you, just as you are, no assembly required.) I believe we suffer far more by staying put in the neat little boxes that have been provided for us, than by taking the risk of being rejected — which is the only reason we’d ever stifle the voice of our longing.
For the first time in my adult life, I do not have a plan. On January 1st, 2016, I will get in my car and go. I don’t know where, and I don’t know for how long. All I have is my longing to follow the circadian rhythms of my body, the whispers in the wind and the deepening pool of my consciousness. (Plus some cool camping gear.)
I anticipate many campfires and conversations with shooting stars. I am hoping to see some cool stuff and meet some interesting people. I will keep working at what I love (yay wireless hotspot and solar power!) and let the rest fall away.
Listen, I don’t want to derail this train we’re on, but this is what Anatomy of Desire is all about. I’m not an expert in anything but my desire to live my life authentically. I cannot tell you whom you’re aching to become. But I believe — from the deepest, most guttiest (guttiest?) place in me — living our lives bravely, truly, with all our insides screaming YES! is what we’re craving in a wholly hungry way.
I’ll be guiding you — deeper into yourself, and only as deeply as you long to go — while I’m on the road. You guys, this is fucking bananas, and I AM SO EXCITED. I am utterly enthused to be learning alongside you; to mirror your most effervescent Self back to you, and to encourage your courageous seeking of the contents of your Soul.
Seek and ye shall find, yeah? Yeah.