Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Into the Light

March 31, 2008
“Into the Light”
It is March 31, 2008 and I am very, very happy to report that I have risen from the quicksand of sadness and stand now on the edge of that pit with light on my face. The victorious smile I wear, I realize, has little to do with me but everything to do with the many people who came to my aid. I smile to show my gratitude, which is great.
I thought, like Jaguar Paw, I would have to conjure every ounce of strength I possessed to pull myself dramatically out of my sorrow. I was mistaken. I barely had to lift a finger and I’ve learned an incredible lesson as a result. In exposing myself, in opening myself up completely to you, in presenting to you my darkest corners in the most honest and humble way I could, the most extraordinary thing happened. I began to relax. I began to surrender not in a defeatist sort of way but in an “arms wide open, mind wide open, come what may” sort of way. I found help in most surprising of places and in the most surprising ways.

My sister Sue called me that day after she received my email. She wanted to make sure I was ok. Hearing her voice was soothing and brought me back to the innocence and wonder of my own childhood. I sat recollecting my playful world of New England and it was so healing. Sue asked me how I would lift myself up and out and at the time I thought it was ‘I’ that was going to achieve that, so I responded, “By peeling back some layers and simplifying my life even more.” She asked immediately, “How are you going to do that?” “I haven’t the foggiest idea!” I told her as I laughed. Simplify. Oh, it sounds so good and resonates so nicely but how does one actually do it? I’m sure for everyone there are a myriad of ways but this is what I did.

First, I had to accept once again that I’m a first class procrastinator. In this case, I wasn’t neglecting bills, or some report or letter, or the many mundane chores of running a household. Instead, I was procrastinating getting to the bottom of my despair. I knew I needed to get beyond the bottom of it and actually get underneath it in order to begin pushing it up and out of my being. This was going to be messy and I was dreading it. But like most proficient procrastinators I ignored the process long enough until a pinnacle was reached. That pinnacle or place is where one finds oneself unable to escape the obvious by doing other things. There is a force here that cannot be denied that acts like the ultimate motivator. I call it ‘the fuck-it factor’ or more gently put “the F-it factor”. I find myself grumbling as opposed to actually saying, “Oh, fuck-it, I’ll just do it!” It’s like being able to give myself a swift kick in the ass to get me going. It may sound abrasive and it is but it helps. So, I began.

The first layer I peeled away was darkness itself so I could reveal its counterparts, which are light, joy and laughter. I knew I needed these in abundance. The cliché “laughter is the best medicine” gagged me when I thought of it but pissed me off even more to realize its truthfulness. Darn it! I needed to find some humor and I needed to start laughing again. I fired off an email to my friend Dan telling him I needed to hear from him and specifically needed some jokes. He did not fail me and I found myself escaping into laughter. It was indeed very healing and I was ready to accept it. I realized that analyzing the darkness wasn’t what I needed to do. I have my reasons to be sad and I’m certain that I’ll revisit them repeatedly, so staring at them noticing all the detail wasn’t going to assist me in this moment. I needed to engage in things that were in direct opposition to what was making me sad and this was a little challenging because I had become somewhat stuck. Laughter lightened and loosened me up just right.

The next thing I did was read and reread several emails I had received. They were so powerful, full of tenderness and care. People reaching out to me not to lend a hand necessarily but to say very clearly, “I’m here!” It was so helpful and before I knew it, I was lighter and the force pulling me down was lessened.

I began thinking about the word “simplify” and how I could better apply that. I thought about simple food we could eat. I thought about simple maintenance in the house that would keep things tidy and reasonably organized. I thought about simple activities for the kids that would be fun and fill my ears with laughter. I began thinking about all the simple little things that make me truly, sincerely, deeply happy. I realized that one of them is music. I remembered a conversation I had with Goddess Rebekka just a few days before about a movie called Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. It is a colorful, musical film with vibrant imagery and quirky mixing of famous songs. It is a love story and I remember the first time I saw it a few years ago, I hated it, but was moved to tears by the final love song duet by the lead actors. The second time I saw the film was some time ago and I fell in love with it and am now proud to own it. I hadn’t thought about that film since and our conversation reminded me of that love song, which I suddenly craved to hear. A few days later, I put the kids to bed popped in that movie and forwarded it to that song. I was sobbing as I watched it and at the same time cracking up over how completely absurd that was. I found myself scanning through the movie to play the few love songs that are scattered throughout. I cried a torrent of tears that night and it was such a release. The next day, the music was still in my head and I could hear Ewan McGregor’s voice singing and it was so lovely. Like a completely pathetic person with nothing better to do, I watched those scenes once again and let the tears flow freely. I knew eventually if I watched the scenes enough times and heard the songs repeatedly that the tears would end and they have but not without me practically wearing the DVD down and not without me compulsively having to buy the soundtrack so I could hear the music in my car! Oh, the ridiculous and pathetic things we do to make ourselves feel better! I’m amazed
It is such a simple thing to listen to music and to watch movies and I indulged myself completely in this one movie trying to make sense of why it resonated so deeply with me at this particular time in my life. It may seem silly to describe in detail why a particular song or movie has such a grip, but I think the power lies in their ability to remove us from our current circumstance and place us where we might have a different, if not better, view of it. I was in a place in my mind that was dark, anxious and oh so sad. Hearing the crooning gentle voice of Ewan McGregor brought me to a lulled state that gave me some peace and gentility. I can’t help but wonder if chance ever afforded itself for me to meet this person, if he wouldn’t up-chuck his Scottish ‘stovies’ to hear me say that his singing was a lul-la-bye putting to rest in me a tumultuous emotional storm. But that’s exactly what he did and the lyrics he sang began to resonate louder and clearer. If you’ll indulge me a moment:

“Come What May”
written by David Baerwald

Never knew, I could feel this way
like I’ve never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I’m loving you more and more
Listen to my heart can you hear it sings
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change
Winter to Spring
But I love you until the end of time
Come what may (chorus)

It is a ridiculously sappy song in some respects but it spoke volumes to me at this particular time and Ewan McGregor’s voice took my breath away. Aria’s leukemia has brought a flood of emotion, that before her illness, I knew only peripherally and in the confines of my imagination. These emotions are now very real and every day I love her more and more. Every day, I love life more and more. I began listening to my own heart that was suffocating in the despairing grasp of worry. I cut loose those straps so my heart could once again be filled with creative goodness that I am so desperate to share. Presently, we are in a seasonal change of winter to spring and as I look around the farm with Spring trying to make its show through the snow that keeps falling, I marvel at the beauty surrounding me. I am overwhelmed with the grace of love from not only my family and friends but from complete strangers. I find myself full of renewed strength to once again sing at the top of my lungs, “Come what may!”

It is no accident that at the beginning of this journey I was listening repeatedly to the raw and gritty songs of the Black Crowes. As I look back at that time, I realize just how perfect that music was for my mood and my place in life. It was as if I was going through my days biting down on a stick lodged between my teeth so I could bare the pain and suppress my screams. So often I was tempted to throw back a shot of whiskey to shake my head and senses as the burning fuel cascaded down my throat leaving me a little numb. I never did because I much prefer the smell of whiskey to the actual taste, but the voice and music of the Black Crowes worked just the same. Right now as March heads out like a lion into April, I’m in need of something much softer, more gentle and soothing to my senses and I found the remedy in the voice of Ewan McGregor.

As I sit here typing, I can hear the snow melting with gentle drops landing in a puddle outside the window. The sun is shining. It is Spring Break and I’m delighting in the simplicity of my days this week. So many little simple things; food, sleep, leisure, entertainment, music, friends, writing, reading, bathing, creating, pausing, praying, rejoicing, singing, playing all gentle powers gracefully lifting me to the edge of my quicksand. Here I am in the light once again, renewed, restored, rejuvenated and most importantly ready to share my goodness and yours!

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