Hours later at home in Phoenix, I called her to check on her. Asleep, she was momentarily disoriented when she picked up the phone.
Then the distance asserted itself.
We both felt it grab hold.
My throat tightened and I couldn’t speak. For a long moment we just listened to each other’s quiet breath, wordless and lost. I longed for another chance to kiss her cheek. I longed for another cup of steaming Earl Grey tea, for another rainy afternoon of doing nothing other than sitting across the table from my first love, my mother, my skin horse.
Every wrong turn, every lost opportunity, every moment of red-faced shame, every single one – built us.
I built this life with my own hands. I built this body and this face through what I’ve seen and what I’ve done. I may have bruises and bumps and a few scars, but the house of my spirit is mine. I forged it. I earned it.
What did I learn from falling?
I discovered how much love there was for me in the world. Falling forced me to ask for help — and you know what — help arrived from all corners of my life. For weeks afterward, I had to call on others to do what I could not do for myself. I began to see the value of developing a willingness to lose control, to be vulnerable, to allow others to see my soft underbelly.
I let go and I fell deep into my life. I saw the strength it takes to lose control and let myself be truly seen.
We are tattooed—marked for life—by our affection for things that will not live long.
Everything reeks of impermanence: our colorful, fleeting meals; our luminous young faces; our sweat-soaked feelings of lust or love…
We cannot manage stasis and still grow and stay alive.
You always show up wearing your party pants and your little red patent leather shoes, carrying a velvet purse and a tiny kitty. You want to eat rice macaroni and cheese. You want to listen to old Elton John music. You want to dabble on the piano, playing jazz scales and singing standards you are convinced I’ve forgotten.
You want chocolate bunnies and soda and buttered popcorn to devour in the yummy darkness of a matinee. You want me to sleep in and re-read The Artist’s Way.
So, we savor meals, eating off each others’ plates.
We rifle through yellowing photographs, looking for our former selves. Thinking maybe, just maybe, some silver bit of that girl or that boy is frozen there, stopped in his or her tracks — able dance like an angel on the head of a pin — able to stop time.
We hear a snatch of a song, and suddenly we fall back. We look up from the front seat of our first boyfriend’s car, parked at the edge of the woods, as ghosts gather around us, watch us kiss.
Now I want to collect stories. I want to dive into experiences and see sacredness in the world. I want to experience a love like no other and I feel certain that it is on its way. I want to hold hands with the right man. I want to swim in the currents of life no longer wondering if I am enough, if I have enough, if I’ve done enough.
The shadow is not just the negative aspects of ourselves that we want to gloss over. It is also, often, the aspects of our lives that we most need to nurture. Many of us suffer from incorrigible disbelief in our own inherent potential. We think we’ve been singled out as the only person at the party who forgot to wear clothes. Nope. We are all naked. And we are all vessels of light and dark stars. It is never just one or the other. It’s an all-inclusive deal.
Sometimes our true, soul family is not our blood family. Sometimes we have to go out in search of our pack, ready to cut ties with anyone who makes us feel small. I find myself divorcing distraction and cutting ties with anyone who is not genuinely kind, supportive, and loving. I am embracing my tribe of writers and poets and scribes and sages and seekers. It’s time you do, too. Join the pack of people (and animals and spirits and totems) that believe in you and want the best for you. Find the pack that will love and protect you, always. They are your true family.
I sit astride this gleaming wild cat as she strides deeper and deeper into the dream. The forest floor is scattered with patches of light that look like stars. Nothing can be born without putting death on the table. Nothing can change unless we cast a wider, deeper net.