Flight

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete!
I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains broken and jagged!
–Walt Whitman

What does it take to be complete?  There is an old belief that to have power over a thing is to know its name.  I believe we cannot take the power to heal our wounds unless we can name them.  This requires the opposite of what is natural to us; to break open when we want desperately to sew it all back together again, to dig deeper to the sometimes ugly core of a thing when the lie covering it is blooming with roses, to leave those we love in need while we learn to find our wings.

When we finally break open, when we dig deep enough to the core of our wound to name it, we can finally make wings.  No one hands them to us. We all learned from Icarus that taking the wings made by another, however loving, will fail us. Daedalus didn’t want his son to fly too high. The warning was lost on Icarus when he felt the wind on his face and the sun shining on his back.  He flew higher and higher until the wax gave way.  Icarus never named his wounds; a father who thought of him as clumsy and in the way, a love interest that did not return his love, his destiny to be largely known for his death.

What if Icarus had left Daedalus in favor of finding his own way? Would we question the son’s love for the father? We cry abandonment so easily in our culture. True abandonment is to leave behind someone who cannot care for themselves.  Daedalus, however distraught and burdened with pain, was not in the care of his son. Icarus was just a boy-the boy who never grew up. Had he taken the steps to leave the situation, he would have taken the steps to leave childhood behind him and walk into adulthood and begin his process of naming his wounds and building his wings, but Icarus was just a boy and so he strapped the wings to his back and flew as high as he could.

The woman in the photograph above feels familiar to me.  When I first looked at it, I instinctively knew she was about to take flight.  Maybe she would transform into a bird in the way of fairy tales, or sprout wings from her back, or simply lift off the ground with her enthusiasm carrying her. The second time I looked at it, I saw her chasing the birds with a desperate need to be one of them, to be able to fly away.  On another glance, I saw the woman chasing the birds in anger.  Then I realized these thoughts were all about me.

When I was a girl I could not imagine leaving here.  I would watch the birds lift into the air and it never occurred to me I could ever join them in leaving.  My certainty that I would remain here turned to some anger and I absolutely wished to be a creature who would be shoved from its nest and expected to fly away. I didn’t know how to make wings then.  I didn’t know the names of my wounds.

Survival- fight or flight.  Sometimes to fight a thing, you first have to fly away so you can look back and get a good look at it.  It can hurt to soar so high. The ones we love try to tether us to the ground, to them, to their stories about who we were supposed to be.  In naming the wounds I carry, I’ve made it impossible for the wounds (more aptly called demons in this case) to bind me here.  This place is not where I will find my highest good.  I have to fly away.

 

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Waiting is the Hardest Part

The waiting has soured and now feels more like stagnation. After my recent trip to San Francisco, I came home more determined than ever to move. As a result, I subconsciously started pulling up my roots here, getting ready for such a big change. My days became filled with this theme of waiting. My time is filled with waiting; waiting to move to start a new life, waiting to feel better, waiting to find a new coven, waiting to find a new church, waiting to fly on out of here. Waiting.

Now I’m looking around, still not sure when I’m leaving this place. I tell people, in complete honesty, it could be 2 years from now but it could be tomorrow. I am waiting for a sign, waiting for a reason, waiting for a door to open. Some days I feel like I’m waiting on that 2nd floor rental of a row house in downtown Baltimore, my dream location rightly priced but currently occupied. More waiting.

It’s challenging to be fully present in my life right now, knowing I am going to leave this place. It’s difficult to want to form new friendships, date, or even take on new projects. On the one hand, I might leave as early as tomorrow! On the other hand, if I’m here for 2 more years this is going to be mighty lonely by the end.

This is an exercise in practicing presence I don’t believe I was ready for. I am truly sitting in the unknown while surrounded by the familiar.

The realization of not being able to wait forever has been made as well. A freeze on life here has been the opposite of what is needed. Yes, it may help with detachments to make moving away from my friends and family easier. However, it has created a sort of emptiness in my life that isn’t sitting right with me.

I’m beginning to realize there is a lot to do before I move. A photography project of the Ozarks tops the list. Places to see around here that I haven’t seen before, despite being born and raised right here. I’m sure others will be added to the list. I’m also trying to reach out and connect with people and the groups I’ve been mostly absent from.

I’ve also decided to stop waiting on something to just fall together and begin making a 2 year plan while remaining open to watching for the sign to leave immediately.  A 2 year plan will mean I’m ready and in the best possible place for moving in two years, but it doesn’t mean not leaving sooner if an opportunity arises.

Waiting has made some space for contemplation about life in general, about what -and who- I will and will not wait for.  It’s time to be alive in my life again.  I think I’ve been missing for the past few months even while still walking and talking.  It’s time to create something worthwhile HERE while planning to go into an unknown future.

It’s like Tom says,

“The waiting is the hardest part

Everyday you see one more card,

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart,

The waiting is the hardest part.”

Hell On Wheels

I am taking myself to the skating rink tomorrow and am going to attempt to skate without having a panic attack, leaving without getting on the floor, peeing my pants, or all three.  I don’t know how to skate.  It looks like a lot of fun and good exercise.  These are two things I want to cultivate more of in my life and all the better if they are together!  So I am hoping I won’t “fall down and die” and will in fact be able to learn to skate and enjoy it.

I have a laundry list of simple things, like skating, that I just haven’t done.  I grew up hearing “you might fall down and die” and countless other scary things to discourage activity.  I sometimes heard this directly and sometimes indirectly, but the message was clear and my childhood was remarkably inactive.

I am determined to at least try the things on the list below.  It’s my bucket list of sorts.  Some of these are SIMPLE, but I’ve never done them and it seems like I ought to before I do in fact fall down and die.  🙂  I started the list in May, so I’ve been able to mark off a couple of things!

THE LIST

1.  Learn to skate

2. Travel alone

3.  Learn to canoe

4.  Ride a horse

5. See the Atlantic Ocean

6.  See the Pacific Ocean

7.  Travel outside the U.S.

8. Publish a book

9.  Get my L.C.S.W.

10. Perform at a poetry slam

11.  Ride a Ferris wheel (totally scared to do this).

12.  Ride a roller coaster (really?  hmm, maybe not.)

13. Learn to read tarot without using the book

14.  Learn more about the Kabbalah.

15.  Go indoor rock climb.

16. Take a poetry class – okay, not scary but I have NEVER taken a poetry class and I’m a writer who writes mostly poetry.

17. Become fluent in Spanish.

18. Walk on fire.

19. Ride in a hot air balloon.

20. Join a kick ball team (this is a self-confidence block)

I loved him in the summer…

I spent this weekend at the ocean trying to reflect, think, and write.  I went here to sort out how I felt about my future, my current relationship, and my life in general.  What came up was something incredible.  I realized how much I love my ex-husband and want to be his friend.  I don’t know if this is really possible.  He and I had both wanted it to be and then I got so angry.  Angry at his level of involvement with our daughter.  Angry that he is the fun parent that spends 3 hours a week playing Rock Band and watching movies while I spend the rest of the week washing laundry, checking homework, and enforcing rules.  A few things were unpacked in the last week.

First, before the impromptu trip to the ocean, I realized my anger was a mask for jealousy.  I want to be the fun parent.  I want to the be the one without responsibilities.  Instead of counting my blessings at the freedoms I have because my family helps me with my daughter, I was focused on what I thought my ex should or should not be doing.  This is unproductive to say the least.  I hope I’m done with it, but I know I can’t be sure until I return home and am having to deal with it again.

The first day at the ocean, swimming in the Atlantic I felt so much gratitude for my ex-husband.  He taught me to swim.  I was about to turn 19 when we met and I didn’t know how to swim.  We spent that summer, and the next 2 or 3, at creeks and lakes all over Northwest Arkansas.  He taught me first to dog paddle, then float, then various strokes I’m sure I don’t remember.  Thinking about this brought back the feelings of love I had for him, real love.  This is important.  See, I have been telling myself I never loved him.  I didn’t think I had because our life together was mostly spent fighting.  I loved him in the summer though.  He would spin me around in the water, put me on his back and swim across the creeks diving under until I would almost go under with him then he would swim up again.  We would pack this tiny little grill into our car and an ice chest and spend all day at the lake.  We would swim until lunch then grill hotdogs and swim some more until dinner.  These were the happiest summers of my life.

Maybe the first summer we didn’t go swimming as much should have been my sign to leave.  Is that when we stopped loving each other?  Or did we ever stop?  I swim the Atlantic Ocean and think back trying to remember what year it was when we quit swimming all the time.

When I return to the ocean two days later I drive over the Savannah River and think about how much he would have liked it here.  More memories flood my mind; hiking with him in the woods, the first time I went in a cave with him and saw a bat – a moment I treasure.  I remember how much more brave I was with him beside me.

I grew up afraid of everything. I didn’t have an adventurous family.  We didn’t hike, swim, canoe, ride horses, camp…   We mostly watched television and shopped.  My ex was a boy scout, literally, and is really confident outdoors.  He is cautious though too.  He isn’t one of those guys that gets out and tries to prove something about his manhood.  Often I would be afraid of things most people wouldn’t be and would hesitate.  He had this way of inspiring me to go for it without ever making me feel bad if I didn’t.  He was a good friend.

Maybe that’s where we went wrong.  If I could go back to my 19 year-old self I might say, “be friends with this guy, love him and enjoy him, have sex with him, but don’t live with him or marry him.”  If we had known then what we know now about relationships and all the glorious configurations they can take… we might have enjoyed a good summer fling or two and become best friends.  Of course that might have meant not having my daughter and I wouldn’t want to undo that.

I do want those summers back, without the sex.  I want the laughter, the swimming, the ease we had with each other.  I want smiles.  We used to smile at each other with so much honesty and enthusiasm.  The last few years we only had those sad forced smiles for each other.

I think about all this laying on the beach.  When I get back to my car and realize how sun burned I let myself get I have to laugh.  My ex always had to take care of massive burns because I would either forget sunblock or forget to reapply it.

It’s so easy to only tell the stories about the fighting and mean words.  There are more of those stories.  I want to keep remembering the good times too.  I want to love him again, the carefree easy love between friends.