it is no longer the uphill that i fear. it is braking hard on the downhill, only to be sacrificed in a cloud of dust and shock.
i take them both, the saint and the fool, on every quest. companions in this human life, the dirty and the divine.
only in the empty full beginning end can i shift and reshape.
oh how i love that moment when the shaman prays over me. when i am heady with temple offerings and the hunger to prostrate.
the mark of the bindi, the red string on the wrist. the black snake and the pulsing sky.
but there is also the sugar and the seva. the descension. the embers fading into ash. the what next and how soon. the plateau and the pining. the now and the numb.
and, of course, there is no real debate, no real inquiry.
only the same.
to be free: the heart must open, the light must shine, the wild must wander, the totality must be trusted,
the fragments must fuse.
this edge, this threshold, this auspicious anguish,
is an invitation.
if you tear a piece of that shroud and fasten it round your chest, a tavern will open up from your soul. ~rumi
i am stirred up by another loss. by what some may refer to as another waste of a brilliant mind, how “unstable” he was, how sad that he couldn’t overcome the despair and survive in our world as it is.
i think that the two are inseparable, genius and what we traditionally call instability. and maybe instability is simply the thing that sets these types of masters apart, and allows them to deeply understand humanity, translate this understanding into digestible humor and help us all to understand ourselves a little bit better.
and maybe it is time to stop calling these differences instability, implying deviance from normalcy, and rather expand beyond holding ourselves to one code of existence. the one that celebrates accomplishment and doing–and considers being and seeing to be a luxury, something to be done in the “time off,” not too much and only for the privileged and provided for, the indulged and the spoiled.
what if the fallow inward times were nurtured, with the known truth that, if allowed, these “dark moments” will inform the later workings of genius, and crack another code to universal connection and freedom.
what if we had been taught, from the very beginning, that the poetry and the music and the painting and even the uncanny impersonation quite possibly cannot be iterated without the long walk through the field, the deep dark slumber, the demonic doubt, and the torturous liminal space–and that that is OK. Special, even.
what if the doers, in their love of doing, supported the seers through these incarnations, in a mutually beneficial existence, each playing a vital role in a life rich with creation and meaning?
I’m a knight on a special quest.
~Robin Williams as Parry, in the Fisher King.
take this good sweet life, this one that slips through unnoticed, and place it squarely in my memory. hold it with curiosity and tenderness. know it to be the most precious thing.
the map is changing, as it is want to do. there are equal doses of leaving and leaping, and the kind of uneasy caverns that open up before the new and the big and the exciting and the ready.
i am solid, though shifty, in the role of keeper, of neutral and available. for me too, there is a horizon, and the anticipation of living on the other sides of fences.
but august has just begun. there is still blueberry pie to make, dead grass and a drought to consider. supplies to be shopped for and afternoons with nothing to do.
the stuff that happens between planning and transit, the before and the after, this is what i want to learn to be. despite, and because, of all there is to look forward to.
I am, you anxious one. Do you not hear me rush to claim you with each eager sense?
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Nearly three years after announcing The Doorways Project: Midwives in Mexico, and taking a journey to witness the work of both CASA and One Heart World-Wide, I am writing this post. There has been something intangible about this project that has forced it to rest and pause and cause discomfort for me, as it has lingered, unfinished, all this time. I have experienced waves of profound guilt, especially as I received generous backing to make the project happen and was anxious to come through with my promise of rewards. But seasons of my life stepped in, and I, for whatever reason, became blocked from the flow of completion.
Yes, over the past three years, big things happened in my life. I was challenged. I didn’t have the creative energy to give the work the time and effort it deserved to make the most impact. I had to gently put the project aside while I tended to my body, my family, and my spirit. But, there was more to it. While I did edit and deliver the images to both organizations for their use as promised, created a slideshow that was viewed at Direct Relief International and online, and posted the gallery of images to this website, I experienced profound blocks, both real and imagined, to completing the translations of the personal interviews I did, as well as to sending the Kickstarter rewards and handwriting the notes of gratitude to my backers. And, of course, the more time that passed, the more daunted and ashamed I felt, and the vicious cycle perpetuated itself within me.
I believe that there are things that we hold onto to prevent ourselves from moving forward. What I have learned from carrying this unfinished responsibility for the past three years, is what it really means to see something through. By holding this project incomplete, and thus not sitting to the task of completing what I had held myself accountable for, I have had to face a litany of internal dialogue, not very much of it nice. I held the standard so high for myself, and having believed that I had fallen short, I was rendered inert to continue. There was also, I believe now, a positive tether that I was hanging onto, as well. By keeping this project on my plate, I sustained a small and potent connection to the work and service in the world that I hold dear, during a period of my life that was mostly spent inward and at home. And now, in the lightness of being that I find myself in today, I am able to wrap it up with ease and grace, express my gratitude, and let it go.
My trip to Mexico taught me many things, but mostly the lesson was in the strength of women and the value of community. What I saw was resilience and a willingness to show up and learn new skills. I saw seventy year old midwives walk miles of steep terrain to learn new ways to save women in childbirth. I saw generations of women exchanging knowledge and working together. I saw a sixteen year old girl who had already herself managed an emergent delivery and saved the lives of a mother and her baby. I was challenged by the landscape and awed by the beauty of one of the most grand locations on the planet. But mostly, I was taught humility.
And, perhaps, it was this lesson in humility that has finally taken root and allowed me to write this post. I humbly bow down to the women I met along this journey. I humbly bow in gratitude to the backers who supported my way there, and, somehow, through the ripples that I have felt since. I apologize for not saying so sooner, but I forgive myself now, and feel, somehow, that it played out as it needed to. I hope you understand. This one had to sink in, in a way that I never anticipated. And the doorway to freedom that I am seeing ahead of me now is wide open with the possibility of so much more.
I will, most certainly, pay this one forward.
With sincere gratitude to Jen Swezey, Sas Petherick, Gillian Da Silva, Bella Cirovic, Karen, William Vasquez, Mari Mitchell, Jo Hanlon-Moores, Anna Bunting, Kirsten Michelle, Jenn Gibson, Kathy Field, Eileen Haber, Evan Thomas, Ash Petherick, Jennifer Lee, Michelle Madden-Smith, Alessandra Cave, Annie Price, Julie Hirschberg, Amy Williamson, Sara Blackthorne, Randi Buckley, Maya Stein, Vivienne McMaster, Liz Marley, Belinda Carson, Bea Thomes, Heather Blancho, Liz Elayne, Leslie Lindell, Erin Faith Allen, Esmee and Andre, Jeanne Gleason, Gabriella Klein, Pen McKinley-Rodgers, Marisa Anne, Jeanine Brandi, Irene Nam, Ghiribaldi, Heather Plett, Patricia Christakos, Anne Van de Water, Stacy de la Rosa, Denise McCorvie, Christina Rosalie, Melissa Piccola, DeAnn Wilson, Christine Mason-Miller, Esme Weijun Wang, Leonie Wise, Pixie Campbell, Emmanuel Lambert, Marla Phillips, Carrie Kappel, and Gail Mooney. Your Kickstarter rewards are in the post. I bow to and thank each and every one of you for believing in me. And for giving me the time it took to believe in myself again.