I need to take my own advice. Carry a notebook and write things down when they hit me. That’s what I tell the people in my writing group. I used to do it but then I downsized to this itty bitty leather wallet size bag. It’s convenient, lightweight and holds only my cash, cards and keys. There is no room for anything else so the little notebook is tucked away in my computer bag. Lot of good it is doing me there. Something occurred to me today…a thought, an idea, something and at the time I remember thinking I have to write about that later. But now that it is later, it is gone.
That happens to me a lot. Senility, senior moment, brain freeze, whatever you want to call it, the important stuff, like the stuff I want to write about, leaks out my ears and vaporizes into nothingness once it hits the air. The other day I heard about an old ship that was unearthed at Ground Zero in New York. Archaeologists were rushing to the scene to glean as much information as possible from this amazing find before it crumbled into dust upon exposure. I am sure they remembered their notebooks.
So what was it that occurred to me today? What was the thread that yanked at my awareness? It’s like waking from a dream that instantly vanishes the second your eyes pop open. I’ve been told that if you can’t remember your dreams, at least write down how your body is feeling when you wake. What was I feeling when that fleeting thought ran through me this afternoon? Inspiration. But about what?
I let it go.
As I stooped to pull yet another weed, the sun vanished. I looked up to see steely clouds spilling over the mountain, filling the dome of the sky. A drop of rain hit the dirt leaving a mark as big as a quarter and I knew it would be a good storm. Rather than try to outrun it back to my place, I walked to the porch of the ranch house, dusted the bat droppings off a wrought iron chair and settled in to enjoy the storm.
The fat drops came down in a steady hypnotic beat lulling me into a state of drowsiness. I struggled to watch the storm but my eyelids closed and soon I drifted off, my mind emptying. Did I sleep sitting up? Or was it a meditative state? Maybe, but perhaps that was what Mother Nature intended. Maybe she was sending me a message, to sit down and watch the rain. Feel the wet breeze against my face, to slow down and do nothing. To play dumb and not analyze everything like I am doing right now. Simply to appreciate the beauty of a storm and know that inspiration will come.
A far away telephone rang once in the distance of my mind. A wake up call from Mother Nature, calling me back from wherever my mind wandered. I opened my eyes to see the rain had slowed but not before gilding the grass and trees with silver. The sun broke through steaming the damp air in an instant. I rose from my seat to resume pulling weeds. My back ached from stooping but I ignored it. My scalp grew damp under my hat, sunscreen melted into my eyes, my armpits grew rank, sweat circled my waist. Yank and pull, rake and shovel, I worked and worked to bring a semblance of control to the weedy lawn. My garden gloves grew slick with green.
The sun vanished. I looked to the sky to see the storm clouds had boomeranged and now were rolling in from the West. Another fat raindrop hit the ground. I smiled and thought Mother Nature doesn’t want me to work today. And so I let her have her way.
The Arizona summer has me craving the dark.
I walk from tree to tree, seeking the comfort of shade,
The dark cool a relief from the unrelenting light.
We aspire to the light, we reach for it
Bathe in it, desire to fill heart and soul with it
To dispel the darkness of our emotions.
And yet, it is that darkness I crave.
The desire to feel overwhelms me,
To wallow in the mire up to my knees
Pulling up handfuls of the dirty muck
Like a child kneading it into mudpies
To fling with wild abandon.
The night breeze brushes over my skin
I throw my arms wide to catch it but it slips by
What I sense in the moment is gone in an instant
But the emotion it stirs lingers in my heart
And I am grateful to know
That damn C word again. Cancer. I hate that word. I want to grab an eraser and scrub it permanently from the English language, banish it to hell, stomp on it and grind it to nothingness, never to fall from my lips again, never to assault my ears again. My daughter is a cancer survivor, defeating a malignant melanoma that struck her when she was only thirteen years old. My younger brother died from colon cancer when he was in his late thirties. My grandfather succumbed to thyroid cancer, an aunt fell to cancer of the liver. I have never had cancer and never will (do you hear that Universe?) I intend to live well into my nineties and beyond. I am not afraid of death, well maybe a little. I think I have come to terms with it and understand that it simply another transition. I mean, I want to have a say in it, to orchestrate it. I want it to be an easy thing. I don’t want it to hurt. And I don’t think about it much, the truth that someday I will die. But the thing I hate, the ugliest truth that swims around my brain from time to time is that of my children’s mortality.
Matt, my son, had a colonoscopy today. Two polyps were removed and now we endure a week of waiting for the results from the biopsy. He is thirty years old. Family history prompted the test. His uncle, my brother, died from colon cancer. His father, my ex-husband, had colon cancer a year ago. Genetics are not in his favor. I am so grateful that he is taking a proactive approach to this. Those little polyps are ticking time bombs. Ticking time bombs without a countdown clock, you never know when one has reached detonation and is secretly exploding sending its shrapnel everywhere. Dirty bombs.
When Jill, my daughter, had melanoma I knew she would survive the disease but I wasn’t sure I would. I prayed and begged God to take the melanoma from her and give it to me. I told God I didn’t want her to go through the pain of the disease but the truth was that my heart could not bear watching her in pain. For a parent the greatest hurt is the inability to end your child’s suffering. When my brother died, I watched my mother break. Not a breakdown, no shattering, rather it was a white-hot lightning strike that split her heart in two, searing the edges with a black scar that will never fully mend. It doesn’t make sense. A mother’s love, a mother’s kiss, a mother’s touch is supposed to cure everything. But life doesn’t really work that way.
Matt sounded tired. He needed his rest. I told him I loved him then hung up the phone. I walked out the door and headed to the corral. I hung my arms over the top of the fence resting my cheek on my hand. The railing was hot to the touch from the heat of the day. I welcomed the burn. The horses looked up from their grain and, sensing my mood, walked over with tails swinging from side to side. They nudged me, warm breath puffing out of their nostrils onto my hair. I stroked their velvet noses and whispered hello pretty girls. The sun dropped behind the mountain, dusk edging to dark. No tears, not yet. I believe Matt will be fine. I need to believe that. The horses turned and walked back to their feed. I patted their rumps as they sashayed away.
I went back inside. To wait.
Lately it seems to me that people are tossing that word around casually as if it were the equivalent of hello and good-bye. It feels like a fad of sorts, like the latest slang. It makes me wonder do they know what they are saying? Do they understand how profound that one word truly is? Do they get it? This word is so powerful that I actually got up after writing those sentences and took a walk. Talk about procrastination! But the idea of putting words around that word, Namaste, intimidates me. The goddess in me bows to the goddess in you.
It’s not the bowing. That’s easy. I can bow all day! Or give a little curtsy (does anyone still do that anymore?), nod my head, give a smile, or shake a hand. It’s merely a social nicety. It’s not “the goddess in you” for I do believe Spirit is in everything and everyone. The blue sky, the cottonwood saplings, the graceful horses, the heat of the sun, the music of the creek remind me every day that Spirit is all around. When it comes to people I admit it’s a little hard with those who try my patience and make me angry, but I am pretty good at accepting even those folks as they are.
The difficult thing, the words that catch in my throat, stick in my mouth and trip my tongue are “the goddess in me.” Knowing Spirit is in me, is part of me brings me to my knees like an emotional earthquake that cracks my foundation and tumbles my walls. I look at the pile of rubble that is this life and all I can say is c’mon. My mind reels with the enormity of it picturing an all powerful being with the ability to leap tall buildings, call in the rain and ooze compassion from every pore. That isn’t me, not even close. So saying those words is arrogant and humbling all at the same time. Who do I think I am? I’ll tell you:
· A fifty seven year old gray haired divorcee who still feels shy meeting new people
· A mom who did her best but knows she could have done better
· A woman who struggles every day to honor her body as a temple no matter how many snacks are in the cabinet
· An eternal student still learning new things and trying her best not to fall flat on her face
· A procrastinator (see above)
· A daughter of Spirit who should meditate every day but sometimes life gets in the way
With all my failings, should I knock on that door? Am I worthy of admittance? How humbling when the door opens and the invitation is spoken, please enter. And it comes to me that the meaning of Namaste is not about acknowledging that a deity resides within any of us but rather that the thread of Universal Spirit stitches us together into a patchwork quilt that is vibrantly colorful and rippling with life. I may be only a tiny thread but pull on me and the entire pattern wrinkles. A tiny thread but if it is cut, the patchwork falls apart. Some days I am frayed and in danger of unraveling but the goddess in me steps in to moisten the end, re-thread the needle and make the repair.
These thoughts were running through my mind this morning as I was cleaning the corral. I found myself humbled by the knowing that:
It takes a goddess to shovel shit.
It takes a goddess to put that shit in the compost pile.
It takes a goddess to till that compost into the garden.
It takes a goddess to plant and water the seeds, to pull the weeds and to harvest the tomatoes.
It takes a goddess to enjoy the taste of a ripe, juicy tomato still warm from the sun.
It takes a goddess to nourish my body so I can get up the next day to shovel more shit.
The energetic tie that binds, it takes a goddess to understand the connection.