I like feeling unimportant in the scheme of things. I like the reassurance of having a role to play, one small thing that chimes in (a triangle, perhaps) here and there within and around the whole giant orchestral work-in-progress. I don't want to make the rules (or write the score, if we aim to stick to the same metaphor, but as I'm not a musician, it's probably best we leave it there), but I do love to interpret them, to digest them, to intuit how and why and where this piece will unfold or that one will be revealed.
We do not make the world turn. If we were to take a day of rest, life would continue--I find that an enormous relief. I can control my little world, the ten-foot-or-so radius in which I travel, but outside of that, I play by different rules, sharing responsibility with tides and winds, arctic fronts and heat waves.
I don't really worry about my own heart--if I get too clumsy, drop it, break it here and there, that's okay. It can mend. It's expendable. But I cannot stand to break the heart of this land around me. I cannot sleep for the old, tattered, whispered mourning that floats through my open windows. I cannot settle my stomach or my mind in meditation unless I thrust my hands into the earth, put my lips close to the earth and whisper, "I'm here. I've not forgotten. I promise."
I have no doubt, if trees can tap chemically into their surroundings, healing themselves, healing each other, that they could heal us, too. Not just on a corporeal level--we know plants-as-food, plants-as-medicine, plants-as-lungs can heal us, can, at the very least, supplement us. But what if we could have a little faith in their chemistry, a little faith in their age, in their experience? What if we could sit at their feet and thank them from the bottom, the very cell floor, of our hearts? What if we could apologize from the depth of our confused and churning guts, where we should radiate nothing but light, nothing but confidence, but are, instead, drowning in our own bile, in our own poisonous chemistry?
What if we could do all of that? Would the trees not, in all their compassion, tap their Morse-coded chemistry into the earth and heal her as we save ourselves?
So, I love the holidays. I mean, hands-down, the solstice and Christmas Eve are my favorite days of the year. Every year I try to keep my gifts local, relevant, and thoughtful, but this isn't a post about gifts.
This is a post about wrapping.
I used to carefully open each gift I received, smoothing out the paper and folding it for storage and to reuse in the following year. But that got old (not to mention people tend to get impatient while you carefully and painstakingly open their gifts--and with good reason).
Instead, I've started hoarding scraps of fabric, old scarves, hand-me-downs, and lost-and-founds, and repurposing them. I secure everything with scrap yarn to twine that I save, and label them with cuttings from the previous year's received holiday cards.
All in all, it's a pretty nifty exercise in recycling. Plus, if the receiver is a quilter or otherwise scrappy individual, they keep the wrapping, putting it to good, creative use.
I love the expression our Southern sisters use for when things go awry--"tits up." Somehow, it makes risk more, what, courageous? An act of sheer artistry. Burlesque-esque artistry. Brave artistry.
Art is brilliantly messy, but you know, this whole living thing is, too. It's about finding the courage, not to DO what you love, necessarily, but to FIND things you love and to COMMIT your whole self to them. That's a different task. "Do what you love." Well, sure, but what are my options if I need this job/this house/this relationship (whatever it is), this dependency of the moment? That's just a frustrating order--drop it all, do what you love. Because sometimes, maybe most times, we just can't.
But! (There's alway s a but...) you can find what you love and not be ashamed for openly loving it--so you're a Goth girl who loves cultivating roses. So you're VP of some big conglomeration but you love bodice-ripper romance novels. So you're a kid who loves dressing in princess gowns whi...
We are held in suspension between earth and sky, and we can either see this as a trap (think the pineapple chunks in your Great-Aunt Martha's holiday jello mold) or as a gentle holding (that hammock waiting for you, strung between two palms on Oahu’s North Shore), depending on the day (sometimes depending on the moment).
But, nonetheless, that's where we are--entre ciel et terre. Earth and sky. Father and mother. A giant metaphor, and a giant, literal reality. Everything we do or don't do or could do in our lives is played out, planned, and practiced here, in this little layer of sweet filling between the intensely substantial, enlivening, and life-giving tiers of earth below and sky above.
But I think we can spin all of this to our sweet soul's benefit. In other words, when that pineapple-chunk-in-lime-jello feeling starts to wiggle up, lie down and look up (sometimes I have to, quite literally, run out the door and pitch myself into the grass, like I'm jumping into the Bay...
When I don't know what else to do, when I feel fizzy and electric and as though I'm going to self-destruct from circuit overload, I lie on the earth. I put myself out there with the elements and the stones, the mosquitoes and the birds, the rain and the sun, the salt and sugar of the grass, and I just pour myself away. I remember that I am earth--minerals and dust, salt and sugars, blood and rain, microbes and metal. I remember that she's been around a heck of a long time and probably seen a million things worse that whatever it is in my head at the moment, so I just give it to her. All of it. She's offered to take it.
And I let that age and that wisdom, that beauty and that pain all pour back in, channeled as only true gifts of wisdom and strength can be, and I get up. I remember that we are the same, she and I, and thank the goddess for it. That earth is always there--in office buildings, in cities, on interstates, in school, in bed in the middle of a sleepless night. She's there and...
Happy Earth Day, sweet herby-yogsters, sweet renegades of wildness, wilderness, foraging, and forging.
Go rogue. Get creative. We can't glue that priceless Ming vase back together, but we can make one hell of a functional piece of art. We can adapt. We can sit-in with our glue and our paints and our brushes, our creativity and our essential selves.
We can reclaim. We can't go back. We're not meant to go back.
We sit with pain, with knowledge, and let it build us from the inside-out. We breed compassion and empathy in our bones and we express it through our eyes, our words, our fingers, our colors, our kindness, our acts of grace.