35. Writing Our Way Home

WHAT PART OF YOURSELF SHOWED YOU THE WAY HOME?

Blog 35: Dec. 1997-April 1998—Have you ever discovered, after multiple attempts to run and hide from where you are, that you end up, once again, with yourself, wondering what to do? 

When I lived in Berkeley, California, crippled from pain, and yet still trying to find ways to escape the state I was in, there was one way I consistently came back to myself. It was through writing. Writing became my way of listening, as later my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, became one long listening experience put on paper. It became a soothing way to come home and discover myself beneath the layers of false existence I had learned to become.

In my small room in Berkeley, with a one plant in the corner I’d sit in front of and meditate (or try to) and below a small sunroof that sprinkled light-filled hope into my day, I would write. My right hand asked the question, my left answered. The premise of this approach was that my non-dominant left hand would answer like a child, innocently, and without all the excess verbage and layers we as adults had learned to wrap over our feelings.

I started simply: “How are you feeling now?” my right hand asked, and my left hand wrote: “I don’t want to go on anymore. I want to hide.” The conversation continued:

 –What do you want to hide from?                                  il_570xN.439727466_pj80
–The World.
–Why do you want to hide from the world?
–Because I am scared I will not be loved and seen.
–Why are you scared you will not be loved or seen?
–Because I am so much more than these people see me as.
–What are you that they can’t see?
–I am a river, a stream. I am grass dancing in the wind. I am love, I am alive.
–What do they see you as?
–They see me as little Michelle who can’t do anything practical in this world.
–Why do they see you as that?
–They need me to be able to fit into their little boxes.
–So what are you, Michelle?
–I am a part of an indigenous world. My roots have always been from a simpler place, a place of giving love.

As I got to the end of my writing, my left hand—that of the child—was the one that carried the wisdom for my adult self. “You are trying to bridge two worlds,” she wrote, encouraging the adult me to trust my heart and not give up hope.

It seems ironic, yet so true, that it is the part of us that is most vulnerable and scared that carries the wisdom to bring us home. The famous mystic poet Rumi once wrote in The Lame Goat: “You’ve seen a herd of goats going down to the water. The lame and dreamy goat brings up the rear.”  But, “There are many different kinds of knowing. The lame goat’s kind is a branch that traces back to the roots of presence. Learn from the lame goat, and lead the herd home.”

As in Rumi’s poem, the lame goat that I was led me home …though my writing.

WHAT PART OF YOURSELF SHOWED YOU THE WAY HOME?

 

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34. The Courage to Keep Going

WHEN HAVE YOU HAD IMMENSE COURAGE TO KEEP GOING?

Blog 34: Dec. 1997-April 1998—I watched a woman grab onto the railing at the YMCA in Berkeley, using it to stabilize her walk, which consisted of one step every minute. Her feet and legs were like those of a Raggedy Anne doll, hard to control and weakening below her.

Like her, I too had been swimming at the YMCA, and was doing what I could to regain my capacity to walk without pain. But the extreme limits and pain I had experienced since injuring myself in New Mexico more than a year ago, and since moving to Berkeley and the Bay Area of California, were becoming too much to bear—or at least until I saw this woman at the YMCA show me what true courage looked like. She helped me be grateful for what I had, even if it was little.

I had been living in a house full of depressed people in Berkeley (which probably included me) and was now seeking another place to live. But, with the high cost of living and limited options, I began to wonder if I’d end up moving back in with my parents in New Jersey. While searching out my options, I wrote, both in my journal and what later would become my novel. Writing became my refuge, and an attempt to clear the cobwebs of this jobless, debilitated place I was in.

I wrote: “Oh, Berkeley, your magical hills and your fog that rolls into the Bay enticed me for a while, until all the forces gathered these soul parts of mine into one unexpected stew. I came for life, and instead I got death. Though, love, at times, visited my bedside, reminding me of hope.

“Oh, Berkeley, you were such a temptation, and now you are this place where my body struggles to speak. It struggles to break free, although it does not know how. Oh, Berkeley, your winds have thrown me to the ground, when what I had asked for was to be able to leap.

“My hunger has followed me out here and has nagged me into this sleep, an uncontrollable sleep. I so want to sleep now, to sleep and dream this story, with an ending that brings vitality and renewed hope for a life of love.”

WHEN HAVE YOU HAD IMMENSE COURAGE TO KEEP GOING?

32. Time to Be Like Buddha

HAVE YOU EVER FELT YOUR SOUL—OR A PART OF IT—LEAVE YOUR BODY?

Blog 32: Dec. 1997-April 1998—Days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, as I live in a house in Berkeley, California with five other people that seem, for the most part, discontent. Although I long to leave, and even seek out other options, my body won’t cooperate with any kind of movement. The message for me is to “be like Buddha,” so I sit and be with where I am no matter how painful.

I reflect on who I have been in my journal. I write, “I used to feel that I didn’t feel. I used to think that I couldn’t love. I would try so hard to feel love, but I couldn’t. It hurt so much. It hurt me so much to think I could not feel. I did not understand all the tears late at night, all the anguish in trying to tune into my heart.”

Now that I am injured, I feel pain (how can I not?), I feel love, and I realize that it never was true that I couldn’t feel. The truth was that I didn’t honor how I felt. I didn’t know how to listen to my heart, how to trust myself, because I was so busy being strong, proving myself, and on some level, leaving my body, not wanting to be here because it was too painful.

I continue to write in my journal, “This pain, this heat moving through my bd3f697970790656d76d951b75a139723ody takes my soul away. My soul is trying to come back, but for some reason it is scared. My soul is scared to be with me. When I wake up the next morning, I can feel how little power I have in my body. It’s as if my breathing is outside of me. And I sense that my soul has been trying to leave my body since birth. It has little interest in being on this earth, yet another part of me that knows I am meant to be here, and is bringing me back, back, to this place of Buddha that needs to feel the pain, that understands better than this.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT YOUR SOUL—OR A PART OF IT—LEAVE YOUR BODY?

Check out my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, at Child of Duende website

28. I Am Not Alone

WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, WHERE DO YOU GO?

Blog 28: Dec. 1997-April 1998—There are times when no amount of wanting, willing, or determination will bring us to that place we wish to go. The past lives in every cell of our body—whether from this lifetime or another—until we are able to hear, feel, be with what is trying to speak its voice through us so that we may, one day, be free.

This was my reality when I moved from my idyllic home in the Oakland Hills of California to a house with multiple unhappy people in the lowlands of Berkeley. I didn’t want to move, but my hips were in too much pain to function in the hills, and I needed a place without stairs that I could afford.

In this space of debilitation I wrote poems, one of which I share here:

I am no more than this, I say,

than the wind that crosses through my room,

 than the tenderness of strangers,

than your voice that at times whispers when it is afraid.

I have been there,

I have frozen my gut,

closed my wounds to the world,

too big, too outside myself.

I have wandered and prayed for love,

have forgotten so many times that I am not alone,

only to stand here,

and to feel this

this nakedness of possibility,

this breeze of flexibility,

this knowing that even in this great weakness,

I am not alone.   

WHEN YOU ARE ALONE, WHERE DO YOU GO?

(Check out my novel, Child of Duende, at NOVEL WEBSITE)