There is this tiny patch of key lime hued leaves just outside my bedroom window. The leaves belong to a tree that is barren except for this small bounty – this cluster of life. Not one other branch has leaves that are not dried from autumn, or bare from winter, and I wonder as I watch the leaves jiggle, rather dance, at the mystery of life, why these leaves were in a hurry when all the other leaves remain hidden somewhere inside the deadened winter branches. I understand. I mean look all around us. Magic is everywhere, fecund in even the most sterile moments, so it isn’t the magic of life that has me wondering but rather the pace, why one bunch of leaves blossoms early and others blossom late.
I am a slow bloomer. It isn’t that I’m not eager. I am. Very eager. Eager to see, smell, hear, taste, touch, feel every blossoming moment. My passion for life reaches synesthetic proportions but still I blossom slowly, perhaps less from lack of enthusiasm and more out of hesitation to rush through my time in this incarnation. I see these leaves and I know how fleeting and precious this life is. These leaves now are the stars of this one particular tree that has caught my fancy, but soon they will be gone, dust in the nostrils of some slinking snake, or wanton wild boar. Which is okay in the bigger scope, of course. Everything cycles. But it still makes me a little sad, to have the foresight to know their time is almost up, given way to a chorus of similarly bushy bunches, when they dance now as if tomorrow does not exist.
When I was younger, not childhood younger but adolescent younger, I rushed. Life was painful, I was hurting, and I wanted my pain to be over. I wanted the days to evaporate like raindrops into the clouds of my youth, I wanted renewal, a fresh start, and I probably would have made a Faustian bargain to get one. In fact, I suppose in a way I did. I pleaded to forget as I shoved ear buds into my lobes, my token into Dreamland, and I signed away my present for a slumbering fantasy of a life. I hated my days, I longed for my nights – private, safe, mine. So much wasn’t mine then – my body, there were no leafy dances for me, just frantic pulling pains as I tried to eradicate from my core any trace of the life that had hurt me. That’s how I saw things – from the perspective of my pain. And while I was rushing, longing to rewind or fast-forward to some point in space/time where pain did not dominate my conscious and subconscious states, a part of me became stunted. My solution was to deaden my pain and the memories attached to it, which left me fragmented, and kind of empty. Hardly whole. Definitely not dancing.
It took me a long time, years of natural/spiritual devotion, devotion to the inner work required to heal self, to integrate the fragmented pieces, to reach a semblance of my former self – the childhood me who was eager like this little bush of leaves, to embrace life – to come to a place of relative peace with my story, and still I struggle. I struggle to detach from my judgments, my angers and frustrations, to abandon all hope for a fresh slate in favor of a canvas rich with color and texture, textures that are smooth but also jagged. I struggle with forgiveness, of others but also self, with understanding when things just don’t make sense. I struggle to accept that, though beautiful, life is not fair, not for any of us, which is why not one single person I have ever met is without pain of some kind. We all know ridicule, when others do it to us or we do it to others, we have each at one time been victim and bully, we have been hurt, harmed, tortured, which makes living in the moment painful, because to live in the moment is to embrace the moment as a collection of the whole – and the whole is not always nice.
Was it easier to forget? Yes. In a way. To go through life numb to the pain. To adopt affectation as an honest reflection of who I am inside and pretend even to myself that I was happy when I wasn’t. But how was that right? I robbed myself of joy by doing that. Without emotion, true feeling, life is devoid, like these branches but without the promise of new birth.
So I slowly forced myself to feel again. All the pain from repressed memories rushed forth threatening to drown me as I flailed around but then something miraculous happened – next to the Hobgoblin Of Past Torments stood Joy, and next to that Freedom. In fact there were many there – Healing, Wholeness, Hope, Magic, Love. I had forgotten all of these dear friends when I allowed the rape of my innocence to overcome me, when daily I tortured myself falsely believing I didn’t deserve anything good. My adolescent naivety convinced me that I was in the wrong, that I was wrong, that there was something corrupted fundamentally inside me. I believed I was tainted and that there was no dance left in me. But that was the belief that was wrong. There is always the opportunity to dance with life – no matter our individual circumstances.
For me, it was easier to forget because I wasn’t a bush early or late when I was numb. I was stuck in between, in the limbo that comes from masking true self – the gnarly bits and the bits that are key lime and wonderful. I still haven’t forgiven everything, healed everything, I still hurt daily from decades of soul destruction, but I no longer want to forget – not one moment. This story is mine and I want to own it, to be the star of my own branch, dancing on a tempestuous February day as if there were only sunshine around me.
Today is the first day in awhile I have smelled rain. The leaves seem to know it. They are almost quivering with excitement. Most of us curse rainy days, wishing them for another time – a time perhaps when everything is in place and our lives are orderly, whatever that means. But order, a subset of control, is an illusion. Perhaps the greatest one. There is no order we can decree when we are trying to control the chaotic bits of our lives that will absolutely be so. Our lives aren’t orderly. The rain knows it, the leaves, the wild and mysterious sea, the fragrant aroma of flowers tousled by the wind knows there is only one order – Divine order – and that we as mere mortals can no more control our lives than we can a rainstorm awaiting its turn.
We need rain to replenish just like we need sun to grow and leaves for air. We need feeling and dancing and living in the same way. Sadness, sunshine, they source from the same place. I am not talking about dogma or rhetoric, but a complex, multi-dimensional web where all things are caught, released, one and all. That is fullness, a bountiful bush that with its breath catches as many hopes and fears as I do with my breath, releasing in exhale a rich, sometimes sorrowful history.
This captivating bush will die, not rain nor shine can save it, but it doesn’t seem to mind, because it is living, truly living. Now. In this moment. Forgetful of nothing. Present to everything. A blossom of leaves aburst with lush possibility – a model for each and every one of us when the time is right. There is no need to rush, we each have our turn, and that is a wondrous thing.
Don’t you agree?
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