Seaweed Goddess (Laguna Beach)
I've been away. In my head, my heart, my soul. Floating on the tides of change and upheaval- none of it bad, but nonetheless consuming. After finishing school in the spring, moving to a new city with my beloved, staying with family for a time before finding our new home, arranging care for our pup all summer until we could get settled, beginning a new job... it all combined to create a sort of dream state that felt almost paralyzing, or at the least a kind of limbo in the spirit. For two months I've felt unable to accomplish anything more than what was absolutely required of me, but more than that- an utter lack of focus. My brain was in a whirlwind, caught inside a furious rushing sound, and I couldn't quiet the noise. Frustrating, to say the least. Coupled with all that, walking inside of both major endings and beginnings as my life transitioned this summer was emotionally draining. My heart just wanted to take a nap- a really long one, with nobody talking, asking, requesting, commanding, ordering, or watching me too closely. There's guilt that goes along with it all- why feel all this fatigue when everything happening is so positive, so great? Every change has been a wonderful one- a blessing that is bringing joy and an even better quality of life to myself and my love. So the feelings of :tired, distracted, blurry and unfocused, confused, antisocial... I've felt guilty for experiencing all these emotions, along with setting down my writing here for a time, and pressuring myself to create something beautiful, something profound, something REAL for others to read- but wait- this was begun for myself, not to please anyone other than myself- a public kind of journaling, to keep me accountable to the truth inside me.
That's what I've been since July 1. But the fog appears to be clearing finally, and it's due, in large part, to the seasonal change here in Pacific Northwest where I make my home. Autumn's arrival, it's true and earnest presence, always centers me. I go to ground even as the leaves begin to change then fall. That quality in the air that alters the light, the texture I breathe changes as it moves inside me, weaves into my bloodstream and grounds me. I can feel descent approaching, and my soul signals me- it's time to simplify, to shed, to eliminate and de-clutter.
As is usually the case for me, words come to me through the writings of wisewomen (and sometimes men) in such synchronicity that it startles. This week was just such an experience. I tend to read several books at the same time...a symptom of my addiction to multiplicity at its best and worst. I'd like to share with you the words of two of my personal spiritual heroines, Sue Monk Kidd and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, as well as a new favorite, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose words were recently gifted to me by a dear sister friend.
Anne M.L. writes in Gift From the Sea~
Plotinus was preaching the dangers of multiplicity of the world back in the third century. Yet, the problem is particularly and essentially woman's. Distraction is, always has been, and probably always will be, inherent in woman's life. For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider's web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes.
Sue M.K. agrees when she says in Dance of the Dissident Daughter~
I know this dilemma firsthand. For me it is often a lack of focus, allowing my energy to run out in dozens of directions-many of them silly tributaries of distraction- rather than setting priorities and funneling my energy toward the project at hand. Part of women's genius lies in our ability to make multiple commitments, to do many tasks, and to live with ambiguity and multiplicity. It's true that power can come from the flexibility of doing many things, but sometimes the multiplicity, the moving from one thing to another, is overdone and we diffuse our power. There are times it is best to dam up the tributaries and send the energy thundering in just one direction. All great things are launched on big rivers.
Dr. Estes explains in the story of Vasalisa (Women Who Run With the Wolves)~
Women's cycles according to Vasalisa's tasks are these: To cleanse one's thinking, renewing one's values, on a regular basis. To clear one's psyche of trivia, sweep one's self, clean up one's thinking and feeling states on a regular basis. To build an enduring fire beneath the creative life, and cook up ideas on a systematic basis, means especially to cook, and with originality, a lot of unprecedented life in order to feed the relationship between oneself and the wildish nature.
The message to me, maybe to you too, seems fairly simple- clear out the space, prune, eliminate the clutter that sucks up the precious floorspace in the psyche. This is the process on a very basic, practical level, of creating sacred space. It begins in ourselves. It has become too easy to be grasping, greedy collectors, filling every waking moment with noise, activity for the sake of activity. It's no wonder to me that I've felt scattered. Bits and pieces of myself have been floating down those 'silly tributaries', collecting debris that is wholly unnecessary, toxic even.
In the first chapter of Gift From the Sea, Anne M.L. writes~
The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach- waiting for a gift from the sea.
Time to go to ground, to go to seed. Dam up the tributaries, empty out, de-clutter the space, take the lesson of the choiceless beach that waits patiently, and with faith, on the great sea and Her many gifts. Light the candles and sit before them quietly, listening. Turn off the television, the radio. Open the window to let in the sound of the autumn rains.
When I continue in distraction, that bi-product of multiplicity at its worst, I diffuse my power, allow my energy to be siphoned away by tributaries that are, ultimately, meaningless avenues of thought and feeling. I find myself in negativity- inadequacy, insignificance, powerlessness, self-doubt, guilt, fear.
I return to the image of the choiceless beach. Allowing, awaiting the gift meant for my own hands to be brought on the tide-vigilant in my attention- not distracted by other beach-goers or their activities, by the obligations that surface in my own mind. No, I sit patiently, with faith- focused, quiet, respectful in my heart.
Florence Oregon sunset, Sept 2011