Coming Home

I was almost there, my heart already beating fast; eyes, weepy; adrenaline, coursing through my veins. I was almost home.

I realized I wanted to offer something upon my arrival. That in all the years of living I knew I’d leave and I knew I’d come back. Again and again, for the rest of my life. I knew I’d come back home.

North at Creston, meandering up the East Shore’s winding roads, seeing glimpses of the lake and then it spills into everything that is beside me as we race (but not fast enough) up and over and through. Up mountain passes, over spring-time creeks, through cloud-fed damp, going home.

I didn’t stop in Creston and at the tiny market in Crawford Bay I remember. Will they carry flowers? Well, flowers will die anyway. Will they have plants? Will they have anything? I ask my driving companion to stop and I enter the store. The one I know so well, where I’d run in for subversive snack grabs during trips driving guests to doctor’s appointments.

I’m the only one there. Somehow it’s empty and I get to take it all in. The familiarity and the memories. I look for a clerk to ask if they have anything and find no traces of anyone until I edge towards the deli and the clerk is inconspicuously watering the few remaining potted plants. Thank you Divine Mother.

I hum and haw. Which one to buy? They’re all kind of sad looking. She tells me they’ve recently bloomed and that she’d trimmed them so they will bloom again, ridding the tender shoots of dead leaves and small stems. Preparing them for another round of growth.

Okay, I get the symbolism. I pick one, change my mind, and grab another with small pink blossoms remaining. It is both currently blooming, and showing promising signs for the future.

We pull up to the Ashram. Laden with my bags, I go through the doors and see familiar faces, share weepy hugs, and take in my surroundings.

It’s surreal. It’s the same. It’s different. It’s indescribable.

It’s relatively late, so after signing in I walk towards my room to deposit my things before supper.

On the way I stop and have the moment I’ve been creating in my mind, slowly entering the doors of the Temple and setting down my luggage. I find a plate in the closet for my humble offering and walk the corridor to the heart of the dome-shaped structure.

Here I find peace, and a place for my little potted plant. I worry it’s not enough. That it’s small and hasn’t been watered regularly lately. That it isn’t beautiful enough for this altar that represents the deepest part of worship for me. I know these thoughts are simply that—thoughts—and let them exist within me.

***

I take a moment to bask in the stillness of the Temple of Divine Light and then manage to pull myself away, for now anyway.

After dropping my bags in my room I head to the dining room for supper. There, I see more faces, more hugs, more surprised people. I sit in the silence of the mantra and eat a dinner made from scratch, prepared all day by people I know.

I turn towards a hand on my shoulder and see my mentor, smiling down at me (or, across towards me, anyway, she’s pretty short) and feel warmed, embraced in softness, in the blue of her sweater.

After whispered greetings I return to my meal, taken in silence in this place, and let my eyes graze the lake and mountains before me through the windows.

***

The next day I’m gifted with the morning to “arrive,” to settle and spend time with what I need, not placed on the schedule until the afternoon.

I wander the grounds, heading towards the beach and run into one of my teachers. We have a short catch-up, “You look kind of sad” she says. And I think of my last month and a half, how I feel now, and how looking like anything else would be inauthentic.

Later, chanting in the prayer room, I realize that it’s the same word I used to describe the plants.

I am that sad little flower pot.

The Temple always has plants in it. Not only is it essentially a greenhouse with its 360 degree windows receiving sunshine all day, but it’s a centre of Light and devotion. Plants are receptive to that kind of thing. They grow and flourish when put there.

That’s what I’m doing now, putting myself in this environment where I can grow and blossom, receiving what I need.

***

A day later I’m back in the Temple during some free time, I just can’t seem to stay away. I bring in some water in case my tiny little plant needs it and notice that not only has someone watered it and loosened up the top layer of soil, but that they’ve placed small pebbles between the pot and the plate for excess water to drain more easily.

Four years ago part of my responsibilities were caring for the Temple plants. It was a duty I loved and would cheerfully accomplish even after mis-managing my time in the summer kitchen and having to do it in my short break before dinner.

So I know that someone comes in and waters my little plant, but to see those stones placed underneath filled me with gratitude.

They are the bedrock foundation I place myself upon. The support and encouragement towards my growth that I receive here is incomparable.

I’m here only for a short time, and am so grateful to be resting deeply on the rocks of foundation that my spiritual home provides.

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A Lesson From the Grocery Store

Originally posted at elephant journal.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
~ T.S. Eliot

I’ve recently been visiting family in my hometown.

Let’s just say that the place where I grew up doesn’t reflect my values. Actually, let’s say more about it: Southern Alberta is a politically conservative area. I don’t really feel as though I fit in here. Since I was young I’ve always known I would leave. And leave I did—though I come back and visit.

Growing up I had notions of a quaint and frivolous European lifestyle. Stopping by the bakery, meandering through narrow, cobblestone streets. I wanted it. I wanted something different than vast tracts of brand new subdivisions; residential areas specifically planned to be far away from commercial stores to keep traffic down. Something different than wide streets full of large, gas-guzzling vehicles. I wanted to be able to buy what I made for dinner that night on my walk home, not circuitously drive, dodging cul-de-sacs to get to my house.

Since then I’ve lived far away, across mountain valleys, continents and oceans. I’m back for a visit now. And for supper we didn’t have enough of something.

As I was walking the block and a half or so to the grocery store, I realized that I was getting my wish—I was able to walk a short distance for the needed ingredients for supper that night.

It was one of those “ah-ha” moments. I realized (again and again…and again) that life is what I make it and will change depending on my attitude. I can take whatever it is I am given, and consciously choose to let it fit into the life that I want to create for myself.

With this attitude, I could live anywhere. Sure, I would make particular decisions—such as living close enough to a grocery store that I would be comfortable walking to it—but I know that I can take responsibility for my life and not shift it off to the rest of society around me. If I don’t like something, change it. If I know I want something in my life, create it.

I walked along my old streets with a smile on my face, feeling content. The only disturbance was the usual one. The years-old grocery store renovation that’s exchanged the spots of the “in” and “out” doors. It’s something I’ve never seemed to let soak into my memory, and usually have a split second where I stand in anticipation, wondering why the automatic door isn’t swinging open for me.

Seems like the perfect time to update my understanding of my hometown.

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Chinooks

I could see it coming from miles away.

A clear, strong line, holding the unbearable weight of an entire sky full of clouds.

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A Chinook Arch. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of these. It’s above my head right now; I can see it when I glance out the window. Arriving with such bursts that shake the streetlights, I know it will bring warmth. The kind of warmth I need, that curls around the space inside of me. The space I’m trying to cultivate, the space I’m trying to sit with.

I’ve been feeling deja vu lately. Last night, sitting in the darkened bar, yelling over the stereo while waiting for the next band to set-up. Catching up with random acquaintances I haven’t seen for years. Somehow I felt like I knew it would all happen this way. These people would be standing there, the lights would be dim like this. It makes me know it’s all happening the way it should.

I’ll get these moments where feelings emerge from hidden spaces out of air. Between the force of magnetism holding the electron in its ceaseless orbit is a memory. Something aligns and the memory is free to emerge out from where it was. Only nothing’s actually changed, it’s still there like it had been, and the present moment’s ability to see it is the only thing that’s different.

I get comfort in this. In knowing that awareness is expanding to include these previously hidden spaces.

Maybe that’s what a chinook does. It pushes something else away, the cold and stagnancy of still-holding-on winter, and lets warmth take its place.

It can be quite violent, when it comes. It’s a warmth that wants to ferociously edge its way into every snowdrift’s edge, every broken piece of me.

When I was young I would walk out on the country gravel roads until I surrounded myself with fields. I’d let the wind lift my hair from my face and trail off my fingertips as I stood, open-hearted facing the West. It was some sort of cleansing ritual for me, to sweep away the tumultuous emotions of my teenage self.

Here I am, “home” again. This place I grew up. Letting the wind rush over me as it arches high above the sky. Releasing pain and anger from the past. Letting go.

 

 

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Om Namah Sivaya

To say I’d stepped into Siva’s ring of fire and been shaken so much until I didn’t know what direction I faced would be an understatement.

Memories to capture of these last weeks:

Some are too hard. Some fill me with yearning and sadness because they are full of love that is now without a conduit to be expressed.

Closing the door of the new room I temporarily inhabited. Expecting the jingle of wind-chimes that, for years, was always on bedroom doors of where I’ve lived. The absence of them in the last four years making this expectation very confusing. Explained by that feeling of home being present. Of having a place that is cared for and full. Gratitude.

A tea house. Learning how to pour. A candle under the hot water carafe (is that why they’re called tea-lights?) Going to the shore one last time and listening to the halyards jangle on the boats still in the water.

Downtown Boston. Arriving in the evening. The vast expanse of downtown highrises. It’s not the biggest city I’ve ever been in, but it’s the one with the largest downtown. Awe mixed with a hint of fear. Like here is this giant beast, every part of it alive and crawling. People everywhere. More people seen in one sweeping view than I’d seen in the last few months combined.

Kind people at the station. Helpful and jovial.

An hour or two of sleep before the two people in the seats across the aisle started getting to know each other. Two in the morning is not a good time for conversation. After crossing the border the seating got all disarrayed. The social norms of staying in the same spots were forgotten and I headed near to the back of the bus where I could have two seats to myself. Attempts to whisk off into dreamland foiled. Light on the thin membranes of my eyelids. Stubble poking through flat, snowy, wind-swept fields. Canada.

Attempting to order tea in French. English being automatically returned to me. Entire trains full of people—there are so many of them! Am I really another one of them, one of these inhabitants of a city?

I am anonymously autonomous. The most striking part of me that helps me fit into city life is that I walk fast.

Friendly staff at Futureshop where I buy a cellphone—only after looking up to see when Mercury went conjunct (it was at nine yesterday morning, was able to therefore buy a communication device without worry.)

~

Siva: the destroyer of obstacles. Life turning on a dime.

The Divine destroys but also creates and sustains. I rely on all of these three parts of the Hindu trinity to make my way into the world.

I’m thinking about a moment in my last days in Maine, walking home in a blizzard and turning instinctively towards the shore. It was night and the faint light of occasional street lamps reflected off the endless falling flakes of thick white snow. I took each forward step toward the water in this eerie yet peaceful dampened quiet. I couldn’t really see in front of me, everything was grey. I trusted, though, and realized how symbolic a moment it was as I walked, then gathered up snow, rolled it into big sticky balls, and shoved them down the steep hill to the rhythmic tide below.

It’s time to step into the unknown. And it’s time to play.

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Snow Day

Between tending to the ill and stoking the fire I go out and shovel the driveway, conscious of the second half of the 18 inches still scheduled to fall. The sun’s gone done a couple of hours prior and the night is beginning to take shape: shadowy mounds of the white stuff on the drive between the street’s solitary light and the back porch’s meagre glow.

I shovel and think of the day. A cancelled yoga session. A friend with that flu going around, regretful to miss the evening’s library film showing.

I can get peace out here, as the wind blows so hard I reconsider my break admiring the briskly moving tree limbs and instead move around to the house where a potential snap of wood wouldn’t harm me. Of course I always do find solace in the wind.

I shovel and think of my life. I readjust my posture, and turn my lower hand palm down like that man at the fair this summer talked about. I was volunteering which, that day, amounted to “announcing” the next speaker at the tent and then ensuring they didn’t talk too long. It turned into listening to a talk and then being relieved by a confused volunteer, eager to begin her shift before it rightfully started. I happily left after speaking with the previous presenter, and marvelled at the way the right tool and posture can get a job done with such little effort.

Could I use my tendons to spring back the way he suggested? Could I simply grab the shovel differently and completely relieve my lower back from potential muscle pain?

I don’t actually think a thing like that, that suffering, is avoidable.

My mind shovels over recent news from home of a sudden death. I think how fortunate this person was to meet at least one (that I know of) grandchild and subsequently wonder how this could be of any consolation. Is there a sort of magic in generations overlapping one another? Do we see the futility of life through it all?

I think back of the most vivid memory I have of this person from the years that I would have seen her on a near-daily basis.

It was a day during that confusing time where sometimes my older brothers would be at home to play with all day and sometimes they would be away. Then, for long stretches at a time all of them would be home every day and we would spend those warm summer months making mud pies and avoiding yellow-jackets.

I was home alone with my mother and, looking out, I saw smoke strangely coming out of the house next door. Next we were outside across the street with the line of people and her crying and being held and then my friends didn’t live next door anymore.

Is tragedy the most we can know of each other?

I continue to shovel. It continues to snow. The section that I clear first gets piled again as I work on the back step of the driveway that I’m told “isn’t very long.” I decide against that judgement, since it’s all relative anyway, and count the centimetres of accumulation that wait for me when I get back to the other end. I knock them off of the end of the scoop with a quick shake and convert them back into inches thinking they must be more comfortable with that unit of measurement.

I think about how I could stay out here shovelling all night. Forgo sleep, be comforted by the howl of the wind through the leafless boughs. I rescind this thought and make an agreement with myself that this bodily work will replace my missed walk today, but that tomorrow I’ll be out enjoying the wintry scene.

I shovel, playing with the designs and negative space created by the snow I remove. I twist my mind around the most mathematically efficient way to shovel a driveway and regret that shovelful thrown right into an unfortunate gust of wind and subsequently blown right back into place. Each perfect flake whirling down and eventually resting in a new place on the drive.

I can’t stay out here forever.

I shovel the short walk that’s refilled itself again in my absence, rest the handle on the side of the house, ignore the accumulated layer on the handrail and shake excess snow off my shoulders, ready to go inside.

 

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Morning Time

I steal out early in my stiff and bleary state, taking care to not confuse shallow shadows on the road with the patches of ice. As has been the case lately, I hear the morning song of unseen birds off in trees and witnessed the darkened wisp of seagulls in the air.

Like yesterday. Yesterday, when I sat overlooking the creek for breakfast and my eye was caught by movement. Masses of feathers followed one another to this water source. One turned, revealing a proud red breast. Twenty robins in January. Slightly further down the creek I saw what seemed to be another hoard of birds. Not as striking, they waited for the first batch to leave before hopping down to the small area free of ice. These morning doves were the second round, the grey squirrels being the third.

Today it felt warmer. Not warm enough to warrant leaving my snow-pants at home for this journey, but warmer than it’s been. The rhododendron bush fulfilled its bonus purpose of thermometre: its leaves were broad and flat, not coiled in tight like in yesterday’s cold.

Glancing up I see the clouds are moving fast and feel grateful for the wind to stay up at those higher altitudes. I don’t want to be cold. I’ve had enough of cold and winter. Yesterday’s robins offer me this teasing lure to allow my mind to think that spring could be on its way, or, at least, that the cold won’t come back. I know better than that. Though usually I don’t know enough to pack on sufficient layers to keep a thick barrier between me and it, today I’m more than prepared, and happy to only walk a little ways to the beach.

Ahead I see a car slowly approach the four-way stop. It slows to a gentle roll before accelerating, going on its merry, morning way. There’s no need to stop this early in the morning. There’s only me, meandering across the street to pick up a feather.

Later, I’ll walk along the waterfront beside the yard with a tall, flat fence separating the yard from me, on the road. The grey house number sticks prominently out as an aberration on the otherwise smooth section of fence. I’ll leave the feather as an offering on the rock in front of this “108” that always catches my eye.

Just one more bend in the road. I inwardly laugh at my impatience to get to the beach. The purpose of the walk being a sunrise viewing, does it really matter from where I view it? I know the beach will face too North, too far for January to be a time when I can see the sun crest the waves from this vantage point.

I settle. My mind and body relax; with every step I shake out the night’s sleep.

Yesterday’s birds must have brought something with them, and now I can force a smile even if I don’t feel like it, until finally I do. What has caused this heaviness?

Two days ago. Sitting in the car, parked downtown on Route One. It’s getting dark, the sun’s just finished disappearing past the edge of the horizon–the other one this time. Not close enough to the wifi source, I try clicking onto another—still not working—and finally pull out, settling the gears back into park closer to another business’ unsecured router. Feeling the pressure of time, I manage to find what I need and hit save, lifting with relief as the short grocery store trip is finished, the shopping and the shopee settling back into the car.

It was there, in the split-second moment before deciding to move the car, that I realized something needed to change. Searching downtown with my laptop for wifi is not my idea of a nourishing time. And so the birds come, and with them I look for ways to do things differently. Enough of blame and shifting responsibility—this is my life and I’m creating every second of it. It isn’t the place I live and the fact that I’m not working right now. It’s that I’m choosing to direct my energy towards things that don’t give me much return.

Short of already having a ticket out of here, I know that I’ll be transitioning soon. I count down the weeks, the yoga classes left to offer, and how many more girls’ night I’ll have with friends. Won’t be long now.

I need it. I need the change. Just like I need this walk, early in the morning, to re-set my habits, to bring me to a better place. I can’t create the life I want here, not right now, anyway.

I plan on soaking it all in for the next month. Every salty-scented inhale of breath. Every run down the hill I have a ski pass at. I plan on soaking up life because if I do it here, now, in conditions that I wish would be slightly different, then I’ll be able to do it anywhere in other conditions where I may inevitably wish they would be slightly different.

As it is the sunrise was obscured by those fast moving clouds. Content with watching the incoming tide I investigate the wide swath of beach the just-new moon has made. Shells catch my eye, conglomerated masses of calcium, and I decide to be like them this month—I can find just the mineral I’m looking for here in this vast ocean and make my home out of it.

Some shells can take years to grow. I’ll see what I get this month.

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Trash

I used a Swiffer for the first time in my life today.

I don’t know, maybe I’m slipping, or maybe I’m at a place where I’m able to include things in my life that I’m ideologically opposed to knowing that the stress relieved by doing so is more beneficial in the long-run than twisting my way into a strict definition of who I am.

My hunch is that it’s a bit of both, but regardless, it’s got me thinking about trash.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the ancient Hindu text, Krishna, an incarnation of the preserving aspect of the Divine, has a conversation with his beloved devotee, Arjuna. The setting is in the midst of a battlefield, Arjuna about to fight alongside his brothers for their rightful kingdom against his uncles and cousins. Of course the symbolism is that we have to do this: we have to discriminate between the personality aspects that are alive in us even if it means killing parts of ourselves we’re attached to, like Arjuna’s family members. After encouraging him to live his dharma, or duty, and fight, Krishna and Arjuna discuss the various kinds of yoga. Eventually Krishna reveals his true splendour; instead of his dear friend, Arjuna now perceives the embodiment of the Divine.

It is, to put it lightly, a little much for poor Arjuna. He fearfully begs for his friend Krishna to return to his human form. He wasn’t ready to perceive the truth. Not yet anyway.

I think about that description of Krishna in his full glory. There, He is everything. He is gnashing teeth consuming enemies, and a whole lot of other vivid imagery that I can’t remember right now and I can’t find a copy of the Gita.

What else is He? He’s the trash, which brings us back to the Swiffer.

I don’t get trash. I don’t understand buying things wrapped in things that I am not buying. Why this extra stuff? What does it do for me? It goes right to the recycling, that’s what. It gives me something to store in out-of-the-way places until I gather it all up and head to the big metal bins where I can sort it out and hope something better is made out of it.

Can I recycle a used Swiffer pad? I’m going to go check.

Okay, I found proof right on the package: “Throw used cloths in trash.” Complete with a little drawing of a stickman throwing something into a garbage. This doesn’t really change the fact that I still don’t understand it all. I don’t understand the systems as we have them set up in order to dispose of the items we no longer need.

My family has a construction company. It’s based in an area that isn’t populated enough to make sense to have a sheet-rock recycling program, or so I’ve been told. This is unfortunate because, as a drywall company, they create a lot of wasted scrap materials. They’re a relatively sustainable bunch and so they do what they can to reduce waste while still working within the confines of a construction paradigm that doesn’t put environmental rights at the forefront. Last I heard, they stopped using some materials that “are known in the state of California to cause cancer” and—where it is appropriate—they’ve been known to place scraps within walls thereby increasing thermal mass and solving the problem of what to do with trash.

A few years ago I spent a summer working with them full-time. One of the houses contracted out to us was in a beautiful rural area with a gorgeous view overlooking the coulees. One of the neighbours was a town-owned lot, connected off to the side, yet sharing a fence line with the yard of the house. They were making use of these majestic hills, as is done in the area, by filling the gaps between them with trash. This was the town land-fill.

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Regardless of the fact that it was an unfortunate neighbour for a house with such an elegant view, what really struck me was the agreement we made with the town. Instead of the usual giant garbage bin outside to be hauled off and dumped out at a land-fill, we spoke with the operator about emptying the excess scraps right over the fence.

Loading up the back of the pick-up with material to be dumped, we sidled right over to the part of the fence closest to the main section of the drop-off spot. Clambering into the truck bed, my brothers and I began to hurl the pieces of flat gypsum, crushed and sandwiched between sheets of paper, as far as we could.

We were taking out the trash.

It was kind of a surreal experience, really elucidating to me what the definition of a land-fill is.

Our Western society bundles up tonnes of trash everyday and send it off to be piled under layers of dirt and forgotten about. Today, along with all of that trash is a used swiffer mop of mine.

I try to live my life with awareness and allow sustainability to be an undercurrent of what drives my behaviour, yet there are times, like when staying in a house that isn’t my own, that I let it slide and clean with what’s available, even if it is a disposable mop.

On the broader scale I want to be able to see that really, it’s all Krishna anyway. I want to maintain the awareness that lets me see the trash, and the way our society disposes of it, as part of a larger whole of which my little ego is but a speck. If I can bring this awareness in, then it’s likely I’m going to make decisions that are best for the whole. Buying scads of possessions wrapped in things I’m not buying is an unsustainable practice that is not beneficial for the whole.

It gives marketers jobs and feeds the greed of companies who produce items requiring complicated descriptions of what their products can do, but it doesn’t benefit anyone seven generations down the line from us.

What are we left with? We’re left with what we always have: choice. Our own powerful discrimination. I can’t say it’s impossible, but it’s likely I’ll never purchase swiffer pads in my life. And, after my experience of them today, it’s unlikely I’ll ever use them again when a damp paper towel under a foot can provide me with just as much landfill-filling satisfaction at a fraction of the effort.

I’ll continue to choose to fill my reusable almond butter container at the co-op and to rethink purchases that contain a lot of excess materials.

I’ll do this with gratitude that I have the choice at all, and I’ll do it with conviction that really, it’s all Krishna, anyway.

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Pearls

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I found it today. It was hiding under practicality which, sitting, as it does, on the sturdy wooden chair pouring over paperwork on the desk in the corner, was more than happy to be of help in any way it could. While I’m not sure if harbouring a personality aspect that simply doesn’t want to be found is, in all actuality, very practical, I can see where the intention was coming from.

Regardless, I found it.

For one thing, it seems kind of odd that it feels the need to have been hidden. I mean really, what are we but an interconnected web of all of our past experiences combined with the influences that currently exert forces upon us making us behave in particular ways at the expense of other ways. It’s simply there. Within me. Acting upon me like any other impulse that I have that beckons me to act. Except now I’ve found it.

Oh it’s not like it’s some big thing that influences absolutely every single one of my decisions and thoughts and actions. No, I don’t think it’s anything like that. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I think well, maybe it is. Perhaps it holds some sort of ideal or goal in a very tangible way that I’ve been unable to express in any other way in my life, yet is very real and important. Perhaps this is the only way this ideal has managed to manifest itself forth; out of the ether and into the atmosphere. More particularly my atmosphere with its own other influences acting upon it that make it (seemingly) impossible to be expressed in any other way. This makes me even more happy about the fact that I’ve found it.

I found it because I was doing that thing I usually do where I notice my travel backpack and look to see how full it was. I was cataloguing in my head the amount of possessions currently held in the backpack, and how many possessions I knew were strewn around the house I currently am staying at. In this way I, quite abruptly, found the part of myself that doesn’t want to own a lot of things.

Now, there are a lot of obvious positives to this, especially where I’m at in my life right now. Moving every month to ten days makes it a little impractical to be carrying a lot of ballast around with me. Also, I need to keep in mind the fact that I arrived in the place where I currently am via an airplane and an airplane is not the kind of transportation mode that enables one to carry large house-hold items around.

It makes sense that I don’t have a lot of possessions with me right now.

I was talking with a friend recently about the concept of possessions. Oftentimes I am acutely aware of the fact that I do have a (relatively) lot of possessions. It’s just that these items happen to be on the other side of the continent from me, nestled in their various storage places, held at the kindness and obligation of friends and family. What about all those things?

Somehow it feels different, like kitchen utensils and small pieces of furniture are serving a different purpose. They offer me this semblance of security as I flounce around, staying here and staying there, attempting to impose some will and order onto my life. In their existence, they offer this structure and organization that I can’t see.

Yet in the possessions I do have with me, their existence is somehow the very opposite. I want to not have a lot of things, I want them to be small and fit easily in the space of half a load of a car. The fact that there are few of them gives me security: I can flit and fly easily, unburdened in the present and able to lift up and move in an instant. Maybe that’s why my backpack serves as a bureau as much or even more than the chest of drawers it is currently leaning up against.

Not having a lot of things translates nicely symbolically into not having a lot of extraneous matter floating around my consciousness. I’m able to deal with what’s in front of me with little energy seepage to parts that are far away and only effect me peripherally. Everything I have has a purpose. As I work to embed meaning and continuity into my life I can gather it all in my awareness and lay it all out: summer clothes and scarves in a bag or hanging from a hook on the door, altar items displayed prominently throughout the house, extra toiletries and other sundries in the top flap of my bag. It all makes so much sense. If there were more it would flood my brain. There would be too much for me to handle, I wouldn’t be able to keep track of it all. Sure, I know there’s more waiting for me in darkened storage rooms to the west, but for now I’ve got it organized in a way that makes sense.

I see this desire to not own a lot of things as part of my greater desire to scrub off the parts of myself that get in the way for the Light to shine through. I don’t want to feed this fear of being open and vulnerable, I want to open the smudges that force me to hide. I don’t want to yearn onward for an endless version of what “okay” is, I want to accept everything as it is with compassion.

In that vein I take these possessions I own and wrap up the corresponding personality aspects in a warm embrace. I know I’m okay, just the way I am. I know that the things I have around me are my tools, and I know that the Light sustains and holds all things.

I’ve found another part of myself and let her into the open. I gather up these parts of me like strewn pearls, thrown throughout the universe and destined to be reclaimed. Slowly but surely I’m finding them all and stringing together a strand of connectivity—connected to self and connected to the Divine—not knowing where I’ll find one next but knowing that they’re right within my line of sight. 

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Perspective

Soft and pink, my hands were warm and moist from the dish-water.

I squished the soapy sponge into a mason jar with an imperceptible chip around its mouth as I turned my hand around, shoving the sponge into the corners. Emerging out of the now-clean jar my warm pink hand began to seep out of the small cuts from my knuckle. It was a slow seep. I finished the dishes and rinsed the hand clear of suds, put a salve on it and forgot about it unless something grazed it.

A few days later I noticed the slightly inflamed patch left a curious set of scabs: it looked like a little screaming face—two small slits for eyes, one for the nose, and a slightly larger one for a mouth. Maybe it wanted to sing some opera.

I have a bad history with scabs. Especially ones on my hands. I tend to pick away at them in their dry attempts at healing and they leave scars. I will always remember the swipe of a rag that caught the edge of the steeped-tea station when I worked at Tim Horton’s years ago. That tiny scar between my ring finger’s second and third knuckle will be a permanent reminder.

This one, however, I’ve been taking diligent steps to help heal. It’s not that the Tim Horton’s cut was very deep, it’s just that my poor circulation, combined with a fascination with these kinds of things and an unwillingness to let them heal created layers of scar tissue.

Since we understand our lives through symbol and metaphor I am, of course, looking at this symbolically. First of all there’s the very interesting notion of a face, looking at me throughout the day. In fact, there it is now, squinting its mournful song as I type. Though by now one of its tiny eyes is almost too faint to see—neither me it nor it through itself, if it ever was capable of sight. Does this mean that I’ve received another perspective in life? Another way to view situations is placed firmly on my hand: this less-than-one-centimetre long new way to face my day.

What am I learning from it? Well, I am experiencing a shift lately. Its the usual yogic thing about taking responsibility for my life. Yeah, I’ve felt this shift before, and, unfortunately, I don’t feel it so acutely when I begin to slide back in the other direction: blame, self-righteousness and complacency. This little face is my voiceless, screaming reminder that I can shift my perspective; I can carve a space out of my life for my life rather than wait for space to be presented to me. I’m learning.

Now, there is also the very tangible fact that I am caring for myself through these tiny, slightly angry looking gashes. I’m very obviously and conscientiously applying salve in order to keep it hydrated and free of infection. This kind of self-care often becomes neglected by me. Not only do I care for a small portion of my index finger’s knuckle with every wash and application, I also symbolically care for my entire being.

To that end, I’ve also re-dedicated myself to my four-year old commitment to drink enough water that has somehow been left by the wayside in the past few months. It’s going well. All of these little bits are adding up into creating a whole being. The ways in which I care for myself can exponentially increase with every small influx of self-love. The result? A healthy and happy me.

Plus, get this, I’ve stopped eating sugar. Yeah. It’s going well, too.

Photo on 1-17-2014 at 12.29 PM

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Ch- Ch- Changes

I bought a cell phone the other day.

This despite the fact that I have purposefully not had a cell phone for approximately five years due to the effect holding an overpowering signal receiver near one’s head when carrying on a conversation has on the body.

It hasn’t come yet—they were out of stock of the model I wanted (read: the cheapest one) so they’re shipping it to me—and I plan to use it mostly for text messaging, but my future use of said device will be expressly in order to live as though I were actually living.

“What an odd concept,” you might say, “for aren’t we all indeed living?” Yes, we sure are. But I’ve noticed an—unfortunately—common personality aspect of my life rearing its head recently that tends to put living off into the future.

I watch myself wear the same pair of pants way too often despite the fact that I recently discovered the joy of actually putting effort into my appearance. How it can boost confidence, be a reflection of happiness, and all that. (Also on this cell phone shopping trip I went by the Goodwill and successfully faced the horrendous task of buying new pants.) I would pull on those old khakis and think to myself, “I’ll wear clothes I like more later, when things are going differently in my life, when I feel I have more agency to live the life I actually want.” Oh, Guenevere. That’s exactly when I need to do those little things that make me feel empowered.

So it’s true, I haven’t been feeling empowered lately. I’ve been losing sight of the fact that I am responsible for my life right now and to push away that power through blame or feigned ignorance is an unhealthy expression of apathy. I’m learning.

And, more importantly, I’m changing my ways. I’m creating opportunities where, in the past, there were none. I’m pulling up my socks and following up on doors that have creaked half-way open. I’m doing this with courage, because we all know courage is not the absence of fear, but the the willingness to take action in spite of it.

Buying a cell phone and buying new pants are part of this change, but they’re not the only part. The most important part is for me to be willing to face every day with the wide-eyed wonder that I’ve been missing lately in my shuffling-along-with-my-eyes-to-the-icy-ground attitude, hoping that the sun will come out. Well, guess what? The sun did come out. I can now see the doormat that had previously been hiding under four feet of snow and ice before this week’s rain and warm temperatures managed to root it out.

This means that not only can I get out and walk around in whimsical spring-like weather, but that the fed-ex man will have an easier time bringing me my cell phone when it’s in stock next week. I’ll text you when I get it.

The beautiful day.

The beautiful day.

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