I hate to inundate you with hate here, but I had no idea this was published in Elephant Journal back in August. I hate you because I love you
Promise, no more hating after this!!! (And god, the picture is a bit dramatic… no say in that department!)
I decided this weekend I was going to write something funny. (I am, you know. I mean, I can be). But it’s raining, and it’s been raining for two days straight. Who can be funny when it’s raining?
I contemplated putting this off and being funny tomorrow. Forecast for tomorrow: rain, all day.
So funny. Okay, well, I made an honest attempt to ride my bike while holding an umbrella. That might have made someone laugh. I didn’t, though. Because it’s effing cold, and my rain jacket and favorite boots are in the bottom of god knows what box.
So I arrived at the coffee shop later than I wanted to, wet, cold…and not funny.
I’m sure there is some eye-rolling going on. It rains here like 2 days a year. Most people are almost giddy, relishing in the anomaly and blatant reminder that fall is upon us. And all I can do is think of the last time I was cold and wet.
It was January. I was in Texas, completely alone and utterly heartbroken. And it almost took me under.
I had fallen for the wrong person, risked everything and lost so much more. So there I was, packing up all of my things, yet again, trying to figure out where to go. Did it even matter? There was no home to go back to and no one waiting for me to come home…except Biscuit.
But it’s not January anymore, Brooke. It’s September, 9 months later. And it’s fall. You love fall. It’s your favorite. People associate it with death and decay, but for me, it’s pumpkins. It’s crisp mornings, chunky sweaters and my favorite boots. It’s Halloween decorations, and the crunch of leaves under my favorite boots. It’s snuggled up next to a warm fire with the person I love. And it’s Biscuit, sitting on top of a big pile of leaves, his red-orange fur blending in with the autumn colors all around him.
But my chunky sweaters and favorite boots are still in boxes that I admittedly haven’t had the stomach to unpack one more fucking time. And I got rid of most of my decorations because, to be honest, when your packing up all of your shit for the 7th time, they seem like the perfect thing to not have carry up another flight of stairs or cram into a 400-hundred-something square foot space. And the warm fire, well it’s in the house I used to live in with my amazing husband, who is no longer my husband. And Biscuit, well, he’s dead.
So I guess this year, fall is about death, because most of the things I loved last fall don’t exist anymore.
This isn’t funny, is it? Like not at all. But shit, it’s still effing raining outside.
Okay, let’s shelf death and heartache for a beat, shall we? I wanted to make you laugh, not cry. Which I will say is one obvious perk to this weather. It’s hard to differentiate tears from rain drops.
Tears and rain drops. It really is kinda funny in a crazy, can’t really get my head around it way. It’s all water, which literally dictates whether life exists or not. But it can also take it away in a matter of seconds. It can wipe out entire villages, kill tens of thousands of people, and take you under with a force that makes breath seem like it was never an option.
But it can also bring you to a state of complete bliss within seconds. A cold sip of water on a hot day, or a hot bath on a cold night. Watching it dance across the rocks of a river bed or letting the sound of the waves kissing the sand lull you to sleep.
The ultimate paradox. You need it to live, but it’s responsible for so much death. It can bring you sheer joy or cause excruciating pain. It often can’t be seen but is always present. And it never dissipates. It changes, adapts to its circumstances, but it never diminishes. It is everywhere, all around us, but so many die because they are deprived of it. As it turns out, it is disturbingly similar to the very thing that always seems to end with tears, at least of late.
Which brings me right back to fall. A love, a dream and a precious puppy all synced up with the season, their decomposition swift, and all I could do was stand by, completely powerless, and watch…. and cry and scream and completely fall apart as they slipped further and further away until all that was left was a mound of dirt covering up a hole that I so desperately wanted to crawl into.
So here I am. Staring at this puppy next to me who is snuggled up under his person’s feet, looking down at my feet, wishing I had my favorite pair of boots on because mine are wet and my toes are cold. And I’m right back to the last time I was cold and wet. And I think of Texas and my puppy sitting in the leaves, and…
It’s funny in a it’s not really at all way, how predictable it all is. The whole cyclical thing: water, seasons, life, love..
Love, that’s what it always comes back to, where it all started. The impetus that seems to always propel me into motion, the very thing I live and breathe for, a joy like I’ve never experienced, followed by a pain so unbearable I almost wish my heart would stop, the feeling at least.
The ultimate paradox, like water, I need it to live, but it has resulted in so much loss. Some days, I feel completely depleted, yet none of it disappeared. Not a drop. It has changed, it had to; circumstances have changed a bit. It can’t be seen anymore. But it hasn’t diminished. It’s just as it was before, filling me up completely and leaving me gasping for air.
Okay, so missed my target with this one. But I’ll try again next week.
Forecast: Sunny, all week.
An Addendum of sorts: Please take a minute to read Brandewijn Words latest post, Perspective. I’m beyond honored to be a part of it and think his perspective is beautiful and kind and so very needed. It just gets so easy to slip into judgment mode, to drift towards entitlement and self-righteousness contingent on our vantage point.
He ends with this, and it absolutely humbles me, but is also was a beautiful reminder. We truly are all in this together.
I make this promise to Brooke and to all of you. I will dig…deep…into her honest “telling of events” to find her and try to understand her world of this or thats. Because that is her world and her perspective… And those are the only ones that matters and the only ones I need to know.
That’s sums it up, right? Not his promise to me, but his commitment to question his vantage point, to do his best to know someone’s story and check himself when he makes an assumption or judgment…ultimately, to come from a place of empathy. Because we each have our story, right, with so many layers it gets complicated and messy, and we fuck up and do things that we regret. We hurt people, we hurt ourselves. intentionally or unintentionally. But the beautiful thing is, we get the gift of and have the capacity to step back and check ourselves, to shift our position and do what we can to understand why someone says or behaves the way they do. To practice empathy.
Those of us who care do so because we can’t but feel otherwise if we are being honest with ourselves. There is no escape from the vulnerability of interdependence. I breathe because you do.
I received a request to repost this one, which is very good to hear since this is the premise of my book…. which has admittedly been put on hold for a spell, due to the whole ‘trying to piece my life back together’ thing.
I contemplated adapting it to the present tense, but decided it could possibly be an offering of hope… or induce fear, depending on your vantage point.
I wrote this in the thick of a heartbreak that made anything that came before seem like a minor scratch. And although I am not where I had hoped I would be 9 months later, it might provide some sort of solace to know that there were a few other events that happened simultaneously, delaying my arrival to the finish line I keep hoping will emerge.
God, wouldn’t that be amazing? If there was this definitive line drawn, one we could see off in the distance that would confirm that every excruciating step was a tangible progression towards arriving on the other side, both feet planted firmly on the ground with no fear of that next step being negated by the two you just took back…yet again.
I wish I could tell you I was there, basking in the glory of victory, heart intact, fear nowhere to be seen. I’m not, not quite, but I’m close. And on a good day, I can almost hear the crowd cheering in the distance as I watch one more mile marker go by, signaling my arrival is imminent and there is in fact, hope.
But most importantly, she has returned, our protagonist. She never technically left, but I tend to forget how unruly she is and always write her off when she doesn’t show up how I want her to…
Definition of Magic (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
“An extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source. Something that seems to cast a spell.”
I find a sense of irony is trying to define magic, just as I do with attempts to define love or evil or god. These all have very different meanings that are dependent on each person’s beliefs and experiences. But, this is what makes us human, I suppose. Our inherent need to define all that is around us, to place all things firmly and tangibly into reality, it is what I believe to be one of the worst tragedies; most things clearly defined leave little room for the extraordinary.
Of all things intangible, magic might very well be the most elusive. It is a very real force that influences almost every moment of our childhood, allowing us to navigate our world curious, uninhibited, full of wonder, and open to every possibility. But this elusive force will inevitably succumb to its nemesis. We all must grow up, right? We all must face reality.
So, like most people, Magic eluded me for decades, until reality had sucked all the life out of me, and I realized that the only one who could save me had gone missing.
Magic means different things for different people. It can be the thrill you feel when you throw your hands up and plunge down a roller coaster, when you hold your newborn baby in your arms, when you reunite with an old friend or laugh so hard you cry. And, it can be the spark you feel when you meet the love of your life. Perhaps you don’t think of those things as ‘magic’. Maybe you label them as joy or happiness or fleeting moments of emotion. I guess they can be those things, too. I just see them as magic.
I know that experiencing those things and realizing they are precious moments that should be sought out regularly just gets harder to do when we are older. We have responsibilities, distractions, stress and anxiety. We are in jobs we hate or relationships that aren’t working. We have been hurt and betrayed, disappointed and rejected. We become cynical, jaded and complacent. And there is just no place for magic there.
But every once in a while, you encounter that person who has found it. This person exudes it and it is contagious. You want to be around them as much as possible, you want to feel what they feel. You want it to work its way into you. But they haven’t been through what you have, right? They don’t have the same past and stress and pain as you do. You would be ‘happy’ or ‘carefree’ or feel that magic, too, if you weren’t in the life that yours has become. I can’t tell you how many times I have chalked it all up to that. I judge those people. I resent them….and I so envy them.
So, there I was, in my beautiful home, with my amazing husband, my precious dog, and my stable job. And I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. And now I question what everyone does after they completely blow their life up. Was I just completely selfish? Did I just not appreciate what I had? Is this the whole ‘grass is greener, holy grail’ thing? Maybe. Well let me be clear, the grass is not greener where I am sitting right now. In fact, I have never been in more pain and felt more hopeless than I have over the past 6 months.
But I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It was magic, even if I was the only one who truly felt it. And it changed me, making it impossible to settle for anything less.
And so I’m back to the place where I spend most of my time, teetering between cynicism and steadfast conviction. I found it, the one who went missing. And as fleeting as it was, it was undeniable, filling in the empty spaces that had rendered me a slave to comfortable and safe. It was as if someone had pushed play and all the parts of me that had been dormant for years- that had craved inspiration, intense connection and the kind of love that made the thought of its absence unbearable- all came alive, all at once, and there was simply no going back.
But my god, the utter devastation that followed, the acute turned chronic pain that is so consuming the only way through is to try like hell to feel nothing at all. How could I not question whether it was magic at all, and if such a thing even exists. It feels like I’m being forced to walk after finally learning how to fly.
To make things even more confusing, in those rare moments of clarity, I can get a glimpse of what might have actually been missing, that intangible thing I have been searching for. I think it might possibly be that little girl who always sought it out, magic, and worked like hell to bring it to everything she did. I lost her. She conformed and opted for ‘normal’ and ‘safe’ instead. As much as I wish I was, I’m just not these things. And it turns out, these are the things that most people choose. Perfect, right? I found what was missing and lost everything in the process.
So, that’s it. Sorry, but no ‘magical’ words of wisdom come to mind to share. I am a bit nervous, to be honest. If there was a time for me to be jaded, this would be it. What if I already am? What if the cynicism sticks? Is there no going back? Is this just how it’s going to feel from here on out?
No idea. So I do the only thing I can at this point. I get up in the morning. I try to do things that used to make my happy. I force a smile and initiate conversation. And I try to do what seems to work for most…I try to face reality.
Maybe there really is no such thing as magic.
Desert Curmudgeon, an unassuming prophet, as I affectionately call him. He is a writer, a philosopher, an intellectual, a humanitarian, a seeker of truth, and what I consider to be genius in motion.
I am posting this because I think his words need to be heard, and because sometimes we need a little boost, and he gave me one of the most meaningful, heart-warming compliments I think anyone could in regards to my writing. He shared with me that my words inspired his in Warrior Mind.
“For another take on a similar theme, please check out this profound post by Brooke at A Gypsy’s Tale: Masters Of Our Fate. The post you just read would not have materialized without her”
Wait, what? I told our Incurable Dreamer , another one of my blog heroes, it is the equivalent of Einstein telling me I I’m smart…beyond. When I saw that he had credited me with inspiring him to write THAT, it felt pretty much the same as when I saw my name as an author in the Washington Post. Call it ego or a somewhat dysfunctional need for recognition, (both are true), but it made me deliriously happy.
So, please read his words. To say they will make you think is a gross understatement. To say they will inspire you, even more so.
My reaction is below. A lot to take in on a Sunday morning, but in light of all the madness that has happened the past few weeks, perhaps a bit of reflection and perspective will help.
Jesus. I don’t even know where to begin here (Jesus, might not be the best place to start). I have never read anything so unbelievably profound and enlightened, yet accessible and pragmatic…and impossible and maddening. Because I agree with him on so many levels, although could never articulate it so eloquently.
More times than not, it is our fears- of rejection, of pain, of being alone- that drive our behavior, our actions, our “ignorance”. And empathy, god, it just seems like this word is almost antiquated. The ideologies that get thrust upon us on such a colossal scale, shoved down our throats, reiterated at such a rate that they not only become our modus operandi, they drive are words and actions in a way that doesn’t even seem to be on a conscious level. We react, we judge, we declare truths based on ideas that we never took the time to question.
Therein lies the tragic flaw, right? Digging deep into our psyches, questioning what is supposed to be the foundation of our existence, the constants, ‘the truths’, is terrifying and painful and an inconvenient distraction from comfort, as mundane and unfulfilling as that comfort might be. I think this makes empathy next to impossible, unless the recipient of it is a person or people who sync up with our established truths.
But I will say this. I don’t believe the search for our tribe, for finding those people we connect with, love and who love us, is necessarily a hindrance to becoming the warriors we inherently are. I actually think it can be what fuels this process. Loving someone completely, accepting and celebrating their flaws, I believe teaches us what empathy truly is. I think it can also ground us in a way that gives us the strength to ‘go to battle’ and the courage to do this, not with traditional weapons, but armed with the capacity to look beyond the tactics of those who seek to inflict pain on others and see the origins of what motivates them to do so. I think if we have experienced love in the truest, purest sense, we can empathize with the fact that everyone, at the end of the day, truly just wants to experience love. Isn’t this the universal thread that unites us? So many are denied this or don’t see that they are worthy of it. Perhaps committing these horrific acts comes from a belief that they will attain love and acceptance with their actions in the name of whomever, whether it is in this realm, or in a world they believe lies beyond.
Please be very, very clear, I am not in anyway justifying these acts. I believe the perpetrators have swallowed someone else’s truth. Regardless of what you believe, causing any other being pain is anything but ignorant, it is the antithesis of humanity, it is the antithesis of love. And yes, I hate them for it. I am human, after all, and I am an empath by nature. But, meeting them with aggression, killing innocent people, dropping bombs on countries and annihilating the very ones who could counter and overcome those who have forgotten their essence, its asinine and clearly ineffective, to say the very least.
So what do we do? We go within, as our author so beautifully concluded. We start with discovering our truth, what makes our hearts full and gives our lives purpose. We treat our tribe with the love, compassion and kindness that we so desperately want to receive in return. And if we don’t get these things in return, we try to understand that they are fighting their own battles.
Most importantly, we continue to fight our own and try like hell to love ourselves in the process. We start there and hope that one day our intentions, our benevolent actions, will reach our fellow budding warriors who have forgotten who they are and why they are here, why we are all here….to embrace or inner warrior, to fight for our truth, and above all, to love.
A little ‘light-hearted’ reading to start your weekend. Okay, it’s not light-hearted, but it might have something to do with that general area.
Hope it at least makes you feel…
He walked in and sat down at his desk, glancing up at her and then back down.
“Well that doesn’t look good”, he said nonchalantly.
She didn’t bother responding.
“How long has it been bleeding like that?” He asked, still not looking up.
On and off for eleven months and 9 days.
“And it was broken, correct?”
“Well, that just makes things…”
He glanced over at the instruments spread out on the tray beside him.
Makes things what? I mean, you can fix it, right?
He shook his head.
“I’m afraid not. That’s like asking me to fix a shattered window. Your only option is to try and let it heal the way it is, and then wait and see. It will most likely function again, on some level, but just not like it did. The good news however, is that the pain will eventually go away and you probably won’t feel anything at all”.
What do you mean, ‘won’t feel anything at all’?
“Most times in these cases, it just goes numb when the bleeding finally stops. But that’s a good thing, right? I mean if it feels as bad as it looks…”
She slid off the table and made her way to the door. She couldn’t even look at him, suddenly feeling an overwhelming sense of shame that she had let this happen.
He offered her something to take that would numb the pain more quickly. She paused, considering it.
No. I guess if this is the last thing I’m going to feel, I should ‘enjoy it’ while it lasts. I mean, it can’t last that much longer, right?
“It’s hard to say. But to be honest with you, yours is in pretty bad shape, so it could be awhile. The good thing though, is that no one will know but you. All you have to do is keep a smile on your face and the world will think you are completely normal.”
She closed the door behind her just in time to hear his final words echo down the hall.
“Remember to smile”, he said light-heartedly. “People might think your heart is broken.”
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