Saturday, September 21, 2013

When Parched


Lately I feel dry, like I'm dehydrated all the way down to my bones.

No matter how much chapstick and body lotion I saturate myself in, my lips are still chapped, I still feel flaky skin. I gulp water by the buckets-full. The desert lives inside of me, it burrowed its way in.

I want to soak in a tub of oil, drench myself in falling rain until I'm wet through to all the way under my skin.


I feel the empty kind of full, like a houseplant that hasn't been watered. The soil is arid, but it refuses to let any moisture in. The water simply rolls over the surface and drips over the lid. 

But then...


My yearning leads me to the shoreline, the one that exists on the borders of my own private island of solitude. It is there that I go to find refreshment and to be renewed.

As I stand at the water's edge and let the gentle waves lap up over my toes and shins, I can breathe again. At some point - there's no telling when - the birthing waters burst open from within. I am soothed by the gushing, as it is always preceded by groans and contractions.

***

Fall is hanging in the air, waiting for the winds of change to blow on this page of the calendar and let it in. I'm holding lotions and potions and held steady by the knowledge that this dry spell is just another gestation, a precursor to a new season. Another birth is on the horizon.

When parched, I stand at the shoreline - hands open - ready to be drenched. Again.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Baring


"Everything about her seems to be saying, listen, if you don't look attentively, if you don't go beyond my simplicity to detect the simmering volcano in me, you are not it."
--Rawi Hage, Carnival


I am and am not...

Baring
brightly.
Muffled sounds
darkened rooms
whispers under breath
have no place for me now.

Staring
beyond closed
closet doors.
No longer boxed in.
Living, growing, expanding
in the open space.

Daring
to discard coverings
expose my chest
stamp my feet
put lips to horn
announce I'm here. 

Tearing
through wild terrain
moving, running, roving.
I am what I am. 
Messy, complicated
simplistic, ordered

Free. Again.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fluent


"There are years that ask questions and years that answer."
--Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

We just entered a new year on the Jewish calendar. In preparation, I have been going back over the pages of my journey. 

I discovered that somewhere along the way I learned a form of Braille: the bumps on the page finally mean something. 


I no longer feel like I am in the midst of a series of blank pages that are waiting to be turned, waiting to be written on. Instead, I see pages and pages that are filled with text and I am voraciously reading through them. 


It reminds me of something that happened on a trip I took to Europe as a teenager; I traveled to France the summer after I completed my fourth year of French.

One afternoon, a friend and I were lost in a small French town, on foot and an hour from our hotel. It was not until I stopped to ask for directions -- when a quick request turned into a conversation that spanned over hours and was exchanged over dinner -- that I realized I was really fluent. 


I was amazed. Words I did not know I knew came out of my mouth, with clarity and in context. It was like I shifted into a different part of my brain and I had access to everything I had been storing up during my four years of study. It had been there all along. Perhaps I did not know it existed because I had never needed it that badly.

In much the same way, I have been storing up knowledge on another subject, learning to speak a more ancient tongue. I have been poring over books, memorizing words and phrases, practicing this new language through conversation, using all the same strategies I used when I learned to speak French, though I did not realize it until now.

Then recently, when I found I'd lost my way and needed to get back to my safe place, back to my center, I discovered again that all those years of study were really doing something. I really became fluent. 


I know the language of my own soul. 

After that summer in Europe, I did not use my French anymore. I finished my senior year of high school, went on to study English in college, and never found myself having another conversation like that again. 

Most of the French I learned is locked away in the recesses of my brain, in a place I have not been able to access again. I can barely ask you how your day is going in that beautiful language. 

It is a shame, n'est-ce pas? But that experience taught me something, something I am holding onto now. 

First, I know that if I really want to speak French again, I can. The information I stored up all those years ago has not disappeared, but it needs some coaxing to come to the surface again. I would have to study, to remind my brain of what it's holding onto. 

What was lost can be recovered. 

Second, I know that if I had continued to use the language after that trip, I'd still be fluent. I could still be exchanging How do you do and What do you do for work and What's the dream of your heart over cappuccino. It is all a matter of practice, of keeping it fresh.


I feel like I just completed four years of study a second time. I have had a few inspiring conversations where I've been able to flex my fluency muscles, and I realize that now another layer of work begins. I have to keep speaking, keep practicing. I've got to keep doing the work to stay fluent in the language of my own soul.

"... I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at 
closely for a long time, 
like a saying that I finally understood...
like a ship
that took me safely
through the wildest storm of all."
--Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours


"...  create
 a clearing 
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it..."
--Martha Postlewaite, "Clearing"

Happy [Jewish] New Year, friends. Methinks this is going to be a good year. A very good year, indeed.