Life's an incongruous mix of shimmer and chaos these days.
Something's up, though not necessarily amiss - each day a birth, a death. Back-to-back these dual pronouncements come, sometimes calmly and quietly, other times in a hot and bloody rush. With every arrival, a departure. With every departure, an arrival.
A trusted mentor reminded me recently that one of my life tasks (as he - and I - see it) is to 'burn up the past' so that I can more fully inhabit the present. For all my fiery independence, I am one of those people pathologically wired into loving 'for the long haul.' As time goes on, I realize that this does not necessarily imply wisdom, generosity or capaciousness. There are times when an imperative like this can become a trap for both self and other, a bind that speaks more about enmeshment than connectedness. Such 'love' can be more suffocating than emancipating. L also suggested that if we are to nurture our soul's 'true efficacy' we need to live in as invested and unencumbered a way as possible. Love with neither expectation nor attachment. . . While this notion resonates powerfully with me, there are times when I don't feel particularly well-equipped for the (t)ask. Like now, for instance, when I find myself soaring and plummeting, capable of deep joy and generosity one moment and unspeakable twistings of the heart the next.
Yesterday was a tough day - much of it around revisiting the past in an attempt to make peace - again - with the 'old order' so as to be more at peace with the new. Regardless of one's relationship status, there is always Relationship Humus asking to be sifted through. And, well, some bits on our personal compost heaps take longer to break down than others. There's nothing for it but to trust that sooner or later, with a careful mix of diligence, cut worms, spades and good faith, even our darkest material can be turned over and put to good use; the foetid and fermenting can (even wants to?) become generative, informative, transformative.
I laid my precious cat Sage to rest yesterday. He was the dearest, most complex wee creature. I loved him. We had in common a burning need for solitude. His small, handsome body will not be laid into the earth - at least not yet. He's to be cremated and in time I will dig his ashes into the soil and plant a renewable Sage bush for him in his favourite patch of garden.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. . . Of course, Sage's death brought a myriad other griefs into the room. Over the years, loss has been a persistent theme; I've tended to think I have to be brave and firm-footed - stoical even - but not so, yesterday. Something in me cracked open and I felt as though I was finally able to weep years of unwept tears. There was some relief in giving myself over - unapologetically, noisily, un-prettily - to the catharsis of snot, puffy eyes and freely-flowing salt water... I wept because I had every good reason to in the moment, but of course I was also weeping for past losses and, too, for who knows how many other unknown, undeclared reasons.
My older brother Alan died in 1984. He had an incredible gift with animals, his love and empathy towards them a language all its own.
Here is one of the poems I wrote for him but that speaks no less to others we have loved and lost.
You warmed my blood
for years I kept an eye
on you. Now I tell myself
Death at least is
an honest continent
a simple compost
of history and bones.
Chisel an altar
out of mourning.
When stone thaws
and herons dream
unbind your feet
and sign yourself.
d. 15 June 2010, aged 12 & 3/4
"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea."
Karen von Bliksen-Finecke