I find myself again at this maplewood bar, a tizzy and a thousand thoughts are teeming and telling me stories about who I am. The acoustics in the pub create a symphonic cacophony, and my ears are happy. Clinking glasses, chatter and laughter echo outward from the bar and stifle the trill voices of the young, drunk girls near the dart board.
The jovial man at the end of the bar speaks loudly with his hands then casts his attention lovingly toward his date. Their eyes have love in them. They are interested in one another. It's incredibly sweet to witness. It dawns on me, seeing them together, that what I want most is for a lover to find me deeply interesting. I want to find him interesting too. His very livelihood, his art of being, will inspire me. I want to do the same for him.
All this mushy revelation comes to an abrupt halt, and my next thought: I don't find myself interesting at the moment. How was I ever interesting? I danced, read books, climbed mountains, baked with applesauce in place of oil, and I kept a harmonica in my pocket. I am in a different place now, but I find myself mysteriously longing for these old attributes, ignoring the glaringly obvious gift in front of me. Everything is new. I've changed. I still climb mountains, but I make my cookies differently. My harmonica is in the key of C now, whereas before it was F. I don't want to be a shell of my former self.
What do hermit crabs do? They abandon their shells and move into new ones. They are still the same sentient being, still the same crab. They just look different, and their circumstances are different. I don't know how often they change shells, or why, or what the adjustment period is but I think it's neat to consider the metaphor. I am a hermit crab, sitting at the bar, loving the love that surrounds me, and sinking deeper into the colorful shell that I've acquired.
Sensual like wind,
You are the tempest divine.
These are the days that must happen to you.
An alchemy, a progeny of infinity.
Earth's process, manifest.
Happening like magic.
Sun on your face
A holy emittance of light.
These are the days that must happen to you.
Rain, floods, torrents--
Mud on your face.
All this must happen.
Whether or not
You ever really dared to live,
The days are happening
To turn you into gold.
Kindred knights in wielded steel
Unleash your heart, and feel the real.
Feel the pain and beauty too.
Each experience teaches something new.
Love within me, I see yours.
All relationships open doors.
How will I know the whole of Self
Without you, my mirror, a reflective realm?
Love me, fuck me. Leave me, hold me.
If I trust you please don't burn me.
Seeking a catalyst to turn me on.
Life's our playground, venture on!
I walked into the sandwich shop on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, Washington and politely requested a vegetarian on ciabatta bread, "Make me one with everything." It was lunch time. It was only Wednesday, and I had already run the gamut on my regular inventory of inadequacies for the week. I'm never enough of anything, and I always seem to narrowly avoid an early-onset midlife crisis. I scourge myself, undue punishment for being all the things I'm not. Really, though, who am I to the world? Who am I in the great Wild of Existence?
"Are you a skier," the delicate Asian woman glowing behind the sandwich counter asked me. She must have noticed my Kirkwood, California snowboarding hoodie.
"Snowboarder," I replied.
"I envy you," she said.
This brief exchange caught me off guard. In that moment, I realized I am something to someone. "Thank you," I replied. "Snowboarding is a lifestyle. It makes me happy."
Life is a creative process. It's not about finding yourself; it's about creating a person you can be okay with. Really, truly okay with. It is building a home to inhabit—the temple of your familiar. For three decades, I have been creating a home inside and outside myself. This level of abstract, architectural artistry takes time.
There was one time as a young girl I got lost in a corn field. I entered because it was cool, a reprieve from the hot, Southern sun. I didn't expect to get lost. One never does. Sometimes life is like being deep in the heart of a field of maize and getting turned around. Each dead end calls for new direction and demands backtracking. I made it out. It was nearly an hour later, panicked and thirsty, but I made it out.
Lunch was over, and I left the sandwich shop. The exit was easy to find. I stepped outside into the bustling Wednesday street, folks of all statures moving about. As the panic and the "Am I ever going to find my way trough this maze?" thoughts came again and quickly subsided, I looked up to the sky, and shifted my attention to all the holy blessings of merely existing as I am, and I felt at peace. The narrow swath of existence I sometimes live, to simply be an observer of Earth and its natural wonders, might just be okay.
I've walked a hundred roads, bustling city streets, forested avenues lined by California Redwoods, and mountain trails. I've walked a thousand miles through lush countryside, dust beneath my feet and joy in my heart. I've been lost in a hundred mazes. Perhaps the hardest journey, though, is the path I walk to the temple—the pilgrimage to the heart of who I am, and the path to purpose.