It started with the young man working in the post office who, when I asked him how he was, looked up at me with bright eyes and said, “I”m evolving.” And how I cocked my head and wondered if he were speaking to me directly, like some bodhisattva planted in the post office to jar me, to get me thinking about my life.
Or maybe it was random, something he said to everyone, which, as it turns out might be true, because one of my students who lives in town, told me he said the same thing to her. And why not? Our own little Yoda getting a whole town of people to go home and have a little think.
I’m evolving, he told me, as he stamped my packages, and sent me out the door.
And maybe I am evolving too, since evolving means change. Maybe we’re all evolving, whether we’re ready for it or not.
Like that moment last week – I have no idea what prompted it – as I walked through the kitchen, then stopped mid-stride, frozen, my hands flying up to my chest and to my belly, and how the words, “My god, my god,” flew out of my mouth involuntarily. How in that moment, I was instantly aware of 61-years of body trauma, self-consciousness, and shame erupting out of me like some pent up geyser that had nowhere else to go, finally.
“My god,” I gasped, as this visceral awareness sprung up inside of me, in the middle of the day, in the middle of my life. Out of nowhere, this whoosh of compassion for these strong legs, these sturdy haunches, this mama belly, these hips, and breasts, too big, too small – a lifetime of feeling that I should look different, that I should change, that it was my fault, my failure. My god, I thought, as I opened to the totality of it, the toll it has taken, the energy it has robbed me of, and the realization of how alive it is inside me, still.
And the next morning, as I sat down on the toilet to pee, my hands flew to my heart. “I forgive you,” I said out loud. “For what?” I asked myself. “For everything,” I answered.
For the friends I have let down, the business decisions that might have cost me, the tight jeans because I’m ravenous, the prednisone for the poison oak which changed my brain. For the car accident back in July and the note from the insurance agent who said the older man who’s car I hit had hired a lawyer.
I forgive you, the kindest part of me said. For everything.
For being taught how to work, but not how to rest. For striving and not knowing how to slow down, and for the question my old friend Lisa asked about my work, “Is it inspiration or compensation?” she wondered. And I sat with that for a long time.
Forgiveness for that. For habits created during the pandemic that have been comforting, but also isolating; iPhone as a portal to the world via email, instagram and Facebook. For the nightly crawl into bed as I head to a place called Schitts Creek where people’s failures make them more lovable, more accessible, more human.
“My god,” I told myself. “I forgive you. For everything.”
For this pandemic, and for the exhaustion, and sometimes hanging on by our teeth. For the Zoom call with my three siblings, where one sister started the call in tears, letting us know she wasn’t well, that she was drinking more, that this year has been too hard. It was for the forgiveness and the love, the way we listened and nodded, and how by the end of the call she was with us again, smiling and laughing simply because she got to speak it, and let it out.
Gratitude then, for this family, and for daughters who pick up the phone when I call, and who edit mama’s blog posts. And friends too, who read and who, when I ask “will this embarrass me?” encourage me to say more, to never hold back.
And to the man at the post office who is evolving. “Me too,” I’ll tell him the next time I see him. “Me too.”
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Wild Writing Family
I have created a Wild Writing membership course which includes:
- Three short videos a week to keep your practice going. They will include poems, thoughts about writing and jump-off lines. This is a self-paced practice. You will write on your own, there is nothing to turn in.
- Alternating weeks will feature a live community Zoom call with me where we will write together and chat about the practice. These calls will be every other Monday morning from 8am – 9am, Pacific, but will be recorded for those who are unable to attend live.
- Discounted monthly A La Carte classes where you can polish your Wild Work, turning these pieces into poems, essays or blog posts.
- Twice a month Campfire Reading Series where we will gather as a group and read our work aloud to one another.
- Access to our private Facebook group where you will be invited to drop work in, read the work of others and share with the community.
Image Credit: Passing Linear Time, by John Nieto | Instagram: @john_nieto | Website: johnnietophotography.com