The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire – Rumi
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Choose your own way
Have I mentioned how much I love our trailer Flame? I adore her. I love her small dear space. I love the coziness. I love my drawers (yes, still talking about that!). I love the little AstroTurf lawn we have adorned with plastic Adirondack chairs and solar lights. I love her sweet silver silhouette which greets me as I pull in the driveway where she sits just to the right of the scorched totem pole. I love her solitude.
We still haven’t worked out the space – but it’s only been 3 nights… The clutter gets to David yet I know we will find homes for things. The most challenging issues are the dogs and the “home office” setup. The two gigantic dog beds are staying although one takes up the entire kitchen floor and the other the dining/entrance area. Dogs are happy though – and that’s all that matters. We can move the beds out of the way during the day.
I slept well last night. David had to travel back to Seattle and was up early. I dozed lightly while he moved around as the trailer sways with each firm footstep. After he left, I ended up sleeping until – drum roll please – 8:15! Woooohooooo! Rested you say? Well, tell that to my dark circles under my eyes. Like the scars on the land, our faces show the strain as well. Oh well, it is simply more character.
This morning, a movement caught my eye and two Elk came into view just outside the trailer. I tried to take a picture but kept fumbling. Tigger caught wind and barked his deep-throated fierce defense. Good dog, protecting momma. The Elk ambled their way up the hill and past the mound of dirt that was our foundation in search of the sporadic patches of green grass. It’s very still out there today. I love the quiet. It soothes my soul and my weary heart.
Last night we met with our builder – still unsure of what we will be building although we know it will be quite tiny. We were in 1200 sq feet before and now we will go even smaller. Part of our homework from our attorney was to work with this builder to determine the actual value of our old home. This was a sobering process. We had listed all the upgrades and remodeling projects with the adjustor in the beginning (and I must say, with our agent when we first applied for insurance). Yet sitting across from an experienced mountain builder who asked for details about our home and exclaimed loudly at the pictures we showed was upsetting. We knew our home was special – apparently it was structurally quite special. The level of detail in the architecture from tongue and groove walls to post and beam ceilings, handcrafted finishes from the custom doors to the trim, to the stair railing and the extensive angles and windows throughout. All of this added tremendous value to the small space. Bottom line – with our insurance money, we could never ever ever come close to building that structure again. Caution to all of you, don’t just trust a number that your insurance company gives you for “re-building” costs – educate yourself especially if your home has any unique features.
Feeling defeated, I checked my email one last time before we drove back to Flame and saw a note from my extraordinary neighbor Sharon Scanlon who wrote about another “former homeowner” who had just learned that her brother died suddenly of a heart attack. A month and a half ago this woman lost her home and everything she owned and now she lost her brother. Tragedy doesn’t care. It strikes at whim with no regard for the other events that have occurred or may be occurring. This news was certainly a reminder for me of how much worse it could be. My heart is with my neighbor and her family. I can’t even imagine how she is coping. We will be here to catch her when she returns.
It’s easy to question the existence of a God during these times. Life does not make sense. It is not predictable. It is not fair. It just is. Anything can happen at any minute. We could live in the anxiety of this fact or merely just live. Just because my house burns down does not mean my husband won’t die suddenly or I won’t receive a life threatening diagnosis. There are no guarantees. This awareness takes many people to the edge of darkness and swallows up many more. Just how can we live in this uncertain and often unsafe world?
In 12-step rooms, there is a saying that when removed from context of the literature, takes on a life of it’s own and (in my ever so humble opinion) is bastardized. It is: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. People who use this slogan seem to be saying that those of us who have survived alcoholism have been chosen. I absolutely do not believe that anyone is chosen over another. I believe we can choose to tap in to God’s grace and bring it into our lives but the thought that there is a God up there saying, “that one, not that one, yes that one, no not him, oh maybe her cause she certainly will do good things, that one fuhgeddaboudit” is preposterous to me.
Coming up on 23 years ago, I was given the choice of recovery. At a crossroads in life, I saw darkness looming in my future. More than darkness even, it was a huge black nasty hole coming to swallow me up. I chose the unknown – with the aid of my parents – and entered rehab. I don’t believe God selected me but didn’t select my ex-boyfriend Larry who died in 2003 of an overdose. God didn’t choose me over Ann Appel who perished in the fire. Life just happens. Shit just happens. Bad shit just happens. And good shit too. Yes, it is all relative what we label “good shit” and “bad shit”. Once upon a time, I would have argued a stronger case for “nothing means anything but the meaning we give it…” I see the freedom in this – yet we are still human and try to tell that to those raped and pillaged in Africa, or the loved ones of a victim of a drunk driver, or those who lost their parents or wife in a fast-moving wildfire.
Recently, I heard someone say that any crisis after the age of 40 is a spiritual crisis. I can dig that. Ultimately, we need to work out what this all means on our own. We can be influenced by teachings, literature, religion, art or whatever yet it’s crucial we all find our own way. In my session with my shaman on Monday, she said a mantra I have been repeating since – walk your own path. Walk my own path. My own. Not yours, not how you think I should be or how you think you should be or how religion or any spiritual teaching thinks we should be. Not the teachings of a particular school, education or group. Your own. My own.
I choose to see this crisis as an opportunity to truly walk my own path. I have been exploring what that even means for many years yet I still wanted to do it “right”. As one of my spiritual mentors says, “you can get to the top of a mountain on a donkey named Bob”. I heard those words yet being the rule follower and good girl I am (or was), I craved to find the “proper” channel. My anger at God is good because I am throwing all my beliefs on the ground, stomping on them until they lie bleeding – and then picking back up what works and what now fits. And, I haven’t picked up all the pieces. I am still seeing how they fit – and sometimes I just leave them squirming helplessly on the ground as they beg for me to pick them up. I may taunt them, leave them in the mud and ash or simply walk away. They may cry to me as I turn my back. And, then sometimes I tune in and drop out by watching “Weeds” (us sober people have very few ways to really numb out…)
I am hugely committed to my spiritual path and my spiritual growth – yet it’s time to discard what doesn’t really fit for me. We all get to decide this for ourselves. Really, what’s the point of our trip around this rock if we don’t get to discover for ourselves what life is all about? And, we may be wrong! Who the F knows? Really! No one actually knows. We made it all up to attempt to make sense of the nonsensical. Or someone else made it up and we are merely buying into that interpretation. You say you worship fairies, then worship fairies. You like Jesus, have Jesus. You like the Old Testament, power to you. You think nothing is real, choose that. Choose what works for you. That’s what I am gonna do.