Do you ever wake up in the night with random thoughts that seem so profound in the dark, only to discover that they have lost something in the transition into daylight?
I haven't been able to write. The last several weeks, I've felt like I was strolling through a mine field. Not consciously aware of danger or mishap, but carrying the unmistakable weight of something looming large and ominous just over the horizon.
We move through days, hours even, looking for sure footing. We load the dishwasher and buy groceries. We wave to our neighbors and applaud the first daffodils of spring. I have explored new diet directions, put new batteries in the pedometers... yes the same pedometers that inspired such glorious intentions this time last year...raked last year's leaves, mowed the liriope and planted the leftover seeds from Justin and Bethany's wedding. Still... I haven't been sleeping and I haven't been writing and when I look in the mirror, I am amazed at the wrinkles that lay in wait until I am at my most vulnerable, then stare defiantly, frighteningly back at me.
Some days it feels like I'm walking through invisible tar. Invisible and thick and waist high. I imagine that I need to create a "sacred space" in my home to spend with God. I pick up a book about "Finding Your Own Inner Light". I wander. Then it becomes about self image. "How to Look Good Naked". Then the book, "Writing a Winning Book Proposal" or "Finding a Literary Agent". I'm foggier than usual. Sadder than usual. Hours pass with "Chopped" Champions and the "Top Chef" finale. Maybe I need to paint or sew or clean. Wander. Wonderful time spent taking photographs of a lovely family. Positive feedback. More despondency. More wandering. What is happening?
Sitting on our sofa, gazing across the creek to the garden, forsythia blooming, large pink blossoms on the tulip magnolia and finally the door to my awareness opens... in ten days, Shannon would turn 36. There it is, my little girl would be turning thirty six. I feel, for a moment, embarrassed that my sad bones have been knocking at my psyche, that I hadn't recognized the beckoning. I can't share what I feel because to most of the world, those who haven't been there, I might be burdensome or self indulgent in this tenderest of times.
Finally, I allow myself to be content to just be with Shannon, with my memories, without the mask. I print the photos for the Angel Tree, of other 'Angels'. I cherish those who understand without explanation because we travel the same path, and appreciate so deeply those who can't understand but stand beside you without judgement.
Much is said about being brave and taking risks. It is part of growth. An inevitable step on the path that we follow through life. And that leads me to my midnight epiphany.
I've always personified inanimate objects, plants, animals... it's just always been that way. I've often thought I might be a little crazy, except that in researching personification, I discovered that it is a natural part of being human... part of our survival instinct. Maybe we think if everything around us has personality and compassion, we are safe, understood.
In the night, I wondered if maybe I am feeling what the caterpillar feels as she is compelled to weave herself into a coccoon. One day she's wandering along the ground, surrounded by edible greenery. Then compulsively she begins to search for something, a place, protected, elevated, safe. Must weave. Must sleep. Must ....
Later she stirs. Something is different but in the dark she isn't sure what. She feels safe in the dark but hunger starts nagging. She stretches and manages a tiny peep hole. Yes, everything looks familiar but something's not quite right. So tired, but she needs more room. Stretching, just a little more. What's this? What happened to my furry coat? What happened to my legs? Wet, long, unfamiliar unfolding. So frightened. Unable to return to the safety of the coccoon, no longer small enough to fit, she crawls into the sun. Ahhh, warm, wonderful. With a courage that she didn't know she had, she embraces the risk that begins to lift her perfectly powdered, stained glass wings into the morning. Her perspective, so altered, so unfamiliar, so beautiful. Flowers and trees and birds and sky.
The caterpillar could have stayed in her safe little coccoon. She could have refused to risk venturing in to a world so altered by her own alterations. A world unchanged and yet transformed by her own transformation. She could have died.
Is there a panic in the hearts of all beings just before they are reborn? Does the tadpole fear its legs? The eaglet, life beyond the egg? Does the daffodil try to prevent the pushing into daylight, try to hold back, restrain the pull of sunlight, preferring the safety of warm earth? How dreary our world would be without nature's fearlessness.
Maybe I'm fearful of what I may be, because I was so comfortable with who I was. So certain of my role as Shannon's Mom. Competent and confident in my job. No need for fashion sense in boots and blue jeans. Strength that seemed to accompany being built like a fire hydrant.... moving through life like my little caterpillar.
Can I fly? Can I find the courage to risk leaving a coccoon of my own creation to see what might happen with wings?
Yesterday I saw a display at B.J.s. Colorful little butterflies in Mason Jars. There is some magical force that causes the butterflies to flit within the jars when you tap on the lid. I was mesmerized, until I realized that I was fantasizing about buying the entire lot so that I could set them free. Even though I knew, rationally, logically, that they were not alive, their frantic flapping within the confines of a clear glass jar, overwhelmed me.
So you see, even though we are fearful of the unknown, unsure of our ability to fly, that tiny spark of the Divine that animates each of us, knows what we are capable of, waits for us to turn the lid, climb to the rim of our own creation and allow the dream of infinite possibility to lift us.
Maybe I could buy just one... and set her free?