And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Dear Sweet Readers,
The words in my head have no order. No matter how I arrange them, they remain a pile of shards. The odd thing is that when the music plays and someone else’s voice is crying out the lyrics, the same thoughts compose themselves in a dance and my life slides into shape: a kaleidoscope of meanings contained within a whole that glitters with clarity. It is a beauty to behold. But time and time again I have raced to my keyboard only to find that there is no capturing this Kubla Khan I live in. The simple truth is that all thoughts now reside in my body - a place with dance but no speech - where they live as impulse and direction, and both say one thing.
Ultimately, I’ll have something to say about that body, my body, and the impulse to run from what it feels, but now... just now ...
For now, all you need to know is that no matter how I toss a lasso, my thoughts rush wild and headstrong. There’s no way to round ‘em up without also spooking them; they’d rather die than be corralled. I’ve been trying for a week now, a month, a hundred unbroken years, and as I write today I am drinking bourbon and eating salami and grapes. The salami is for protein, for the fact that I’ve hardly eaten since the writing began to flow, the grapes are because fresh food is good for a body under stress, and the bourbon, well the bourbon should be self-explanatory. I’m fresh out of opium.
This is February, the month before my birthday, the month in which I began My Zero BDay Blog, and as I said in that first post a year ago, this birthday has me by the balls. Had me. That zero birthday is done now and the birthday to come is just days away. Time to look back. What I found was that I started this blog grieving the loss of the familiar. Of course.
It’s five minutes of midnight. The Eels are singing “End Times” in the minor key of missing someone; a quiet guitar, a lulling rolling repetition of five notes.... I stand under the stars, bright and crisp in a rare cloudless sky, as the minor key and the rolling guitar sound the same notes in my heart that a favorite Chris Isaak song once did, one of so many songs I once narrated my life by. Now as I look at the stars, I wonder if these songs will ever speak to me the same way. “She’s gone now, and nowhere near,” they sing. “Seems like end times are here.”
I was melancholy when I wrote that, clearly, but I found that I wasn’t missing the woman I had been so much as the comforts of the familiar. That melancholy allowed me to start waving goodbye to the old life and to kiss the cheek of the woman I thought I deserved to be. See, I started the blog with the intent of bringing myself into alignment with time and space, for I am a woman whose decade long illness has her aging all out of sequence, a woman for whom time has meant only the long farewell to a season of life she didn’t get to experience. I didn’t get to experience. My hope was that blogging might provide some space for me to become comfortable in my now middle-aged skin. Believe it, people. By all units of measurement, I am just about halfway through my life and this year, as my father likes to point out, is the start of the next great adventure. The second half of life, Year One.
In all honesty, the Year One thing has me a bit freaked, but only because moving forward in my life requires admitting that I once spent a good chunk of it in a virtual coma. No, not a plugged-into-beeping-machines kind of coma, but the image is apt. The paralysis of bipolar depression in combination with thought-canceling chronic pain and a bunch of other stuff... well if you’re lucky, and I was, one day you wake up, look in the mirror, and say Holy Fucking Crap! Why the hell do I look so old?!
If you’re me, you start clicking those ruby heels together and then... you stop cold. There truly is no place like home, not for me. Home is somewhere I have no desire to return to. Ever. Home was a terror. Which leaves me in a very strange place. No way to go forward. No desire to go back. Looks like end times are here, you know? It really makes a person wish she believed in the Rapture. Makes me wish I believed in the Rapture. It would take care of a lot. Plus I could be holier than thou and certain I knew the One Truth that trumps all. But I could no longer be an opinionated bitch and that’s a deal breaker; I’ve got too much to say to go silent now.
This year, Year One, I plan to uncork things and shift it into high gear. I know! Those of you who are regular readers are thinking There’s a higher gear for this girl? When the cork blows, I’d better duck. Maybe. And maybe you can help me celebrate. See, this year’s February brought me something unexpected. Something in me broke - I couldn’t help but feel it - and I could have imagined the worst; God knows it’s been a hard year, one fucker of a year, for sure, but it seemed to me that this thing inside me didn’t break apart. It broke open, like a bud. The whole month of February has been spent writing - or trying to write - about the bodies I’ve carried, about the unseen wounds of wars fought internally and externally, and most of all, about the opening bud inside me that heralds a spring I could never have imagined would be mine.
Something is shifting. Something impossible to describe.
Something is unfurling. Something miraculous.
Maybe it is the Rapture. Of course my idea of rapture is distinctly different from my Christian brethren. My book of prayer was written by a Tibetan Buddhist master who, if I recall correctly, I met when I was twenty. Chogyam Trungpa was the Rinpoche from whom I received my Tibetan name. Orgyan Chodron. It means dharma lamp; light of truth.
Here is today’s meditation:
We need not change ourselves, need not negate what we are. We can use what we are as inspiration. So [work, which is the fourth stage for the seeker], is taking delight in and working hard with whatever working base we have - our neuroses, our sanity, our culture, our society. We do not make sectarian distinctions or assert our superiority, but we take delight in what is and then work with it.
The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation,* Chogyam Trungpa
Welcome to the Rapture.
* p 149, emphasis added
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