In life come moments of clarity. This vision is only offered, not commanded. Your choice is to live in a state of grace or continue in normality. No blame. Fear can be an awesome obstacle when a time like this is presented. You will make great advancement and find your truth if you discharge fear and deconstruct your doubts. – the I Ching
The first tincture was of redwood and honey, I think, and the second was a spritz to the face that smelled like roasted poblano and brought me back to San Miguel de Allende’s dusty, windswept streets. In an instant it was changed to a murky, chocolate-flavored stuff that reminded me in some ways of coffee grounds. The last was a smear to the face of something golden from a large jug. This all happened during a story-circle for last night’s Pisces Full Moon: a circle of story-tellers and singers who were also saying goodbye to a friend who is soon going away.
Last February, when I landed in Austin for the first time in over three years, I sat in that same backyard. It was cold then and the plants and trees were leafless, waiting for the next spring to arrive. I sat in that backyard and petted some cats, listening to the passing cars and a Capital Metro bus that waited just behind the house, on the street. I could hear its robo-instructions clear as a bell as I sat, and last night, I heard that same bus and those same instructions, again.
The benefit will come as you use moments of clarity that are being offered now to adjust attitude and behavior and to correct your thinking. Do not take this time of momentary grace lightly, change is in the wind and change is required. – the I Ching
Moments of clarity and feelings of grounding have been hard to come by since my return to Austin; I feel like the place that I once called home is physically here, but everything is so different, including myself. I have realized that my self-imposed isolating persona that was cultivated in Maine has come with me here. Last night I saw old friends who didn’t even know I was back, and it made me realize that I haven’t truly been “living” here but continuing my attitude and behaviors of passing through, of being a drifter in one place or another. This is amplified now by still being separated from many of my belongings who still lie quietly in Maine, waiting for me to bring them here.
I am very grateful to be here but feel lost, somehow. I feel like I am usually very good at seeing the path ahead, at planning and executing plans, but lately I have been feeling like I am laying in wait, watching everything to see what happens to me, rather than creating my life like I usually do. It is confusing to watch and wait, although I suppose I am learning a little bit more about my name.
The universe has given me great gifts of remembering the goodness of my friends, of shared creative space at the studio and at school, of companionship, of a wonderful vocation that supports and encourages my avocations, and, just recently, a home of my own again. When I first was offered the little house, I went over and laughed to myself at its beauty and its feeling of being part Maine, part old Austin, and part Mexico. All these threads run through it: through the yellow walls and the clovers on the shutters, the flying pig on the roof, and the deck one can sit on and watch the world go by almost hidden from those passing underneath on the street. The deck reminds me of decks in San Miguel that were almost always on the top floor or sometimes on the roof of the cement houses. You could stand on them, or sit on them, and stare out at the city and listen to the roof dogs howl and car horns honk along the roadways. The deck reminds me of my brief in-town Bar Harbor apartment with its spy-like third floor people-watching capabilities. The house reminds me a bit of the Northeast Harbor house, the Fishbowl, and a bit of the Otter Creek house, Faerieland Farm. There is a tiny kitchen with green cabinets with leaves for knobs, and a beautiful bathroom with black and white tile around a huge bathtub. Outside there is a yard under oak trees and I have spent a lot of this week daydreaming about sitting out there in the autumn and “winter” air. I imagine multi-colored lights in the trees and a table, some chairs, a chiminea maybe.
I want to put down roots: I want to settle in, but I am afraid of it. Last night’s theme was one of homecoming, and the first storyteller told a tale of being from Austin and just coming back after being a long time away in a very different place. Hers was the desert and mine was a northern island, but the feelings were the same. She said that a place becomes you, and I think she is right: I think I have even written here how I felt that life in Maine made you feel as if you were the environment that surrounded you: everything so interconnected, changeable, beautiful, mysterious, and empty. Perhaps she felt the same away about her desert far away. Homecoming is this idea full of levels of complication that start with the reality that you can never come home again: that home is different and so are its people. In my case, this city has transformed and swelled so that it seems like it is bursting at the seams, liable to just pour outward in a great torrent of people, cars, and buildings. This town, to me, always seemed a little sleepy and slow, not like Bar Harbor of course, but it was a nice feeling to feel at ease in a place all the time. And now the pace seems so fast that it seems likely to get swept up in it and carried along, without knowing which way you want to choose to go.
I worked for a wonderful man in Maine, whose place I left to return here. He once told me that it is important to have a sanctuary: a place to come home to that feels away from the outside world. He said it was important for everyone to have that, and his words have resonated with me. I think, since returning, I have been suffering from confusion, delusion and illusion in terms of many things. I have fallen prey to my overblown expectations several times. This has left me feeling quite baseless, adrift in the murky undercurrents of my feelings and questions. This latest gift of a house to live in, will, I hope, help me feel my feet under me again.
I think that I maybe am outgrowing my capacity to change so much so fast: it is very exhausting and humbling and confusing. It makes me question my own behaviors and be thankful for the parts of myself that know what is right and are helping the other parts catch up.
Last night, my most palpable feeling was that “I am here now” and although it may seem laughable, I really haven’t had those feelings or words yet, in the four months that I have been here. The reasons why are many, but suffice it to say, I was waiting and waiting and waiting and not doing, as if afloat in a lifeboat with no oars but a good light. Slowly the path opened up before me, and certain things appeared and gave me the gifts I have received. A couple of weeks ago, I realized the easiest course of action was to make my own oars out of what I knew and start to row to shore, seek an anchor, step off the boat, and see what happens. But as change is so frightening, the journey to shore is feeling a bit longer than planned, and I think I am rowing a bit slower than I might. Perhaps I am taking some jags to the right and jags to the left to avoid the mooring. Perhaps after last night, I’ve finally realized I just need to get there, tie up, step up and out.
Is life so full of chapters? Apparently so.
Observe and honor the stillness you see in nature
Make these your symbols of change.
Shouting from the mountain does not bring change.
In stillness you can receive – the I Ching
It is funny to me that I have returned home with so few possessions that, when I move into this house later this week, that I will have almost nothing save decorations, a bed, and my clothes. When I left here, it was in a huge Penske truck filled to the brim with stuff. I am reminded of that part of Out of Africa, when Karen is about to leave Africa for Europe, and her lover comes to see her one last time in an empty house save the boxes and trunks she is sitting on in candlelight. She says that somehow she wishes it had been that way all the time, and he sweetly disagrees with her. My situation is different, of course, landing with many of the tiny things that make my house home, but no sofa, no table, no dishes even (although they are on their way). I wonder how it will make me appreciate my new home in a different way. I will be able to listen to it, for a while, and then of course, like all homes, it will become filled with all the objects necessary for the life of we magpie-like creatures.
New beginnings, endings, cuttings, rootings, plantings. I hope that I am maintaining a sense of grace, and gratitude, and not letting the worry about the unknowns overwhelm my spirit. Maybe this will be the last place of new beginnings, but maybe not. Maybe I will do a better job in future of paying attention to the full impact of such changes. I hope so.
If you are into some more soul-wandering, please read Angel’s latest bee-log post, entitled “Reverse Phoenix – Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later”.