Hours awake in the night, so many of us aren't sleeping lately, and we can't really know why. Easy to think it's due to this or that, but there's nothing like the dark of the middle of the night to open wider realms of wonder. If we are all connected, if only by so many strands of technology, streaming waves of information, then we course in the blood veins of a larger body. Who knows what's keeping us awake these days.
In line for coffee this morning, the guy next to me says to the barista, "Man, I took Benadryl to sleep last night and I'm zoning this morning, just didn't sleep well." One double, half decaf latte in the tray, the decaf soy waiting for a shot, I say, "Lots of us aren't sleeping so well." Espresso swirls through clear, boiled water in the third cup, and he laughs, "Yeah, like a thousand years of solitude, what's that book?" Easy does it, I lift the tray, "One hundred years, but you're right, in the night it can feel like a thousand."
He watches me in the parking lot, pretending not to, and that's ok, I'm watching him, too. We both know, unadmittedly and surely, that we love each other in this moment. And we both know we will continue onward, smoke trails crossing, mingling for a mile of thought. This is how we get through the morning of the night, where we find and pick up our humanity when we are still uncertain in the waking what we belong to in the world.
We belong to each other. We all belong to each other.
My manuscript sits to my left on the table. Writing beside it is just about as close as I can get. I drove across town to share work space with my friends, one of whom is behind me in her studio, grappling with a canvas and walls full of shelves, full of paints. On her way out she laughs, "All I can think about is the dirty windows in the studio, geez, anything to distract!" Her husband is in the office off the living room. Over lunch yesterday he said, "I have twelve or thirteen hours left, tops, to finish my book." But how long would that take?
I told of the story of working with a trauma therapist who, kneeling beside my standing, asked me to look down at my feet. In a hint of a glance to meet his eyes, he understood something unspeakable, unnameable, and whispered, "I know, it's a long way down, but you can do it."
That gesture can take a life time.
Time and space and what it takes to do our work in the world. How much courage to simply show up.
I read a blog post yesterday from a woman
, a mother, who describes how she gave the finger to Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions on the shelf at a bookstore, having not yet read it. She resented anyone else trying to tell her something about motherhood. How could anyone else possibly know her experience? She finally brought herself to read it and, thirty-six hours later, felt so met and so connected. And she understood that she was just afraid. Afraid because a woman, another mother, was writing - someone else was actually living her dream. When she could open her heart to the truth she could finally read and participate and belong. Then she could take the steps to put her writing out there in the world.
I read in the silence and safety of my living room, still asking, Who am I to speak of spiritual life? Who am I to have the audacity to speak to the spiritual meaning in motherhood? Who am I to perceive into and behind the patterns of daily minutia and connect that to mythic memory? Who gives that kind of permission?
Through my headset, Lori McKenna
(Paper wings and halo) serenades the question. I climb into her voice and feel so grateful that she took that chance to get up from her kitchen table, mother of five, to sing to the world.
With a car seat full of bills, piles of laundry strewn in extra rooms at home, I'm just sitting with the question of the possibility of a viable life as a writer.
I close my eyes and Lori and I go back, way way back. We walk down a hallway with olive green walls and old family photos crookedly hanging. At the end, the last door, we walk through and find her sitting on her bed, eight years old, with her first journal spread open over her lap. She's writing. She's writing and crying, even then, so much into the depth of the world, so much karma to hold and look into, and she does, alone, bless that girl.
"Come on, sweet one, come with us." We take her by the hand and lead her down that long, long hallway of her life. "We've got something to show you......"
In a second we arrive at a door, a bright red door, 76th and Powell, 2007. Lori strums and sings and I turn the handle. The young girl looks inside, there's a woman sitting at a table, laptop open, headset in, and she asks, "Is that my mother?"
"No, honey.......she's you." The woman looks up, she hears us, music to music, the same, face to face, the same, years disappear with the notes, words heal the miles and the trials and all the doubt that was born through that journey. I say to the small one, "Go ahead, go to her, sit with her, you've got something to do together....."
I scoot my chair back and open my arms. She's me and my daughter and I'm me and my mother, and sitting on one lap now, we're one.
The manuscript sits to our left on the table. Small hands open the cover page, she looks up at me and says, "I wrote this," and I embrace her through tears, "Yes, you did, and I'm so proud of you for that." Smiles and I see that she's unafraid now, unashamed, happy and true. "Will you help me with it?" we ask each other.
"As long as it takes, I will, yes," two voices glide, two octaves, at once in harmony.