“Change is good. You go first.” - Dilbert
With April came the move, and for a road warrior like me (count ‘em, ask my children) you might think, “You’re a pro…! Whaddya mean moving was a big deal?” Evidently precedent does not limit principle. This move rocked me. I’m now living in the smallest digs ever (oh, except the time we lived in a camper parked in the driveway of a three bedroom rancher in Serra Mesa, San Diego; or the time we lived in an A -Frame cabin four miles from the nearest road and 20+ miles outside Orillia, ON), but that was then. Have I entered a time-warp continuum that no one warned me about? Is history rooted in tomorrow? I stood on the bridge between expectation and reality.
In land miles, the move was not that far: from the SW perimeter of a small island in the Pacific Northwest the size of Manhattan, to the NE tip of that island. The depth and breadth of the gulf that lay between leaving the old and moving in to the new taught me that distance is really a quality of mind-stuff. During all the packing, preparing and plodding through the painful sorting of what to keep and what to toss, I reflected upon the millions of people today who are dispossessed, and the emotional landscape of the first settlers in the New World. For weeks fear crushed my chest and anxiety clenched me in her steely grip. The certain unfamiliarity awaiting me at the new ‘stead provoked a numbing paralysis. In the days preceding the move I felt closer to the exiled in Afghanistan or Syria or Mexico, than to my neighbor three doors down. As I pondered, “Is there room to shelve the fiction library?” the war-torn and outcast asked, “Can I carry an extra pair of shoes?”
Journalism ‘as it happens’ does erase vast physical distances, creating an emotional link to all souls on the planet. Has virtual community replaced the communities of geographical proximity? Probably. For most of us, certainly. My first exposure to our truly ‘global community’ occurred as a child, to young to understand, but old enough to feel the shock of a nation during the reporting of President Kennedy’s assassination. Grim faces grieving, a thousand little white handkerchief flags wiping tears, we sat unified with the mourners on a small black & white television in northern Germany. What was then truly novel and amazing has evolved to become commonplace.
The home I left was familiar and comfortable, like my Saturday morning sweater: I knew every inch, snag, colour imperfection and hanging thread. I lovingly mended, tended and altered the space to fit me, arranging various evolutions of artwork, mementos, and keepsakes until my environment and me became seamlessly integrated, like an overlay upon a familiar map.
When the news arrived that it was time to move, I sniffed my death shroud, suffered heartburn, wept. From the bottom of my well of despair, I sought direction, comfort, God.
Turning inward, I plunged below surface appearances, deeper than the feeling level. Trusting that goodness and mercy sustains all life, I breached an emotional threshold: within the indigo darkness, beyond the pale, I immersed in to my emotional self. At this center, a glowing pale yellow orb of Limitless Light sustains a wellspring of Life. In quiet contemplation, I sipped the nectar that issued forth from the depths of my despair.
Refreshed by this inner journey, I returned to packing with renewed vigor: keeping some precious things, lovingly releasing the rest. People chirped, “Think of how good you’ll feel w/out so much stuff!” Hackles raised I wondered, “Why is it that people insist on bypassing a good grieving session? When did sorrow become a thing to be averted, and at what cost? Why can’t anyone let themselves feel sad?”
It’s a habit, this aversion to curiosity about the dark side or the dull side or the ugly side. We cannot banish it, although plenty prefer to pretend it’s not there. Not until I am able to feel tender affection for the grotesque, the odd shapes of my shadow self do I really know love. Wisdom about my condition came from a friend familiar with moving across vast distances. He offered “… the shrinking stuff is also an expansion of self.”
Although painful and oh so tiring, the move went off w/out a hitch. Today the flattened cardboard boxes makes up the sum of its remnants. The gut wrenching fear of change has passed. I hardly remember it. Probably not so for the exiled who are still walking. I offer prayers that I hope will, in some small way, sustain their spirits. I petition the Divine that acts of kindness and generosity provide them with food, shelter, a safe harbor.
New perspectives = new opportunities to engage the change we need to make in our hearts to coexist on this shrinking planet Earth. The courage of the banished, the broken-hearted, the devastated, compels my heart to openly shine the Limitless Light in all I think and do; to collaborate with those who believe that our collective time, talent and treasure can be redistributed to “Live simply, so others can simply live.”
Change is good, although I cannot claim to having gone first. I hardly remember the stress or the sympathy I sought. Settled in to my little charming and oh so convenient garden suite, windows of opportunity have already opened by virtue of its location and simplicity. Together with the inconvenient truths propelling me forward into new realms of possibility, the magic and mystery of the Dance of Life swell my heart with gratitude for newly discovered dimensions of existence. Taking that leap of faith was worth it. I let go of what I wanted and was given what I needed. I believe the best is indeed, yet to come.
Photo courtesy of Mark Johnston