The crazy part is, I don’t know how to talk about my own losses, so it’s kind of good I haven’t had any.
relationships, loved ones, pets, even if I didn’t get to the funeral it still mattered.
And I do know how to talk about it, after the fact. I’m an introvert, after all, so I talk later. I tried spilling my guts for a while but really I didn’t get anywhere. Digestion is internal. Expression, however, is external. You have to do something with all that stuff. Our bodies, as Gordon Atkinson says, make food into feet. And so, say I: our hearts make pain into love.
Recently I was doing a reframing exercise. Danielle LaPorte (of http://whitehottruth.com, seriously worth checking out) puts out The Spark Kit (formerly The Firestarter Sessions) where she walks you through a little clarity-finding, power-focusing, business-building internal work. One of the 190 pages of fun and awesome (literally laughed out loud a few times–and I’m only on chapter 2) takes your biggest business mistakes and has you figure out what you learned from them.
I hate the whole “you need all the horrible things that happen to you” thing.
I’m just not buying it.
“Everything happens for a reason” — nope.
Sometimes shit hits fan and it just.plain.sucks.
This is subtle but important: Shit-hit-fan now what do I do with the result? –totally different question.
Not Some Mean Grownup Made This Happen To Us. and NOT We Brought This On Ourselves.
Instead: okay, we have serious shit-distribution here. It sucked. Let’s figure out how to use it.
Answer # 1: OWWWWIEEE NOT FAIR. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!!!!!
Answer #2: wait, what’s going on? Shit? Like manure?
Answer #3: Okay, hang on. Can we get a rototiller in here? I want sugar snap peas and juicy red tomatoes, and this is starting to look like fertile ground…
And then we get into the details: it will be an organic garden. It will kick FertilizerCompany’s ass. I will feed the neighborhood and donate to the local food pantry with the results of this shitstorm. Let’s call the papers! Twitter! Facebook! Let’s build this on a reproducible framework, because pretty soon I will have an elite crew of gardeners. And they will want a shit-distribution system…
It’s a turnaround, baby. And it’s not a turnaround based on lies or damn lies or politics. It’s a turnaround based on letting the past be the past and starting with a clean slate and a nonjudgemental set of facts.
Fact: Manure. Everywhere.
Question: Now what?
The question needs to be clear and unhitched from how it got that way. Leave unfair, messy, and painful aside (don’t stuff them, just don’t let them cloud your imagination) and look only at what is true and what could happen next. Change language. Use “manure” instead of “shit”. See what happens.
And the answer is obvious:
What next? Grow something.
One of our cats took off last night. Hung around the margins, just outside the circle of light (thanks, Ani DiFranco), but refused to come in for the dinner call. We worry about him because, well, he’s a beloved kitty but he’s not that swift. He doesn’t like to come in. He does like to sleep in the woods. And these woods bite: they have foxes and fishers and owls. And raccoons and bears and coyotes. We love the living ecosystem, but it’s hard when we love prey as well as predators.
And I could feel myself letting go a little, trying to come to terms with the possibility that our one and a half year old sweet tabby with the fur that smells like talcum powder and the little tufts on his ears that bespeak a bobcat somewhere in his family could be gone. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. –that we might not have him for a happy 20 years and hold him while he dies peacefully in his sleep. I don’t want to hurt when he goes, but I want to be fully with him while he’s here, so I’m trying to stop. Stop making space. Stop creating distance. I’m trying to allow myself to be as close to him as I want, and know without judgement that it might hurt later.
I’ve seen a lot of people let go of other people. Sometimes years after they’ve left; sometimes years before they’re gone. And it’s the years before they’re gone that I really want to write about today. Julia Terry wrote on my blog about tending the fire: keeping it alive.
But knowing that someday it will go out–by death, by separation, by circumstance–is no excuse for keeping a distance now. Now, you have it. Now it is alive. Now the person is with you, flesh and blood and bone, heat and laughter and tears. Too many relationships end before they’re over, because we think it will hurt less, and that’s somehow better.
My massage instructor told a story about having frozen shoulder, and losing the use of her arm for a long time as a result. She said, “If I had to choose between having the severe pain and the use of my arm, or losing the pain but also losing substantial range of motion, I’d keep the pain and the use of the arm.”
The people in our arms are part of our lives. They are part of our bodies. Someday we may lose them. (Or we may not.) Someday may come, and it may come in the way that we don’t want it. It might have happened to us painfully before. But as Havi Brooks says, then is not now. And someday is not now, either.
Now we have one another.
Now we are in love.
Now we can be.
Now we can change.
Now we can create what we want.
Now we can make something happen.
Now it is all possible.
What will you do–now?