I have been silent for a week. Sometimes I don’t feel like seeing too many people or answering texts – it’s not deliberate, it’s just the way life flows.
Some days are heavier than others, some weeks I am less productive than others. So what? I’m here through it all, and I’m still immensely grateful for life. From where I sit, life is *also* fallowness, and I’m childlike enough to marvel at that, too.
My week mainly consisted of looking at a spine-backed orb weaver spider in the back yard. Wildflower seeds too: Purple Coneflower, Lemon Mint, Indian Blanket, Plains Coreopsis, Swamp Sunflower, Lazy Daisy. Where would all these fit into my life, if not for that force that kicks me in the shins, buckling my knees and bringing me to the ground, face down in the mud? Look, it says: what’s right in front of you?
What is happening around me while I’m too busy and self-important in my wallowing? Oh, you feel empty, sweetheart? Well, the weather is turning. The first blossom on the young lemon tree is a fact. The crane flies are mating, dozens of them flitting about and landing gracefully like six-legged fairies on the fresh blades of grass. The spiny orb weaver has made a home between the laundry line posts, a neon yellow and black miracle hanging from a silky web. See her catching dewdrops and mosquitoes?
And the neighbor’s dog has a thing with Roux, they bark at each other and wag their tails from behind the wooden fence. And the black cat crosses the yard quietly at night, dodging two fresh ant hills, to sprawl on the front porch and be bored to its hearts’ desire.
I ask myself sometimes, on weeks like these, if I’m some sort of renunciate. I still read the news. I follow science and politics, and have noticed the sudden change of colors in human Louisiana around this time of year to purple, green and gold. I still care deeply for my loved ones, and this city, and this country and the ones I left behind. I touch them lightly in my mind’s single eye, seeing my Self reflected in them all; the vision blossoms in redemption, not renunciation. If I’m renouncing anything it is the way of life and the narrative that supports it that’s made us all feel alienated from ourselves and from the world, the way of life that pits us against each other, that tells us we are not enough, that reinforces a pathological kind of isolation that breeds loneliness. There’s nothing wrong with needing love, support or validation. We are social animals, you hear? We are hard-wired for empathy, companionship and cooperation. We are hard-wired for meaning and purpose. We all crave the love that we are, and thrive when we bathe in its beautiful warming rays.
There’s nothing wrong with discomfort, pain or sadness either – it’s the price one pays for being alive and present to life.
And there’s nothing wrong with stillness. Sometimes we need to sit alone in silence, to remember our birthright of wholeness, our origin in love, our home as infinity.
After a year in sharp and precise academia, it feels good to spend some time reconnecting with my tenderness, that place in me that needs no explanations, that revels in beauty. It’s indescribable, the feeling of a tiny seed nestled in the grooves of one’s cupped palm; how fragile, how marvelous life is. What immensity, to hold that seed momentarily between forefinger and thumb, only to relinquish it to the Earth, to let it go. To cover it with soil and sing a little song and wish it well. It’s what I do with my dreams, it’s what I do with my human self.
Against all conditioning, against all advice, against all the things my parents and my teachers have taught me to do, I kiss my wishes on the forehead and send them off backpacking around the globe.
You know, one of them ended up as a jackfruit tree growing in the middle of a crowded Saigon street. Another ended up with a guitar and hat full of coins outside a shop in Birmingham, UK. Another still as a snow-capped mountain in Arizona, viewed from the window of an Uber car.
I know you know what I am writing about. You see how connected we are, how close we feel, how good it is when you are kind and I am loving and our eyes smile at each other from across the grocery aisle, sister. So much so that you stared at me for several minutes while you checked out at the till, only to turn around and tell me “You look like you could be my cousin”.
And in that moment the spillways of my heart opened, releasing an inner laughter mixed with the silt of joy, because the secret is I am from six thousand six hundred and forty two miles away, but together we rendered time-space insignificant, here and now among chewing gum packets and candy bars.
So while perhaps it seems from the outside that I am doing little, very little of any substance, I tell you from the inside I become the world and it all comes to me, effortlessly. The love and the sufficiency, gratitude and inspiration, family, friends, sunshine and water. Good news and bad news, ugliness and beauty, deep wisdom and utter stupidity, partridge pea seeds and common blue violets, they all spin around me like moons orbiting Saturn.
“To live like a tree single and at liberty
And brotherly like the trees of a forest
This yearning is ours.”
– Nâzım Hikmet