(Song Dedication: The Space Between by Dave Matthews Band)
It has been a few weeks since my last post. This has been a good experience for me, not that I planned it…it just happened that way. I find the less I plan in general, the more I enjoy my life, so yay! It is not that I haven’t been writing because I have, a few times a week, I’ve been kicking it old school blue ball point pen to the paper of one of my many journals. Regularly contemplating one of the verses from the Tao Te Ching, with the oh-so-welcome accompaniments of Wayne Dyer.
So to my readers I appear to be vacant, but that is hardly the truth. I am so very present to my life, enjoying it so thoroughly in fact, I have chosen not to glean a couple hours to do what has turned out to be a weekly blog post. In this space I have gifted myself (which feels contrary to say since I love every piece I write and it tethers me to a part of myself that is completely open, vulnerable and authentically creative) I am finding far less need to judge myself and others, regardless of doing, being or convexly…non-being.
When I say “a couple hours to write” in actuality my writing of any given piece is far more invested than that. Reflections and mental notes, bodily tension and emotional awareness begin to percolate a notion of something that I simply MUST write and this permeation process can take a few days to a week as I envision the connectedness of seemingly random events now floating through the air and around my head, until settling into a cohesive compilation of integrated genius…much unlike this paragraph I just wrote and you just read….errr….I guess I should have just said….after thinking about shit for a while, I beautiful mind it into a piece of writing.
So this morning, the conscious workout of muting the judgement section of my brain and the idea of not writing for a few weeks for others to read, dovetailed with the eleventh verse of the Tao which reads:
Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub, it is in the hole at the centre that the use of the cart hinges. Shape clay into a vessel, it is the shape within that makes it useful. Carve fine doors and windows, but the room is useful in its emptiness. The usefulness of what is depends on what is not.
This is a metaphor for living from the void, which as soon as I heard that word, my heart sank. My association with that word, “void” has been purely negative this entire seemingly sideways journey that my life took back in October of 2017. But see? There it is again. That judgement rising on what is good and what is bad.
You see I went into a tailspin, when my health began to fail beyond my coping mechanisms (or addictions if you will), and I could no longer function in this life I had chosen every step of the GD way. At first I fought and I resisted, amplifying my suffering. When all the distractions of life that I had built up around me like a brick tower were dismantled into a crumbly mess, I had nothing left but to be with it…be with me and myself (yes those are two different things, not just for schizophrenics). That’s when shit got real because in the quiet intermittence of the residual rumblings of chronic anxiety, I felt nothing. A complete void in the centre of my chest where my heart should have been…should, the ultimate judgement word, non?!
I hated that lack. It brought fear and confusion and more anxiety. It made me judge myself, “…how could you be so selfish? You have everything! A healthy child, a husband who loves you, a successful teaching career, a home, a car, a this, a that…” on and on the list went. A list of things I should be grateful for, weighing me down like a cement block tied around my ankles in an angry sea. Because yes, I was drowning and my body was getting too tired to keep my head above the water line any longer.
My chronic migraines made me stop and feel the void. Oh how I hated them.
Fast forward to present tense and not 700 words ago I just finished proclaiming my joy of living presently. I see now how this all needed to play out for me to awaken. There was no rushing of this business, there was no negotiation to be had, the subtraction of many roles, events and things from my life were absolutely essential to where I find myself now, grounded in gratitude for what is, as if my chest were going to burst open with light…at least I think that’s what that sensation is, and hopefully not a mild jammer brought on by my monthly run I enjoyed this morning?!
I’m glad I brought that up actually…my run. I have been building a great new playlist and felt it was time to test it out. I had walked the previous day with a friend who recently lost her Father, one of the loves of her life. We walked and she shared her vulnerability and the sting of loss. He had fought for 4 years to have every opportunity to be with his family, he fought hard and at every turn he found purpose, presence and the will to smile. I am so inspired by this and it is his legacy.
We walked along the Fraser River by the little pine tree he had planted a few years ago next to the memorial bench of another dearly departed family member and we stopped to admire it, noting sadly that someone had decided to beat it up a bit at one point, stripping it of some of its branches, and yet, it still grew…other than the one spot of injury the rest of the tree grew tall and straight with beautiful greenery to protect it’s cambium, sapwood and heartwood (strangely enough the sapwood is also known as the xylem which is mostly dead, yet has a profound purpose to deliver the water to the tree and the heartwood is barely active at all but serves as the strength of the tree, to give integrity…see what just happened there…deadened and non-being, yet still an integral part of the tree!)
I marvelled at how the little tree stood strong despite the trauma, making me think of the man who planted it. Years of chemo, radiation and surgery, and yet he still stood strong and proud, warmly smiling upon anyone in his presence for as long as he possibly could. The tree, a mirror to his very soul I believe.
As I ran past the tree on my own this morning, I smiled in acknowledgement and was suddenly struck by all the lives who no longer grace my own. I thought of each of their smiles, like the day before and I buckled in grief, beginning to sob. I slowed my pace to a walk and felt compelled to go back so I did. I took a picture of the tree to remind me to be here and now and to smile, as all these precious souls have taught me. The remainder of my run was spent thinking of the other lessons I have learned from their lives, and without their absence these important lesson may have been lost on me.
I would like to share them with you now:
My Father-in-law taught me that life is too short so do what you love and don’t look back. My friend Su taught me that everyone has a gift and to use it authentically, her gift was to love with her entire heart and soul. My husband’s best friend’s brother taught me to create and sing and share your gifts with anyone who will listen. My great Auntie Marg taught me that it doesn’t take blood to feel like family. My Friend’s Father taught me that the most important moment is the one you are in, the most important person is the one you are with. All of these people live on in my memory smiling radiantly and through my kind and thoughtful actions.
Wayne Dyer expands on the eleventh verse of the Tao writing, “…to be is to know what is not, an invisible force to define what is….an imperceptible centre is our vital essence. To be still is to allow and let go….invite your essence to reveal itself, live in the void.”
I use to be ashamed of my inner void, it frightened me because I believed it would consume me. Consume my being the way a migraine slowly crept into my field of vision, eventually overcoming my entire brain, forcing my body to succumb to its whim. It was painful and scary, full of dread…even in the moments I was without. But every time I came out of it, emerging into the post migraine fog, I felt relief, a little bit lighter…a shedding of heavy armour. Eventually as I learned to surrender, the symptoms became fewer and fewer until the attacks completely vanished all together. Perhaps my body was trying to teach my mind and spirit to not fear this void? Not only is there no longer fear, but it has been replaced with more abundance and gratitude than I could have ever imagined.