It’s after 5 in the afternoon. I am sitting and tapping amid all the clutter on my desk. Feeling the fullness of the day. I am tired. I did say after seeding my mother’s and mine petunias and some chili peppers that I would be okay if I don’t get anything else done. And so I am. I’ve done a few more things so I am in double and triple happiness. I’m sucking on some Smarties also, pushing my happiness through the roof.
I’m exploring The Tree of Life –Kabbalah– with Caroline Myss. I’m taking the cosmic online journey into the ten powers of my soul. It’s an ambitious undertaking but I got the rest of my life to do it. It goes hand in hand with my exploration of my Bernina 790. Let me make a goal of creating the tree of life on it in 6 months. I have to set the goal and the time frame. It’s that basket to shoot for. Lent is coming up. It’s time for me to go into the desert to study and create.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the desert. I miss it -the quiet and stillness. I close my eyes and I can feel its loving arms around me. I can hear the whisper of his voice in the air. His presence surrounds me. I am comforted. I am on the right path. I will be happy to spend time there. What will you be doing during Lent?
Life and writing are akin to me at times. I struggle to get a letter on the page and taking a deep breath is difficult at times. If I don’t try, the page remains blank, empty of the stories hidden within me. And if I don’t take that deep inhale, my breathing is shallow, my chest tight, holding all the doubts and fears within.
I take the big breath, inhaling up the side of the imaginery square in my head. Then comes the slow exhalation across the top, inhaling down the side of the square and exhaling across the bottom. I do this again, a little slower until I feel my self relaxing and expanding into the universe. I am saved again.
Sheba and I are trudging along to our own pace through the desert of our winter. There are so many ups and downs. There are many twists and turns. Life leaps and catches us unaware at the most inconvenient times. But then, when is it convenient? We have to buckle up, or is it buckle down – to grin and bear it. I can feel myself baring my teeth into a sneer. Best just to smile, nod and carry on.
We are both doing remarkably well considering. I have put both of us on a diet. It’s difficult to make this journey with heavy hips and thighs. A little less weight and a little more heart would be good. I have added some Omega-3 fatty acids to give us more courage. I hope it doesn’t make us burp and give us stinky breath. Wish us luck. We have a long way to go.
There are many stories in the desert. Won’t you take a seat and have a listen?
I come from a culture rich in superstition and ancestory whorship. We honour and worship the deities and ancestors by laying out food and burning paper money on special occasions. Red is the colour of luck and prosperity. I learn most of this and all things Chinese from my mother. She is a great storyteller.
A few days ago Sheba and I stopped in for a visit with her on our walk. I shared Sheba’s anxiety attacks with her. I was wise enough not to tell her that Sheba probably absorbed them from me. She in turn told me of an episode when she was a little girl in China. She was sent out to fetch her brother for supper. It was dusk. She came across a crippled man. His appearance and the strange way he walked gave her a great fright. She ran home crying, I’m so scared! I’m so scared!
She fell quite ill with fright and could not recover. The family searched for remedies and learned that she has to get it from the man who made her ill. It was said that if she ate a certain kind of cookie the man had bit into, she would recover. My relatives went to the man but he would not cooperate. He did not understand that my mother was just a child and easily frightened. She was gravely ill. There was no disrespect. Still he was angry and not moved until he was admonished by his wife.
He followed my relatives back to their house. They gave him the cookie. He bit into it and then gave it to my mother. She ate it and was able to recover. My uncle, my mother’s older brother said she had great chi to have survived.
Her advice for Sheba is to give her something to wear to anchor her – to give her heart. So now Sheba is sporting a purple magnetic necklace I found in my jewellry box. She is less nervous but still on guard, looking over her shoulders while she eats. And someone has to stand by her while she is eating out of her bowl. It’s not like her at all. She loves to eat and needed no coaxing or guarding before. I hope she snaps out of it soon. If she could only talk! It would be a story.
It’s a bit cold here in our desert but we are soothed by its stillness and quietness. Our hearts are gladdened by the brillance of the sun. It beckons Sheba and I out the door and down that yellow brick road. It is not always paved with gold nor lined with friendliness.
We try to take things in stride – brave the chill, the rudeness and mean shouts behind our backs. We try not to respond in kind. But I did hold up evidence that we are responsible dog and dog owner. We pick up after ourselves. So what is your problem that you bang on your window and send your kids out to scream at us?
No matter. My temperature did not rise. I did not come undone. And there was a friendly witness who gave us smiles and Sheba many pats on the head. Jesus came to rescue us in the desert. He helps those who help themselves.
I am buoyed by my new found calmness. The hard work has paid off. I am nearing four weeks of practicing being in my body, in the now, accepting things as they are. My uncertainties and fears have lessened. I tremble no more. I am recovering parts of myself lost along life’s highways and byways. I will be finished the course when I come out of the desert. How sweet it is – NOW.
The road to well-being and happiness is not an easy one. This is not a rant. It is what I am learning over and over again. Damn! There is no getting there. When you get there, you find that there is no there. It is a continuous journey through hills, valleys, deserts and oases. The terrain is terrifying, glorious and unpredictable. Beware if you tend to use the cruise control.
I’m venturing into the desert again for forty days and nights. This time I’m taking Sheba with me. Together we will explore the barren and arid landscape like Dorothy and Toto. We will find our own yellow brick road through our Land of Oz. Whether or not we will find the Emerald City is not important for us. We want to develope our intelligence, heart and courage. We want to come out the other side healed and unshakeable.
We are on our way. I know there will be many challenges ahead of us. But that is the pull, isn’t it? There is room and time if you want to join us.
Through this period of Lent I have been putting an effort to keep my own council. It is not an easy thing for I am a talker and I tend to speak my mind. Speaking my mind hasn’t really worked for me. It’s like ‘I fought the world and the world won’.
Somehow I’ve always felt I’m a rebel. I’ve had more than one person say to me: Lily, only you would say what other people would only think. That has always puzzled and shocked me for I do not think I am a rude person. I do not tell people they are ugly or they stink. I do not even tell them when they are rude.
Would you not say that they are guilty of what they are accusing me of? And isn’t it rude to say that to my face? Trying my best to understand people and all their ways haven’t really worked for me either. It has only hurt my head and heart. It has also made me an angry person at times.
So my dears, I’m trying new ways. It’s not for me to know you if you want to be a mystery. I have reached and reached out to you, doing my part. I only ask you to meet me halfway. My dears, when I talk to you, I only want you to acknowledge you heard me, even if you don’t like what I said.
My dears, do you think that silence doesn’t speak. Well, if it doesn’t, body language speaks volumes. So does actions. And it is a bit of a curse I can read both of them. Ignorance can be bliss.
In this time, I am making a friend of silence. Only in silence can I learn what is important to me. Only in silence can I hear myself. In silence I can value myself just for myself. In silence I cannot be misunderstood.
Just as I am physically moving out of the desert, I am easing into Lent. I am back in the desert where the mornings and nights are cool and air is so clear. The doves are cooing and the song birds are singing their song. The quails strut their stuff.
I am happy in the desert. I love its barrenness. There are no distractions. There’s no news – no television, no radio. There are no things for me to want, no cravings to satisfy. There is only quietness and stillness. I can almost hear God’s whisper echoing in the canyons. I can see his shadow in the moonlight.
I can see forever in the desert. I can breathe with ease. I can still my mind and listen to my own heartbeat. I will follow it when it is time to leave the desert again.
Though it is a month before Lent, it is no surprise nor an accident that I find myself in the desert. I am once again lost in the wilderness, wandering up the lonesome road, trying to find my way, looking for my words.
I have lost my words these last while. They have disappeared from my fingertips. It is a struggle to recover and grasp them again. It is not a bad thing to feel the silence and the stillness. It is not a bad thing to sit, wait and to listen to the quiet.
There is time. No need to rush. No need to despair. I have 30 days in the desert. There is time to breathe, exhale, count my heartbeats and march to my own drum. There is time to live, love and gather the sacred sage.
I am in the desert again. Only this time it is not of my choosing, nor is it Lent. But that is how life is. Sometimes we don’t get to choose.
My fingertips had been silent these last days. No relief to be had from the tapping on the keyboard. And so I remained till now.
You cannot force these things. You cannot speak against your will. And so I remain silent, ever hopeful to find my way out of the desert. Now I see a glimmer of the passage out. And I am ever so grateful…to find my voice again and to feel the ground beneath my feet.
I am happy to leave the desert. I have suffered and endured, but it has also been time well spent learning the lessons of the desert.
I think I have had too many glasses of wine. I am not feeling myself on this 43rd day into Lent. I am feeling rather angry, ticked off.
Making progress in becoming enlightened is a hard task. I am no Buddha but I do try hard. I have no Bodhi tree to sit under. But I do have a snow pile to clear. I am learning to use my bad energy to do good things. Today I have cleared a wide path all the way in front of the house. Now, there’s less worry about melting snow doing damage to the foundation.
I have not lost any of my excess weight yet, though I have stepped on the scale a few times. Getting slimmer is not easy or simple. I am walking Sheba twice a day. I am not really thrilled about it, but I do it anyways. As soon as we start out, I want to come back and hit the couch already. I talk myself into one block, then another block, and another. I have to train myself into liking something. I have to train myself into good habits.
I threw out my drawer full of old ugly, utilitarian bras today….finally. Funny how that is. Even though I’ve brought 4 nice new ones and 6 really pretty vibrant camisoles, it was still difficult to toss those ugly old bras. Attachment? What was I attached to – things of no use and no longer desirable. So what other undesirables are still lurking in my drawers and closet? What yukkies are hidden in my head?
Well, it is getting late. I am scare of the dark. I am scare of my shadow. Best wait for sunlight before digging further. I might have to stick with digging snow for awhile till I am stronger. And I will – get stronger. I trust the God in me.