If I could speak to that young girl in the farmhouse, the twenty-two-year-old wearing soft blue pants and matching vest as she drove through snowstorms to her job at the local hospital, the one with the panting pink-tongued black lab who wandered to the Finnish neighbors and possibly ate poison and died, the one who cried on Friday afternoons after work because so-and-so didn’t understand her, love her, treat her properly—what would this fifty-seven-year-old woman say?
What words of comfort and hope might echo across thirty-five years? How would the sage speak to innocence, knowing all that she must traverse to reach today?
Here is what might be shared on a frigid night when the toilet froze solid, after she scribbled notes wondering “What the heck am I supposed to do with my life? What am I supposed to DO?”
My dear, my sweetheart, my little self with wood bark in your hair: I wish I could tell you not to despair, not to weep, not to feel your restless heart so deeply. To simply relax into the pattern of your days, to let Life guide you whether to turn left or right, whether to stay in the Upper Peninsula or motor down to Texas to make your fortune.
But since despair is part of your path, here is what I will whisper to you. Honor your frustration, your not-knowing, your suffering words poured out in journal. These will serve you well. They will lead you, bit by bit, to where your heart aims like a straight arrow into the marrow of your being. Let that terrible restlessness—that desire to go who knows where?—and the only answer you can think of is “out for breakfast”—guide you more deeply into your inner world, your deep self.
You may not believe this, but Life is not against you. It’s leading you, guiding you, showing you the next movement of the dance. Your sense of separation carries a trail you shall walk until you find the fullness which always existed, never once absent through the despair, the challenges, the dying dog, the frozen toilet.
When the pain arises, it reveals a womb. Birth sometimes takes a lifetime. Suffering shall show you what no longer serves, what bracken beliefs and mossy thoughts must wither as winter descends. As you suffer, my love, I might only advise a little blue sky, as blue as your pant suit that you will remember across a gulf of turning years. Allow the vista to enlarge, if you can, to envelop the story you tell with your life. If you can possibly view this unfolding as a story, perhaps a dream, then you might encounter an inner observer who simply witnesses. This observer shall be your inner guru, your grace, the one who holds your hand through frigid afternoons and daisy mornings.
Trust this inner companion. Trust that it doesn’t need a story. Trust perhaps that what’s at the core of you shines. She lives as the shining. Some day you shall see that shining, clearer than that weeping willow, stronger than the shimmering shapes of form that rise like mist. Some fine day you will know that what can’t be seen or touched or tasted or smelled feels more solid than your wood stove. Lean into that invisible solidity, for it’s true, even if you cannot feel it in the midst of your trials and tribulations, your ragged pain.
The path you travel shall reveal all of this—if you want it. And you shall want it more than your very own self, your hundreds of penned stories. Trust your wanting. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s shallow, untrue or silly. Don’t credit the thoughts that slam you into small categories, tough facades, barricaded protections.
If you want to know the truth, you shall. Or you shall want it until the wanting reveals itself as empty, and then it will arise as a gift, a grace.
I love you, little one, and forgive every time you forsook me in your fear. In fact, there is nothing to forgive. Every movement, pro and con, for and against, simply danced us together into what can never be separated, and never was unbound for a single second of eternity.