Miraculous

My body moved.

My lungs drew breath in through my nostrils and along the back of my throat to make a sound like a blacksmith’s bellows stoking the furnace to keep the heat even. The movement of my body was slow and deliberate, sweeping through the air with fluid motions, knees and elbows flexing and bending and straightening and bending again.

My heart pumped rhythmically within my chest. Energy, oxygen, and blood flowed where it was needed, filled the space with what it needed to contract, expand, flex, or relax.

My body moved. My mind flowed with it. My spirit pulsed brightly within my chest and guided the body and mind to move together as one, binding them.

As my body moved a part of my mind broke free to roam the infinite wilderness. Almost without thought, without intention, without control, my mind ran through verdant fields of green, dense forests thick with pine needles and gray stone boulders, and rocky beaches where little crabs scuttled between tide pools and the surf rolled in and out over the sand.

I started to let go. And as I started to let go my mind flashed with thoughts and memories from previous lives…

Rubber-soled, canvas-clad feet pounding worn asphalt streets, heart pounding with the frivolous joy and boundless energy of youth. Slamming a wooden stick into the ground under a peach tree until it exploded into splinters, face red with misdirected and unspent rage, spittle flying through clenched, white teeth with each furious swing. A feeling of dread and unease in a room with a faded, old couch and a television screen endlessly flickering across the face of a man whose eyes are empty and unseeing, collecting cans in rows beneath his feet.

Fists clenching against the cold and the rain as a drunken scream escapes my lips, “What can I do to fix this,” while she responds, “Nothing.” Head pounding, stomach churning on another Sunday morning, practicing saying, “I don’t drink anymore,” to myself over and over again as something ancient within me begins to crack and break away. A womb of wood extending outward as a fire crackles in the hearth, delicately-picked flowers hanging on twisted twine to dry, windows framing rolling green hills, dark forests, and a twilight sky,

I thought of the people I know and the stories from previous lives that they have so graciously shared with me. Pain, torture, betrayal, cruelty, death, suffering beyond comprehension. Love, joy, discovery, wonder, beauty, and awe.

As my body and mind and spirit flowed they coalesced into a single, discreet thought; that we are all miraculous. In spite of everything we have done, that has been done to us, that has happened to us, here we are. We are here. In spite of all that pain and that trauma, here I was flowing like it was the only thing that I had ever done, like I was born to do it. In spite of all the horrible things that have happened in this cruel world of ours, we are still here to love each other, to see one another, and to thrive. To move. To flow.

What could be more miraculous than that?

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Monsters

I sat on the red and white mosaic floor, elbows propped up on knees, arms dangling idly, and took a long draw of my cigarette. The tip blazed and burned and I could hear the soft crackling sound of smoldering paper. I blew the acrid smoke out over the wrought iron railing and into the courtyard where the sounds of families chattering in Hungarian mingled with the dinnertime sounds of pots and pans rattling and water running. The sky darkened slowly with the coming of night and a soft breeze rustled my hair and the same dirty clothes I had been wearing for the last three days. I was alone. Aimless. Without purpose. But free…at least in some ways.

What an incredibly specific and unique feeling. It reminded me of late summer evenings in the cul-de-sac growing up. The warm Santa Ana winds that tasted like the setting sun. The sky ablaze with the fire of twilight. Small, tiny moments of peace and letting go. Isolated pockets of time where nothing else matters but that lived experience.

Idealized, romanticized, nostalgic. So beautiful, in part because it could never last. Part of me wishes I had been better at tolerating being in such an uncertain environment, that I could have stayed “free” longer. It’s hard to let go…

What would it be like to just live each and every moment as it occurs? To drop the story lines and accept the feelings that arise without trying to draw them out, avoid them, anticipate them, or make them last forever — that sounds like real freedom to me. Freedom from the fallacious lessons I have learned and taught to myself. Lessons from another life that are so hard to unlearn. Lessons like “you don’t matter,” or “hide yourself, hide the way you feel, or you will be forever disappointed.”

I am finally starting to unpack some of the things that I put away to prepare myself for the Peace Corps, to batten down the hatches in preparation for the tumultuous sea change I knew was coming. Old, painful truths. Things that feel deep and ancient. I feel these truths knocking on the door, pressing in, demanding to be heard, felt, and understood. Keeping them at bay is only causing me more pain, but some truths feel too hard to hold.

We like to think that only monsters or bad people can hurt us. But you don’t have to be a monster to cause pain to the ones you love — this is a truth I know all too well. Good people cause pain all the time, every day. We say “it wasn’t that bad.” We say “it could have been worse.” We conceal the impact even from ourselves — especially from ourselves. Because how could we accept that things that were so normal to us are actually the source of our pain?

There are so many tiny, beautiful things to enjoy in this world. So many small little moments, the very simplicity of which makes our lives so precious. But to see those things, to be awake, is to see everything. There is no picking and choosing. Joy and excitement and amusement and love let out everything else, too. Sometimes joy and happiness are the absence or relief of their opposite. Sometimes it feels easier to stay asleep.

I want to wake up. I want to be free. I want to accept the painful truths of my life and let them fill me, to become part of the whole instead of keeping them hidden away. I want my light to shine brightly. I want my heart, full of love, to be seen.