Sometimes gifts come in interesting packages, not looking like gifts at all. Maybe the wrapping is askew, or they’re not even wrapped. Or the gift itself doesn’t feel like it’s for you, but just something grabbed at the last minute or re-gifted to save time or money. Maybe the gift is something the giver wanted, and assumed you did too, like ultra-smelly body lotion that has you fainting before you can rub it in. Perhaps the gift is the betrayal from an affair that spanned years, planned to continue on forever only until it was uncovered. Because of a Pocket Call. (I will never tire of typing those two words.)
Well, I’ve got my thank you notes out because I am delighted to have received just such a gift. Two actually – betrayal and divorce. One was wrapped in four years of my life, covered in pictures of two people in love, babies being born, holidays celebrated, kisses shared, tears shed. The other wasn’t wrapped. Although the bills from the divorce attorneys would have done the trick nicely.
Since I’ve opened those gifts, my life has been like the snow in a snow globe that is attached to one of those machines at the paint store that shake the can until it’s contents are perfectly blended. There have been days when I haven’t been able to point to the sky, unsure of whether I am upright or not, feeling like I am surrounded by haze, clutter, fog, snow falling from all directions. A disorienting white-out that won’t let up.
And then I have days like today where I feel so fortunate to be alive, to be here on the blue marble, experiencing exactly what I am meant to be experiencing. Even though I still feel disoriented, it’s not from upheaval but from a great shift that is happening in my core. In my heart. A shift that is occurring because I am not afraid of it. I welcome it. And once that shift sees the mat that says, C’mon In!, you better make room because that shift sure knows how to move.
Today I meditated on a mountain top after climbing 800 nearly vertical feet. My heart stopped beating out of my chest almost immediately. The warm, dry breeze cooled my arms, the sweat from my climb evaporating before my tenth breath. I settled in more swiftly than ever before, allowing my mind to drift off and take its thoughts with it. A man approached who I had passed on the trail earlier. I could sense him quieting his steps and grabbing the collar of his dog so she wouldn’t disturb me. I opened one eye, and because I was sitting on a rock on the ground, I was able to look under his broad-brimmed hat and saw his face for the first time. He looked just like my father. I squeezed my eyes shut but the tears still came as if shot from a super soaker. Then I heard in my being:
“Don’t be afraid. I’m here and I’ve never left you. This was meant to be. I am so proud of you.”
I let myself cry.
The tears slowed quickly, replaced by a vision of two girls, both me. Ageless, but one was acting awkward, like a teenager. Unsure of where she fit in, how to stand, where to look, what to do with her hands. She was floating in space, but her eyes were locked on mine trying to draw me to her. I stayed put. I just watched.
The other was at ease, hanging off to the side but fully taking in the scene unfolding in front of her. She was draped in sheer layers upon layers of white cloth that softly fluttered around her bare body. She didn’t express any desires or feelings. She didn’t smile or frown, but had a remarkably serene expression that emanated from her whole being, not just her face. I could sense that she knew not just what was happening right at that point in time, but that she knew all. She was so at ease. At peace.
I looked to the other me and saw pleading eyes. She stood, her shoulders rounded toward the ground, her hands loosely clasped, propping up her chin as she stared up at me, her gaze never wavering. I felt she wanted me to reassure her. Let her know that I wasn’t going to leave her alone. That she could stay.
I felt a shift in my center. A vertical shift. The area between my collar bones and my hip bones split in two, in a gentle, liquidy way. The two halves rotated slightly so that both girls were looking at me while floating in these halves, side by side. I smiled. After a long minute the awkward me turned and walked off towards the bay.
It hit me like a cow patty. She didn’t want to stay.
She wanted to be let go.
That was enough for me for a day’s meditation. You could have knocked me off that rock with the sac from a pregnant spider. (And I am NOT Googling that for you.) I came to and felt a good burn in my legs from the climb and a nice buzz from a well-placed sit. I’ll be sure to meditate on the mountain again soon.
As I descended I thought about writing this post and my thoughts turned to Mr. Jackpot. He’s been M.I.A. And by that I mean our nearly daily phone calls have trickled to once or twice a week. We haven’t seen each other since he took my mother and me on a tour of western Marin and Sonoma counties, finishing the day at a sublime restaurant in Graton named Underwood Bar and Bistro. That’s at least three weeks ago, maybe four. That same weekend was our epic night at Stinson Beach.
We had a tense exchange at the end of the night, after dinner at the Underwood. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he was exhausted and wanted to go home. Plain and simple. I reacted, he reacted and neither of us did so with maturity. We talked that through over the next few nights, bringing up the triggers from our past that creep into the now. They were helpful conversations. But then I had to bail on the holiday to Yachats. It’s not been the same since. I sent him a text earlier this week letting him know I had his cell phone charger and could mail it or leave it at his house. (My mom, hilariously, packed 3 apple chargers in her luggage. She has one iPad. She took her own and then decided, the more the merrier, and swiped mine and Mr. Jackpot’s too.) Haven’t heard back.
I expected us to have less frequent contact because he’s been working like Ryan Seacrest lately. He has no down time. But this feels different. For the last few days I have been wondering what’s up. It nagged at me that I was doing that. As if it was wrong to wonder why someone’s behavior had changed. I settled on that thought, dodging lizards disappearing into rocks that scattered the trail as I made my way down the mountain.
After a few minutes I felt the sensation of the shift again, the presence of Ease Me, with Awkward Me off in the hills east of the bay, still walking. I experienced what she would do in my present circumstance with Mr. Jackpot in a blurry surge of images. A phone call perhaps, a “Have I done anything to offend” conversation, a repair job on the bridge that connects us. All things she might have tried. Not one of those actions resonated with me at all.
As I neared the end of my hike I zeroed in on a simple idea. Maybe Mr. Jackpot going M.I.A. has nothing to do with me. And I should do nothing about it. Just let it be. I am simply playing a role in his life, as he is in mine. That role can morph and shift at any time. That’s the beauty of an encounter. It’s not fixed. It has no structure. That’s what I love about it. That’s what I need right now. Maybe not always what I want, but what I need.
Mr. Jackpot is doing exactly what he needs to be doing for himself right now. Whatever that is. Maybe my actions – the terse exchange and the bailing on Yachats – did have him retreat. But even if they did, that’s what they were intended to do. Mr. Jackpot needed to retreat and I assisted in that endeavor. I needed to leave The Genius and The Genius assisted in that endeavor. We all play roles in life. My aim is to focus on the lessons/morsels/pay-offs of the vignettes that make up my journey and less on the ‘action scenes’ that comprise them.
This realization is about more than simply allowing things to unfold organically and looking for the growth opportunity. It’s really about respecting the roles that people play in my journey, and being respectful of the role I play in theirs. Not making it about me when it’s about them. And not making it about them when it’s supposed to be about me. Then things truly will unfold organically.
The flutter of Ease Me’s dress caught my inner eye. I turned my gaze to her. She had fully moved in. She sat on a white pillow, all serene and blissed out. She looked at me and I felt her say,
You’re growing up, m’lady. You’re growing up.
As I write this tonight, I know exactly what my next ladylike move is going to be. You’re starting to get to know me by now, so it will come as no surprise that it’s a massive one.