This past spring, as I was welcoming burgeoning signs of life, including within myself, I noticed that the distance between these two events was non-existent. I am part of all of it, and I don't have to be any particular way to force that.
One of the advantages of living in the country, cloistered away from people and things and general hubbub, is the ability to clear my mind. To allow my identity to stand down and relax. To disappear into the simple experience of just being. I’ve been horizontal for 5 days, sitting up to do a little writing and reading and eat my meals, but mostly magnetized to my couch in front of Netflix, too tired to absorb a good book or do much of anything else. I tried a goal of 5 minutes of daily walking, but failed for 3 days. Today, I was able to cook, write, study, and walk about the property for over 20 minutes. Everything, it seems, both indoors and out, is coming alive.
At the bottom of the hill on which we live, tiny water droplets are hanging from the ends of the rock elm branches, like little diamond drop earrings. As if the trees are dressed and ready for a greatly anticipated party. The most exquisite greens and blues are mottled together on the barks, there are patches of bright moss on the ground, and birds are chirping loudly in the thickets. I took a walk behind the barn and looked out onto the farmer’s field next door, and beyond to a small valley where coyotes hide during daylight. And then I started to cry. I’m still trying to disseminate the experience. It was lovely and comforting and like coming home. I felt a part of.
In a highly contrasting experience, I attended a private lunch at the new Toronto Saks (of the 5th Avenue variety) with some girlfriends last week. Through an old colleague of mine from my lifestyle television producing days, we were treated to a gourmet meal and the company of a hot new French fragrance designer, along with a tour of the store. It was glamourous and luxurious and delightful. Mostly because I was with women who are joyful and full of life and laughter, but also because I am moved by beauty and elegance and excellence, all of which were well represented. But something struck me about the experience as I juxtaposed it with this morning’s decidedly different walkabout, as I dodged scat in my rubber boots. When I am with new people in new situations, there is a part of me that isn’t sure about who to be. How much of myself do I reveal?
In my journaling workshops, we talk about the different roles we play in life. Writer, performer, wife, daughter, step-mother, neighbour, and friend are a few of mine. And while there are differences in these roles, I do endeavour to be consistently real. If not fully myself in some roles, at least authentically me in all of them. So if that’s the case, why is there a difference between being with strangers, being with friends, and being alone? After moving away from the urban jungle, which I still love and appreciate for its many advantages, I felt a kind of melting occur. As if layers of my identity were slowly dripping away. As if all the stimuli of the city had caused me to build up response shields — like Wonder Woman brandishing her bracelets. Except I had full body armour to deflect both detected and perceived dangers. We all have Spidey senses for a reason. There is value in assessing safety and being able to protect ourselves. And there are times when these instincts and defense mechanisms have served me well. But there are also times when old patterns are just needlessly repeating themselves.
If crying was a result of slipping into the oneness of all of it, it’s not that I put down my defences, but that, for a moment, I realized they were never real. That separation itself is not real. And therefore if I’m thinking about what parts of myself to reveal, I’m living in an illusion. There is nothing to reveal, or to explain. I don’t have to introduce myself to nature, or give it my resumé, list my accomplishments, or even share my personality traits. The experience is an absence of identity, the implication of which is that I can just be, anywhere and everywhere. The concerns of what to reveal are manufactured by my ego, which just wants to impress. This is the juxtaposition that really matters — the ego’s desire to show off versus my desire to be. I’ll be on the look out for that Joker. I’m clear there’s a place for him in the pantheon of fictional superheroes and supervillains, but I’d rather reserve all of them for those days when I’m flat on my back, viewing them from a distance, on my TV.
From A Run In My Stocking: Confessions Of A Recovering Perfectionist www.aruninmystocking.com