An Open Letter to My Son’s Friends at the Prom After-Party Weekend
May 14, 2018
21 Days of Yoga
May 17, 2016
Where the Light Enters You
February 6, 2019
Where the Light Enters You
February 6, 2019
A prompt from last week’s Morning Pages writing exercise, from “A Book That Takes Its Time” by Irene Smit and Astrid Van Der Hulst:
“What kinds of feelings are emerging and what could these emotions be telling you?”
Is Worn Out a feeling? Worn down, cut up, beaten up, worked up, laid flat, chewed up and spat out and kicked to circumstance’s curb. Damaged, broken, and afraid of more. Like a mangled baby bird, wings clipped and fallen from its nest. A helium balloon, three days after the birthday party, lackluster, lethargic, surrendering to gravity and universally shitty conditions that make it impossible to float.
What could these emotions be telling me? Do emotions really separate themselves from the one they inhabit? Emotions don’t talk to me, they are me. You can tell me all day long that I am not my thoughts, but what else dictates me? Yes, I can rise above them, yes, I can center in the breath, yes because #365daysofAndy.
But my emotions find their center in my heart, and we all know my head is nothing but a backseat driver. And in my lowdown stumblebum heart of hearts, I know and I feel and I know that I feel that this ground is fallow soil, fertile for the seeds of healing if I would just allow my body to give over to everything it needs right now.
Which is acceptance. Or even, as some people in the new-age camp like to call it, *radical self-love.* Unconditional love. Not, I’ll love myself when I lose the weight I’ve gained from being in a cast with a three-inch gash across my left shin and another in the middle of my back. Not, I’ll love myself when the kitchen counters are cleaned off and the sweaters are stacked neatly in the closet and the upstairs playroom’s been repainted. Now. In this body. With this heart and these scars.
From now on I need to meet myself in the mirror like a loyal doggo greeting me at the door when I come home to myself, wriggling and wagging and jumping up to kiss myself all over. Or how about an 8-piece funk band, playing my theme song, a mix of 1950’s French boum, electric Celtic fiddle à la Piano Guys, but no pop remixes; it’s a swelling anthem and breakdown dance beat, street- NOLA style. And as I cross my own threshold, the trumpet player will set down his horn to hand me a fabulous cocktail which I will sip while I go through the day’s snail mail, consisting all of love letters from me to me. I’ll slip into gorgeous shoes, which I wouldn’t have been able to dream of wearing pre-surgery, and a Bohemian Johnny Was silk kimono that drapes to reveal new gold tattoos and this scarred broken body, all sewn-up and mended and ready to swim like a goddamn mermaid who is not afraid of diving to the depths of self-love.
When we were kids fresh out of college, Katherine baked a cake and served us all handfuls of it, all gushing out the sides, so messy and gloriously kid-like and revelrous. And most of us, drunk on cheap beer and katydid symphony, said, Ew, but I said, THANK YOU Katherine and dove my face into the cake and ate. it. up. And Katherine said, No, no, thank you. You just validated my ass up one side and down the other. And that is the friendship I have had with Katherine for 27 years.
I am not digressing. I am telling you this because my newfound self-love is me eating cake out of my own hands. Validating my ass and my scars and my pain and my choices. My disorganization and my temper tantrums, my poet’s ways of seeing the world and my willingness to share it all with all y’all. My fresh skin singes and tingles, flesh grown over wounds pink and raw and warm, a fusion of tissues, cells growing towards their own. My bones and cartilage were broken to mend, and if this is not the work of religious metaphor, of darkness opening to illumination, of cracks in the body being the places where the light shines through, of a ripple down the plumb line and a ribboning back together, well then I just don’t know what.
The wounds are the place where the light enters you, writes my friend and graphic illustrator and snail-mailer extraordinaire Kristin Townsend. (She made that lovely illustration above. I added the washi tape.) I have heard a variation of that same line: "The cracks are the places where your light shines through” or something like that. I really like both versions. They’re saying the same thing, but with slight twists which I find captivating to contemplate.
The heart is at the center of our own compass, and everybody’s got their own true north. Maybe yours is slightly off-kilter. Maybe mine’s been scissored and rearranged. Maybe I laid on my back and let them gas me to sleep or inject my veins so I would feel a temporary relief, but when I came back to myself I felt all my feelings and made peace with them and then I scooted off to check the mail and what did I find? A box full of love letters from myself to myself and a juke-jivin’ flag-flyin’ funk band waiting for me at my front door. C’mon over. Let’s dance.