My feet are wide, high arched, and look like feet not prone to shoes. They have carried me up mountains, across slick rock, through Paris streets, and Indian temples. They have climbed trees, dug deep into sand, crossed rivers, and held squealing children dangling in the air. They like to feel the ground beneath them, toes spread wide, holding fast like roots to soil.
I have come to realize that my feet are mysteriously linked to my heart, for,whatever my heart desires my feet are sure to follow. I do believe they are equally responsible for my wanderlust and gypsy nature, for conjuring adventure against reason.
I leave Denver by way of a 17 ft. u-haul trailer, a wing and a prayer. My daughter Adrienne once gave me a card that read, ‘when you have come to the end of all you know, there will either be ground beneath your feet or you will be given wings to fly.’
I have come to the end of all I know.
I reduce my belongings by two thirds and now live quite simply in 500 sq. ft, my version of monk’s quarters. However being a bohemian means that it’s hardly austere. My abode is a 1920’s tree house with a wood burning stove and a deep soaking tub. I am a half a mile from Lake Washington in Seattle, with a commanding view of Mt. Rainier. The forest surrounding my house is thick and overgrown, the kind of place where small creatures and children like to hide. This place is reminiscent of my beloved Ireland and all the things I love most about it, the water, the smell of the air, the winding roads and emerald paths…
There is something inside of me that has always been drawn to the unknown and foreign. My senses and intuition are heightened in unfamiliar places. I am challenged to let go of my prescribed sense of self, of all the places and people that give structure and meaning to my world. It lends a perspective that is humbling, stripped of all personal identity save human. In a city where I know less than a handful of people I have an anonymity I have never experienced before, and it is both unsettling and liberating. Where I was once a chapter book, I am now a blank page.
Who is this woman who has left all she has ever known?
Who I have been feels remote, like a lover distanced by time and space. Yet I feel the faintest breath of my former self surface when I bathe, right before I awaken and sometimes when my mind gets still. She is a chrysalis hanging mid-air.
I knew my heart would ache for my children, that I would miss my family and friends beyond the bearable. I knew that I would be challenged to the marrow to create a new world void of streets as mapped in my mind as the lines on my hands. How was I to know that simply knowing whether to turn right or left was so critical to my sense of confidence and comfort, or that I would feel so skinless?
My saving grace is my ability to surrender to the moment, to allow every thought and feeling to evaporate, to relax into my own vulnerability and emotional pain. Sitting with uncertainty has become my practice. Beginner’s mind, I allow myself to be the newly born. I am the ‘observer’ in this new life, the perpetual witness. I have the grace of continual connection to the subtleties of my inner experience, to the richness of solitude. When I travel alone in foreign places I feel a quickening, a deeper level of expansion and a release from all the limitations of my conditioned mind. Strangely enough I feel most at home when I am not.
The winged part of my nature loves the freedom of spontaneous movement, of the discovery that comes with the unknown. It is not easy on my human psyche, on the part that needs to feel anchored. Anchored to what? My bold move has awakened the primordial fear of my mortal and impermanent existence, of the transiency of my life. This is what has been lying deep with my unconscious mind and causing such a tsunami on the surface. Nothing is permanent. This is the lesson I learn once more. But there is beauty in the brief, in the unrepeatable moments that come and go, that compose this delicate weave. I drink my coffee, watch the morning light caress the surface of the lake, and bow to the mysterious forces that flow through my veins…
Written: August 28, 2011