It is late, the room is dark, I am lying in the bath. Mud colored walls, cement floor and white tiled perfection. Two Thai women, hand rubbed from a temple in Thailand dance above my head as the steam rises. Their charcoaled selves pressed on handmade paper that was carried halfway around the world by another woman seeking adventure. I love their images, their watchful presence. My skin is milky smooth and soft. I am in awe of the exquiteness of this human body, of its resiliency, strength, and uncommon loyalty. I put my head under the water. I am Medusa, a mermaid, a floating thing wrapped in silence. The world recedes in the sigh that escapes my belly. I go into the symphony within, the stillness unwavering. Lavender and lemongrass seep deep into the marrows, into those unseen and thirsting places. I am at peace.
I open my heart to the voice that lies in wait, the seer that is my steadfast companion. I am listening. “You’ve been a brave one.” I sit with these words. A brave one. I see the incarnations of my soul. I am, in my briefness, but a thread in a weave that is timeless, endless. Yes, I have been branded to the bone, a brave one.
I feel like I have just been given my knighthood, and quite unexpectedly. Honored by my Sovereign for the battles I have fought, for the perseverance under fire, and my refusal to sacrifice the truth. I vowed early on to honor the sacred . To be true, to what I knew to be true. To believe in myself and in life, even when circumstances challenged my faith, and I felt no belonging in the world. I swore not to die until I was dead, to resurrect myself from the fiery ash unscathed until the end of time. To rise when I was cratering, to believe when I lost all hope. I bow to that force inside of me that has never failed to make me who I am. What a will, what grace. I feel for a moment the greatness that has fostered me and I am humbled.
Despite pain, grief, judgement, criticism, ridicule, and even violence I have refused to surrender who I am for who I am not. Unwilling to forfeit the truth for comfort, or my soul for the temporal pleasures of the world. I have wanted to experience the truth, the essence, what was real and enduring in this world. This has been my quest. I have listened to the wild hearted Soul within, when reason begged me to to do anything but. I have been led into the frightfulness of the borderlands, where feral things roam, and all the will in the world will not keep you safe. I have been shown that there isn’t anything to fear, that I can surrender, that the stars will shine in the dark and I will find my way. I have not felt as brave as I have felt compelled. Without fear I would never known what it means to be brave, would never have engaged with the world as I have.
What have I championed since I came into this life? My true Self, the part of me that is immortal, awake, innocent, pure, loving, whole unto itself. As a young child I often saw adults that were hollowed, bitter, lifeless and longing creatures. As a result I didn’t want to grow up, I wanted to valiantly protect the sanctity of my own nature. The sacred peace, love and joy that I knew to be myself. I wanted to maintain my wakeful perception, to be in constant communion with the numinous. I wanted to keep my wings as I walked this earth.
I have only gratitude for the struggles that have given me the opportunity to rise. I no longer fear the abyss of the unknown for it has become my home. Life has taught me that true strength lies in my ability to surrender, to be vulnerable, to expose myself to the fearsome fearlessly. This is freedom.
How are you brave?
Written: May 24, 2010