It has been a bit of a time.
These last few weeks have thrown me through the air and spun me round.
I was slow cooking something, writing wise, and I knew a few things about it. That is was called THIS and why it was.
And then Life really overthrew me, and This was not going down the writing enquiry I had in mind… and yet it was still This.
Sometimes I have to surrender, and for me surrender is another word for trust. I had to trust this uncooked, unplanned, unthought through, most crucial of all, undefended piece of writing, because it was part of a cry for help.
I wrote a letter and posted on FB. I also sent it via email to some people who don’t use FB. I did the very best I could, to not play any games, not to be clever or defended, or anything except real. It is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done, just because there was nowhere to hide (nor should there be) but the feeling of that itself, was exposing beyond anything I’d ever experienced.
The outcome, as many of you know, was so overwhelmingly kind, generous and fast, that within a few hours I was able to ask my surgeon when was the soonest he could do my spinal procedure in his private clinic. I already had been given enough money for the basic fee. He couldn’t believe how loved I was. I couldn’t quite take in how loved and cherished I was.
I had some epic surgery, under the most optimum conditions, great team, great, tip-top notch theatre, no time pressure because there was no queue of people needing to be fitted in behind me. My lower back has been restructured, architecture and engineering has happened. It will take some time and patience, but the very worst post op pain is over, and I can feel the new story in my body beginning. My body is hopeful to such a degree, it is only through that that I really grasp how much hope I had deeply given up.
So, this is an epic tale of good fortune, of love, generosity and kindness. Many people who gave so much were friends and friends of friends, but some were strangers. Are any of us really strangers? Really? There was a moment when 2 transfers came into my bank adjacent to one another. One for £3 and the other for £3000. Both people really were strangers. And absolutely not strangers. At that level, to quote the great and lovely Ram Dass: we are all walking each other home… and we are all in in together. If only, only, more of us could crack open to the truth of that…. My longing for this for us, especially for those of us caught up in very oppositional positioning, is fierce. My tiny life is a prayer for that…
Anyway, back to the original cooking of THIS.
A while ago. A year or so, ago, I was talking to Colin. Colin is a lovely human. A fellow traveller, and in the weirdness of certain things, he also my boss. I have a little job looking after the front line responding, and behind that, administrating for the lovely work he does with his partner in life and work, Fanny Behrens. It’s called Movement of Being.
It’s such a privilege, being their front line, and behind holding, of their radically simple work that mostly happens in small groups.
So, on this occasion of conversing with Colin, I asked what Adam calls his work. I don’t know Adam and may never meet him. He is completely off the grid so it quite fruitless looking for him, and yet I do feel him… humming down through the lineage of teachers, and friends, just as I felt Fanny and Colin, long before I met them, through their students, my teacher’s teachers and friends…. I sent Fanny a card once, expressing gratitude for their work, even though we’d never met, and may never do so. Later I got to find out it lived on her dresser for quite a long time. These beautiful things we often never know, about the ways we touch each other.
So, Colin says to me, what I heard as THIS. Actually, he’d said, This Movement. The vagaries of going slightly deaf, getting old, losing pieces of ourselves along the road. For ages afterward I thought Adam’s work was called THIS. I fell in love with this man I may never meet, because his gig was called THIS. How distilled is that?
It is always, always, This. I fight with this, I rage at it and refuse it, and sometimes love This so much I try and hang on to it with all my might. But This is here and then it’s gone. Over and over This is just simple and true… and I find great, deeply embracing comfort in this, THIS-NESS.
Of course, I forget, and remember again, and can only part pray and part muscle build, growing a bit stronger with practice in remembering the simple principle of THiS.
I grew up learning the alright and not all-right model. It wasn’t explicitly called that, but I learned it deep in my bones. It coloured and shaped every single beat and pulse of becoming. Baby boned me learned shame for almost every ordinary human experience: needing things, having feelings, taking up space, asking for help, making a mess, bodily functions, wanting to be seen, heard…. What I really learned was that I was never alright, and the only kind of welcome I experienced was if I was compliant. I learned compliance for a bit. And then I found rage. Rage at the seeming madness of the world, but mostly at my un-all-rightness. I learned a lot of ways to hurt myself. I almost died but couldn’t quite manage to let go of my little life.
A lot of things happened over the next thirty-plus years. A lot of healing happened. A lot moved, and a very deep thing stayed stuck. Depression is a funny word. Some object because it feels pathologizing and/or reductive. Personally, as one who recognises (now) that depression is her home address, it’s a helpful word if used in an expansive manner….
I became a therapist. Funny what takes some of us to this kind of work. I’ve done a lot of journeys, in pursuit of unsticking this thing about me I was making not-okay. Tantra, Amazonian plant medicine, inner child, cathartic work, personal guided channelled advice from beyond…. I started to feel defeated… there is a whole discourse in healing communities (I use the term loosely) about how we should be able to release and heal ourselves. In the end it felt tyrannical…. The tyranny of presence. The only thing I kept on trusting was dance, 5Rhythms et al. In the body was something true. In this practice was something trying to happen that I couldn’t so easily fuck up with my head. Poor head, trying so hard to work it all out
About the same time, four/five years ago, I started to give up on fixing myself, my depression, my failure. Sounds kind of soft, but it was awful and violent, and I was lost in the real, rather than theoretical experience, of there being nowhere else to go…. I can only write it like this, I fell. Falling happened. Not all at once, but fairly fast. It took my breath away, and I wondered if I was dying. I landed in what I have learned to call The Fields of Kindness, and it was there that I first started to get a taste of THIS. What if there really wasn’t anything to fix, to make wrong or right? Just This. Welcome or unwelcome. Easy or terrible.
Alongside the Fields of Kindness were the Fields of Simplicity. So much kindness and simplicity, just waiting for me to get there. Homecoming happened. Truly. How long it can take to make that journey when the beginning was rough as fuck and no-one knew how to show you those Fields of kindness or simplicity, never mind a doorway called THIS.
I could, if I were a linier bird, write a whole piece about the last couple of years, and the physical pain, and my enquiry about staying in, or leaving the world. But, I’m not a linier bird, and as I recover from my recent, rather miraculous surgery, waiting to see what the outcome will be, all I can say is that, that’s a riff and ramble for another day.
THIS this, is Sunday, on my beloved bed with Leonard the dog, some post op pain, some cracked open heart, interspersed with some head fuck about wanting to hang on to cracked open and knowing that nothing stays still, and that in all the welcoming and falling, I have learned that even if I drop in to the darkest places, luminosity still rolls through the darkness of rock face, and the stars are down there too. It’s the THIS-NESS of trusting that comes and goes: forgotten and remembered again.