Monday, October 22, 2012

Wild Willa

I have a wild kitty named Willa. Wild Willa. She's small and a little skittish and she's got a major attitude on her, has had since she was a tiny kitten. I am her preferred person, and I'm majorly flattered by that. In the little apartment where I live, when the weather is warm, I leave open a window for her, and she comes and goes as she pleases, sometimes bringing me 'gifts' in the form of dead mice or (the greatest sorrow) half-live song birds. I can't get mad at her, though I am mad; she thinks she's showing me her affection, her appreciation, her little black kitty love. 

This has been a shadowed month, because the little black kitty who prefers me has gone missing. She's plum run away, gone adrift, disappeared into the growing cold and falling leaves of Autumn. It's been about a month now, since I saw her last. I'm not quite sure how to react to this kind of loss; I've done some of the necessary things--walked the neighborhood calling until I'm hoarse; sent pictures and warnings to the animal shelters; prayed a good deal--to God, to the gods, to the universe, to the animal kingdom (whoever or whatever controls the impulses of wild things, of tame things). There is more I could do, I know, and I'll do it. I'll cover all ground. But there's something I've got to admit: I'm not sure how much good any of it will do. 

I'm not a callous person (though my callousness has certainly grown a bit, this year, for a variety of reasons). I watch the weather getting colder, I hear reports of snow, I pass Willa's waiting food dish and little blue blanket tucked in the corner of my bedroom a hundred times every day, and there is an ache in the deepest part of me. What's ironic is that that deep part--the place where the sorrow lives--is also where the toughness that carries me through resides. I have, in this single part of my soul, the capacity to disintegrate into a thousand pieces and the capacity to staunchly hold myself upright, to power through and continue on. Two forces. Totally different yet equally powerful. Contained in one corner of my being. 

I'm of the opinion that this is true for many of us. That the things we feel most earnestly--our grief, our determination--often dwell in the same part of us. Just as purely, as urgently as we can feel our despair, we can feel our doggedness, and the fortitude that is an absolute necessity in this world. It's a nice thing to think, really: our light living right alongside our dark. It can also be a damned confusing thing; a guilt-inducing struggle for power--who'll win out? The sadness that honors the loss? The toughness that moves beyond it?

A few people know about this missing cat. Not many. All who do are truly kind. Yet many more might hear the news and be practical about it, sorry, but pragmatic. It's just a cat. Cats run away all the time. They also come back all the time. They have second families, other food sources. They find holes where they curl up to heal. They have holes where they curl up to die. They're a fickle animal, of independent mind. All of this is true. I've accepted all of it. I can go entire days not thinking about Willa. I will be honest: she was such a wild thing, sometimes I hardly notice her absence.

But I am not a callous person. I'm just living out, right now, from those twin forces that take up the same corner: I go about my work and I enjoy it. I do the things that need to be done. I do things that make me laugh, things that make me happy. I do generous things, and selfish things. Most of the time, I am cheerful, and why not? I have a beautiful life. A blessed one. And then I pass the waiting food dish, and the blue blanket in the corner, and I'm full of the knowledge of the small, wild thing I've lost.

We can never control the lives of the creatures we tame, not truly; they're given to their own secret impulses, their own half-feral ways. And this is okay. We can love them fiercely, with a kind of toughness, because we must. Because they will undoubtedly leave us before we leave them. And this is okay. We can forget about their leave taking, and move on to new things; this is okay. And then we can remember them in a swift instant as we unlock the door at the end of the day, or latch the window at the first cold wind, or walk down the street where we live, watchful for familiar movement, for the sudden return--all dark days forgotten--of the wild things we've loved.

Thanks for reading. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rest When Needed.

Here's a heady mantra: 

let go

It's solid advice. Don't cling to your past. Release what no longer serves you up the good stuff. Cut that cord and you'll find yourself flung forward, all open air and open vistas greeting you.  I'm down with this plan. I've been working damn hard to do it. For a very long time, I thought it was the only solution, really, to a heavy heart. I learned well how to avoid people, places, things that brought up those deep snatches of memory, those currents of time tucked away. I've been getting good at letting go for a good long while now. Then I had a visitor come visiting. I didn't want to see him, at first. (Fear.) I'd gotten good at avoiding this reunion, and I justified the fleeing by saying,  

listen here, I'm letting go.

Ultimately, the visitor won out. And we drove through clear country and met on a street corner. Here's what I found: someone I knew by heart who I didn't know at all. And for the first time in a long time, I began to doubt this whole letting go thing. At least, the way I've been trying to do it.  

Could be: Letting go isn't about running or hiding. 
Could be that it's not about erasing. 
Quite possibly, it's not about clearing away the rubble.

I've been writing this little blog for almost a year now, and when I started it, it was because my heart was heavy. I had to write because to write meant to release, to let go. And it's true that I was holding on to a heady mess. (You've no doubt seen some of it, so bless you.) Funny how we get used to playing certain parts, certain roles. For a long time I let myself be heavy, because I was. I let myself do the 'broken' thing, because I was a broken thing. I did this for a long, long time (though never too long--no measuring healing in life; the time it takes is the time it takes). I played the part for so long that I started to worry when I began feeling light again (for surely, the lightness was a trick. Surely any steady step would only prove my overeager heart). Then I drove through clear country, and met someone on a street corner. And my heart was no longer heavy. But truth be told, it hadn't been that way for awhile; I just hadn't been ready to give up the role I'd perfected, the lines I'd long memorized. 

There is no great epiphany. There is not one single revelation. Not that I can see, anyway. There's only the even progression into new territory, so steady and slow and wide that it's impossible not to look back and take stock of what you've left behind. Look back and it's all always there, as you've left it, as you've known it.  

You don't have to let it go. 
In fact, please don't. 
Just keep moving forward. 
Rest when needed.

Maybe letting go should be about finding a way to love the rubble of our wreckage, to accept every shard stuck beneath our skin. Skin scars over, eventually. And people like to ask questions about scars; think of everything you can turn and look back at, even from a distance. Think of all the stories you can tell. 

Thanks for reading. 


Friday, October 5, 2012

Some of the Things.

It's getting cold in the night. Need to put the garden to bed. Need to put bulbs in the ground--tulip. Garlic. Need to write new blog post. Need to take dog for walk. Need to eat less ice cream. More green stuff. Need to put yoga mat on the floor more mornings. Get on mat. Stop staring into space. Need to grow hair. Get up earlier. Go to bed earlier. Need to drink less. Need to go through excess: clothes, food, books. Give up what's no longer necessary. Need to go shopping at thrift stores to find the new necessary. Need to balance the budget, spend less money. Need to buy things: blender for the green stuff to get healthier and skinnier and happier in body and mind and the in-between. Need to learn how to love more the stuff I have. Long legs. Skin tone. Full mouth. Got to stop boasting. Got to stop thinking boastful thoughts. Got to free up the thinking, no one can hear. Got to stop wondering if others can hear because then, they can. A window: access granted. Got to stop granting access, yo. Got to stop saying 'yo'. Got to grow up. Got to keep young. Got to stay steady. Keep steady; have fun. But don't drink so much. And don't spend so much money. And don't share so much.

Determine: circle of inner knowledge. A selective few. Avoid park path and supermarket and late night blunders, confessions and stories regretted because really, why do they need to know? Above all: do not feign affection. Don't need everyone to like you. You don't need to like everyone. But like everyone. Forgive and forget and let go. But hold tight. Hold close to your bones, to the soft animal of your body. Hold tight. And know that the holding won't go on forever. One day, muscles will loosen, fingers will unfurl. Know this. Know that in the morning, they will still be gone from you. Know that this is a shame. A damn too bad. A cutting, quick, and brutal thing. Know that there is no other way around it. Know what is around you. Know what is front of you as well as behind. Know that you know all of it well. By heart. By touch, by taste, by sight, by sound. Know that no one knows it like you know it. No one. Know that most people don't really care. Know that a lot of people truly care. Know that many people will listen, and will love you for letting them listen. Let them listen. Give them this right. Talk about tulips in the ground. Garlic cloves smooth and tough. Talk about burrowing. Talk about getting out of the burrow. Talk about the winter that weighs us over but carries us through. Talk about the winter, how you long for it to show itself because that's the way it's done back home. Talk about your home, how you miss it. Miss it. Go there. Come back again. Talk of your journey. Think of it in your mind, at night, when no one is around to see you doing nothing but being absolutely still. Absolutely still and thinking. Think. Don't hide from your thoughts. Own them. Keep them. Or set them loose, off on a course all their own. To God. To the dear and dark void. And then sleep. Remember that you do need to sleep. Remember that nearly every sorrow was once assuaged, healed, even a fraction of an inch, by sleep. Sleep. Wake up. Know your feet on the ground. And do some of the things that need to be done.