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March 20, 2011: Taking Down the Ropes

March 20, 2011: Taking Down the Ropes

The Perigree moon called me last night.
As her magnificence rose over eastern treetops, I gathered a blanket and some hot tea …
hoping to curl up a bit in the spot where Querencia, my earthen artist cottage, will soon be born.
The light was surreal. Like a room filled with burning candles- holding the intensity of darkness and light at the same time.

I don’t know how long I sat there.
I watched her move across the sky until she perched over our thinking rock on the hill.

It is amazing what you can see in full moonlight, once your eyes adjust and your mind quiets.

I could make out the restlessness of birds in treetops, peace in the sillouettes of contented lambs, new life at the base of dry, brown fields.
I could feel the grace of a day and night in perfect balance, neither one longer or brighter than the other.

Perhaps it was gratitude. Perhaps the clarity of a night illuminated.
But something made me remember a journal entry I wrote years ago. When I was beginning to realize how much of my spirit had been locked away over time… in the name of “maturity”, social convention, and convenience.
I remember that transformative time in mid-life , when I began questioning what parts of my persona no longer served my health and true happiness. Remembering what I had known as a child- that one must kick up some dust and spill some paint in order to express this life within us fully… even if it makes others uncomfortable.
It both breaks and lifts my heart to read it again.
I’d like to share it because I imagine it speaks for many of us….

         I am a castle.
A beautiful, expansive, intricate castle… full of halls and halls of colorful rooms.
            There was a time when I felt free to skip through the corridors. My laughter echoed off the walls like windchimes. Light streamed in windows that were opened wide to the outside world. Songs of birds in the trees blended with my delighted giggles.
            My castle was open to the public. Anyone was free to explore. And I was proud to show everyone around.
            Then I began to listen. I tried to understand some of the things the older visitors were saying. I began to slow my skipping to a walk in order to overhear their critiques- noticing how their voices fluctuated from a pleasant sing-song in front of some rooms to a hushed whisper in front of others.
            Oh, how they threw their heads back and smiled with praise after viewing some rooms… chatting of “progress, and growing up, and cooperation, and manners, and achievement, and exemplary behavior”. These rooms full of good behavior had lines of admirers at the door- leaning in, pointing to all the A’s and plusses and glowing comments from teachers on the report cards pinned to the huge bulletin board. Here, if they stepped in and closed their eyes, visitors could drink up the accolades booming from speakers… an endless audio tape loop of conversations between adults at school, adults at bridge parties, parents of my friends… praising Beth for being such a nice girl, such a sweet girl, quiet and obedient, so easy… such a good, good girl… saying “you must be so proud”.
            But their mood became solemn and the talking between them hard to make out when I enthusiastically threw open the next door where my wild abandon was housed. Furniture knocked over, paint spilled, half eaten melons dripping off the table… drawing startled looks from the crowd as they stepped back further and further, afraid of getting some of it on their shoes.
           I learned to ignore that room on the tour as time went on.
           Spirits would lighten again when I showed off the room of optimism, of good works, of positive dreams. The color returned to their faces while viewing plaques and letters of gratitude and awards for citizenship displayed on shelves. Few of them ever figured out, though, that this was only the front room- that my suite of dreams was actually much bigger, filled to the brim.  But I had learned to separate the “attainable” dreams from the “crazy” ones- arranging the first ones under the lights for visitors, keeping the more mysterious visions in the back room to be explored alone at night while sleeping.
So many rooms… endless halls.
            In time, whole wings of my castle became roped off- I didn’t lead them down those anymore. Rooms of sensuality, anger, aggressiveness and sadness began to get musty… walls of red, gray, black no longer seeing the light of day behind closed doors.
            I was so busy giving tours to the public that even I did not venture down those roped-off halls and stairs anymore. No time. Too busy. Fading curiosity. Growing judgement of my own.
             I became just another one of those selective visitors myself- taking the “feel good” tour, avoiding the uncomfortable floors, or the controversial sidebuildings.
            I eventually redid the brochures…improving the marketing appeal until it promised only sunshine and light if they visited my castle. And, because I am committed to honesty in advertising, I delivered what I promised. 
           But… because it became overwhelming to keep all those doors locked and the ropes up everyday…
            more and more often, it just became easier to shut the whole castle up to the outside. To build a moat of silence. A protective wall of steel. Sometimes that was the only way I could get some rest.     
            Eventually I was able to keep all the visitors away for long periods of time by setting up a dog-and-pony show out front. It kept them entertained and pleased. They convinced themselves that that was all there was to see.
            And then, with the lights out so as not to draw attention, I was free to wander the long, lonely halls of my castle by myself.
            It felt comfortably familiar… but I had forgotten how to skip.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                             b. reese 3/ 2006

My heart is heavy when I think of how, at some point, I traded in my childhood courage for a pretty costume… repressing my divine “messiness” to earn safe, positive responses from others.
And, yet, my heart is full remembering how I spent yesterday…
tromping in swampy fields planting cider apple trees,  propped on the ground against the lamb barn scratching their chins, biting into a dusty carrot straight from the garden… covered in mud, hair in my eyes, smile on my face.

I wonder what stirs in you…
           have you closed any doors over the years?
What kind of beautiful mess would you make if you thought no one was grading?
Let’s take down the ropes.
Let’s stop selling tickets.
Let’s live in the full light, unafraid.
                                                                                         Happy Equinox dear ones,

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