Loose grips and dusty stories

One day, and then another and another day I woke up and saw that there was nothing constant, and change is the only way I’ve found magic or felt alive, and while I may say I hate it, it is the place where my heart breaks open and lets in the next wild idea and then heals, larger, oddly shaped, and burning. Just the way I like it. This takes practice and can be extremely frustrating.

I had a story that I told myself. It was a story with timelines, and characters and places, and it was the story of my life. I had been writing it for awhile, in the future tense of course, as that’s how we often dictate fantasies to ourselves. There was one about art school, and Paris, and Chicago. There were ones about falling in love. Some were about late nights, feeling wild and free, and danger and summertime. I held it quite tightly.

Some of those things happened. Most of the events, the details, were unexpected. Where I went to school, who I fell in love with, what those trips and moves looked and felt like, what was and wasn’t worth romanticizing, were counter to the original script. There was no subplot about alcohol, gut wrenching heartache, change, motion, boundaries, discomfort, more change…These do not get written in, which is why they cause the most upset. We don’t leave room for them. There was no plan for deviation.

When I was in my early 20s, I felt like things were not going the right way, and I felt helpless and confused but I charged forward because I was scared of boredom and failure. I lived life, and I had goals, and felt joy and went places and felt things and fucked up about 100 times and literally and metaphorically smashed my face into the concrete, and then I turned 30 and all of the pieces fell apart and I ran away to Michigan to recover. Like a little wounded animal, I hid in my cave for a bit (which is fine to do, by the way). I tried desperately to piece it all together, to make it all fit. When it felt mildly safe, I ventured out and life was like bwahahahaha helllooooooo and the wildness of being a part of the world swept back in.

I started a new chapter of life recently, in a odd little town, with a family that existed before I came along, married to a person I would never have expected to meet, trying a completely new kind of job and…all of the unexpectedness has stopped me in my tracks. In the last few months, I’ve been thinking about how things do not go as planned. No matter how beautiful the present is, there is some path that was left in favor of the one we’re on, paths that still live as shadows cast on the back of our minds. I used to fight the questions, and confusion, like it was threatening the present. I’ve begun to loosen my grip. Enter non-attachment, aparigraha as the yogis say, the practice of not holding so tightly. I really like the thing that Francis of Assisi says, to “wear the world like a loose garment” and the idea of having a loose grip on life that people talk about in AA. A very strange set of concepts, that seem to go against everything I’ve heard about fighting and working and never letting go of what you want, but that previous method did not lead to anything resembling calm, so we’re trying something new.

As always, I don’t have the answers. I have more questions, but not fearing “what’s next” is looking like the best path to take into this wild and unexpected story. Not holding so tightly, makes this whole concept of “letting go” easier, and physically, it keeps my shoulders farther from ears, which is where they tend to go if I’m not paying attention.

In full transparency, I find this process infuriating, because I am very happy with the stories that I created, and find it maddening that they all diverge in odd and unintentional ways. I do not like the phrase “everything happens for a reason” because I don’t think there is some magical force that is orchestrating this life. I think we’re that force, and we don’t get to know what’s coming. That’s our challenge in all of this uncertainty: loosen your grip and move forward through the shadow and the light. All of the good stuff is in front of us anyway. I’ll try if you try.

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