Saturday, July 14, 2012

OUT OF THE ASHES




“I don’t really know how I got here.”
This has been my answer at least fifty times since I started. The truth is that I know exactly how I came to perch on a ledge about a million miles away from my old life: I came swooping in on the wings of the Phoenix. My feet were buried up to my calves in thick, black soot. My life was charred beyond recognition. The sparkplug I once was had ignited, sending me spiraling down in flames. Everything I was clinging to came down with me. At the time, it didn't feel so bad. A life in ashy existence can be tempting. It's so easy to sink into the soft edges of grey fog and pretend it's just another kind of down comforter to get buried in. The muted debris of my wreckage grabbed ahold of me with its silky fingers. It pulled my weak knees to the earth and my trembling chin up to the heavens.

The smoke lifted and in a burst of color I woke up. There used to be a dull hum swirling around me and its suddenly been replaced by a gentle roar. Here I am. Even though I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be, I dig my heels deep into the vibrating floor in protest. I am an earth sign. A little bull born in the middle of May. I know it seems silly to align myself with something as esoteric as astrology, but these days I can’t help it. I wrap my heart in a security blanket of things I know, starting with the things that have been with me all along. The time zone I sleep in changes weekly, but where the stars and moon were on the day I was born hasn’t budged once since I set out on this journey. My nature hasn’t budged either. I’m as stubborn as the little girl who used to stomp her feet in protest when she didn’t want to do something.

On this particular evening, I’m in over my level head and I'm on the edge of throwing a silent tantrum. I’m certain my body, and my feet, were not built to burn. Like all the other sturdy bovine crawling the surface of this planet, I always believed that I was meant to stand still with my herd, quietly staring in one direction, watching as heavy clouds roll over the flatlands toward us. I’m not a fire sign and I'm not meant to burn. I’m sure of it. Or am I? 


Until now, I‘ve shushed the firecracker that lives within me. Yet here she is again, a giggling gypsy that continually insists on barreling into emotional bonfires. She’s the one who got this job, clinging to life on the wings of a mythical bird, rising above the mess I created. The hungry one with an insatiable appetite for life and love and anything messy. She faced the wind, long hair tumbling behind her, and let her heart catch fire. She vowed to write a new story, but was brave enough to promise never ever to forget the old tale. She wakes up every morning and pushes past a racing heart and shallow breath to be the first in line for an odd and curious life; a life she had to dig deep and have the guts to ask for.

She is the woman who guided us here and I in turn will be the girl that will walk across fire just to prove she can stay. This was not expected. I just got out of the coals and now I’m supposed to walk across them? My old wounds have only just turned into fresh scars and yet here I am again. The heat is undeniable every direction I turn. Behind me, the massive energy of thousands pushes against me. To my left, just out of reach, is safety. He looks at me with both bemusement and fierce protection. He is the promise of something sweet at the end of all of this.
Above me comes a deafening call to find my core. My new boss places one hand on my shoulder while I place a palm on my center. He bellows over the sweaty cacophony, “Are you ready!?” I look at the path of glowing embers. I’ve been here before. The only way out is through. My brain says no as my head and heart nod yes.
I take as deep of a breath as I can manage and at the same time take the first step. I put both feet in and don’t stop until I reached the other side. A garden hose, a hug and my new life are waiting patiently with open arms.
Moments will bounce and skitter and land at your feet. Some will matter and some will be tossed aside. If there is one thing I know now, it's that a bursting heart can fill an empty one. I’m sure of it. Like wine glasses colliding at a rowdy dinner party, crimson droplets will splash and smatter against a yearning pulse and change it forever. It may only be one moment in time and not meant to last a second more than that, but if you allow it, it can change your life.
“I thought for sure you were going run.” He’s mocking me as an Ace of Base chorus floats over our sticky dive bar table. We are in the middle of a dimly lit Australian haunt. My feet still feel the heat, but I’m learning to bask in the glow. Sitting here, I finally feel my familiarity. I think about it for a second and smile. It’s funny. Yes, I'm moving forward, but I think I’m done running.