I cried for what seemed like hours, my body heaving with sobs. A violent storm of grief passing through me. Adam lay next to me, trying to comfort me, feeling helpless in the face of my overwhelming sadness over what I (my very own self) had set in motion. It was May 23rd, 2016, the second to last night in our beloved Sol House, the second to last night in the big, luxurious bed that we had given ourselves as a Valentine’s gift one year, the second to last night in the place that I had come to love so fiercely, where I felt, from the very first day I set foot there, such a deep sense of belonging.
As I sit typing this from the cockpit of a sailboat, moored in a bay next to a busy channel, next to a busy highway bridge, surrounded by houses that face the bay, on a chilly, damp New England day, I can still close my eyes and hear the silence of that place, see a very specific tree on the hillside behind the house, smell the piñon, sage, and juniper, feel the deep, deep peacefulness of it, wonder at how I could be standing alone on a mountain and feel so connected to everything and everyone and contrast it with how I can be so surrounded by boats and cars and houses and feel so… so disconnected.
In the days and months since that second to last night, I have weathered many nighttime storms of grief, leaving me (and Adam) exhausted, exposed, raw. It feels like my own personal hurricane season. Being from Colorado, an understanding of hurricanes is not one of my areas of expertise, but I do know that there are things people do to prepare for them and that there are things people do to weather them well, and that there are things people do, year after year, storm after storm, to recover from them. I must remind myself, these grief storms are the weather of my bodymind, they are not the sky, they are not the climate. There are things I can do to create a sky, a climate, of lovingkindness, joy, and deep peace, that will cause me to be more resilient in the face of these storms of emotion.
Last night, a longtime friend called. She had a lot of questions for me. And after listening so sweetly to my stories of boat challenges and the challenges of being an anonymous stranger wherever I go and longing for stable ground to stand on, she asked, “Are you doing yoga? Are you writing?” The answer to these questions is now, yes. Just this week I found my way to a local Bikram Yoga studio. Who knew that back in 2003, when I first started practicing almost daily in Bel & Emily’s Basalt, Colorado studio that one day I would find that practice to be another strand in the rope that ties me to home? After just two classes, the studio owner here in Rhode Island asked me where I had practiced before and when I told her Basalt, Colorado she said, “Oh, Bel & Emily’s studio, that’s why you have such a beautiful practice.” She stunned me with these words, because before this week, I hadn’t set foot in a Bikram studio for years. When I was in Colorado, surrounded by solid ground, sheltering mountains, and familiar, loving faces, I sometimes craved motion & novelty. Now, here, surrounded by the unfamiliar, on a boat-home that is constantly in motion even when it isn’t actually going anywhere, I crave stillness, knowing full well that stillness is an illusion, that the only constant is change. I seek out pockets, tastes, and smells of familiar - libraries, yoga studios, coffee shops, Chipotle. (I have found a new appreciation of certain franchises.) Each day, the unfamiliar becomes a bit more familiar. Each day, I remind myself that I cannot give from an empty cup and I renew my commitment to filling my own cup with yoga, with meditation, healthy food, books, music, podcasts, writing, and yes, burritos, coffee, and internet connections.
Each day, again and again, I renew my commitment to seeing the beauty in the world, right where I am, and to keeping my heart and mind open for ways to be of service in the world, right where I am. Each day I ask myself, how will the weather of my life shape me? Can I find the Beauty in it?
Wherever you are, whatever the weather, may you know deep joy, deep peace, and deep love.
~ dawn on a sailboat, october 2016