Approaching 36

I enter into my 36th year humbled and amazed. These past twelve months have been a time of upheaval, precarity, despair, and loss. I walked into the void where things fall apart, and that nothingness has left me directionless. I don’t know if I want a guiding star because I am falling into the deepest, darkest places that I thought I had visited in the past. I need to work these things out, or begin the process of discovering them. I want to confront the darkness, my fears and insecurities, and become the person I have always been.

The pain that exists there, cob-webbed nooks in my lifetime of travels, will creep around inside me forever. The emotions that are wrapped around those locked-away places are twisted and gnarled, like a rope that a tree has grown over (or a knotted muscle from an old accident). The ropes lead to other places, tangle together, creating walls and rooms. In one of those rooms I scream and I cannot hear myself. I look on through a thick, stain-glassed window.

Luckily, that window can open, and I am on a journey that will lead me to that room where the shrieking me is. Do you know where the monsters are in the darkness of your memory? I used to scare myself silly as a child, having frequent dreams of trapdoors, imagining dead people walking up the steps from the mortuary. I was afraid those visions and I’m afraid now. The adult that never confronted what scared him most is currently trying to find out what the hell those horrors are.

This 35th year seeps into my life’s journey like the experiences I had in Atlanta about 10 years ago. At 25, my life imploded, I betrayed my best friend, lost many others, and sunk to the bottom of the pit of loathing. I spent two years climbing out of that hole, traveling alone in Europe, living alone in Greenville, not dating, learning to love myself, and eventually traveling across the country to land in San Francisco. I arrived into the present without a job, room, or clue. My mother, always the prophet, predicted that I’d fall in love with someone in SF and never move back to SC. She was right on both accounts.

So, ten years later, I stand alone again in the endless darkness of the present moment. Every action I have made led me here, where I’m learning to breathe again. I didn’t realize that dealing with my shit would be a lifelong thing, but know now that it is. I am preparing myself to be up to the task to find myself in the moment, to relish the emotions that come and go in the emptiness.

Today, a simple phone call set me off. I could go into the details of the phone call, but it would be a waste of time. Instead, I began to breathe and observe the emotions and present feelings. This led to an hourlong process that happened mostly in public, in my heart. I was angry, why? Because I don’t express myself that well. Why? Because expressing myself is bad. Why? Because it makes me feel dirty. Why? Because I’m a failure. Why? Because my (biological) parents got rid of me. The last answer came to me in my room as I wrote in my journal, and I instantly began bawling.

I didn’t cry because it was all an illusion. I cried because it was an obvious discovery that finally crept out of its musty hole. I know that I’m not any of those things, but I am all of those things. They are the ropes that have tree trunks grown around them. Hard to find, pull out, and discard. I can deny this all I want, but know that it is true. It is also not true. There’s just the conditioning that goes with forgetting where you are at the current moment.

Which is headed to my 36th birthday. This past year, I have observed the metaphor and symbolism of the things that come into my life. Why did the woman bless me last Thurs. when I sat in a bar and focused on my heart via breathing? Why did that butterfly die on the trip up to Oregon? Why did the body worker give me a seed to nurture myself 6 months ago? Why did I find the tarot cards, and pick the 7 of pentacles, a man with a hoe? What am I planting with all of this, what will grow from it? How are my friends, community, and family providing the soil for this transition to grow out of?

What is in store for year 36? I am lost, sad, broken, yet alive, observing the seconds, and connecting with the atoms of the universe. I’m a mess, peaks and lows come when they want to, but I am here. The world falls apart, people die and are born, and I am pushing those stain-glassed windows open to hear the beautiful sound of my screaming. Years ago, I dreamed of my niece, Anna, standing in front of a collapsing building. She had no idea that things fell apart behind her, and just smiled as the wind gently blew her blonde hair. I instantly woke up form the horror of that toppling building.

I failed to notice that my beautiful niece stood firm, unwavering, and in the moment of her own happiness. I was that building then, and now, but I am about to be that grounded child. Like Roland at the end of the Dark Tower, I am starting the story over. Except I have a magical item with me this time. It is the clue to find the balance of falling in this endless void and illusion. It is the fact that I live, I feel, and I am here.

Last week Rob Brezny gave me yet another totem to carry, feel out, and savor. My horoscope (I usually take them lightly) from last week fits my current circumstances:

Please speak the following series of declarations at least once a day in the coming week: “I want to drink in the brilliance of someone’s beautiful eyes today. I want to dream of the kind of intimacy I will someday be worthy of. I want to learn to enjoy everything that I do and everything that happens to me, even if it’s not what I expected or thought I needed. I want the end of every story to be quickly followed by the beginning of the next story. I want to go home to a home I have never known.”

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