11 May 2014

Clear Sailing

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -- Anais Nin

Photographer:  Gary Jones
It comes a little later than expected but it is happening at last. Spring is bursting out. From this chair on the front porch I see the lawn exploding in a profuse variety of weeds. What are their names? According to the weed identification chart so generously offered by MS State University with full-color photos to facilitate a search for an answer to that question, by my inexpert assessment, the lawn includes the following:

  • black medic
  • broadleaf plantain
  • creeping Charlie
  • orchard grass
  • tall fescue
  • white clover
  • dandelion
  • pennywort
...and a few others I didn't find in the MSU gallery. I have mowed three times already and really should mow today but it's Mother's Day and I'm treating myself well.

Then there are the insects. Gnats, flies and mosquitoes, wasps and bumblebees, crickets, spiders, ants and beetles, snails, worms....

Every day I see "the largest crow/hawk/bluejay/robin/sparrow/cardinal/woodpecker/etc. I've ever seen." The birds are huge. A plump, monster bluejay is at this moment perched on the fence a few feet away from the porch. He is nearly one-half the size of some lapdogs.

The neighbors with the four dogs moved away. From the day the dogs left, raccoon sightings have steadily increased in the neighborhood. Contrary to my understanding, they are not strictly nocturnal animals.

And they are fearless. One lumbered casually across the back lawn the other afternoon, not 10 feet from the porch where Carlton and I sat talking. Last night I heard a ruckus just outside my bedroom window.  It sounded like someone, rifling through a bag of tools. I went to the window to investigate, but because of the contrast between bright inside and dark outside, I could see nothing through the screen.

I returned to my desk and the sounds continued. I returned to the window, this time with flashlight in hand and cast a beam through the screen, scanning the yard for the source of the noise. The beam fell at last on a large raccoon. S/he looked over her/his shoulder at me but did not startle, did not run from the light.

I extinguished the light and went to the back porch. I opened the screen door and turned on the flashlight. The creature was still there, untroubled. Not until I stepped through the door and shouted "Get outta here!" did the raccoon retreat. I watched it run away, more in a mood of annoyance than fear.

At least 20 "volunteer trees" have joined the small forest army in the backyard this season. Some of them are tall and thick enough to cast a small shadow. Some of the shadows are well on their way to becoming "shade."

Mother Nature, based on an assessment of my immediate surroundings, is doing a bang-up job of mothering. She is prolific and vigorous. In nature, every day is Mother's Day; every day she is affirmed in an enduring vibrant display. No special cards of gratitude or acknowledgment are necessary. The World is Her and is Hers and the celebration is constant.

On this day that humans have designated for formal, outward expressions in celebration of mothers and mothering, I reflect with some sadness on my relationship with my mother and my experiences as mother to my son. Only in isolated moments has my life as child of a mother and mother to a child approached the cultural ideal. I know this is true for many people. My sadness is not envy of other children or other mothers. Or not mostly. Mostly it is, in the case of my own upbringing, a painful awareness of what I needed or wanted from her and never received. I survived without the nourishment my Soul longed for but it cost me something and on Mother's Day I feel the poverty of that price.

My sadness as a mother is a writhing, pungent, bone-deep ache. It is an agonized question, screamed in a vast, dark cathedral. What did I do wrong? My life from that day in August 1977 when I learned I was pregnant to this moment flashes before my eyes--and through my heart--at high velocity. I feel the impact of all the choices and words and places, a million scenes play out again with blinding speed and staggering psychic resonance. I am emotionally laid flat on the ground, worn out by the heart-breaking consequences of one decision:  to become a mother. Would I have chosen differently if I'd known how much pain would come from that choice?

It is a difficult and ridiculous question.  Contemplation of it has become a staple feature of my Mother's Day observance.

I've been studying Portuguese for a few months. The ever-present but never-focused dreams of living abroad and, specifically, visiting Brazil are coming into sharper focus. First application for a passport is in progress. Preliminary scan of CouchSurfing members living in Brazil is complete. I am saving my money. I am actively seeking contacts and making tentative plans to be in Brazil by December.

The robust forward momentum of nature inspires me. Fullness! Some fullness of living is denied by the mother-based sadness in me. It drains vitality that wants expression. It stops embodied engagement with the divine miracle of my existence.

That's how it it seems to me today. On this Mother's Day, I acknowledged publicly (on FaceBook) that I will celebrate myself today. My celebration is a personal acknowledgement of the gift of my Life. It is a re-commitment to breathing fully and living fully. It is making a conscious choice to relinquish the sadness and embrace the "Yes".

Life is messy and unpredictable and full of surprises. Life is tragic and mean and mysterious. Life is glorious and absurd and sweet. It's not the Hallmark card and it's not the horror movie, although it is both of those in fleeting instances.

Today I celebrate the fullness. I dance the courage and light and burden of my existence. I sing the pathos, the fury, the prayer and the ballad of Life, my Life.

Out of the doldrums. Sails filled with the winds of my willingness.
"And thAnd the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

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