It’s not a physical weight measured in pounds or kilograms or bars of gold…it’s more like a weight I feel everywhere in my body, emanating from my tan dien, a mystical place behind our belly buttons where we store chi energy. I fill it up every morning with Qi Gong. This energy weighs about as much as a lady bug fart. Maybe less.
So why does it feel heavy? Good question, whichever one of the two of you is reading my blog today. It’s a roundabout story.
I teach my creative writing students how to write two types of back story: the historical one that could track a person over a period of weeks or years; and the departure back story…that instant in time when you have to make a decision that defines you for the rest of your life. Or until the next departure point. I believe that’s called satori in some circles. And it’s a powerful thing, if used right.
Last Friday I was standing on a breakwater ridge running through a marshy conservation area when I began to experience satori. The whole day had been leading into it. Most of the past year with its growing realization that something was wrong had been leading into it. I looked out over a beautiful flat wonderland of long grass and water, teenage trees and lush bushes. It was sunny and warm. Dragon flies buzzed around my head. I’d been driving around for several hours in a Jimmy taking pictures of places in a life I’d left behind years ago.
I was ready for this.
It didn’t come as a sudden mind-blowing bolt of lightning crashing through my soul and setting my essence on fire. I don’t need scary shit like that in my life anymore. It was more like, “Oh yeah…that.”
This can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. It’s what you do with it that decides that.
At that moment something awakens and once it’s awake, you can’t put it back to sleep because you’ve seen it. And it knows you’ve seen it. It’ll always be there. I know this.
Here’s the point…it keeps trying to grow whether you like it or not. That point of departure is a moment when two paths open up. One path leads into growth, no matter how frightening or uncomfortable that might be. It’s like you’re running with yourself, with all the expansiveness that comes with being free of fearing the path.
The other path leads away from something that’s not going to ever stop trying to grow inside you, and you end up running away from yourself.
I’m not sure where this one’s going to take me. I ignored the last one and it’s been a spiritual sickness inside me for so many years…something I didn’t even know was there and didn’t want to know was there.
I’m not doing that again.
I’m going to pare my life down to the essentials and get rid of some of the weight. I have a few hundred books I’m never going to read again. They’re sitting on book shelves that block the beautiful view of my walls. I’m going to sell the damn things and buy an ereader. And see my beautiful walls.
I have closets stuffed with things that have been stuffed in the closets so long that all they are now is closet stuffer. They’re not blocking the view of my beautiful walls, but I know they’re there. Weighing on me. The walls that I can see are cluttered with pictures that break my heart because the times they depict are gone forever and I need to let go of them, not of those times, but the feelings their loss evokes. They can be brought out from albums on those occasions when the time is right. I need to get lighter, inside and outside. I might just turn my living room into a Japanese sand garden.
Wouldn’t that be cool.
And yeah, the inside…back into the old tan dien side of things.
I need to return to my writing. It’s been a couple of years…hanging around in the visual world, far away from worlds created with words and coffee. I don’t regret the break. I needed it. But writing for this project reminds me that it’s time. I love that magic when I download a day’s worth of pictures and discover that I got just one of them right. That’s the gem that makes the day shine through the night.
I also love writing, watching my characters grow with the flow of the words until they demand to be set free and live their lives in a world I’ve created for them. And no, there’s nothing godly about this. Ask any of my writing students. They’ll tell you. It’s called parenting.
I have tough decisions to make so that I stay on the right path until that next departure, but I’m cool with that. I’m glad I started this project. It’s helped me to start seeing with a photographer’s eye, and see with a multitude of other eyes as well.
Lesson learned: Life is one long meditation with the occasional slap in the face to remind us that everything else is just a dream. That slap in the face is called satori.
It creates two paths…