Today, seperated from my love, I am
Without companion, sweetheart and friend, I am
The one who did not sleep in the darkness of night, I am
In short, entangled in every sorrow, I am.
– Nasibi Gilani
For the past seven months my beautiful Jet and I have been inseparable. Every morning she’d wake me up at sunrise, wait for me to finish my tai chi practice, rush to the sofa in the living room (brush time please!), cuddle up on my chest whenever I’d sit down, wait for me to come home and fall sleep in my arms at night, her soft nose pressed against my cheek. And now, out of the blue, this sweet creature, light of my life, is gone. Leaving me with nothing but memories. I will always remember that she was so scared on one of our last visits to the vet that she stuck her little head underneath my jumper, hiding in the safety of my embrace. It melted my heart to see how much she came to trust me, this little rescue animal, in the short period that I knew her. Faced with an emptiness that cannot be filled, I lost faith that there is always light to be found in the darkness. Overwhelmed with grief and feeling utterly defeated, I questioned everything. What’s the point in trying when we are all going to die anyway? But like the phoenix rising from the ashes, I too must start over. And so, with a saddened heart, I set out to rebuild all dreams lost.
Seven years. Seven years ago today I fell prey to a hawk, his sharp claws leaving marks on my body. Seven years, they say, it takes for the cells in your body to have been replaced by new ones. This miracle of regeneration means that this body of mine hasn’t been violated. That he hasn’t touched me. And that after all these years of healing, I can begin again: unmarred, unharmed, untouched. It is time to leave the past behind. The scar he left on my soul will always be there, of course. But I’m ok with that. For me it’s a reminder that the world isn’t filled only with butterflies and dandelions. That there’s bad and good, dark and light, yin and yang. That there are dangers lurking in the shadows of the forest. And that you must always trust your intuition when it tells you it isn’t safe. But it also reminds me that there are things that can never be taken away from me. As Maya Angelou said, I am a child of god. So keep your warrior heart soft and follow the guidance of your inner light.
It’s a quiet summer evening. Raindrops are falling from the grey sky, there’s some light thunder in the background. A pigeon sits on a branch just outside my balcony, slightly hunched. In the distance I can see the lights of my neighbours garden. I’ve been given oceans of time just to sit, rest and dream. A few days ago I had an accident – a single unguarded moment and I fell down. The same way as I did exactly five years ago. When it happened, my first thought was: ‘not again!’ Last time my rehabilitation took almost six months. But so many things are different now. My life is so much richer, filled with the positive energy of beautiful people and animal friends. I’ve picked up new skills along the way, like the basics of first aid and where to get crutches. I’ve learned about healing trauma, how to follow the rhythm of my own body, the foods that nurture you, which herbs quicken the healing process, and about the magic power of touch. I’ve learned how to stop striving, always wanting to arrive in another place than where you are right now. Most importantly I’ve learned not to despair, but to trust in myself and the universe.
Retreats are wonderful things. I mean the ones where a bunch of people go to a beautiful location for an intensive experience of something or other, with lots of togetherness. I’ve been on quite a few. From summer art camps to meditation/yoga/martial arts retreats across Europe. Now I’m finally ready to stop forcing myself to sign up for them. You see, being in a group drains my energy and if I’m deprived of the time I need to restore that energy, I get ill. Surrounded by so many happy campers, I’ve always felt there must be something wrong with me. If only I would be stronger, less sensitive, more relaxed, I would be able to keep up with the others. But there’s nothing wrong with me. Where does it say that growth (or enlightenment) can only be found in this intensive group setting? I understand now that just because something is good, it does not automatically mean that it is good for me. To each her own way and her own prayer. Or as a beautiful voice once whispered in my ear: you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. For me that is doing a little practice down by the river every day.