The voice at the edge of the forest
August 31, 2011
It’s 5:00 AM. I woke up an hour ago, went to the bathroom, came back, had a sip of water and lay my head back down on my pillow. I told myself that I could just close my eyes and fall back to sleep; it happens, sometimes. I listened to the crickets for a few minutes, wondered if Ameera had brought Troy inside like I asked her to, heard the faint yelping of coyotes in the distance, and thought how amazing it is that I live in a part of the country where I can hear these beautiful creatures calling out into the night or that, on occasion, I glimpse the tail of a fox pouncing gracefully across the garden in the long grass.
As my mind wound it’s way around the landscape, remembering spottings of bears and wild turkeys and foxes and moose, a clear voice came to mind from the edge of the forest of my thoughts and said, “Have you read my blog yet?” It was Carrie Grossman. I still had not read her newest entry. I pulled out my laptop and went to her Facebook page, looked at her newest photograph ‘tags’, read a few wall posts, and moved on over to her website, thelightinside.org.
The first thing I read on her blog was a poem by Mary Oliver called, ‘Of Love’. I was fortunate to spend a weekend with Carrie down in Connecticut at her family home recently and, as always, when I am around this very special friend of mine, I must be prepared for the unexpected. This particular weekend, the leela of the divine would have it that an amazing woman named Shakti Durga, on her first trip to America from Australia, just so happened to be staying in one of the two houses on Carrie’s parent’s property that they rent out. And so goes Carrie’s life and path that a teacher with such clarity and truth should find herself at Carrie’s front door—well, within sight of Carrie’s parent’s front door—where yours truly, daughters in tow, happened to be staying that weekend.
And so goes my life and path. We had a beautiful two days there in the Grossman’s lovely home, lots of tears and laughter as we ended our summer, swam, walked through a small forest of bamboo, ate the famous Pink Cake of New York, and listened to the teachings and songs of Shakti Durga. The Mary Oliver Poem reminded me of this healing weekend and I knew where Carrie got the inspiration to post that poem.
But that was not the entry that she had asked me to read. I think what Carrie wanted me to read was, “At Home In The Abbey (at least for now).” Having given in to the fact that I was now awake with no hopes of returning to dreamland (at least not with eyes closed), I read her words. She spoke of being okay with being single. I have known Carrie for ten years‑she is a very beautiful, intelligent, spiritual woman. Anyone who does not know her half as well as I do would wonder why she has not found her soulmate, but one thing I know about my dear friend is that she is in search of something far more meaningful than just a companion or a boyfriend to fill some cavity in her life. Her life is very full of divine play and it keeps her busy enough.
I also read about how she came to release her first Kirtan CD, Soma-Bandhu. Somehow her beautiful words and stories, which I know so well, made me feel heavy and reminded me how stuck I feel in my own life. I have been avoiding writing—writing of any kind: poetry, lyrics, blogs, emails, even the simplest of the simple…Tweets!
I read through a few more of Carrie’s blog entries and decide to shut my laptop down and get one more hour of sleep before it is time to wake up and begin the day. Without skipping a beat, in walks the monkey of my mind. So much for morning dreams! I am on a thought train and have no idea where my monkey friend and I will end up.
I don’t need to drive Isobel to school today—the first day; Ameera drives now. I bought Ameera her first car primarily to give myself mornings without 7:00 AM drives over the mountain but I will drive Isobel to school because she asked me to. I don’t really want to take a walk at 7:05 AM, but my friend Pia has asked me to meet her on the railroad trail so I will, as long as we talk about her problems and not mine.
And so it goes. I line up one distraction after the other to help me avoid what I would prefer to be doing at this hour: writing. What am I afraid of? What does writing mean in my life and, by avoiding it, am I avoiding my life? As I journey deeper into that densely wooded part of my mind, I realize that I have not only been avoiding writing, but I have also been avoiding phone conversations and email exchanges with friends that remind me of writing. I have been avoiding anyone who reminds me of music as well, because music reminds me that I am not writing. One of my greatest joys in life is driving and listening to music, which I have been avoiding as well. (I am sincerely sorry, Jill Scott; I promise to get to your new album when I can beat back this fear.)
And so, with a great deal of reluctance (like a certain ‘someone’ finally breaking down and cleaning her room), I pull out my laptop, open a blank page, and just start. Not knowing what to write about, I start to write about not writing. Writing is similar to cleaning a messy room, organizing thoughts and putting them on shelves.
I know that my writing is not important in the bigger world, where real writers have more to say with a more colorful palette, but it is important to me in my little world here—tucked away in the woods where crickets and frogs and coyotes fill the late summer nights with a reassuring hum. It is important because it just so happens that writing is my savior. But truth be told, I don’t always want to be saved, and in those dark bottomless periods, no words come. It scares me because I begin to believe that they will never come again, and that the course I have been on for so many years will need to change to a path where words no longer measure my sense of well being. Eventually, when I am close to giving up, my back against the wall, the words always seem to come—at least for now—and I write my way back into a healthy space.
So, with summer on it’s way out and autumn at my back door, maybe my savior has returned to me. I can’t place a bet on it yet, but I am here at my desk tapping out words today, the first day. There is wood to be chopped and stacked, friends to visit, teenagers to tend to, dogs to walk, walls to paint, rooms to clean, and any number of distractions to keep me from this place, but, for now, I am here, facing my fear of writing down the bones. Thank you, Carrie, for the voice at the edge of the forest.