Over the years I’ve signed up on a lot of mailing lists and sometimes get rather surprising emails in my inbox from some long-forgotten blog or listserv. That happened this morning, when I received a V-Day email from Magpie Girl (Rachelle Mee-Chapman). I clicked through to her link, sinking some inspiration for my day and my week. I found a poem and a blessing. What struck me most were these words:
In this time of great upheaval
when the seas shift beneath you
may you find your own deep balance
lying there betwixt your ears,
behind your breastbone,
warm in the core of your belly.
And may you stand in prow of your own ship,
guiding your self-christened vessel,
to shores of you own choosing
where a peaceful story awaits you,
and sometimes, a star.
This past week I’ve been considering what I most want out of my life right now and in the near future. Perhaps what surfaces the most easily when I ask this question is that I don’t want to be hurt. I want a soft cozy bubble of protection all around me to keep me from more pain. And I’ve been surrounding myself with soft cozy things as a manifestation of this: a plush rug, a new flannel bathrobe, a snuggly blanket, my Elly-kitty, etc.
But of course it’s not enough to simply want not be hurting. First of all, I know I need to keep moving forward with my life, and while there are times to wrap up in a blanket and just be, I know I can’t do this for very long. I need to keep seeking new opportunities, to make progress towards my goals, to keep myself open to what the universe has in store for me. Second of all, I know all the blankets in the world can’t protect me from more pain. Pain will happen. (That famous quotation: “Life is pain, your highness,” rings so loudly in my ears right now…).
Perhaps that’s why I love the image above of ‘standing at the prow of my own ship.’ I know what it means to be the steersman for my own canoe, and to listen to the wind and water and adjust my course accordingly. I don’t have any concrete examples to follow in where I’m going right now. I have only the dimmest outline of some island-goal ahead, and no compass at hand. I’m seeking counsel from friends and family, but for the most part I’m figuring this out myself–and I’m the only one who can do this. I don’t have to negotiate or compromise or apologize anymore. But I do have to dig my paddle in and make some decisions about where to point the nose of my boat.
Some days I even find myself turning around 180 degrees from the goal of the day before, but I do think, I’m making progress and figuring it out. I suspect that if I had a GPS-charted map for my life right now I’d see a lot of zig-zagging (and a few circles), but overall I’m headed in the right direction.