“Authentic dharma turns suffering into light.” – Stephen Cope
Transformation is the back and forth feeling of our world now: the product of pain and release. My birthday is on Thursday, August 24th. I will be 29 years old which is supposedly my return of Saturn. Basically, that means a big transitional period is on its way. I find it interesting that the solar eclipse is happening at the same time as my return of Saturn. Good thing I’m sober. There’s an X-files episode about what this might mean. So cool. Anyways, I’m sitting in our living room letting the sun pour over me in all of its all-the-way glory before this eclipse happens. The phantom feeling of obligation is one breath away from saying well it doesn’t really matter, or it’s not that big of a deal, but this is different. This is not just an empty hyped-up thing. A total eclipse is a big deal. After ending the struggle of whether or not to participate in part of the craziness, I decide to make a cereal box pin-hole viewer because I like how paper cutting and taping go together in my hands. I like knowing that I am doing something I would not have done while drinking.
It is about 10:45AM when we get to the rooftop of our building. (I know most of you reading this witnessed this same event and will have stories of your own about it, but right now just visualize and appreciate that charcoal glow). We get to the very crowded rooftop patio and see our friend Alan who was also the only witness at our wedding in Manhattan. The three of us witness the eclipse with the larger crowd. I feel together with everyone because I am looking for that right now. Some folks let us borrow their glasses. We are applauded for the cereal-box-pin-hole-viewer. What a way to meet the neighbors of our home in Portland.
Sobriety is a creative whirlwind of realization. Once you accept this, it is pretty hard to ever let yourself be totally paralyzed at the bottom of your chariot ever again. Sobriety is such a trip sometimes that the rest of the world’s insanity is just whatever because “anything is possible” literally means ANYTHING is possible. Traveling with the circus makes everything a little more uncertain and more unique, sure, but after reading about North Korea and finding out that racism is still a thing, all I can really do is respect reality in the sense that we don’t really understand it at all. It is capable of anything. The wave. Beethoven stretched the sonata as he learned to function within himself and find psychological harmony. He stretched it to its capacity “giving voice to the wound.” I’m hardly a stranger to waking up in unfamiliar places, but it has a completely new meaning for me these days. Remember that side trip to Banff I mentioned on our way to Portland? And remember that charcoal glow from your own eclipse story that you’re supposed to be visualizing? Well, imagine falling asleep so hard and so peacefully that you forget where you are. Then imagine that you wake up to that same sky under completely different circumstances. The light in the wound. When it holds both worlds at once, imagine that feeling. Well, this one morning in Banff…
The silence had its own presence. It literally knocked me out, so waking up to this glowing amber-purple-charcoal sky, I literally gasped out loud and rubbed my eyes. It leaned over and peaked through edges of a jagged silhouette. Rock and light with a curtain of charcoal. Anything is possible. Looking back through the catalog of couches I’ve magically slept on, safely, while drinking, I am astonished at the shape of my current surprise. These are hallowed treasures of a complete person. This is my life as a sober woman. I walked out to the patio and whispered, Thank you, thank you, thank you for this life, for this strength. I will not waste it.
What are the fears we resonate the most with when we begin to wonder why we aren’t enough? I bet she’s off somewhere _________ . What if you felt exactly enough right now? Fill in that blank for yourself. “I bet she’s off somewhere being brave.” Wow. I bet she’s off somewhere being brave. What if that were true? Right now for me it is, so any interrupting thoughts to this truth should not really matter. You are the only credible witness of your own life today. Let your that truth burn through you.
Anyways, after finishing The Great Work of Your Life, my perspective on what it means to be a person, more specifically, a sober person has changed drastically. My favorite historical figures feel more a part of me than ever. Beethoven’s madness, Thoreau’s New York story, and Ghandi’s big Indian courtroom shame all prove to me that we are all the same. It’s what you do with what happens to you that defines who you are. “And whatever your authentic work is – I believe it is great. It is the great work of your life.” We are the same light. We should find trust within ourselves. I saw a solar eclipse today, and I’m about to have my first sober birthday in a long time. I’m ready for my Saturn return because I know how to do hard things. The light in the wound where anything can happen. ❤