Flaming Doorways to Love
Recently I figured out that many things in my life which frightened me were actually flaming doorways to opportunity. Instead of getting tight or pulling away from my fear of homelessness, poverty, being unlovable—you know, the stuff that wakes you up in the middle of the night and takes all the air out of your body and says you are in big, big trouble—I realized that these gut punches were my way in to loving the world and myself.
I have wanted to swim in love since forever. When my mother died, I tattooed the word love on my wrist because I wanted to remind myself it was the thing I wanted. My mother had always signed her letters and cards to me love mom, and after she was dead I wanted love to be in a place where I would see it again and again each day, each hour.
I was embarrassed to have the word on my wrist. When I first got the tattoo I pulled my sleeve down and gripped the ends with my fingers. My need felt private and embarrassing.
But hiding out of embarrassment is boring, and soon I let the world see what I wanted, what I believed in, what I loved. There are so many words in the English language I could have inked onto that soft skin that covers the blue rivers coursing so close to the surface. I could have written joy or money or Obama or sex or hamburgers or my daughter’s name, but I looked for what is, to me, the center of all things.
My mind spends much of the time focused on what it doesn’t like. My mind likes to list problems. My mind is psycho, and if I could, I would pull that thing out and stick it in a love bath. It would probably be like putting Pop Rocks into a bottle of Coke. My mind might explode. Or it could be like swaddling a crying baby and rocking it to sleep. Meditation is a love bath, and so I am working on this, on swaddling myself and rocking myself not to sleep, but to life.
I Thoreau-ed myself a few weeks ago, and I left California and came to Boston because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I did this three years ago when I left California for three months to live in New York and write a book. I found a lot of love on that trip. I found a community of people. I found my family that were related to me by blood. Family that took me in and said I love you and I’ll never leave, but I have been treading water in many ways since I wrote my book. Part of me went deep into fear. I had showed so much of myself. I had gone from being a private person to a public person in a short span of time. Part of me wanted to hide, to stay safe, hidden.
I packed up that part and took it to Boston because when I die I don’t want to hear these hidden parts crying that they missed their chance at fully showing up to give and receive love. Packing up means headed towards, but it also means leaving. One reason for treading water is to look like you are doing something when actually you are just finding a way to look fully engaged while you stay in place.
(When I write you what I mean is I.)
Another reason for treading water is so you (I) don’t have to leave things that you (I) love in order to get to things that even more truly resonate with your (my) core values and life vision. So many times it feels easier to stay with what is sort of working instead of leaping into the unknown with only the belief that your bodymind could become even more expansive and fully realized. So many times it is easier to just skip the part where you rip off the band-aid because you are afraid of the pain.
In a training I took for massage, I learned that when my head hurts, for example, I can look at the pain and try to see it. I can name what color it is. I can look at the shape of it, search for its edges. I can play with the edges, make them move. I can make the shape of the pain bigger, and then I can make it smaller. I can make it so small that it disappears. It takes a lot of focus, and I could easily say, Oh, this is stupid. I can’t see my own pain. Let me sit here and suffer. I don’t want to try to make it go away.
Or I could go through the flaming doorway to opportunity and play with my pain and show it who’s boss.