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Category: Personal Essays

Nothing Speaks

Nothing Speaks

 

Lips pressed so tightly sealed, eyelids close as emotion yields

Everything slowing to a crawl, vision narrowing down the eternal hall

Wanting to run but legs remain, stuck in quicksand from the rain

Face to face with a godly mirror, reflecting ideas falsely clear

 

Suddenly now I feel the growl, a voice stifled and becoming foul

Rising up from the darkest place, around my throat with fingers laced

Willing any sound to be heard, trying to shout like a morning bird

Crumbling apart and thought as weak, no matter the effort nothing speaks

 

-Lavinia Busch

 

How does one find their voice after many years of holding back, willing it to silence because of insecurity or scrutiny? I have made my fair share of mistakes learning how to speak up over the years. It is very difficult finding the right tone when freeing an idea that has been wanting so desperately to emerge. Often, the result is a harsh exclamation…not a good look.

 

When I wrote the poem “Nothing Speaks” my mind was in deep consideration of this contradiction. When a voice has been silent for an extended period of time, it is unbelievably difficult to change course and exercise a willing openness. The give and take of daily conversation can set off all sorts of alarms. “Is it safe to say what I know to be true?” or “Will people think less of me?”  The self-doubt never ceases, and the easiest road is to just keep silent.

 

It takes great courage to finally speak up, especially for one like myself that prefers to keep most thoughts tightly held. In my rush to seize the moment and speak to an issue I am passionate about, sometimes the words tumble out more assertively than I would like.

 

In general, my goal is to find the balance between not speaking, as in the poem, and sharing my thoughts openly. Some days I am better at it than others. I have learned that as in all things, balance in conversation is a muscle that must be exercised.

 

 

 

Nothing Remains

Nothing Remains

 

Nothing Remains

 

Pictures drifting as before, when frailty roamed with an audible roar

Apparitions lifeless and complete, in precious memories so very sweet

Blink and the fragile forms will change, faces and stories all appearing strange

Set your watch and shed your chains, at long last nothing remains

 

-Lavinia Busch 2019

 

Having just returned to work after a six month sabbatical, I am caught in a fog of “work stuff”. As a librarian in higher education, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with young adults excited about learning and exploring new ideas. By the same token, the culture of busyness and the hierarchical structures of university life have left me conflicted.

 

What I am left with is the idea of impermanence and contribution. Well aware of the fragile nature of life, it is striking how much energy is expended doing things that have nothing to do with permanence. Pepper this with what can be real injustices in the world, and I find myself constantly thinking about an elusive other way forward.

 

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”

― Paulo Coelho

 

As a person attempting to let go of all that weighs heavily, what remains clear is that the practice of minimalism is not just about stuff. Minimalism is what we allow into our lives and what we set free to move along on the rivers of fate. Nothing remains static; no problem, institution, relationship, river or mountain. Everything is in a constant state of change. Stepping away from my workplace for six months really demonstrated this concept for me.

 

When I am gone, my work contribution will remain as if an echo bouncing off the walls of a vast and empty hallway as new voices, ideas and leadership step forth. What then is really important to me? How should I be spending my precious life energy?

 

The answer I always return to is family and writing. Both are extremely important to me and deserving of my very best. Through my family, I leave a bit of myself in all that I do. My children may not grasp the value of this work, but I am convinced my job is only to plant the seeds of hope and inspiration. They must tend their own soil and allow unique flowers to bloom.

By writing, I contribute my voice, my heart, in a format that will far outlast my physical body. It would be lovely if in 100 years, someone picked up one of my poems and felt unfamiliar emotions after reading. To me this would epitomize life energy well spent.

 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

― Heraclitus

 

Remembering that nothing remains is also a comfort during times of unease. Everything that confounds me about this life will pass. The discomfort of this physical body, awkward relationships and the many mind numbing tasks that make up a day. In the future, the world will no longer be as I see it now.  A new landscape will emerge as the cycle of life returns and repeats.  Taking this in, my desire to spend more time doing what speaks to my heart is pressing. We must all ask ourselves, if these were our last days on earth, what would we do with the time remaining?

 

 

We All Have Unique Contributions to Make

We All Have Unique Contributions to Make

 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

 

Desiderata has been a favorite of mine for many years, so much so that I have a copy hanging in my office. Returning to his words, on this New Year’s Day, I am struck by the relevance standing on the threshold of the new filled with unlimited mystery.

 

Not a fan of resolutions, my exploration of the nuances of life is forever ongoing. Thinking on this topic, I am left with the understated importance of unique service. What do I have to offer this world by showing up as authentically as I can? What is my unique contribution?

 

This contribution may quite possibly have nothing to do with a role or title but rather a value, or character trait. Stay with me here for a moment. Living in a goal-oriented society, service often circles around career, family or community involvement. While these are all commendable vehicles to affect change, they are simply the vehicle, not the mechanism.

 

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” -Thomas Moore

 

As a fairly private person, I have the unusual habit of showing up as I believe the environment calls for. My true character is never on display but rather put forward in pieces as if living my life a la carte. Strange I know, but this has been the way I have navigated the treacherous social constructs of my life…until now.

 

It has become clear to me that one of my potential contributions is specific to human nature. I enjoy talking to others, reading their energy and trying to figure out why they are who they are. This microscope on interpersonal relationships has become, over time, my “mothership” or home base.

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

 

Up until the present, this has also been my dirty little secret. When talking with someone, the busy beehive of my brain is analyzing, questioning and insatiably curious. The pretense for the meeting makes little difference, I am much more interested in understanding the participants human nature. It also makes no difference what emotion is exposed. I see anger, sadness and loneliness as well as kindness, love and joy. Each emotion fills in the blank page of the other, similar to an amazing novel you just can not put down. People are so beautifully complex.

 

My continued commitment is to honor what I see. Whether it be in my workplace or home, I must believe what others share even if it was meant to be quietly withheld. This information allows me to be the best caretaker in ways that may be foreign to some. Having the ability to hold the sadness of others is an incredibly humbling responsibility, especially when sadness is expressed as anger or criticism. It takes every bit of strength to see this sadness and be gentle.

 

My hope is to find more opportunities to practice this gentle patience amid a world lead by harsh judgments, born from some of the darkest of emotions. I hope to be able to see the genesis for these emotions and be a source of light, a different way forward. Maybe in this way, I will learn more about myself and act upon what is discovered.

 

 

Hearing My Voice

Hearing My Voice

 

 

“Being true to that self involves sifting through the layers of bad advice and unreasonable expectations of others. It requires seeing through your own delusions of grandeur or your fear of failure or your impostor syndrome or your conviction that there is something uniquely and obviously screwed up about your particular self.”

― Elizabeth Lesser, Marrow: A Love Story

 

As one with a personality that thrives in the grey, speaking a strong opinion sounds foreign and unwelcoming. Ask me my opinion on any sensitive issue and you may leave the conversation never knowing my true view. By design, I hold strong beliefs close. Debating the merits of moral and ethical ideals is in no way appealing to me. My beliefs may shift over time and are framed by personal experience, representative only of self and not the whole.

 

This may also be why my writing has taken a turn towards prose rather than essays.  I enjoy the metaphor in poetry and how words can mean a multitude of things depending on the readers experience. I can now speak to a much larger audience and find a renewed freedom in the metaphorical imagery of poetry. Each new piece is brought to life by evoking personal emotions with little control over the end result. I grab my laptop and start writing as if consumed by what are sometimes dark and uncensored thoughts. It is an exposure in the deepest sense and one that leaves me completely spent.

 

Should it be me, that others see.

Could I possibly be the one,

who holds center stage, alone in a cage

fearful yet outspoken.

 

Should I project, all for effect

A false and misfitting equation

Or should I be, completely me

Rejecting all misleading notions.

-Lavinia Busch

 

 

After writing, I often let the poem sit for some time before returning to read and edit. This is when the awful “imposter syndrome” rages. Looking at otherwise private emotions is a humbling venture. I wonder what in the world was I thinking and how could it be of any importance to others. Slamming my laptop shut, I walk away from my words, my heart, time and time again. Self doubt is so very insidious.

 

Having repeated this over and over, it is clear that writing is a radical act of bravery. Inherently, I understand publishing intimate thoughts, requires a letting go of obsession with “the other”. I must write for me and only me. It sounds selfish, but the only way in which my unique voice can be heard. By releasing the focus on approval, I am free to take risks, explore uncharted emotional territory and dive as deeply as words allow.

 

Ultimately, there is only one of me in this grand universe and my singular voice matters. Similarly, the collective voice of humanity also has something to teach, whether it be frightening or inspirational. It is up to each individual how they wish to interpret words, imagery and creative thought. How freeing to know we each have choice in this way.  

I Dreamt of you Last Night

I Dreamt of you Last Night

Authors Note: Years after the fact (blog post here) I still occasionally dream of the two others actors in the unfortunate story of my married life. This time it was her. Forgiveness is a muscle that needs to be flexed in order to keep it mobile. I am continually called to flex these muscles over and over again.

 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

― Mark Twain

 

I dreamt of you last night. This is not the first time you have visited me in a dream, forgiveness being such a difficult pill to swallow. Just when you think its done, you find yourself choking on the remnants of bitterness.

 

The image I am left with, after a restless night, is dandelions. When I was a child, I sat outside in the cool evenings and plucked dandelions from the grass. Placing them one by one close to my lips, I would make a wish and blow the seeds of the dandelion into the wind. I was certain by doing so, my wish would come true.

 

I realized at 3 am that even though I thought I had let go of the past, the darkest spaces of my heart were still holding on. Each dandelion seed represented a hurtful memory, sadness or grief. By holding on to the bud, I was tethered to the tendrils of emotions still lingering within.

 

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

― Alexander Pope

 

 

Thinking of you, the person who was unwittingly connected to me by circumstance, I blew symbolic dandelion seeds into the air, releasing all that remained, all that had gone unsaid. While doing so I did my best to conjure up the most glorious rays of love and light….all for you.

 

As insidious as the darker emotions can be, I am not naive to the fact that more resentment may be hiding deep within the ethers of my psyche. When the darkness creeps back or, should you visit me once again in the silence of night, I vow to send you on your way by blowing the seeds of a dandelion into the light, setting you free -setting us free.

 

Nature as Equalizer

Nature as Equalizer

 

Spending time in nature, one feels how very small they are, so insignificant as compared to the absolute, magic of the natural world. Millions of years: heat, cold, wind and rain have, forged the highest peaks and lowest deserts. Nothing humans are capable of creating has such longevity and complexity.

 

It takes only a few moments on a petrified sand dune to see the artistry and creativity of nature. No picture or painting will ever capture this visceral sensibility. How humbling to be in the shadow of such depth. Even these words, written on paper, feel elementary as compared to the canyon in which I stand. Any ego I may have inadvertently fostered is crushed in an instant.

 

Nature is the ultimate equalizer. A keen businessman could stand next to a carpenter in this canyon and wind will knock them both down. No discerning for class, financial stability, education, race, gender…nothing. The heat of midday will bring physical exhaustion and the cool evening breeze, a gentle kiss upon the forehead. Nature has quite a sense of humor.

 

I can be funny but in general am a serious person. My walk in the woods has left me with one very keen impression. My life is short and what I believe to be of importance is not. My career is a symptom of living in a financially motivated world. My condition is living a human existence as a spiritual being.

 

Never before have I been so aware of this disconnect. It pains me to the point of sadness. Even while basking in the brilliant light of the natural world, I see how acutely misguided so many are. I see how misguided I have been.  Nature equalizes us all in an instant.

 

 

Broken Glass

Broken Glass

Art-Dhira Lawrence

 

Shards and pieces fill the floor,

Emotions trampled as before.

Watch your step, this glass cuts

Its best to keep things tightly shut.

 

Tempers flare and shouts persist

The allure of anger hard to resist

Careful now, handle with care

Sharp as a knife, better beware

 

Be gentle now, glass does break

All it takes is one strong shake

Softer words and kinder touch

Broken glass hurts far too much

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

Broken glass is an eclectic collection of what was once a whole, yet each piece is still able to shine separate from this whole. Think of a stained-glass window. These inspiring works of art are comprised of broken pieces of glass, each able to stand alone in specific brilliance. In totality, the stained-glass window shines like a sunbeam, sending colorful light in all directions. The beauty of this whole does not negate how special each individual piece of glass is. Removing even one piece would change the stained-glass window completely.

 

How easy it is to forget what makes each of us as individuals shine. We define ourselves by family, friends, job and relationships. It is so easy to forget who we are and what we contribute to the whole. Losing self in another is a slippery slope and the treacherous fall that may occur is not one to be taken lightly.

 

For empathetic people, this is especially difficult to navigate. We pride ourselves in being helpful, selfless and putting the needs of all others before our own. While this may seem to be a service-oriented way to move about the world, the exclusion of self in all matters is neither healthy are wise. Without goals, creative energy and spirit it becomes impossible to have a voice in any partnership. Each person should intend to uplift the other while gently encouraging their partner to stretch and grow. Without this space one will inevitably become stagnant, a shard of glass crushed by the weight of insecurity.

 

 

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

― Anton Chekhov

 

No one should dim their light for the benefit of another. Each one of us has the opportunity to shine in our own way. The color of the glass we use is up to us as is the manner in which we create our window. As the artist, we have a choice and a voice. It is incumbent on us to not lose sight of our precious light.

 

Continue to love those in your life. Lend an ear when necessary. Offer a helping hand and gentle encouragement but never compromise who you are and what is important. Shine as brightly as you are meant, dimming no amount of self for the benefit of others discomfort. You will find as you gain confidence, that your stained-glass window is more representative of your shining spirit and gentle heart.

 

 

 

Some Scars Are Beautiful

Some Scars Are Beautiful

Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains ©Dylan Mattina, 2018.

 

Scars hold many secrets. Hard earned but never displayed in any sort of distinctive manner, they are often tucked away behind locked doors without keys. Scars can be hard fought, forged in territory marked by pain and hardship. A desolate landscape rarely traveled and purposely avoided. Yesterday, while driving in rural Idaho and following a very trying week, I was reminded that scars can be marks of the beautiful as well.

 

Just about everything that could go wrong this week did. The RV had some power issues, eventually working themselves out only after causing much undue stress. Dylan and I both got very sick from the smoke coming from the California wildfires. Not just a nuisance head cold, but full on respiratory distress. Visits to the doctor and heavy medication where required to even feel a semblance of oxygen circulating our lungs. Steroids are not a good road trip companion and to say that nerves were frayed and emotions high is a grand understatement.

 

Couple all of this with the looming uncertainty about exactly where and when I will find my little slice of paradise in which to ruminate, write and relax; I found myself in the most perfect of storms.

 

Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains ©Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

After leaving Elko and the arresting beauty of Lamoille Canyon, we came across the Hansen Bridge towering over the Snake River gorge. Nestled in the middle of vast farmlands filled with nothing but corn, hay and cattle; the bridge appeared out of nowhere with a startling presentation. Trying to find words for this natural wonder is simply impossible.

 

The scar, marking one of the largest floods in geologic history was nothing short of stunning. So beautiful in fact, one would be hard pressed to visualize the horrific power of the flood carving out such an enormous section of land.  What remains, amid the tortuous twisting of the gorge, is a striking beauty. Set this wonder beside the spectacular strength of Lamoille Canyon, itself forged by a glacier scar, the wonder of nature in all things was exposed in the most intimate of ways.

 

Snake River Gorge, Hansen Bridge ©Lavinia Busch, 2018.

 

Thinking of these places, I was struck by the metaphor within. We all have deep and painful scars, some visible with others lurking within our shadow self. My guess would be the deepest of scars, those hidden from others, are strew with rugged edges and steep plunging cliffs. It is these scars that shape use just as the gorge and canyon were shaped many millions of year ago. So very significant are the wounds responsible, that fantastic wells of strength must have been required by the natural world to overcome.

 

What is clear to me is that scars are absolutely necessary for growth. Without such wounds one would miss out on valuable opportunities for self-evaluation. It is only in the deepest depths of despair that walls must come down, vulnerability be exposed, and true character formed.  As in the natural world, I must confess to my fair share of deeply seeded scars continually grappled with. Looking down at the Snake River gorge and walking in Lamoille Canyon, it is evident this grappling will continue indefinitely, and I have to be okay with this process.

 

Quietly, I thanked all that had come before, both the darkness and the light, allowing me to forge my own gorges and canyons. Without wounds, I would not fully understand pain, happiness, grief or wonder. Blessing each and every one of my scars, both seen and unseen, I silently said a prayer of acceptance for everything I am and everything I am not. This week has provided much fodder for growth, revealing the most sensitive edges of my innermost fears, yet I remain steadfast in my commitment to live as completely as possible, scars and all.

Dreaming My Way into the Next

Dreaming My Way into the Next

 

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

 

It is often in the most heated of summer days that one feels the need for utter surrender to all that is being held back. Emotions simmer as the final days of summer vacations, pools and adventure draw to a close. Being on creative leave from work,  I find myself vacillating between an uneasy anxiousness and a building excitement of the unplanned. Gently, I remind myself this time has been granted so I may let go of the burdens of the typical and allow creative forces to guide me to the unexpected, a logistics free zone if you will.

 

The difficult aspect of this place is that my thoughts, the constant narrative in my mind, continue to barrel towards the typical. The tug of all sorts of responsibility is ever present and it takes “work” to let go. It is only in the dark of night and in my deepest of dreams where a momentary respite is found. As one that has always dreamed, I find that the messages of purpose and direction are flooding my sleep as if a tsunami of suggestion. Avoidance of such messages is always attempted, but alas I am unable to resist the call of my intuition.

 

Dreaming is never just a downloading of useless information, but rather a convoluted storyboard containing information my psyche is begging me to hear. Dreams can contain morsels of suggestion that are meant to be heeded and applied in daily life. Sadly, I often reject what I have seen. I am one that has learned many lessons the hard way and have paid the price for my refusal to listen to spirit.

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Paulo Coelho

 

 

In the heat of a summer night, with the new moon and Venus caressing one another, I sense a quantum shift has begun and feel a bit helpless in the midst of such tumultuous celestial activity. This shift has been in the making for some time with many experiencing great change in all aspects of life. This is no easy transformation, on the contrary it has been quite painful at times. Having deep wells of emotion bubbling under the surface, I find myself teary and completely overcome by the onslaught of this atypical energy.

 

I have no shame in stating my current emotional temperature. What troubles me is the persistent awareness of things looming yet not discovered. This foreshadowing has built to a spectacular crescendo and all I can think of is when will it be over. Yes, I have many dreams, hopes and aspirations; some of which I tremble to say out loud. I dream of writing. I dream of finding others who are moved by my ideas and I dream of wide open spaces, nature and solitude.

 

I understand that by speaking my dreams out loud, I must make a choice to move in their direction or stay frozen in a sea of contradiction and worries. The simple act of speaking my truth somehow provides strength and hope in making decisions that are otherwise uncomfortable. Along with these truths, I would be reticent to ignore the other elephant in the room, my self-confidence. By stating my dreams and listening to my intuition, I honor the Divine within me. This builds layer upon layer of confidence over the heaps of “not good enough”  that have littered my subconscious for years. It is exceptionally difficult to move past the stories we tell ourselves. If not careful, I easily fall back into untruths that subtly smoother me in thinking I am less than. It is only in my deepest of dreams that relief is found, if only I pay attention.

 

In the approaching dog days of summer, I commit to making every effort to listen for the messages meant for me. I promise to believe in myself and dream BIG! Nothing is ever achieved in the status quo.  I allow myself to bloom by being beautifully different, embracing all that is unique about myself, while forgiving missteps along the way. No one is perfect, but the critic speaks from a position of judgment and it is a choice to silence that beast. Lastly, I chose to swim freely in the depths of my dream world and explore all that resides within. The shift beckons and I will follow.

 

Limbo: Laundromats, Outdoor Showers and Bonfires

Limbo: Laundromats, Outdoor Showers and Bonfires

 

“It could be a meeting on the street, or a party or a lecture, or just a simple, banal introduction, then suddenly there is a flash of recognition and the embers of kinship glow. There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Sitting at the iWash Laundromat, I watch my clothes swishing around in an industrial size washer and am struck by the simple act of water washing away the dirt and grime of this place. Feeling the heat of the day sticking to me like a wet coat, I let out an audible sigh wishing I too could be washed clean. One must always respect the sweltering heat of a desert summer day, if not the heat can cripple even the toughest of souls.

 

The anticipation has been mounting and I wake up each morning wishing I was anywhere else but here, as if my life is a movie set on pause. Knowing that my travels begins in August, I try to fill my days with the tasks at hand. Planning has always been a strength of mine, to the point of distraction. Now I focus on letting go of all the material things that weigh me down. Everything must go, it is all just so heavy both physically and spiritually.

 

Only three weeks until I leave for Harvard, my last academic obligation before beginning creative leave in earnest. It is a limbo of the worst sort. My mind is longing for the tranquility of nature and immersion into deeper ideas and I struggle to redirect in doing homework for the course I will be attending. The banality of academic dialogue is more pronounced in this limbo, a bad song playing on repeat over and over. The only true music calling me is aesthetically soothing and filled with the mysteries of the universe.

 

Watching the clothes spin in the machine, I ponder this place and all that it represents. The dust of the desert is unrelenting, a veritable Grapes of Wrath scenario. I find it in my shoes, my hair and even in bed. I glance up and notice a young couple stopping in with their week of dirty laundry. They too need water to wash the desert out. Even though the heat is oppressive, they smile at one another, make small talk and even seem to enjoy the ritual of the laundromat.

 

“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Expanding my perspective, I see an elderly man with skin worn deeply by the heat and poverty of this place. He sits quietly on a bench enjoying the air-conditioned respite before he too must go out once again facing the wall of 1000 suns. The woman behind the counter has a look of resignation, as if to say “Yes, I work at a small-town laundromat and life is not how I expected it to be.” She too has the look of wear and tear with deep wrinkles on her face from years of smoking and a raspy voice to boot. “Can I help you darling?” she asks. “No thank you”, I say wanting to be left alone in my thoughts for at least the spin cycle.

 

Finishing up my clothes, I load them into my dust covered car and head back to the RV, my temporary sanctuary, parked on my boyfriend’s lot until our voyage commences. The heat is stifling, and the RV air conditioner simply cannot keep up.  Spontaneously, I take off my sweaty clothes and decide to use the outside shower to cool down. The heat has a way of letting all inhibitions go and before I even have a chance to think about it, I am outside, stark naked, letting the cool streams of water wash over me. I think about the iWash washing off the desert and feel as if I am in my own laundromat begging to be purified.  The water pours over me and a desert breeze gently brushes my skin. In an instant spirit is here, yet another moment of discomfort in which spirit reminds me I am never alone. The breeze dances across me as if to say, “Let it go Lavinia, let it all go. I am with you.”  As I finish my shower and wrap myself in large beach towel, I feel a freshness that permeates my very being. Taking a deep breathe, I pause to look up at the sun acknowledging the symbiotic relationship of heat to water. Nature is truly amazing.

 

Later, my boyfriend lights a bonfire in front of his house. This is something that people do out here in the desert, especially when the coolness of night settles in. Once again, I am struck by the dichotomy of this place. The heat of the day is as repellent as a bad cold, but in the coolness of a desert night, the heat is a welcome visitor warming my legs as I sit mesmerized by the dancing flames. I lean my head back and look at the night sky. The stars flicker like thousands of jewels lighting up the darkness. I catch my breath for a moment stunned by the beauty of this desolate place.

 

Even in the harshest of environments beauty can be found. I may be riddled with anticipation but must not ignore moments of serenity as they present: the iWash with its plethora of interesting people, the absolute freedom of an outside shower as a breeze dances across my skin and the majesty of a desert night sky canvasing the glowing flames of a bonfire. These all offer moments of serenity in which spirit reminds of the connection to all others in the most beautiful of ways. Limbo will pass, and I will soon be on my way. The desert will stay with me, yet another piece to the universal puzzle of this world. Blessings to this place, the people and even the dirt. You all have been my teacher in the most harmonious and unexpected of ways.