The girl who lived inside the quiet

 

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She sits in the quiet like a rose petal sits in the gentle rain. Drinking in what is offered from heaven. Drinking and being washed all at the same time.

She notices the motion that lives at the center of quiet. The motion that causes her to peel herself open and look inside. It is irresistable, this desire that the quiet brings, to pry closer inwards; to watch for the rhythms the heart makes; and to find the meaning behind every heartbeat.

The quiet makes her search. She doesn’t want to but her hands, of their own free will, reach for the measuring tools so she can measure things – her growth, her metamorphosis. How wide has it been? How long? Has it been complete? Has she been illuminated?

She picks up the compass, the clippers and the map and follows the the old trails, calculating the miles and the heights. The journey to here has been full and sticky and hard and beautiful.

She has long fought the quiet. She stopped her ears so she couldn’t hear it and closed her eyes so she couldn’t see it. She much preferred the cacophony of the chaos, the discord that would keep her mind occupied instead of picking at itself. Then she wouldn’t have seen all the places where it had cracked.

It is much easier to avoid things. To push them away where we cannot reach for them. Until maybe we feel ready or we simply forget  that those things are there and they get swallowed up in the noise of daily routine.

But her destiny was sealed from day one. She was born in a quiet place, a little sleepy town on the edge of a country where the trees rose so high they could touch the sky. And the wind never shouted, just whispered in soft, hushed tones. Even though this quiet also lived inside of her, she wanted to escape, to run away, to scrap it all out from inside of her. She wanted to change herself.

But one day, sitting in the quiet, she realised the peaceful energy it brought. The nourishment. So she learned to curl into it and listen to all the wisdom and beauty it gave. She learned to honour it. She learned to honour herself.

Dear 33

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Dear 33,

I will start with a need, a need so strong it is pressing against my ribs and the only thing keeping me upright in this moment. I need you to hold me. To hold me so tight it doesn’t matter if I won’t be able to breathe. Reach your hand from the future and grab me. Clasp your fingers with mine. Intertwined and sacred. Trace this moment and outline it, for I cannot make sense of this path. This part of our life is called uncertain.

Remember that childhood knowing that sat so dominantly in the chest? That we were somehow meant for great things? I think I remain unconvinced. The dots should have aligned by now and our empire taking shape. But instead we went walking through deserts, barefoot on the blistering hot sand. We climbed in and out of trenches. This has been no straight path. Nothing at all like the flower garden trails I imagined as a girl. The pictures in my head were crystal clear and full of vibrant colour as I skipped through girlhood and through that long, dry grass that covered miles of space behind the house. My body was 6 years old but my soul was ancient.

33, beloved, I know where I’ve come from, how far and deep that place is, and so forgive me for the doubts now. It’s just that…it’s just that nobody said how hard it would be, how scary it would seem to put one foot in front of the other on a road less travelled. A path everyone secretly and publicly thinks you shouldn’t be taking. Certain roads should only be taken by certain people – this is actually a rule in this world. Nobody will own to it but nobody has to because everybody knows that is the way it is.

I know you think this is a load of crap and that is why I love you. Why I need you. You are a woman with the wind beneath your sails. Your eyes are grown and wise. You see life’s beauty and her sorrow and you find a place for both. You are a celebrator of life, the drumbeat that vibrates at the core of her.

I need your courage and strength more than ever. That little girl skipping in the long, dry grass with an old soul keeps calling out to me. The dreams we had then cemented in ink and yet I feel so far from them now, so far from the sap that energised them and sweetened them.

This is a hard job – expressing what many are afraid to acknowledge as being their very own thoughts, echoing the cries of other people’s hearts, reflecting them back to themselves. Sometimes I want to tell you that we should have picked an easier job but I know we didn’t choose this work. It came imprinted on the heart that beats in the chest. The same heart that beat in our 6 year old self.

And what is more beautiful than words? Words have the power to bind wounds, to nurse the place where it is broken and to heal the things that need to be healed. Words give wings to fly. They pour courage into our hearts and hope into our laps. And when we extend our words into action, they literally save us. What higher power is there?

“In the beginning was it not only the WORD and from the WORD worlds born?”

Clasp your hands with me, dear 33 and remind me of the sacredness of this work. Remind me that the art itself is bigger than my doubts. If you say it I will keep showing up on the page. I will keep showing up to work. Until one day I morph into you, and you into me. I will become you. You who are full of grace and wisdom. And even when you cry and are pierced with sadness, you keep walking. You get what this is all about. It is not about building castles and altars to oneself. It is about service, about faith and about love. Man can never reward you for these beautiful things.

So clasp your hands with mine and walk me though this. I need you so.

 

Yours forever,

32.

Here, at this wall

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“There will be more watershed moments,” my counsellor said to me. Her firmness delicately draped in gentleness never ceases to amaze me.

I let the sigh that was trapped in my body escape, finally. My eyes were sore from weeping & my heart bruised. It felt heavy, too heavy for my chest. And yet deliciously warm too.

I smiled, my lips trembling, surprised they still knew just where to curve, that familiar feel of my smile,

 “Yes…but this feels big…this feels like it” I said.

She smiled back with that hint of wisdom shining in her eyes, “I know…this is important too.”

I could feel the ground beneath my feet, strong, stable, there. always there. Contrary to the rush of fear that invades our being when we hit a wall – the ground does not fall to pieces. It supports us. The foundation, if built correctly will stay in place. So we can shed as many tears as we need, we can throw off our clothes & lie naked on the ground, we can roll in the dirt like there is no tomorrow. And once we are finished with all the crazy things we do to sorrow, we can get off the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae & the ground will still be there, holding us, supporting us.

I met some people.

These people reminded me that I am black. That this skin that covers my body makes some of the world uneasy; that etched into it is a secret code unknown to me that validates their conviction that somehow my brain & heart are hardwired to this skin of mine. That blackness lives not only in my body but in my soul.

It made me laugh & cry all at the same.

So I was sitting in my counsellor’s office because I had hit a wall. It looked too big to scale. too impossible. too incomprehensible.

My perfectionism had come to collect.

I really thought I could tuck & pin the world into a perfect fold. With flimsy lace all around its edges. & sealed with a kiss. A kiss from my own full lips, from my heart—luxury at its best. I thought I could imprint myself on its curves without any question or doubt of my place in it.

I thought my love for humanity was perfect & could be returned to me when needed, in equal measure. I thought loving others was the only thing to do in this life.

But the truth is life falls apart when it is out of balance. As much as I love human beings & with the same gusto & sacredness, I should love myself. The voice that I use to defend the defenceless & pray for the broken-hearted is the same voice I should hold strongly for myself.

I knew this truth in the knowing of it but I denied its power in the living of it. I doubted & I doubted & I doubted.

And so here, at this wall, I’m laying down my doubt, I’m laying down my grasping & my perfectionism. You will not find it. Not here. Not in my body. Not in my house.

I will offer no more apologies for my existence in the world. I will grow into my skin, crawling deep inside until I occupy every delectable curve of it.

I will still love with passion & abandon but this time I will also build a sanctuary to myself.

I will still honour all human beings because my Papa taught me so & it is still a beautiful way to be in the world but this time I will also honour myself.

I will be raw. I will be shameless. I will be graceful. I will be strong. I will be perfect. I will be imperfect.

I will speak in voice, in syllables, ampersands & full stops.

Here, at this wall, I will be fully human. I declare myself so.