Things were a bit better last week. Even though plans have shifted and stirred up new concerns. still. I'm tired from it all. from weighing things. From wondering what is the right thing, and rearranging plans in my head in order to accommodate different possibilities. Even though there are not many choices, they are huge. we have to consider the ramifications of the options. Enough already, right?
Rilke said to “love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.” But what about the times when it all feels like questions? When I yearn for certainty? and the correct answer. I used to like the unknown, the unplanned, the what-may-be. And I suppose I still flirt with it and give it my number sometimes. But while I know that nothing is certain and I can’t know what will happen one day to the next, I’ve been feeling that, for once, it would be nice to feel like I've settled in. To say, “Here. This is where I belong and I feel safe here.”
So to be almost sure of what I'm going to do feels like (at the least) I’m coming home to stay.
But guess what? I let that all go last night. A whole hour or two unspooled without those worries invading my mind.
I let myself float away. I went off by myself.
I sat by the window, in the dark, relaxed and weightless. outside, above me, the Big Dipper scooped its share of the sky. My thoughts swept through the air, drawn to the stars in the heavens. The moon sank by small degrees toward the horizon. I decided that my troubles could just fit into the curve of it, so I settled them there and watched the moon fall beneath the line of trees.
For long minutes, I floated, looking at the sky. It’s something I don’t do enough, not at night. Our days here are like banners of blue, as long as you don’t look toward the fuzzy cloud that hangs over us. And at night, I'm far enough out that I can see a decent batch of stars. The sky isn’t crowded with them, but I can at times find the constellations, and even see the occasional shooting star.
The night sky is a thing I need. I can’t explain, and don’t really need to, I suppose – if you get it, you get it. You know. We all have something that soothes us, and for me it’s this. and the ocean.
That’s it, in simple words. And if I write about these odd things I do to level myself, it’s because I can’t always tell you what drives me to the edge, but at least I can say what pulls me back.
Last night, when I first looked out, I leaned back so my head fell back over the edge of the chair and the sky looked upside down. By then, I had let go of some of the ache, of some of the tears that came from whatever deep place tears wait and rest until we can’t keep them in anymore.
How do you separate the new pain from the old, the heavy from the light, the close from the far? You can’t tell, looking at the sky, the distance between you and stars, or look at a river and know how deep it is.
This ache, I can’t tell you much at all about it. It’s a mash of fear, waiting, love, of all the small pains. Of feeling like there aren’t any answers for the questions I have, and the questions aren’t even questions. They just are. It’s the struggle to turn those things into something solid, a rope to pull myself up by, a ladder to climb to a place where I can see and breathe and feel for one minute like I’m above it all. To stop feeling like the only thing between me and happiness is a pane of glass. To stop the voice in my head that tells me I’m alone.
To climb high enough to see that it’s beautiful, this life, if you look at it from end to end, from one horizon to the other. To navigate through the fear hand over hand, never looking down, on this ladder made of starshine.
This morning, the sky was quiet.
If you want to know how I feel about the moon and the night sky, this quote kinda sums it up...
Watching the moon at midnight, solitary, mid-sky, I knew myself completely, no part left out. –Izumi ShikubuThey are simple words, and true. True for me, at least. I’ve always gone weak-kneed at the come-ons of blinking stars and a slow moonrise, though my true love is a moonset. over the ocean. So maybe I’m a liar, after all. As much as I cry after wanting roots, my soul seems to sing for things that are suspended, for things that orbit the planet or shoot through the sky. For birds that swoop and feast in midair. For the feeling of floating, as though the next current could change things.
Those feelings are self-indulgent and not the least bit practical. I know it. They’re a splurge, and I know that, too. But they cost nothing, and there’s no show-off to them at all. If I didn’t write this down just now, it would never come up in a conversation between us, these prizes I take for myself. (We all have things like that, small joys that seem too much, our naked hunger for beauty too embarrassing when said out loud.) But there’s enough for everyone when we keep it simple. When all it takes is to step outside and to let the sky take over.
Maybe all I need is a tether. A long bright shiny thread that holds me to my place and lets me wander as far as I need to, with the sound of laughter coming from those I love as my compass. I’ll plant the stake and tie myself to it, with lots of slack. My roots will sink deep. When I need to feel light, I will step outside. But I won’t go far, I think. I won’t need to.
Not when there are moments like last night. Not when I can find a way to float.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 ripe avocados, cut into chunks
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
red, yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced for serving
cucumber, sliced for serving
pita chips, for serving
In the bowl of a food processor, combine chickpeas, avocado chunks, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until combined and smooth. I blended my hummus for about 3 minutes. Stop the food processor and taste. Add more salt and pepper and lemon if necessary. Blend for another 5 minutes until light and smooth. Serve topped with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve with fresh vegetables and pita chips.