The Child of the Rainbow

 

Monica-Barengo5-451x659

 

The breath was different that day. It came from the east, to the west. Earth was, somehow, askew.

 

Then the news came tumbling over the hills, the land. Boats had blown across the great ocean. Trees no longer stood. Life had been turned asunder. Again. It was the fall before the dawn.

 

She did not know this, or so it was believed, when she woke. Hair wild to her waist, knees pink, goose-bumps running from shoulder to shoulder. She traversed the landscape from mattress to door into that world and shuddered deeply. A gust from the North swept dust into her eyes.

 

This storm had been like no other, or so it was understood. Shock ran its tremulous way through the village that day. It turned inhabitants to stone. Silence was forecast for the weeks to come.

 

She clambered her way through the small holding, forlorn and grey, no playmates waiting gleefully on doorsteps ready to gallivant and explore. Eyes of her neighbours fell downwards as their hearts dragged despair around the streets in the age that followed. She longed for words of wisdom to find their way towards her. She needed to know what had twisted life so fervently upside down and searched for a gaze of comfort to catch and anchor within. But no one met her beautiful brown saucers of light in those splintering hours.

 

Loneliness echoed its way through the evening. She lay in bed with chest beating furiously and mind wandering curiously. Solace for the day’s events chose not to be found. There was no being to offer guidance. Nor gifts or pearls to be in receipt of. Only baggage that night was claimed. For the first time, at the ripe fiery homecoming of eleven years, she had touched the ravines of a heart collapsing and, upon waking the next morning, felt the brittleness of cold running through her gallant veins.

 

*****************************************************************

 

As the hurricane ripped its way over the hillsides the following autumn, she was awoken by a jolt in her pelvis. It galloped from tail along vertebrae, past each rib and towards her crown. She made her way through the village, calling as before for fellows and companions. Yet this time, whilst searching for the eyes of others, something shifted within. The morning’s rumblings had snaked and steeled their way to her tear-ducts. Yes. A solitary drop of saltwater started to roll down her left cheek.

 

Don’t worry child, an old maid heeded. Do not fret. Dry those eyes. All will be well. She was passed a small square of embroidered cloth to wipe the tear and heard a distant background choir order, HALT!

 

She duly did. And, hastily, the small droplet crawled up her cheek and found its way back somewhere safe to hide.

 

That night in bed once more, do you know what happened within her heart?

 

Indeed. It grew heavier, as if a rock sinking deep, deep into the river. Her limbs lay more densely on the bed, her breath laboured its way through her torso. Life struggled to oxygenate her soul.

 

The years spun as the world flew past and it was not until many moons more when she woke to the judder in her bones. It were ginormous. It was spectacular. Her whole body drank in the vibration. She jumped from her bed to tell her brethren what had happened but as she made passage through the village that morning she found heads down and a deathly blanket of desolation hovering upward in the sky. The tornado had taken dwellings, farmsteads, old birch trees and cattle in its wake. And, just as before, a lonely tear drop emerged from her left eye.

 

Child, STOP! The chorus sang. NO! They urged. Go back from whence you came!

 

And as before, for she loved her peoples dearly, the tear found its way back in.

 

She tossed and turned in bed that night, though her body held tight. Her mind running, her voice in chains. She had not known trouble such as this. No words of it were spoken in the books. Invisibility had started to reside within her.

 

There were local newspaper headlines the next time. Young woman seen crying at catastrophic events. Stay AWAY! They demanded. It even made national news in later years. By now her brown locks were starting to lose their colour and the globe had changed many times over. She had lost loved ones and witnessed trauma that no being would wish to imagine. And, despite knowing somewhere in her heart she felt something for those around, she was torn between loyalties.

 

As you might imagine, tiredness found its way through her bones too readily on most days. Bed became a familiar ground. As did the far crevices of her mind. She found solitude here, most days. But on those she did not, rage tore inside her. Belonging knew her but she did not know quite where she belonged.

 

The following morning, as if an electric shock shook her awake, her limbs sprang out of bed. Her heart was beating faster than she had known for many a while and her blood was charged with something of old. Her cells sang a dance as she gathered herself and made way out of the front door.

 

The earthquake had shattered many homes. Many lives had been lost and broken. Many animals no longer. Woodlands destroyed. Birdsong simply a ghost. Joy was only to be found elsewhere.

 

But today was the day. Today was when courage ignited her heart and came to dream her, dream her anew.

 

She strode through the village. Salt and pepper hip-length locks, fire fronds and ocean ripples as one, fell into the shadows behind her. Sun ablaze, within and without, riding the wing tips of everything she had ever felt. They came, these city-folk, as she long knew, to tell her to refrain. NO! They implored. But as wisdom married with daring and made love to her fury, do you know what happened?

 

The little lost tear made its way down her cheek. And, as it ran past her chin and along the arc of her neck, she felt the earth quake within. With an inner-squall that blew cobwebs out of her ribs, a small trickle of tears began to heave their magnificent way from her lungs and, as if a parade of merry elephants, charted the pathway of their comrade before.

 

The headlines turned global. It was declared an International State of Emergency. Police officers from all corners of all regions were summoned. The army stood poised on standby. It was predicted the wide world web would crash as satellites across the lifeless cloudscape above could not cope with the influx on social media.

 

SHE MUST STOP! READ ME. OVER. WE HAVE TO STOP HER.

 

Anyone would have imagined The Third World War would have started. But what do you imagine dear reader? Do you think she might retract?

 

You’re absolutely right and yes, her spirit soared as this once stream, now river, soon to be waterfall, ran from neck to breasts to belly to hips to buttocks to thighs to old croaky knees to shins to feet and her fucking glorious, beatific toes. Hallelujah! Called Earth.

 

And with it, she melted a little. I think I actually mean she melted A LOT. She could feel the soil beneath her soles, it moistening and softening as heart finally broke open. She could feel her torso, pelvis and treasured sacrum yield into the gravitas beneath her and, as she inclined downwards, the muddied floor beneath her rose upwards to meet her buoyant, jubilant flesh.

 

She did not notice the noise around her. She did not notice the searchlight shining down on her. The TV crews, photographers, reporters. She did not notice the cacophony of mobile phones ringing, the endless flurry of messages pinging back and forth from one nervous onlooker to another. No.

 

All she noticed was the tiny thirsty seedling below sucking her tears into the roots of it’s being. She felt the sun shining into her from the South and watched in awe the majesty of minute buds in their infancy forming.

 

Whilst the world worried and fretted. Whilst court orders were drawn up and other planets within the galaxy notified of this disaster, no one noticed the forests that grew around her. No one noticed how the crops were beginning to bloom as the soil found its replenishment. No one noticed how the winds eased howling, the seas stopped flooding and the tsunami’s withdrew their descent. For attention was elsewhere. It was consumed with a media’s obsession of a woman who’s avalanche of tears never ceased flowing. They quaked at her volcanic nature, they tremored at her fearlessness and still they forgot to see the flowers at her feet.

 

************************************************************************

 

Long ago, there was a little girl. She knew well how cold toes feel in the rain. She knew well how legs stiffen when they have forgotten how to run. She knew well how caged ribs feel when the air around is stultified. She knew well how spines and jaws and hips lock when there are no keys in sight to release their play. And she knew well how eyes become drawn when there is no light to mirror them.

 

But many moons have passed since then. Many days have broken in these years as have many hearts. And as joy has birthed courage in abundance for many, sorrow has birthed bountiful rivers of grief. This woman-child has learned the seeds that are plucked in the rainbow of her inner-scape by the wind are not hers for the harvesting. They come through and past her instead, some for the fertilising and growing, some for the tending and nurturing and others simply to watch and let run by to be caught or drift as the weather currents wish.

 

In days from now this woman will be sat beside her daughter and her daughter’s daughter. News will soon just be in of another storm ascending on the horizon. Her grandchild’s wild screams are transmuting ecstatically into tears. The woman sweeps her snow-white ankle-length hair around the darling girl, cloak-like and bejewelled with freshly wept teardrops, and, peeking out from the spider-web of tattooed lines on her face, reaches inside her chest pocket. Something is burning. Something is aflame. She pulls out an old worn piece of cloth. It is time, she knows, to unfold this long-forgotten keepsake from a dear one, for the embroidered words have before now not yet been seen.

 

Then, within a whisper that comes from the hail beyond, she sees before her a seismic wave ricocheting across the room, landing itself between her small valiant frame and the two she cherishes aside her. She holds them in the pools of her splendid brown eyes. Breath comes to breathe her one last time.

 

Yes, with a cascade of tears erupting and a thunderous gut-curdling howl, the daughter cups her beloved mother’s hand’s in hers. You and I remind her to go ahead. Shakily she opens the square of cotton. In the colours of sunlight kissing rain, it reads,

 

This child, is yours for the undoing.

 

Image: Monica Berengo

 

 

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One Hundred Years

protesting-suffragettes-early-1900s1

 

One hundred years

One hundred years ago,

Today

You fought for something

That so many didn’t know

And won.

 

One century on,

What have we done?

One century on,

Where are we now?

We thought we had grown

We believed we had come so far

But I wonder, I wonder

How far?

 

For today I stand

And still I shout

I scream

I implore

And wonder, time again, if my voice

Will be heard

Any further

More

 

Yes. Still the invisible work

Sews it’s seams

Within the tapestry of our daily lives

And, yes, still forever remains to be

Ignored

Fucking yes.

Fucking still our value is demeaned

Belittled

And continually undermined

 

But I look at thee

Who fought so bravely

I look at your footsteps

And I see the shoes you wore,

The dirt, the mud

Soles stained with love

With guts and blood

 

I can’t imagine

Life without this,

The life you had,

Without this

 

I thank you

All

Mothers, Grandmothers, Sisters, Beloveds.

From the depths of

My Heart

For imparting your courage,

Your daring

And belief

To stand up and fight

For this bloody victorious

Right.

 

Oh! For the flame you have lit

And the chant of your dreams

To the beat of your footsteps

And the drum of this song

Oh long, long

May we together march on!

 

 

Image: Source unknown

Listen!

kid-screaming

 

Dear darling Daddy, I love you

And

I see the way you flinch

The way you can not

Stand

It

I see how you squirm and you want to make it

STOP

Right now. Immediately. It has to

END

 

Dear darling Daddy, I love you

And I see how you can not

Bear this

It haunts

And it haunts

And it haunts you

And it bites at you so quick

You barely seem to recognise

How it rattles you

Deep, deep within

 

But darling dearest Daddy, I do

I do and I need you

I need you to see this, I need you to hear

This

I need you to hold

This

In all it’s echoes

In every way it courses your cells

To want it to stop

NOW

In every memory long forgotten

 

I need you

I implore YOU

To witness my

SCREAM

It is, dear Daddy, my NO!

It is my expression

It speaks in the moments when I

Have reached my limit

It shrieks

I’VE HAD ENOUGH

It is my ROAR, my Fierce

It is my Wild

And you, darling Daddy, need to step

Up

 

For

My voice, my resistance,

Like oxygen,

Began in a long line

Before me

You could say, dear Daddy

It is in my blood

My bones. My DNA

My scream is The Scream

Of my mother, grandmother and of

All those that came before when

Each and every one of them

Had reached their

Limit

Had reach their

ENOUGH!

And had, like you try so earnestly to do,

Been forced to

SHUT UP

 

Daddy, darling, can you do it?

Can you look within?

Can you see your father, his father and his father’s father too,

Their inheritance, just as yours

Each prickled and struggling to withstand

And instead, collecting the easier path

To ignore, silence, deny, shut the fuck up

My mother’s, her mother’s and her mother’s mothers too

Howl, weep, scream and cry.

 

Daddy

Do this for me.

Look inside.

Look hard

And whilst holding the fear

Hold me whilst I’m here

Whilst I need to tell the Whole

Wide

World to GO AWAY

Fuck OFF

NO more

And

ENOUGH

Stand by my side and

Say

I choose no more to invalidate

Say

I hear and will hold you

Here,

Darling One

Say

This time, I choose to not run

 

Image: Source unknown

 

Looking for Mr Cohen

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It has passed midnight. I am lying on the bed in the cubicle with my husband’s cap over my face. The nurse is trying to find a vein but failing miserably. Tell her I want to stop, I say to my husband. It is painful and I am very, very tired. It’s not a woman, he whispers. It’s a man.

 

The night before I dream of this place or this place thereabouts. I dream I am in Archway, north London. I am taken into a large Victorian house with deep rich colourful walls. There is a man with his mother and two sisters. They lead me to a room. It is full of radiant light. My awareness slips in and I feel immense peace. There have brought me here to heal.

 

It turns out I have meningitis. Viral. I am given drugs, later to discover they are known as legal crack. They are good drugs. I am high, blissed out. Headache? I say. What headache! Two weeks later, as I wean myself off the medication, I lie in bed believing I am going to die of cancer. I believe no one loves me. But that is for then, not for now. For now, the crippling head pain that I spent the day trying to nurse with my buoyant two year-old bubbling beside me, appears something of the past. I’m simply digging the opiates. All is well. Sensationally well.

 

And then there is the needle. This needle, the one that I am passing through so effortlessly, even makes the crucifying agony of the one that is pierced into my spine, once, twice, fucking three times and still no joy, seem to hang within the picture of this plugging into my being, relatively pleasant. In real terms, it was not. I lay curled in fetal, clasping the hand of one pregnant nurse, another behind me trying to curve my vertebrae as architecturally as possible, a third punctuating shot after shot to try retrieve a smidgen of precious spinal fluid. Unsuccessful each time, I wait on a tear-stained bed for a fourth attempt several hours later with a more experienced doctor to try her skilful hands at this unbearable procedure.

 

Nonetheless, as I have said already, in the whole story it seemed merely a wee blip in my passing through the eye of the needle. For some bizarre unbeknown reason I seemed to dance my way like Tinkerbell through this illness. What stayed however, from these days with meningitis, left me reaching to dim most light switches in most rooms ever since.

 

It is 6pm. We’re are nearing mid-winter and nightfall has already settled upon us. We are lead from the hall out into the grounds of Dartington College. There is a request for single file and another for silence. How yummy, I think to myself as we step outside into the rain and along the path to the first performance. Night lights in jam jars alight our walkway.

 

Someone with antlers mounted on his head reads first. We gather around him. It is hard to hear. They name this later in the evening as a quasi-ritual and I think to myself, Why the fuck quasi? Ditch that and give us the meat. Make it raw. Make it dirty. Kindly bring me to my knees. Don’t dilly-dally with this pretence. But that’s just me and, despite my displeasure and judgement, from this stomp through the semi-dark, an awakening occurred.

 

Yes. Yes, as my footsteps wobbled over slippery cobbles, I realised the pollution of light I carry inside. Not in a, Oh, I’m so enlightened, know it all kind of way. No. More how my being has absorbed too much of this stuff. How my system is overloaded with something not of it’s own. External and alien and very much not of nature. And it’s making it hard to do anything. More to the fact, it’s disabling my ability.

 

Yes. Over the challenging passage of a troublesome year, I have entered these winter months with a longing. A fuck-off cell-rumbling yearning. I want it dark. No. Actually I mean, as Leonard bequeathed to us, I want it DARKER. Much, much darker. Can I make these words louder, bolder, shout them at the top of my voice more? No. No, I can’t. This craving from my soul is like the howl of a crack-addict. Not for opiates. Not for seeking the slither in which the light enters, but instead in instant pursuit of those which are deeply, deeply inkjet black.

 

And, as luck would have it, this marries well with my learnings these last months. As summer anxiety eased and lessened I saw beneath it depression. And as I listened into this depression I felt the universe pressing into me with her deep pressure. She was insisting, Soph my darling, FEEL. Feel this all. Feel the irksome. The worry. The fret. The sadness. Crawl into your sorrow and sit. And then there is a gap.

 

I am digesting. Maybe it’s the place where words stop speaking. Maybe it’s the space where I had to find this deep sleep. Because, yes thoughts and stories rambled through my mind whilst September bled into December, quite at a pace at times, but mostly sentences got lost. There was an unhinging over autumn. Which lead me, as you might imagine, to now.

 

Hello Solstice my beautiful friend. Hello lone four-hour drive homewards. Hello night.

 

And so, within this dawning of how over-laden, over-burdened with light I am, intoxicated we might say, how we all are I’m guessing, I had a glorious opportunity to collect a hugely long-awaited hound on the eve of this year’s shortest day. My journey home, through Surrey, Wiltshire, Somerset and back to Devon, along the magic and gallant A303, gave me a huge bellyful of darkness to linger in. And maybe, just possibly, Stonehenge had some stoic bearing upon all of this or simply blew me a kiss as I headed through the blackness and into the small hours.

 

As I spoke to Bowie, our new-family member aka an English Setter rescue found on a beach in Greece with one brown eye, the other blue, lying in the back behind me, I also conversed with other fair comrades over the course of my adventure.

 

Mr Cohen, dear Mr Cohen. Len. I have loved you for a long, long time. And too what you and Rumi knew about those cracks that make scaffolding look like matchsticks made of air. I have loved free-diving to the depths, long you know. But this wild, motherfucking soul calling for complete immersion in the dark, that’s cried, Bury me, BURY ME here, these last few months, has taught me this. In these times we live, WE NEED THE DARKNESS. We need to sit in the dirge of it. We need to be enveloped here. We need to drop the fear and the menace and learn to dwell well. For dear Leonard, only in its embrace, are we able to really experience our flickering flame. In all it’s dimness. In all it’s bright. But I guess that’s what you’ve been telling us all along.

 

Today is 22nd December. I know there are many, one of whom used to be me, that are starting to jump with glee now the darkest day is behind us. That there are bulbs that will soon be sprouting. That there will be bunnies and birds so a-frolicking. That summer nights are simply a stone’s throw away now. But this year I won’t be gallivanting forward. Fuck no. I want to be consumed. Utterly. I want to stay here for as long and as long as I possibly can.

 

The light switches that I have needed to turn off since my nights at Archway’s Wittington Hospital almost seven years ago, I think were gently directing my soul to its replenishment. Darker, their medicine shouted. Woman, you must to go to DEEP REST. You need the darkness my dearest. Go fuel your inner-hearth. Go relish in your most creative ground. And only arise once you are well and truly sated.

 

This will, I suspect, be for some time to come.

 

For now, dear friends, whilst I send a two fingered salute to our cultural obsession with the light and make merry with my photo-phobia, rest well!

 

Image: Source unknown

A Bitter Sea of Longing

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Dear Child,

There is a sea of plastic, lapping

In the waves

It is killing many of your friends, and destroying

their life

In the Wild

I try to explain

I try not complain

But mostly I worry

What are We to do?

 

As we drive in the car

Or lie in bed beneath

Stars

I attempt to again

Tell that all these things,

Toys, ice-creams, movies

New jeans, donut rings

Come with a mighty, colossal price

 

They cost our planet

Yes. They cost the Earth

And I talk some more

About wanting

Less

 

And then the next day

You watch me, dear child

Buy tomatoes and cheese, more bread

Frozen peas

We pick up a snack,

A sandwich, some crisps

We buy a few gifts

Fill up our fuel

There is much on our list

 

Today. Just like yesterday. Tomorrow

And next week

And with good intent

Unpack each item as we return

Home

Remove packaging, labels, cellophane

And foam

To place in the bin, the one that is green

That is laden full with all

Paper, cardboard, old tins of Baked Beans

 

And back under night sky

I tell you of birds

Their tummies full

Of plastic

That fell off a ship

We cry,

You and I

But I hold up my hands

 

Child, will you believe me

When I suggest you choose less?

When you watch me consume?

When I’m trying my best?

 

I sit on the wall

And impotently

I fail

The industry that manufactured diets

Each one better than before

The industry that left you hungry

And just wanting more

Now holds us at ransom

With eyes open wide

To the guilt, and the shame

Of

Purchase upon

Purchase

Each passing the blame

Bystanders, simply standing by

We are slaves ever so to this image

Of Liberty

Of want over need

Our hands invisibly,

Intrinsically tied

 

I want to break free

I want to make change

As I look at my iPhone

And drink the finest organically

Grown coffee

Flown from the further and darkest

And deepest Peru

 

But will You believe

me, Child?

And how will you value?

As you hear me, dear one

Speak words that

Are empty?

It rattles me daily

Fuck!

I wish I knew

A Deer’s Tale

corzo_retrato

 

I am lying in bed. It has gone midnight and I toss and tumble beneath the covers. Sleep has yet to find me. Instead worry and woe pervade my thoughts. I weep and long for arms about me. I long to hear a whisper through my being. Dear one, it will be alright.

 

I find myself, with duvet wrapped around, cradled in fetal. Tears bleeding into my pillow. Sorrow feels a tricky bedfellow tonight.

 

Then, within a breath that comes from elsewhere, I alight from this space. I head outside to the car, into the quietness of night. It is clear and crisp and the turning of the engine fails to break the silence. I take off in the direction where my heart knows well.

 

As I exit the city lights, past the A roads and slip over the threshold, soul starts to feel a keenness. I drive through the village and start winding up the country lanes. My bones know this home-coming. Night leads me. The aches of being lead me. Here I am, with the velvety black pouring affirmation into my cells.

 

The road takes a gradual, steady incline upwards, past the odd farm and row of cottages dotted on the way. There are spots along this route that in daylight allow vistas of the city and river below. Tonight I spy the twinkles of lights in the distance. The shimmers hold little allure. It is the darkness that draws me onwards.

 

As the car climbs higher, I meet the forest. Pines, oaks, ashes, stand tall all around. My breath is a little taken. Mind fleets with imagination and I shudder in my smallness. Still I carry on. I know where I am heading and take the right fork down towards my destination.

 

This is the stretch in which I usually drop my speed and watch out for my friends. Tonight, however, this is not necessary. Tonight, rather, they are watching out for me. Tonight, this is where I meet the wardrobe door.

 

They stop the car and beckon me out. Language shifts gear and our communication is felt. I am transforming. Their presence gives me new shape. I am becoming.

 

Now, with my four-legged comrades, we take to the road ahead. Reverence and wonder flood my bloodstream. I am in a sea of stags and does, wildly charging forth. They govern the way and lead me to the small holding. Gates closed, we find our way in, past the yurts and embers of yesterday evening’s fires and then, suddenly, I am alone.

 

They have laid me where I feel safe. Here, in deer form, I discover myself once more curled in fetal. The soil is damp. There is rest in the air. I lie here in stillness, the sleepy eyelid of night-sky watching over me until dawn.

 

As the blissful kiss of daybreak, carried by birdsong, sweeps over this small community, souls rise to greet waking life. Some I know, others not. Their footsteps crunch through the fresh morning frost, tenderly tending to hungry bellies with tea, toast, eggs and oats.

 

I lie, not moving. Their chatters marrying with the unfolding of life’s gratitude being breathed into every corner of plant, seed and wisp of air around.

 

They meet in circle. I am close by in proximity, a small stool perched beside me. No one brings attention to my presence yet neither no one ignores. They assign jobs for the day. Who shall harvest, cook, house-keep, dream and, once acknowledgement of what each heart has brought to this glorious morning has been honoured, set forth to their duties.

 

Whilst they go about their tasks, as each hour curves around the earth, each member of this community comes upon a moment to pass by and each one, turn by turn, with the sip of divine choreography relishing the enchantment of this day, takes the seat beside me. They come to tell their story and, each, as if musical notes in an operatic score, takes on different dimension and tone.

 

Some speak of tired bodies, others of love and others of confusion but of all, I am not privy to tell. No one need know their tales. I need not know. Yet there is a holding space on this day that my deer-self is purposed to be here for and for that I am thankful. Refuge has graced us all.

 

There are now apples in the store. There is soup and bread on the table. The fires are alight and the arc of the day is drawing to a close. All have spoken their song and, as serenity gently caresses through the heartbeat of the community, all are deeply sated. Now, as night falls over the land once more, my time to leave is upon me.

 

From stillness, I arise into the vastness above. Although I am female, from my forehead jut a set of juvenile antlers. As I gallop over the small holding back into the indigo and towards the Moor, all of a sudden I hear laughter.

 

It is my children. My son. My daughter. From the tips of my antlers there flow silver threads and each child, here for the ride, holds one in each hand. They have taken flight with me and I feel the lightness of their joy, merriment and giggles rippling along my spine as I lead them off through the sky and into the beauty of night. As I glance behind, all anguish has dissolved. Ecstasy simply chases me instead.

 

Image: Source unknown

The Breath of Love

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I was 16 years old and cycling home on my sit up and beg bike that I had painted gold. I was on my way back from the fruit and veg shop near school and, with pocket money just spent, my wicker basket was laden with a seductive selection of fruit and veg. I had decided I was going to attempt a cleanse, my first. The intention to simply eat just these for a few days. Yes. I believed I was going to be cleaned. I was going to be less heavy. Become purer. Not going to be weighed down anymore. Pedaling, headily, towards my romantic destination of self-improvement, an image of health, abundance and greater worthiness ahead of me.

 

This. At 16.

 

I look back now and think, What the fuck?

 

Home life was shit. Abusive. Destructive. Depressing. I internalised it all. As children often do. I could feel an overwhelming sense of carrying other’s load, their baggage and I really didn’t, didn’t want it. I wanted to be clearer. Lighter. More deserving. I was going to be Not Me.

 

Maybe then Life would change. Maybe the planets would align and the nightmare of growing up in the shittiness would transform. It would all have been a dream and my parents would step up and come forward with love. With wanting. With acceptance. Oh yes. One pineapple. One melon. Several raw onions later and all would be well.

 

You get me?

 

And then? You guessed it. It didn’t happen. So I tried again. And again. And again and again. Stopping eating. Stopping going out. Stopping all I could in a secret bid that this would change and purity would come along and save me.

 

How many years did I keep this persistent fantasy alive? That somewhere along the way I would eventually discover the very best version of myself. One? Two? No, my friend. Probably closer I’d say to 25. Yes. 25 fucking years later and I began to twig, maybe all the counselling and the healing and the cleansing and the exercise isn’t going to come up with the goods. Maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to change. Maybe, without my blood stream being clean as a whistle and without me delving to the deepest depths of my being, I don’t have to undergo some miraculous transformation and I can just show up and accept myself as I am.

 

OK. So maybe I wasn’t as wholly manic as I might intimate about this whole shebang. I did learn many valuable nuggets along the way. And I did face some wholly crapping trauma that had paralysed me within for years. And somewhere along the line, facing some longstanding somatic inklings and visceral rememberings of sexual violation in early childhood, helped me find the courage to begin discerning, learning and owning what was mine and, most significantly, what was not. This and introducing the word AND to my lexicon (my parents did their best and they deeply hurt me), enabled new movements and understandings, flexibility and inner-tenderness to grow.

 

And then, in the last year or two a new phrase came upon my horizon. This seeming insane suggestion to consider what if what I am doing right in this moment is enough. Can I sit with the assertion that actually, yes, it is quite magnificently just that?

 

Not maybe. Not can I slip some sneaky judgement in there and put myself down. Not lace it with self-doubt and too familiar self-criticism. But can I say to myself, in earnest, Yes, it really is?

 

I am learning. As many of you know. And, as many of you know who too are learning this, it takes TIME.

 

So from an eternal quest for purification to simply being with what is, can we do it?

 

There are several souls on this path over the course of the last few years that I have found both solace and nutrition to draw upon as I navigate this radicalism. Matt Licata, a heart-centred psychotherapist writes a wondrous blog and his words strike resonance and learning within frequently. Maybe, he posits, there is nothing wrong with us in the first place. Maybe there is no urgent healing that needs our immediate address. Maybe it’s simply presence itself to the gamut of this big chunky life in all it’s shapes, colours and dimensions and our willingness to FEEL IT ALL is all that is required. And maybe, crazily maybe, we are perfect just exactly the way we are. No need to change not one single thing.

 

Wild, eh!

 

And then too there is Joanna Watters, who’s teachings I find similar kinship and immensity in and whom one day I might dedicate this blog to and rename it “I love Joanna!”, for this is not the first nor second nor I believe third post I have written about my time spent contemplating and cherishing her offerings.

 

I was fortunate to return last week from a three-day retreat with her. It was called, For Love and within which, twelve of us sat with our hearts pulsing in their glorious vulnerability and rawness, feeling our way through and filling, as much as we could, ourselves and each other tenderly with love. Three days of beautifully held inquiry. Three days of falling into love. Three days of standing up in our honesty and drinking it into the soft tissue of our being. As much as we possibly could.

 

I thought a lot in this time about receiving.

 

I thought a lot in this time about digestion.

 

I thought a lot in this time about the movement of the breath. The inhalation. The exhalation. And the space and the impulses between each. This is something I ruminate on a great deal.

 

Joanna encouraged us, as she cradled the space and we did for each other, to breathe into any pain arising. Any hurt. Contraction. Fear. Anger. She posed to us the notion, What if love is unrestricted feeling? Less the happy ever after, more just this as exactly as it is right now. Everything. What if all of this irksomeness is simply the generosity of Life’s endless invitation to meet Love’s wound? No more casting to the realms of “positive” and “negative”. Instead just listening in to the tightness in your chest. The recurrent lower back pain. The depressed circuit of thoughts in your mind. The fear of not getting it all perfectly “right”. The resistance, oh the crappy, mighty Resistance…..

 

And we sat, each day, feeling and loving in more and more keenly to everything we are inclined to hide and shove away. Yes.

 

I realised through this process, as I remained in attendance with my breath, for me there appeared four stages. I was struck initially by the power of my exhalation, as I chose not to run, to digest the stuckness, discomfort, rage, fear. I watched it’s ability, without me getting in the way, to transmute the all ickiness through it’s own seeming volition.

 

Big juicy WOW.

 

Then, from ‘digestion’, arose effortless ‘expression’ (translate from previous effort with a big E, release) and from here, before inhalation, or as I came to consider ‘ingestion’, there was a moment of ‘reception’, of being ready, very naturally, to receive. Welcoming what I might for a moment deem as Other and letting that just be. Just simply watching this rhythmic circle and allow it’s fullness, rather than sitting in the appearance of rejection, opposition and separation.

 

Hmm? Yes. Reception. Ingestion. Digestion. Expression. Of breath. Of love. Observing the tides, observing the affirming ebb and flow. Pausing the urge to control and reconfigure it into something more apparently pleasing.

 

And I thought of my endeavours, pretty much three decades ago, to purge myself of all of this. And I thought of my early dalliances with Kundalini yoga at the age of 20, and the beginning of understanding the value of meeting pain rather than turning away. But still my internal drum banged on in a blind ache to transcend and become purer. And I thought of how very un-alone I have been in this pursuit. So many of us unwittingly chasing this image. So many pulling under the illusion of our unworthiness.

 

It takes courage, I know well, to sit in the seeming shadows. But today, maybe it takes less or simply less effort, as today I’m not trying to change and alter them or, even in fact, designate them as such. Rather maybe I am discovering a new prowess to feel into as much as I can and allow the Breath of Love to digest every corner and every crevice in every cell and every single fabulous bursting heartbeat.

 

Can we revive ourselves back to being with simply just this? Yes, I believe we can.

 

Image: KM Schmidt