This week, a friend let me borrow his ukulele. A song, based on a poem I wrote, has been drifting along in my head and I decided to attempt to put it to chords and a melody. The following video is my unedited, unpracticed rough draft of the song, flaws and all. I’m looking forward to playing with it more and polishing it up.
I’ve been wanting to learn how to play an instrument for many years, but insecurity always got in the way. This past year, I’ve learned so much about myself that I’m no longer willing to let insecurity stop me from doing the things my soul longs to do; finally picking up an instrument and writing songs is something that I’ve longed to do and never allowed myself.
I am grateful for the cold February morning that wakes me too early, because the quickening light asks for my breath and presence.
I am grateful for the inhalation of the gifts of the directions: I call into myself inspiration, creative action, courage and determination, grounding, community, and connection, guidance and nurturing.
I am grateful for the exhalation of that which I desire to let go of: anxiety, fear, laziness, loneliness, isolation.
I am grateful for possibility. For the vast choices before me. For the ability to surrender to the choice that will lead me to my highest purpose.
I am grateful for the flux and flow of my breath. For the Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo centering and calming me, yet also inciting peaceful action.
I am grateful for the sun dissipating the mist outside.
“And in the autumn, when you gather grapes from your vineyard for the winepress, say in your heart,
‘I too am a vineyard, and my grapes shall be gathered for the winepress,
and like new wine my soul shall be kept in eternal vessels.’
And in the winter, when you draw the wine, have in your heart a song for each cup,
and in that song let there be a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.”
Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Eating and Drinking,’ The Prophet
I often don’t feel as though I have anything of interest to anybody else to say. Certainly I have many thoughts, both deep and shallow, thoughtful and focused, hurried and half-formed; I have many feelings, that span from dark and shadowy to light and inspiring. When it comes to writing down such thoughts and feelings, however, I’ve felt recently like I’m a bit in a dry spell; not too long ago, poetry seems to pour from my fingers like honey. Now I drink in poetry from other sources — from Kahlil Gibran, Nayyirah Waheed, Rumi, Mary Oliver . . .
When my heart and my hands can’t seem to work together to produce its own poetry, I steep myself in poets. I let their metaphors sink into me, become part of my breath and sight, taste the wine of the Beloved on my lips.
“Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, ‘Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.’ For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.”
Kahlil Gibran, ‘On Good and Evil,’ The Prophet
I’m a believer in the cyclical nature of life, in the fact that nothing can ever grow and grow and grow without ever resting; even the most invasive and determined plants have a time of year that they go dormant. There is no difference when it comes to our creative and spiritual lives.
There are times when we seem to be unrelenting, generous vessels of creativity and light, like the grapes in the autumn. And there are times when we are the root, sucking at the nourishment of the compost the fallen fruit has become, drinking the wine that the grapes were pressed and fermented into.
There are times when we cannot help but give nourishment to the world.
And there are times when we must receive nourishment.
It is a pity that we’re taught by our Western culture — especially those who are woman-identified or woman-passing — that receiving is shameful. In a linear, capitalistic, ever-growing society, there has been little respect for our innate, natural cyclical inner lives.
But I see that changing.
More and more people are seeing, understanding, and integrating the importance of self-care. Of pause. Of balance in this world of extremes.
And though I am at a time in my life when I am the root, not the fruit, and I am aware of the conditioned shame of that curdling in my stomach in my lowest moments — I am so grateful to be reminded all the time that it’s OK to rest. To draw inward. To know that change and transformation are happening deep in the shadowy realms of my psyche, of my inner world — even if the change isn’t apparent outwardly. And I am so grateful that in knowing that, I can be compassionate not only with myself but with others who are also in the fallow seasons of their lives.