Sometimes you have to go around and around and around a thing to know what it is, what you feel, to get a whiff of what it is at its center.
I talk with my friend, Jon, once a week, for two hours– one hour for each of us. It started out focused on my writing, then shifted to the buddy system we’ve had for the last 7+ years. We talk about self-employed stuff and creative stuff and life stuff– because everything affects everything else, and being a creative, present person means you pay attention. And sometimes it’s really hard to pause and pay attention if you’re only talking to yourself.
So, we talk to each other. And listen.
Tonight, as happens a good fifty percent of the time, I said, “Well, this isn’t what I was going to talk about, but…” And then talked about just that for forty minutes.
When I read the book “Prodigal Summer,” by Barbara Kingsolver, I learned that moths fly in spirals– that that’s how they figure out where they are and what’s around them (and where their moth mates are hanging out, ready to make moth babies). I don’t remember if they scent the air or if it’s some kind of echolocation (pretty sure not)– what I remember is the longing in that book. Of summer and marriage and death and grief, of lush and unconquerable flowering vines that took over everything. Of a woman out of her element who learned how to make it her own.
Tonight I talked about a thing I was snagged on. I said, “I don’t think it’s this, or this, or this, really,” listing off the concerns, the old bad habits.
“It obviously reminds me of both my parents because of this and this,” I drew lines between points.
“It’s not the same as this or this,” I said, followed by, “But actually, this is true, and this.“
I swept a little bit away from the edges. Uncovered the fossil. Scented the air and found a trail that had some life to it.
I didn’t solve it. But in the circling I widened the eye of this whirlwind. I got myself a little more space. I squinted into the grit and then up at the sky, the only clear point above it, and I got my bearings just a little.
When I make space for myself I have so much extra room and capacity to offer some of it to others. It doesn’t diminish. That sweeping cyclone reaches out and expands without regard for which of this is “mine” and which part is someone else’s.
I’m grateful for the practice of turning into the wind, of angling the wings, of heading for center– and especially trusting the time it takes, no matter how many loops I make.