Wednesday, September 6, 2017

SPIRITUAL SMACK: LESSONS FROM YEAR 23

S P I R I T U A L   S M A C K  |  L E S S O N S    F R O M   Y E A R   2 3
Reflections, rumination, & lessons of this past year as I turn 24-years-old today . . . 
A post in part dedication to  Pineapple Camp, a gathering of women this weekend in D.C. for self-care


Spiked Spine & Tender Petals 

his year saw me through many a trial. Life came in tides, with one wave of bounty followed by a sweeping tide, ground lost amidst the current. I found myself gliding the surf in one moment and rising with crimson eyes shot by the salty waters of sinking news engulfing me in another. To an outsider's eye, my life might have looked romantic: moving from working for the EWG to having my own isolated Walden-esque haven while writing my book near Marfa, TX. This was as far a cry as grabbing a meal in Marfa on a Monday night (read: nothing is open). I wrote my book but also scribbled on legal papers against Border Patrol and poems to comprehend my grandmother's death, whose funeral I could not attend due to the former point. Good news seemed to whisper Après moi, le déluge, a reinterpretation of the phrase to humour me in my expectations of good news to follow a flood of a not so pleasant one. A seeming motion of a balancing oar of up-and-down as I treaded the waters of my twenty third year.  

Such anxious suspicions are not new to me and the changes I have faced this year have brought an onslaught of reminders of trauma past. I am not estranged by the fear of the unknown, which struck me when I was put on an airplane on a night's notice to move to the United States at the age of ten beside my then eight-year-old sister. A pained decision of a mother to save her daughters from a ghost of a father. 

I reflected on my mother's courage as I embarked on my first move since that one this year, from Washington, D.C. to Texas. Amidst the tide of anxiety that was enveloping me, I rose in the reminder of the waters we had crossed over. The lands we had passed, the roads which she bent over to pave promising of bloom—in spite of the thorns that pierced her—so her daughters may blossom. As I stood in the parched Texas desert, swept dry literally and metaphorically of the life I once knew, I remembered her. I nodded to the woman  who continues to flower herself, a defiant cactus of spiked spine yet tender petals. The equanimity of love. A reminder to remain simultaneously soft yet upright in the face of a prick on the road. 

The Value of Women & Community

This solitude I experienced out in the desert raised the dust over my understanding of friendship. Being alone with no true friends but one and my husband sprinkled with a few rare acquaintances—no hyperbole—I learned to befriend myself. Despite being a self-proclaimed hermit though or, perhaps a more gentle definition of an introvert, I deeply value community. That hunger for connexion, especially with other women, was what my friend Ariel cultivated within me through Pineapple. In departing D.C., part of my sense of loss was that community of pioneering women in food. As women, we are an archetype of the giver, the source, the Mother—one to feed. In the current times where we're stripped of our rights as women and so is our source of Mother Nature, this past year and this community of women has taught me to turn my energies to feed the feminine energy. That as women in food, our jobs are not just in the kitchen. That the food we cultivate not only lingers on our lips and tongues but is spoken out for its value, that we protect the land which provides it, and we care for the bodies that take it in . . .

Alone but not Lonely 

The isolation of being plopped in an adobe home away from heat but also anyone I could remotely befriend taught me the one distinctive factor in my peace with being alone. As I reflected on in a previous postit served its purpose in creating a haven for writing my upcoming book (Prestel/Random House Spring 2018); I had not one distraction. What it could have also handed or dealt me with is loneliness. In a state of remoteness, our immediate emotional response is loneliness. And that's what it is: loneliness is an emotional response to the state of being aloneThis is the integral point of thought which can allow us to shift our understanding of alone versus lonely.  When we see the world coming from rather than at us, we anchor the future in the stability of the self rather than outside events or people. 

The Eyes of Another You 

I'll spare the details of the the defining hardships of this year for my privacy and safety's sake—it involved everything from passing out two hours away from the nearest hospital to the realisation of any immigrant's absolute nightmare—but I felt the anxiety of it down to the single strands of my hair. I felt like Medusa with coiled thoughts snaking around my mind, stifling any settled or stable thought. Reiterating my previous notion of a flood of suspicions over unknown turmoil or news, I could have had the impulsive reaction to roll the universe into coiled thoughts or consciously choose another vision. I would remind myself of the sentiment that Elena Brower had shared of Dr. Douglas Brooks's teachings: "See through the eyes of one who has already done it, accomplished it, climbed over and above the hill." Now, I embark a new year sitting in a clearer vision of myself who waits for that future self at the top of that hill . . .