Fluent Self labyrinth

This essay is for Waverly.

I am so sad to convey that the world lost Waverly Fitzgerald, a marvelous human, among my favorite humans & writers, possibly also yours, last month on Friday, December 13. Some of you met her at Rally at my former retreat center, and if you hang out here, you know I often reference her book Slow Time. This image is a labyrinth I visited with her (in my mind) in Silver City, New Mexico.

This post touches on grief and loss, so if that’s something you need to pass on for Safety First, I absolutely understand, and either way, let’s take a breath for the hearts & the hurts of life, and strengthen our force fields.

Cold and grey in Santa Fe

I somehow ended up at the cemetery in Santa Fe this morning, in part because of a wrong turn, maybe, I don’t know, but probably because I continue to hold tightly to the belief (or maybe a wish-hope that I fiercely choose to believe in despite all odds) that all cemeteries are interchangeable.

The cemetery I want to be in is in Seattle, visiting Waverly who is gone, but I am not in Seattle, I am in Santa Fe, and so the cemeteries need to hold each other, and me, I need them to be a secret passage, or an ur-cemetery, a gathering place for goodbyes.

I know they must be linked, some secret underground network that takes care of this for moments of need.

My mother’s gravesite is in Michigan, for example, but I visit her in other places where gravestones live. She understands.

Questions of space, and everything else, work differently if you’re dead, or at least, that’s the best explanation I have been given or am able to give.

Right timing

As it happens, a funeral procession is beginning for someone else.

I cry along with some other people who are also sad.

After / Enjoy

After I cried off all my makeup, I skipped yoga and went to eat green chile stew, thinking about Waverly who is gone, and about other friends and beloved people who are gone, and how they would all be enthusiastic about this choice.

Yes, they say. Good call. Eat life! Nourish and take pleasure and be alive!

I think about Rena who has somehow been gone for twenty five years, how is that even possible, how she wrote down her last wishes for us in the hospital, in one word:

ENJOY

Passage

Light sparks off the snow on the mountains.

I drove over a narrow icy pass in the dark last night. We did, together.

I process grief (and everything) best through a road trip, or any change of scenery, change of pace, change of change, long stretches of time plus landscape, into the expanse of road and sky.

And so I drove north with Waverly to accompany me, if that makes sense, we drove together, eight hours, and I played songs for her, songs I thought she’d like, and we hummed along.

No way to see what is clear

There is no way to see what is clear, said the song.

And Waverly laughed a little, and said it’s a beautiful song and sometimes it feels like that, but of course that isn’t completely true, we get to eat the days like fruit, whether the path is clear or not.

Trulala trulalee.

We sing along as we head over the pass.

Truth

I am not sure how or why this happened, but I told her on the ride about something that happened to me, something I have never told anyone, and I said, “Ugh what an absolute dipshit”, and she said, “Let’s destroy him”, and then we laughed in the dark on the icy roads, because that’s not going to happen but sometimes vengeance is a good starting point for wishes.

Somehow we made it through the worst of the pass.

Truth Stars

I intuited a pullout, and got out of the car, crouching to pee under a TRILLION STARS. Utter blackness, freezing cold, this absolute riot of stars.

Now there’s a way to see what is clear.

Turalala. Turalalee.

Las Palomas.

We stayed in Santa Fe for a couple days and then headed back south in the snow, planning to avoid the pass this time.

But after a couple hours on the road, the snow and rain had long since stopped, and I was tired of the endless straight road, and the directions app tempted us with the prospect of “saving 46 miles” by taking the pass.

You don’t save anything of course because you have to go so slowly around the tight turns, gasping at the sheer cliff drops, but you do get the very scenic route.

What the hell, I said. I love Las Palomas and I love adventure and I know the road well. Let’s take the pass. Here’s to wild clarity.

We began the climb and all was breathtakingly beautiful and peacefully until, suddenly, total fog. Only fog. Nothing visible. You know the cliff is there, you just can’t see the edge.

Clarity (again)

Hahaha hope that wasn’t a terrible choice, I would really prefer we do NOT go sailing over the cliff, I said.

Waverly shrugged.

I thought about all the photographers I’ve dated who would have just loved this majestic fog overtaking everything. Absolute dipshits, all of them, but still, that’s talent.

She laughed again, her laugh rang out over the canyon and the fog cleared, immediately and completely.

Wild Clarity.

All clear

There you go, she said, it all got clear.

I’m just trying not to kill us, I said.

She laughs again.

The days are limited either way, you just eat them, like fruit.

Today is unique (each today is unique)

In her book, Slow Time, she shares the concept of meeting each day as wholly unique, new, not to be repeated:

Robert Levine writes about the customs of the K’iche’ people, who live in the highland villages of Guatemala. For them, each day is unique, and has its own proper name and divine name. They greet each day with a respectful title, the equivalent of saying “Greetings Sir, Lord Thursday”. Each day also has its own unique quality, a nature or character that will never come again.

In Santa Fe, I made ginger tea for Lady Wednesday in a dark brown mug. Tea for Waverly. Tea for me. The three of us sat in a bookstore and read together.

Doors

This day will never come again.

Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a sad thing, sometimes it just is.

Today is a new door. Hello, day.

Hello, day. What are you like? What fruit do you bring?

What fruit do I place here in offering?

Fruit

Waverly ends that chapter by sharing a quote from Jean Giono, in Fullness of Days, and the final sentence just floors me with its simplicity every time I read it:

We have forgotten that our only goal is to live and that we live each day and that at every hour of the day we are reaching our true goal if we are living…

The days are fruits and our role is to eat them.

Pleasure

The days are fruits, taste and take pleasure.

I cannot help but feel the pull of provoked into juice, that perfect delicious phrase from the Helen Chasin poem.

A spell in its own right.

Versus

We drove and listened to Lucinda Williams change the locks on her front door and rename a whole town, because sometimes desire is danger, we listened to Lucinda Williams stand on a bridge and say no baby don’t jump, sometimes danger is danger.

June bug vs hurricane

Versus

Versus

Versus

Johnson City / San Lorenzo

My sweet Star Car reached 75,000 miles exactly as we made the turn into San Lorenzo.

The last time I was on this road I was here with Jenny, now with Waverly.

We sing harmonies to the song Wagon Wheel.

Johnson City, Tennessseeeeeeeeeee….

For some reason I feel the need to tell her in depth about why I think the Darius Rucker version is so compelling, she remarks that she never would have guessed that I hold such strong opinions on this particular topic.

I contain multitudes…, I sing, as if it is part of the song.

The beauty that is here now

I am thinking about what it means to eat the fruit of the day, like the strawberry in the story of the monk being chased by tigers and finding joy in surprise sweetness at a moment of despair, I still don’t like that story and I don’t have to.

This day is fruit, this passage is fruit, and I am eating it, here now, with the beauty that is here now.

We drive the curving roads.

Familiar / remembering

I tell her about the time I went around this particular upcoming sharp curve, at night, and very nearly hit a deer and her two baby deer.

They just leapt into the road right in front of my car, as I was coming around the turn.

I gasped and swerved, and luckily no one else was on the road, it was very late at night, and the deer watched me as her babies bounded across to safety, my breath stopped completely.

Guess the only move here is take it slow then, Waverly says.

Slow time. Slow time. Slow time.

I do take the curve slowly, exaggeratedly impossibly slowly, and what happens next as we come around the turn takes my breath again.

Impossible. And yet, here we are.

There is a kid riding on a skateboard, in the road, right in front of me.

Middle of the road, dressed in grey and black, at dusk, holding books, practically invisible.

And again, right in front of me.

Would

I felt equal parts terror and fury and pain at what might have / could have / surely would have.

I would have hit this kid for sure, or swerved and crashed, no other options, had Waverly not said we should take it extra slow.

But I didn’t.

I’m sure this kid was listening for the familiar sound of rural pickup truck on the road and did not hear my nearly silent hybrid. Still, a trafficked road. An unlit winding road that people drive on. In the darkening almost-dark.

I could have and would have, but through this absolute miracle of listening to someone who wasn’t there, I didn’t.

Plenty of Slow Time

Wishing you plenty of slow time is what she wished me in the inscription to her book, I’m sure that was her usual inscription but in this moment it felt like an invocation.

Plenty of slow time, slow motion time, slowed time.

Long exhale. Again. And again.

Holy shit, I said, If I hadn’t been taking the turn so very slowly, I would have killed that child. Or died trying to get out of the way. I can’t imagine.

You eat the fruit of each day, she says. You eat the fruit, and you live in slow time, when you can.

Attention (in the slowness)

I take her words to mean something like this…

You were doing your best, and you were paying attention to the clues. And that’s all you can do really, even on the best days.

Echoes of IIWIMI aka it is what it motherfucking is.

I typed this line, and Lucinda Williams came on in the cafe where I’m sitting, singing about tangerines and persimmons, the fruits of her labor.

Fruits again. Time as an orchard.

Slow as a verb

We arrived at the labyrinth the next morning, it had rained all all night and the labyrinth was mud. I love a labyrinth, but I will be honest, walking this one was miserable.

I was hurrying through, whispering WILD CLARITY WILD CLARITY WILD CLARITY, because that was my labyrinth wish, my intention.

But I didn’t want to be there. I was already thinking about the mud I’d have to clean off my motorcycle boots and my favorite jeans.

I wanted the labyrinth to hurry up and deliver the wisdom so I could leave and do other things.

So of course it said slow, the labyrinth said slow.

Of course

SLOW TIME is a verb, an imperative.

You slow time.

You eat the fruit of the day in slow time, you eat the fruit of the day and you slow time itself, like a sorceress, so that you can remember that the days are fruit for your nourishment and your pleasure, so you can be embodied as you interact with them.

But how? How do you slow time?

How do you slow time?

The labyrinth showed me two answers:

You put less in it.

And:

You reaffirm your devotion to freedom and pleasure, you recommit to what is important to you, you become someone who loves to live in an orchard.

There is no way to see what’s clear

Until you ask and wait and plant and cycle through, and then there is Wild Clarity, whenever it comes.

You greet the day, knowing that it is fruit.

You cry when you cry, you laugh, you sing, you hum, you walk, you nap, you open doors and then close them to re-open them.

turalala turalalee

The road

At San Simon, Waverly said, Well this is where I get off. Thanks for the ride.

I was sad, and it seemed like she kind of didn’t get why I would be sad, which is not a negative thing about her at all, it is just the way of the departed to not make as much of a distinction about life versus death, this idea we have about one being good and one being sad. Anyway, I felt sorrow, and many complicated feelings, and that’s okay. Aliveness is complicated.

The desert light was breathtaking. The road was the road.

Thank you, delicious day, I said, to nobody at all. But I know that words and intention travel, I can imagine filling up on love-breath while other people do the same, all of us humming our way back to the orchard.

{comments & announcements & love}

(0) Did you see my secret accidental blank blog post this week, sorry about that, it was not supposed to go live! My wish is that it somehow conveyed superpowers of Good Things Incoming and What Is Left Unsaid…

(1) However, yes, the title held a clue about what we are doing next, a group program about The Secret Life Of Patterns aka how to change patterns and habits with love and some gentle trickery…it’s not quite ready to announce yet but it *is* included in my Sorcery offering, so you should join if you are able because it’s amazing, and I re-opened it for you for this weekend, there are THREE more spots, details & sign-up here! Also, it includes access to the vault of all twenty five of my ebooks, more on that to come soon…

(2) You are invited to join in the comments here, you can leave love for Waverly and her wisdom, or anything that sparked for you while reading, anything you’re working on or playing with right now in your own practice, stones and pebbles, flowers, whatever feels right.

(3) I feel especially thankful right now for the warmth of community and always appreciate every reminder that people are reading my words here. I love that you’re here. Thanks, friends. Turalala.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!