Our Collective Story

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For the first time in the 2+ years I have been publishing Saucy Sobriety, I am delaying the publication of my scheduled post.

Today, I feel that I cannot share my own story, because our collective story has made me feel too ill.I cannot contribute anything new to the discourse that is going on in this nation this morning.

Everything I would want to say has already been said and, frankly, it’s likely been said in more eloquent words than I would ever use to describe such an upset.

I will say this, for this month’s theme here at Saucy Sobriety, in my Year of Happiness, I’ve chosen to focus on Owning Up. And, today, we must Own Up collectively, as a nation, for the monster we have created. — The intolerance we have fostered. The misogyny that we have overlooked and ignored. The racism that we have allowed and encouraged. The ignorance that we have perpetuated. And the hatred toward those we do not understand that we have let fester and grow.

We are ALL responsible.

Politics, and their consumption, have reached a fever pitch. And in our tireless yammering on about what this country is or isn’t and what it deserves or doesn’t and who it deserves to lead it or burn it down — we have truly lost parts of our humanity that I fear we’ll never rediscover.

This is a sad day in American history. And, because of this day’s levity, my story can wait. It is our story that needs immediate revision. But, the truth remains that WE have chosen. And now, WE must Own Up to that choice. — We must live with it.

And, so often, it is those real,  experiential lessons that teach us the most. Though, at this time, that fact comes as little consolation.

Our humanity and compassion as a nation, as a people, may never be the same again. But, I remain steadfast in my hope that we can grow and change.

And, it’s my own personal hope that that change begins, for some of us, today, in the wake of what I can only describe as a national abomination.

 

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Millennials: Big Hearts In The Big Void

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There’s nothing like a good corporate questionnaire to highlight all the things you’re not.

I sit at my MacBook Pro, just one double-click away from zombie status, filling in field after field of yet another online job application. This is just one of the many questionnaires that I’ve completed in the past few weeks. A repetitive, mind-numbing process that reminds me I don’t quite fit the mold into which I am constantly attempting to pour myself.

I keep reading all these articles about Millennials. Fucking Millennials. — The problems we face. The problems we create. We’re asked to face the destitute world that the Baby Boomers have so lovingly left for us to burn down, meanwhile — we’re moving back in with them, staring out longingly from the windows of our childhood. Our lazy, privileged existence, devoid of any work ethic or gumption. — The whole conversation makes me angry. Infuriated. Why are we the generation that no one can figure out?

I hate the sweeping designation that’s been bestowed upon our flailing age group. Not all of us are representatives of the Lena-Dunham-GIRLS culture. — At least we’re not trying to be. I find myself wondering, how should I designate myself? How do we set ourselves apart, step up, and place ourselves on solid ground without compromising our values and abandoning our dreams? And, please, don’t tell me we need to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps.

In searching for the keys that unlock the mysteries of the kingdom, I’ve answered my own question. We Millennials, are the seeking generation. And, for us, today’s commerce lies in the search. So much is available to us. And yet, we choke. There are too many places to begin. It’s no longer the pool of pensions and 401Ks that our parents waded into years ago — security is a thing of the past. Now — this river is wild. And, if we’re going to survive, it’s about finding our true calling. Our purpose. — Heart-based business, baby.

A Baby Boomer once told me: “No matter how good you have it — work is work. You’re never going to wake up everyday and find yourself satisfied and excited to show up at the office. That’s just life, kid.” Um. That’s some bullshit and I’m not buying it. — An antiquated excuse born of another era.

To the dreams Baby Boomers lost in Vietnam we hold up our own. — The Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan — this banner of unending war, which has served as the backdrop of our lives, now more than ever, a sobering reminder. — Our work is worth fighting for.

Privilege, if nothing else, has afforded us Millennials hope. Work is not just work to us. It has to be our heart’s work. Work that feeds us. So, it’s worth waiting for — worth seeking out in this generational void. We, at the cost of returning home, regressing to our 17-year-old-selves, will wait for something that fulfills an unmet need in us — in our world. Oh, and I guess it should pay the bills too? — Therein lies the real gap. The economy is only just now starting to catch up to our wide-open hearts. And, we’re still left wanting.

This questionnaire asks me if I “Strongly Agree” with this? Do I “Strongly Disagree” with that? And, I keep finding myself in this position of being lukewarm. I am trying to remember what it feels like to get riled up about something. To run hot. Where is the heart I so easily find in my writing or in the faces of the smiling regulars I’ve greeted at my plethora of service industry jobs? Why can’t our joy also meet our dividends? I didn’t get sober to lead a thankless life, redeemed only by my employer’s willingness to offer decent health benefits and to match my Roth IRA contributions.

During this process, filling out this heartless questionnaire, my purpose is jolted. Awakened — it remembers. I make the shift from disheartened to inspired. This piece-of-shit questionnaire, now revelatory. A reminder of all these things I’m not, it begs me to put forward all the things I am.

Would you say you are: Stubborn as fuck? Mildly manic? Conscientious? Coyly critical? Empathetic to a fault? Occasionally work-inappropriate? Passionate for people? A wide-open heart? A rabble-rouser? A dinner-table-debater? Tired and poor and yearning to breathe free? Ready to Burn. This. Shit. Down.?

Yeah.

Yeah, I’d say that’s correct. — In fact, put me down for “Strongly Agree.”

 

 

La Revolution

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Question: What is the difference between a teacher and a guru?

Answer: A teacher points the way. The guru is the Way. In the course of your awakening you will have thousands of teachers. Throughout all of this teaching, the guru waits, beckoning from beyond.

Be Here Now, Cook Book For A Sacred Life; Ram Dass, Pg. 6

I think we’re all waiting for the payoff.

The big reveal. — The moment of release. The summation of all this pain and toil. An unveiling of some blessed reason for the world’s continued suffering, and, what is certain to be, its ultimate demise.

We seek the guru because we tell ourselves it can’t be this. This place. This time. This cast of characters. This. It just can’t be. In our denial and disbelief, we gloss over the thing we know to be absolutely true. We beg answers of the teachers before us — but to truly know — we must go within. It’s clear to me now more than ever — relief is not around us. It is inside us. — Good lives within. — We must find it there and draw it out. A spiritual revolution.

I read the work of Baba Ram Dass daily. I love him. I’d love for him to be my guru. But the truth is, in my seeking him, I become more lost. What’s even more hilarious? — He taught me that lesson. Teachers are funny like that. They shine light where you’d rather not see, so, you go to another teacher, then another, then another. Soon you’ve seen too much, but really, you haven’t seen anything at all. I like to think you know what I mean, because I like to believe that we all are seekers.

I’m still in this funk, so, I’m stuck. I sit patiently and wait for instruction. From anyone, really. A customer. A coworker. A song. Sun glinting off the choppy waves of the water in the bay. — All messages from the Guru.

Recently, a few important people have drifted, unexpectedly, from my life. Teachers. — The best teachers. — And, watching them go has reminded me that there are new lessons I’m meant to learn. It’s not by my design. But, I must remind myself that if I allow myself to be stuck here, then I will continue to be just that. — Stuck here. Any design requires movement. Patience. Love. — Revolution.

Before my eyes, big cities have become incredibly small.

I turn off the television to avoid making myself sick. I embrace and abandon my own sense of place. I wait for healing. I look for apartments in Southern Vermont. I stare at a picture of a covered bridge surrounded by falling leaves, and, in another photo, the same bridge covered in snow. Different seasons. Each lonely and quiet. Isolated and still. It looks like a place my guru might wait for me. I feel myself moving closer to something. — We are all moving closer to something.

But life isn’t about moving. It’s about being. The most sacred lesson, more than any other lesson I’ve learned from my Baba, is the lesson of being. Not thinking, or seeking, or seeing, or knowing. It’s not a tangible trip. It’s not something you can destroy or embrace or free or trap. It’s not something you can kill. No amount of violence, inside or outside of us, can unsettle it.

It’s something we know because we are. All of us. Each one of us.

And, that’s the grist for the mill, Baba would say. — Becoming ourselves is the trip.

 

This moment, is a moment for the guru. — This moment, is the guru.

Vive La France. Vive La Revolution.

 

 

A Mother of Felines

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Mother’s Day. My cat paws me awake at 7:23AM. She didn’t buy me flowers.

I call my mother, who’s shuttling my father’s mother to church. I open Facebook and find it inundated with pictures of mothers, memorials for mothers, and sentimental notes to mothers — my own included. I walk into the kitchen and I make myself banana-oat pancakes. I, am mother to nothing.

It appears that everyone, especially my peer group, has begun to populate the Earth at an alarming rate. They all wax poetic on the joys and challenges of parenthood. — Yet another club for which I am currently ineligible. It’s middle school all over again, except this time the popular girls have even bigger tits and haute-couture vomit-shammies.

The thought alone makes me want to get drunk.

For a moment, I panic. — What does it mean if I never become a mother?

I imagine myself alone in a dusty room filled with piles of hoarded vegan cookbooks, old mail, and unswept cat litter. My hair is silver. And the most color I’ve seen in years in the purple rhododendron that’s blooming outside my living room window. I think to myself — I don’t want to die alone.

Sometimes, it feels like that’s the only reason I feel drawn to motherhood at all. I can’t be alone at the end of days. But, as I sit on the couch sopping up the last of the maple syrup with my final bite of pancake, I realize, mother or not, I might end up alone anyway.

In the best of relationships — I’ve always felt alone. There is always an immeasurable space that remains vacant, lost, unfulfilled. It’s why I drank. It’s why I still want to drink. It’s why yesterday, as I walked home from work in the warmth and the sun, I slowed at the entrance of every bar I passed and made an excellent argument for just. one. drink.

Fill it up. Allow yourself. Imbibe on this — motherhood. Uisce Beatha.

Life is about filling spaces. I’m not sure what it is, but, there must be something that can fill us all. Maybe it is drinks. Maybe it’s motherhood.  Maybe it’s a kind of love I just don’t know yet. Or, maybe, it’s waking up at 7:23AM to set out salmon treats for the one creature that has tolerated my various states of existence for as long as I’ve known her.

When I give the cat one treat too many, she vomits on the floor. I wipe it up with paper towels. — I have no fancy shammies.

She looks up at me, guilty, with her big, sad eyes before moving to the couch where she continues her ongoing project — pulling foam from the armrest.

“Please,” I say, “don’t do that.” With that, she pulls her needle-sharp claw from the shredded red fabric and glares up at me with disdain before sauntering, nonchalantly, back to her post in the bedroom.

In the end, for better — for worse, we are all mothers to something.

 

 

[Image taken from I Am Lil’ Bub]

The Suit Comes Off

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I dreamt about John Hamm last night. And, it’s not because I’m hot for Don Draper.

Well, not entirely.

I may be sober, but I’m still addicted to Netflix. Hardcore. And, no matter what program I watch, I am constantly being reminded of the things I can’t have.

But, despite being toyed with, I continue watching. I couldn’t possibly blame the media for giving me everything I want. I love it. I need it. I crave it. I watch the smoke rise off the tip of every cigarette. I wait for the camera to pan across each patterned, crystal tumbler, elegantly displaying its smooth, golden whiskey. I watch it, spellbound. And, why shouldn’t I enjoy it? — It’s all the fun that I’m not having.

It’s sexy. It’s social. It’s provocative. And, at the same time, it’s demure and totally natural. It’s masculine and feminine, simultaneously. It’s ageless. It’s casual. And, the pleasure — it’s implied. Addiction — It’s everything we want it to be and it’s everywhere. It’s part of our cultural discussion without ever having to open our mouths.

And, even when it isn’t what we want it to be, addiction is it’s own form of entertainment. There’s Mad Men‘s Don Draper, the whiskey-sipping man of mystery, and, then, there’s the real man, John Hamm — completing his first 30-day stint in a Connecticut rehab facility. TMZ harps on about it. PEOPLE Magazine picks up the story too, and not because they’re interested in addiction itself — they’re interested in marrying it to Don Draper. We want one addiction to look like all the others. It’s easier to manage that way.

The media talks about John Hamm’s substance abuse problem in the same sentence that recaps the latest Mad Men episode. I wonder: Do we really make the connection?

Media and celebrity create this culture. It’s inviting. I mean, fuck, I salivate for the duration of every Mad Men episode. I breathe the smoke. I taste the whiskey. I feel the relief and the ritual. The substance abuse is its own sexual tension.

But, as I hunker down to catch up on old episodes, I find myself asking — why am I doing this? What am I putting myself through and what is the payoff? I mull it over for a few days. And then, while curled up in blankets on the couch, watching a marathon of Intervention, it hits me: It’s not the media. It’s just me — still wanting something I can never have.

It’s what all us addicts do. We get lost in the romance. The look of it, the feel of it, the ease of it. We become so entrenched in the peripheral relief of the substance, we lose the meaning — the storyline.

I love the idea of Don Draper. But, eventually, the suit comes off. The glamor loses its appeal, and the story is just the same as it ever was — a marathon of broken people — all seeking to fill the empty spaces.

So, as my cat and I ready ourselves to binge-watch the Mad Men episodes we’ve fallen behind on, I take a moment to be grateful for the all new ways I have learned to lose myself. I remind myself that binge-watching how things aren’t — on the screen, will sometimes remind me of how things are — in my real life.

So, I turn on the TV. I make the connection.

And, for every drink Don Draper pours, I make a secret wish that John Hamm has poured his last.

 

Strange Communion

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A year ago, I wrote a birthday essay in a vain attempt to convince you that I hadn’t completely failed myself at age 30.

I year later, I find myself wondering: What does it mean to fail yourself? And, what brings us back from the edge? — I’ll admit, I’ve been heady.

Recently, I was asked: What do you believe? And, as I made numerous attempts to pen a witty, annual retrospective, jovially escaping all my unstructured thoughts and feelings, I kept returning to that question — What do I believe?

I stare at the wall. I avoid your eyes. I want to tell you. I just can’t articulate the concept. And, it frustrates me when I can’t make my language speak to you. It should be easy. Hearing each other. Understanding. We are comprised of beliefs. Beliefs make us up. They are the dark matter that hold our cosmos together.

Beliefs. An army of them. — An onslaught. — Learned beliefs. Inherited beliefs. Lost beliefs. Stolen beliefs. Hurtful beliefs. Freeing beliefs. Soulful beliefs. Selfish beliefs. Intoxicating beliefs. Lucky beliefs. Fateful beliefs. Loving beliefs.

Too many beliefs to explain or unlearn. All patched together in a ratty quilt of celestial protection. — One square informs the other. But, get this — they’re not all believable. How can that be? I hear you wondering. Unbelievable beliefs? To you, it sounds absurd. But, is it? Does it make me a fraud? A fool? The wolf in sheep’s clothing? Am I a liar? A tyrant? A moron? Maybe.

But, whatever I am, I own it — this odd menagerie of soulful things — they make up my spiritual life. And, I won’t risk ridicule. I won’t offer up the only thing that’s allowed me survive. I have reverence for my strange communion.

Prior to getting clean, I’d stopped believing altogether. I was angry. I lived in my own, sad ceremonies. And, even those small, broken beliefs helped me to save myself.

I’m sober when I should be drunk. — It isn’t believable. But, it’s true. Certain faith makes it possible for me to be OK without having to be wasted. But, even as I walk on this solid, stable ground, I end up taking a few steps backward. I revisit the old, angry places. Some beliefs are hard to abandon, even with time and wisdom under my belt. Even with all my heroes and my heart.

We cannot always be everything we believe in.

That would be enlightenment. And, I will be the first to tell you that I am still a student of myself — of you. And, after another year of introspection, I’ve come to understand that the same belief that you once thought would sink you, will be the one that saves you.

So, what do I believe?

I believe in whatever spirit guide, constellation-riding, woo-woo-hippie-fuck-savior got me this far. It was enough to save me. Though, I never did see it, face to face.

But, it was never seeing that made me the believer.

 

*Artwork from Be Here Now, By Ram Dass*

The Woman Behind The Curtain

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I make it to Oz.

I pull back the curtain. And, there she is — the Wizard.

It’s fucking weird. — Finding the truth. Getting back home. Realizing you’ve survived. Knowing you’ve found something worthwhile.

Behind my curtain? — An unexpected love. A great, new job. Stability. — Benchmarks of a life that, a few, short years ago, I never thought I’d be living. But, here I am. And instead of sitting back and drinking it all in like a nice, Jameson 18 year — I find myself peering down the yellow brick road again.

Because, if 3 clicks of my heels brought me here — where will 10 clicks take me? What’s left that still needs fixing? How can I be better? I need it. More happiness. More success. Brains. Heart. Courage! Just, more.

I make calculations. When will the next tornado hit? And, I wonder, is this how I’ll keep my life in Technicolor? By chasing storms?

It’s an obsession. The relentless quest to repair all my broken bits. — There’s no rest for the weary. The moment I reach a milestone — it’s back to the drawing board. Don’t you know?! If you’re happy, you’ve missed something. There are flying monkeys everywhere!

It’s tiring: Finding new flaws, failings, and apologies that need making. I’m all for self-discovery, but, I can’t have my life be an unending Mea Culpa. I don’t want to walk around with an oil can for the rest of my days.

Sometimes, you have to let go. Of everything. Even the things that, at one point, held you together. I’ve learned to be wary of the places where I’ve bled.

The cardinal rule of 12-Step: If you want to keep it, you’ve got to give it away. It’s part of the deal — returning the favor. And, I’ve learned that everyone gives back differently. We all come out from behind our own, different curtains. We all reveal something unique. Some of us talk. Some of us listen. Some of us write. Some of us usher our friends and family into safe places when things go south. Every path you can choose is a worthy one. So, you don’t need a map. You just have to see what’s right there in front of you. It’s not going to be perfect. But, it gets us home.

How many clicks of our heels will it take?

Depends on who’s behind the curtain.

 

 

On The Ignorance Of Shmoes

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If you get sober — it’s bound to happen. A shmoe will weigh-in on your recovery.

And, I hope, by then you’ll have grown a thick skin. I hope that you’ll have learned that the only opinion that truly matters — is your own. And, I hope that you’ll have all the tools you need to get past the fact that someone who doesn’t know you or your story — thinks it’s OK to make passive-aggressive judgments about you, your life, and the people who choose to love you.

It’s all part of playing ball.

Though, if you’re wise, being judged will get you thinking. It will beg important questions of you. Like — What is my recovery? Who, beyond myself, has the power to make it legitimate? Anyone? And, how will I thwart attacks from people who just don’t understand?

People who aren’t sober — don’t understand what it means to get sober. They don’t know what it takes. And, they certainly don’t know what it took you. Usually, if they’re still drinking or using, even if they are normal drinkers or recreational drug users, they’re hyper-aware of the fact that you’ve done something they haven’t. Our dark intuition fears what it recognizes. — A highly advanced and amazingly brilliant feature that’s built into our personal self-defense systems. We weigh-in on what threatens us, because it gives us the illusion of dominance and control. — But, don’t be fooled. Erroneous thoughts hide the keys to our power. Which is to say: We can not be harmed by our same-ness — only healed.

One thing that getting sober has afforded me — is the understanding that at no time am I ever completely in control. I fight that assertion, because I am, and always will be — stubborn. But, in many ways, I have become wise. And, in sobriety, I am able to surrender to the judgment of my own mind. I accept that the judgment of others is only a reflection of themselves. I no longer endeavor to define myself for you — it wastes my time. And, I’ve wasted too much time already.

It’s about what I believe. What I know.

And, those of you who sit in judgment will eventually find that, it’s you who are the hot-messes. You’ll put up your armor and insist that the world has been done-to-you, but, I’m here to tell you: That’s just a lie you’re telling yourself. I know better than anyone — we’ve done it to ourselves.

We stay. We have another drink. We do another line. We write pretty lies so that we can read them back to ourselves and pretend they’re true. We wallow in a past that’s done and gone. We relive moments that have lost all their meaning. We create meaning where there is none. And we say it’s unfair when, all along, it’s us who have been standing in the same. exact. place. — I know. I’ve done it.

I’d be a liar if I told you that I don’t judge you too, Shmoe. But, what I say about you between my ears — stays there. I’m a friend of Bill W. — I know about restraint of pen and tongue. But, there will always be an appropriate time for speaking out. For owning our guts. For wearing our skin.

So, throw your words at me. I’ve heard them all before. — I’ve said them all before. My skin is thick. My mind is clear. My heart is sure.

My recovery — it’s mine.

And, Shmoe, there aren’t words you can write, say, or sing that will ever take that away from me.

 

 

 

 

Maps

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Yesterday, I celebrated two years clean and sober.

I once thought that sobriety would forever be the beacon, lighting my way. Yet now, more than ever, I find myself in the dark.

It has taken two years to learn that there is no way of knowing the path.

I do know this — Sobriety is not the road — it is the mile marker. Sobriety is the daily reminder: There is light. Where my own light comes from, and how it continues to shine, I do not know. But, it emanates from a place inside of me that, two years ago, I would have denied existed. Today, it glows hot like a coal.

In my second year of sobriety, I have shown up  for and stepped away from things and people. I’ve taken action and made decisions that once would have required copious amounts of whiskey. I have watched moments of my life unravel and then bloom with a happiness I still do not understand. And I have let go of my still beating heart, like a balloon, and watched it float away into an unforgiving sky, wondering if I will ever feel it again — love.

I have learned that we do not recover from some things. There are some wounds that will never cease to sting. But, if we treat them with care, acknowledge them with honesty, and bandage them properly — they cease to slow us down. Instead, their momentary aches become reminders of who we are, who we were, and who we are becoming. My scars are the road map. I wear them like the tattoos I do not have.

I have learned to smile with my teeth. I do not hide behind my own inadequacy. Perhaps the most poignant lesson I have learned in these past two years is: We are all inadequate. This isn’t a flaw. This is a challenge. This is the opportunity life affords us — to rise up and offer a fragment of greatness,  despite our lacking. To create from a place of authenticity, not perfection. To stand alone with the knowledge that, no matter who surrounds us, we remain cogs in a beautiful machine. To honor our worth. To step away from darkness, no matter how fervent its plea to take us over.

Joni Mitchell sings — “We are star dust. We are golden. And, we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” So, I walk in my maze of hedges. I meet dead ends, where I collapse in frustration. But, I stand up. I walk again. Because, I know, I am already in the garden. I can see — on the other side of this wall of leaves — something waits for me. Light gets in through the cracks. I know. One of these days, I will turn at the right corner and I will emerge, unguarded. Luminous.

So I stand here. At the second mile marker, on this — my road.

Two years of nothing. Two years of everything. Baba Ram Dass, you brilliant motherfucker, you called it. I begin to understand the many ways we are infinite. I run my fingers over my scars. Old and new. Rough and smooth. My maps.

Behind me, everything is illuminated. Before me, my heart casts out its high-beams on the dark highway.

 

And, to whatever power it is that’s listening, I whisper:

For the light. For the road. For the maps.

Thank you.

 

Fortunes and Freedom

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July 4th, 1776 — A few, super-rad, old dudes signed off on our freedom. And so it is — ‘Merica.

This year, I watched fireworks explode as little children waved their sparklers high. My neighbors sat in lawn chairs on the curb. American flags waved off the sides of their craftsman homes as a warm breeze swelled and dusk fell over Portland. Believe it or not, I actually spent this 4th of July thinking about independence. My country’s and my own. It was only a few, short years ago, that this day was nothing more than a good reason to drink.

Today, sobriety is my freedom. I’m not afforded it because of my birth place or my passport. It isn’t a matter of country. However, it is about allegiance — to one’s self. It has everything to do with this ground I stand on. Solid. Sure. Terra firma with integrity. It feels like something worth protecting — worth fighting for. That ground is mine. Not my country’s. Not my parent’s. Not my lover’s. Mine. But, still, I often give it away without thinking.

I once thought freedom was something given. Something we have or don’t have — an object. It isn’t. Freedom is a feeling.

I don’t feel free. Fears punctuate my life. Each day is a short. little. sentence. I am meant to be a run-on, of that, I am certain. The kicker is: Fear isn’t real. It’s something we choose to believe. It’s our own, internal government. We choose this dictator because it makes our choices easy. Life becomes black and white. And, in that simplicity, we mistake inaction for liberation.

I’m guarded. Blocked. My armies wait at the ready to fight, or retreat — I’m still not sure. I’ve had this desperate yearning to move: To move on, to move out, to move my physical body. But, instead, I sit still. Feeling powerless and defeated, I did what any woo-woo, Oregonian, half-blooded-hippie would do: I had my tarot cards read.

I met with my card reader for the first time in a booth at an Indian buffet and we didn’t say much. I told her my birthday. That’s it. She read my cards after I gently touched my palm to each of her two decks. I listened eagerly. I was waiting to be told what to do. Guide me. Show me. Tell me. That’s what I wanted. I traded one dictator for another.

Then — The Eight of Swords. My advice card. My reader pointed to the card and said: “The swords are just fear. The Woman doesn’t see it now– not yet — but, eventually, she will realize she can just walk between them and be free.”

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Maybe it was the universe’s cosmic pull. Maybe it was the magical woman who hugged me goodbye, warmly, after knowing me only an hour. Maybe it was the cards. Truthfully, I don’t know what it was, but, when I left that restaurant, my clothing spiced with the perfume of India — I didn’t give a fuck about fear.

There is nothing real that stands between us and our freedom. The freedom that exists is the freedom we create. Assign your own limits accordingly.

So, this 4th of July, I declared my own independence. And, as the teenage boys across the street launched their sky rocket above our street, its red plume descending over us like fallen stars, I gripped my flip-flops to the asphalt — my terra firma — and I made a wish.

May we always feel our freedom — and have the courage to dance between our swords.

Stay saucy,

Sarah