Early summer in Texas. I travel the winding pathways of this ripening year: through fallen petals, overgrown archways and green grass fields browning under a relentless sun, through leaves on trees that seem to open and fall between one heartbeat and the next.
I have hung up my winter hat, cloaked in leathered skin, knees snagged by brambles, boots caked in mud, my steps embarrassingly unsteady, moving slowly through the quiet landscape of an anxious albeit healing mind.
It is not a paved trail. The pathway narrows and rises, dips back, veers forward, then back again. My destination lies somewhere ahead: I can smell the fire of a welcoming hearth, feel the pleasing breeze between the humid air, see the golden glow through the glass of my window guiding me toward something stable, something certain.
The warm summer nights delivering me strength of mind, body, and spirit. The voice inside tells me I am getting there. I am getting there. I have put this journey on hold for too long, dismissing it with distractions, working hard to keep these feelings and thoughts at bay. But I can feel it tugging on my bootlaces, on the strings of my heart, on the threads of thoughts my mind is weaving. This journey is my life right now: inhaling the wind, allying with water, treading sure-footed across warm bedrock.
This journey has its essentials, lessons I need to be present for. Gifts I am needing to give and receive, if I am open to them. If I remain present on this path and not putting life and love on hold until arrival. For it is not the arrival the brings about hope.
If you haven’t noticed, I tend to go on, to spiral, ramble, if you will. My mind races and I’ve never been very good at catching up or getting close to my thoughts. I tend to tuck them away for ‘next time,’ but it seems like that time is now. I have been present not distracted with work or the bustle of daily life, really. So these thoughts have been coming in droves. I’ve been thinking a lot about our ecological well-being, about living in this world, this space and I might get into to that at another time, but for right now I’m honing in on anxiety. Because of this, the words of Rebecca Solnit have been ringing in my ears.
The transformation of despair into hope is alchemical work, necessary work. And what all transformations have in common, writes Rebecca Solnit, is that they begin in the imagination.
“To hope is to gamble,” she says. “It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty are better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. I say all this to you because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say this because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”
The trail dips down, and surfaces and I race down, gaining courage from the king magnolia blossoms, soft against the thorns. I have known depression, anxiety, despair. We have all had these feelings. But on this day, beautiful as it is I am choosing hope. I am choosing movement, ebb and flow, transformation.
I have not yet found the “ax” that I am meant to carry but I remain present, looking for something sharp and not too cumbersome, something that suites my strength. My light with be the stories I read and hear daily, even here on this strange/ethereal social media platform, in many ways the connections I have made here serve as the lights that guide me, the lights in the window, the ones that lead me home.