Tomorrow is your 30th birthday. You will celebrate at home, surrounded by the love of your brothers, mom, and dad, in a time of blooming water lilies, red maple saplings, and an ever singing waterfall. Outside the sky is white-grey and the big tree near your bedroom window is bursting with green arrow leaves. Today is the first day of your period, and your body is in the process of release. The rebirth of tomorrow requires this death, the mourning and letting go.
Reborn in each moment as a
tadpole morphs into a
frog leaping into new
shedding old skin to grow
legs and lungs, to breathe into life — and
What are you dying to, dear one?
I am dying to my wanderer’s life. For the time being, I am choosing to plant roots in my homeland, to discover the depth and beauty of another human. I will wander still in my imagination, traverse ideas and aspirations for my life and the world, but I no longer need to run across borders or continents to satisfy my curiosity or feel joy. I choose to invest in seeing the wonder of home.
What is here that I have not yet seen in my running? What are the gifts to unearth in my brothers, with my mother at the kitchen table, with my dad in the garden? With J in presence, stillness, intimacy? How can I imagine and create freshness and wonder in being with those I love? Is this possible while being true to my own heart?
I am dying to numbness that papers over the confusion of feeling, allowing in the power of my rage, sexuality, ambition, lust. I say yes to the masculine energy that asks without second-guessing, that resides in the all-powerful space of knowing my own worthiness and capability to be loved. I say yes to the feminine that receives me as I am, that nurses me when I’m sick and weary, that gives rise to poetry, creation, bursts of silliness and joy. I say yes to my queerness and wholeness, my attraction to and desire for men, my comfort in the feminine body. I contain multitudes. I say yes to the receptive and intuitive within me, listener and initiator, woven together in beautiful form. Done and undone again. I say yes to being without gender for days, to longing for womanhood, to reclaiming it in my period’s sweet release and stepping into it anew, sexuality alive. I cast off the chains of identity and choose to exist in the flow of myself: ungraspable, like a river tumbling past the pebbles of the mountain overhead. Headed for the sea, already there, always moving.
In this song of myself
I declare that I am a poet and writer,
nourished by nature and the rhythm of words,
committed to Buddhist ethics,
turning to the sangha — and my family
with open palms
In June I will move to an ancient forest. My home sits on a path that wanders past a river, through Mariposa and cabins of friends. There I will have no job, no planned streams of income, only commitments that align with my heart and aspirations. I will write, and draw, make pottery, lead a team in Palestine from afar, listen to the sounds of the river passing by. I will figure things out as I always have. In the stillness of the forest I will hear my own heart speaking in poetry.
Nothing is certain
They say a recession is coming.
J works south and I am moving north
Shelter-in-place may extend for weeks or months.
Who knows the things that may arise?
Take heart, Melanie. Know that I see within you the ability to persist through darkness, to emerge glowing in the summer light reborn. I know you can meet whatever comes next with patience, compassion, and love, arising from clear seeing. You are beyond imagination: brilliant, wise, a blooming flower, winter’s bare branch, the last calls of a dying bird. You are perfect. Still enough to hear your own truth, wise enough to imagine and discern, brave enough to step in. What is there besides listening, discerning, acting? Again and again, living truth as deeply as you can?
Remember that love does not look a certain way. You are loved by yourself and so many others — and you will not always be met in your needs, you will not always get what you want. Do not define love by getting what you want, for you will end up lost, alone, and oft disappointed. Remember that love can be saying no, asking for balance; it can be your brother pushing you to walk when all you want is to lie on the floor in the dark.
Love is a choice to step into enoughness,
letting go of the voices inside your head
that demand something more to be happy.
To turn to yourself or another and say,
You are enough.
I will be your dearest friend,
delight in your joy,
carry your sorrow,
and accept you just as you are,
without you having to do anything.
Remember that wonder is found in the beginner’s mind, boredom in the certainty of knowing. There is no need to run from your boredom, for just past the horizon of your boredom is space to think, to imagine, to be. Get cozy with the discomfort if you can, let it weave in you the ability to stay and build roots, to make peace with disappointment and fear of mediocrity and tedium. Is it possible to see waiting in line at the grocery store or walking to work as sacred, lit with the same force that made the stars? (Thank you, David Foster Wallace.)
There is something to be said about balance here, that in balance there is inclusivity, which gives rise to diversity: many kinds of people and things weaving together to form a life. In diversity, boredom is not possible. So perhaps the challenge is to not cling to any one person or condition as essential to wonder or joy, but to invite many into my life, allowing each to contribute their own gifts, watering the many seeds of my garden. Some offering stability and spaciousness, others sparkle and bubbles. Sometimes having those overlap, sometimes having them separate, each in their own time and place.
So here we are, dear Melanie, on the cusp of your 30th birthday, your celebration canceled, your plans unknown. This wandering letter is for your wondering mind, not sure what is to come, afraid and curious and excited at once. I love you. I invite in balance, fearlessness to do what is right, and the continued growth of deep roots. May you grow in wisdom, take refuge in practice, and nourish your community of loved ones, within you and around you.
Welcome to year 30 of life, my love.
on the last day of year 29
to the Melanie of the future,
are you still quick to anger?
do you still love fiercely the stillness of the forest
touch wonder touching redwood?
are you still brave enough to run
screaming into the frigid ocean waves
laughing, spitting rainbows into the sun?
what do you regret, dear one?
do you have a family of your own, a partner or children?
are you still asking the same questions, or new ones?
have you made peace with your parents?
have you faded away into nothingness,
or built a little garden home full of friends or both or none?
who are you?