I didn’t know what else to do.
So I just continued to put one foot in front of another, learning to live with my own uncertainty and impatience. Over the next several months, I found myself falling into a kind of rhythm that felt more or less healing.
For one thing, I took my teacher’s advice and began to make peace with the whole money thing. I knew I was living in a society where 99% of the people would think I had it made, would think I was nuts for even having “issues” with being rich, but the guilt was almost overwhelming. It wasn’t just that I knew, personally, of so many people struggling, women with children, out on the streets, in shelters, people who were trying to scrape together enough just to eat, day to day. It was just as much the knowledge that this was Bob’s money, his brains that had made it, and he wasn’t here to spend it, to share in any enjoyment. I could only feel guilty, guilty, guilty.
Then I woke one day astounded, out of nowhere, with the totally new thought that guilt was an attitude that simply didn’t serve me any longer. That very morning, I dug out my passport and bought a round trip ticket to Barcelona. First class, baby, all the way.
So there I am, soaking up the Mediterranean sun at a table on Las Ramblas in blissful solitude, watching mimes and jugglers, drinking cappuccino, and it’s in that moment that I get what my teacher was talking about. Let life lead you.
Where it led me next was back to work, in earnest.
It wasn’t like I’d been totally away from it, anyway. All the while I was traveling, I had my trusty laptop, and I was still cyber-stalking Lester Worsham. I only halfway admitted to myself that putting some geographic distance between me and my prey made me a lot more comfortable.
Because I never felt for a moment that he wasn’t stalking me back, even if our paths didn’t cross face to face again after that one unnerving cocktail party confrontation. Between his broadcasts and my blogs, we had a kind of oblique dialogue going on, like signals only dogs can hear, but as real a Cold War as Harry Truman’s.
Back home, after extending my wanderings for several months, I was in Whole Foods one day when I stumbled onto a flyer advertising something called “Spirit Dance”. The description of the class called it a blend of music, dance and meditation, which sounded a lot like what I did all alone in my own home, playing music, dancing my heart out. I hadn’t joined any groups in a long time; exercise classes were never my thing. But for some reason, half expecting it to be cheesy or weird, I got up the next Saturday morning, dug out my exercise clothes and showed up.
It was as if someone had designed an exercise routine especially for me. I never could stick with aerobics, or all the variations on that, same old mindless, blaring music, same horde of graceless, flailing bodies, no soul, no expression. For someone who aspired to be a ballerina as a child, that lack of precision and mindful grace was grating.
But this… this was, as advertised, a dancing meditation. Free dance, structured around a “journey” each time, that started with slow meditative stretching. The music then led into expanding energy, funky, shamanic, celebratory, coming back down in mood through prayerful, back to a final meditation. It was a real workout, but it was also cathartic, and left me feeling energized and inspired.
I loved it instantly. I never missed. I even loved the others who came, all of whom were tuned into this blend of inner and outer expression. It was mostly women, but occasionally we got the stray man, too.
I didn’t make an attempt to get to know any of them. I greeted them pleasantly, and scurried out at the end.
I knew my solitude wasn’t particularly healthy, but it was all I could manage. And gradually, over the course of the months, I began to realize that I was healing, was getting stronger and that the dark places inside were slowly letting in the light.
I wasn’t making much progress on the Worsham front, but I had plenty of other things to write about. The whole tone of the country just kept getting uglier, more polarized. All the voices in the public arena more strident and intolerant and irrational. Acts of random violence more and more made the papers, and the tone in some corners of the Internet was truly sick. Like the world had gone crazy, and who was I to think I could stem that tide? Even when I tried to get a more balanced view of an issue, I found it harder and harder just to get previously reasonable people to talk to me. Those who considered me on the “other side” shut me off, without explanation, with utter contempt.
Take birth control. Who would have thought birth control would be an issue in the 21st century? Seriously? Hadn’t that all been settled by the time I was born?
But I was learning, you can’t take anything for granted. Between the far right and Lester Worsham, talking day after day about slipping morals and how birth control was what had turned American women into sluts, I could have spent 24 hours a day, just trying to refute all the slurs and lies and half-truths. The goal seemed to be to take us back to some imagined retro period where barefoot and pregnant was the norm, and the ideal.
Not that what I did seemed to have any effect at all. I’d gotten to the point that part of me realized just how futile it all was. The more I practiced inner detachment, the more I had to admit that the world around me was all just one big karmic turning of the wheel. What I did, or wrote, seemed to make no real difference. On the other hand, Lester Worsham, it seemed, had only to lift a finger and, uncannily, eerily, like some perverted Butterfly Effect, waves rose in far-away seas.
And yet, I kept going, kept plugging, kept pushing. Weirdly, as if my actions and movements were the result of some force I could see only through its reflected effects. The way astronomers used to say they knew where a black hole was because of what wasn’t there. I cared less and less, yet worked harder and harder. Even more curiously, where my detachment just after Bob passed was numb and tinged with anger, now it felt, sometimes, almost like lightness.
The truth is, I’d started feeling the same sense I’d had so many times before in my life, that gut-sense you get when it dawns on you, however subtly, that whatever you’ve been doing has run its course, and, whether consciously or not, you’re ready to make a move. Or maybe, more accurately, a karmic move is being readied on your behalf.
That’s kind of how I felt when I leaped into marriage with Dale.
And how I’d been able to run, in the end.
I’ve heard it said that people in an unhappy marriage, if you ask them, will swear to you they’re happy, up until about six months before a break-up. I think that’s because once we actually, honestly, admit to ourselves that things aren’t working, a new path instantly unfurls into our future.
True honesty will always move us to the next level.
Sometimes the process is ugly, sometimes wondrous, too often an ungainly mix of both.
I began to admit to myself that I’d stayed where I was, in this left-over life, this work, this apartment, this city, not because I chose any of it, but because I’d simply forgotten that I had choices.
My dreams were getting wild, at times even surreal, like the whole universe was flowing around me. Morning after morning I woke up, often not quite recalling what I’d seen, where I’d been, during the night, but feeling like subterranean forces were carrying me toward some destiny I couldn’t begin to imagine.
I know. Sounds like the woo woo stuff again. That’s the way I used to think, too. Thing is, the deeper you go, the more …woo woo it can get.
I knew something strange was coming toward me.
I had no idea how strange it was going to be.