I awoke this morning to the sounds of wild turkeys calling to each other in the early morning mist. As I woke, I was unsure if it was a dog barking in the distance but as my consciousness arrived, I pieced together sounds and waking, I found it was just turkeys having something to say as the day broke open.
I laid here just listening to them. Not close by but close enough for me to hear every call. It went on for about twenty minutes and then nothing since. I wondered what they were saying. Was there as crisis to which the other birds needed to be alerted? No, Thanksgiving is months away. I realized that this is how I have been conditioned to come into the day. Armed for battle and ready for whatever crisis (great or small) each day brings. I thought, for perhaps the first time, this is not normal. Normal people who have not been living under siege likely do not awaken in this manner. But I have not been living a normal life.
Next I received a phone call and then a text from LAX where he is right now. Leaving for Houston, two days early because no one, including him could take his presence at home any longer. His father finding out that parenting him is a unfun, hard and exasperating. He believing his lame apology text from last night, sufficient to alter our current stalemate. I am not sure about you, but my firm resolve is always eroded by people I love. Holding my boundaries feels forced and inhospitable in their presence, even their remote presence. But after driving for hours yesterday in humiliating reflection, I can see there is no other resolve that can offer a different outcome. What I have done repeatedly is to cave. Allow. Permit. Acquiesce. And we all have suffered because I have not been able to walk away, hold my boundary, detach with love.
So while his apology texts last night which were no more than pretexual, they did pull at my heart strings, but I held my ground. I have fought hard and long for peace. Which is stupid. No one who ever really desires peace fights for it. Peace is something you do. Peace is something you take. Peace is available for all, all the time. It is misguided and misaligned to believe it is ever something you must fight for. The peace is always within and fighting yourself about that particular topic, inane.
I ignored his call and his text. I said I was done. Now I must do the very hard work of doing nothing. Just don’t answer, respond. That is all but it feels awful and mean. I know that I put myself in that awful/mean box. And I am beginning to see that I do not have to. It doesn’t do me or anyone else any good at all. So at least for now, I will stop doing it. I will allow the sides of that particular box to just fall away...they used to be there for protection, but now they just hold us all in terrible relation to each other.
I was tired and while my mind was already awake and gnawing, conjuring up thoughts and feelings, doing all the things a mind can do, my body was not yet caught up to my mind. I laughed just now when I wrote this because my body will never, ever catch up to my mind. Not ever. Not if I lived to be 1000. And as I write this, I think perhaps, I have stumbled on the reason for aging, perhaps that is the purpose of growing old, to allow the body to catch up to the mind....hmmmm.
Back to the morning.
I had trouble stirring, content to lie prone, cozy in my bed. Not yet ready to alight and begin. But as always, life has other plans for me. Suddenly, I could hear the unmistakeable sound of wings beating frantically. As I lifted my head to inquire, I saw a tiny bird trapped itself in the loft at the other end of my sanctuary. Funny, only perspective changes sanctuary into prison. It really always and totally depends on your perspective.
I climbed the ladder to the loft and found the poor dear banging itself repeatedly against the three windows. Vainly trying to get out of a place it so willingly entered. I thought to myself, “yes, I understand you. I have done this too. I have been exactly where you are, in fact it was only two days ago I found myself trapped in something I very willingly entered into. I will do what I can to help you not spend 18 years finding your way out.”
It was terrified and I was afraid my presence was going to cause it to break its neck. Shortly, it flew onto the giant roll up door that takes up all the wall space on the west facing wall. I climbed down the ladder and gathered myself for what to do next.
I did not actually have the next move because the bird quickly flew into my bedroom...and so here we were again. The entire back of the bed is a window so the poor thing again worked itself into a lather trying to figure out why it could see the great outdoors but could not access it. There was a thin, narrow window to each side of the bed, open but screened. I took the screen off and attempt to usher the tiny passerine out to freedom. It was having none of it. Instead of allowing itself to be guided to its desired retreat, it fought against my efforts and further wore itself down. Wow, could I relate. People have been telling me what to do about my son for years. And I always politely listen, and then usually, go on to make the same mistake all over again. Not being able to let go, to detach, to allow something other than what I can dream up to occur. And this morning I saw my efforts to be just like this tiny songbird...frantic, exhausting and unlikely to produce any kind of desired result...
I sat back and allowed it to catch its breath and give its weary wings a chance to recover. I am not sure how much effort it takes to fly, but it would seem to me a great deal of work is put into that particular endeavor. So the little darling rested while we both caught up to our bodies.
After a few moments, I reached down and picked it up. It fought me for a minute but then allowed the rescue to unfold. I held it lightly in my hands, this tiny being, so fraught with life’s perils. Trapped by its own error in judgment. I again related all too well. As I held the diminutive creature in my hands, I found myself wishing some benevolent force would come and scoop me up and save me from all my misfires. But in the human world, my experience is we can encourage, support, listen, advise but we lack the power to save anyone but ourselves...no giant hands to reach out and grant us safe passage. And I guess that is as it should be. I shudder to think what the world would be like if giant human hands began descending from above...
I held it softly in my embrace, said a heartfelt prayer for this petite inhabitant, thanked it for gracing my life with its presence, the giving of this lesson, then released it out the open window. To my surprise, it sat in my open hands for a second or two. Waiting for what I will never know. Perhaps that pause was a thank you. Perhaps it was a gathering of resolve to fly away. Perhaps it was only my imagination seeking meaning and purpose where there was really only presence...regardless I was grateful for the delay in its departure. Animals bring to me a peace and calm that I do not seem to have access to without them. I am better for that pause. A special reminder to me to slow down and take a beat to allow life to do its thing.
I sat in quiet reflection afterward for a long time. Drinking my coffee, sitting in the hot tub watching the mist fall heavy on everything. I turned my head upwards and allowed the heavy dew to speckle my face, creating coolness with the rest of me submerged in hot water. Another metaphor...
Life is unexpected. I received so many kind and supportive comments to my post from yesterday. So many of you took the time to reach out, to take time out of your busy, hectic lives to make mine a little less painful. I am crying now. For me, for him, for you. For all of us, attempting to live painfree this life unfolding. There is no way to do that. And even though we know this to be true, still we try. I try. Attempting to not feel sad, to not be still enough for sadness to land and hold me tethered in place. I believe I have missed a great deal of living this way.
So for this moment, I sit on the side of a mountain grieving the loss of my son. Sending him love and support and prayers of kindness he begin this new chapter of his life free of my interference which I have attempted to characterize as love. I have no idea what he needs. I only know that I need to not be engaged with him. I need to let him go as I did that little bird this morning. Open up my hands and let him fly...and I believe that tears and sadness and grief expressed is the appropriate response even though I do not want to feel it.
But as that relevant messenger taught me this morning, I can beat my wings furiously against the sides of the container in which I willing entered, I can remain trapped. Or I can release, allow, permit and grant detachment its rightful place and perhaps find freedom on the other side...