can we trust release?

Good morning. How do you reach for a morning when all you want to do is snuggle up into the weekend? I have books and movies I want to tell you about, a hillside to describe (one covered with cows and wild turkeys and salt air). I want to tell you about tiny new lambs hopping like rabbits through green California pastures.

Today I am back at work after a long weekend up at Tomales Bay. Something happens to my body when I go there, when I am in that landscape, a place that feels like home — there are cows and sheep (though no miles-long corn or wheat fields) and wild green pastures — and then there’s the sea and the bay. I want to tell you everything and it’s hard to settle in on one place to begin. Someone wrote about that at Dive Deep yesterday — how everything wants to get written at the same time, so many voices and characters calling for our writer’s attention.

You know the poem by Rilke:

        You See I Want A Lot
Rainer Maria Rilke

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

(it is not too late / to dive into your increasing depths)

I want everything in this moment. I want the scream and green concrete glory of Oakland, I want the deep quiet frog song of Tomales, I want writing and movies, I want conversations that last deep into the sleepy morning, I want coffee over the Sunday paper, I want to stand in front of a crowd and regale them with desecratory tellings, I want private and public, I want in and out, I want it all. I want only writing and then I want the workshops too and more. What happens when we want it all? What happens when we touch the possibility that we can have so much of what we always wanted? Why does it scare us? (Does it scare you? It scares me.)

This weekend, at church, my pastor talked about learning to follow her ease — to trust and believe that what brought her joy could be the work and effort that the world needed most. Do you have a difficult time trusting that if it’s not hard, if it’s not depleting you, you’re not really working? Where do we learn that lesson? Do we get it in school or from parents, that joy and great effort can’t coincide? Can’t you tell the difference between working with someone who is in their bliss and someone who is doing their work begrudgingly, those who are burned out or never wanted to be in that particular work in the first place?

And, of course, ease is the opposite of hyper-vigilance. Trusting ease requires release, requires a belief that I might not die if I stop attending to every single thing around me, and ever possible incoming interaction. This is a long process. For me it’s taken about twenty years, and I’m not all the way there yet — but I see the fullness possible at the far edges of this opening practice.

How do we learn to trust what our bodies and hearts call us to? How do we learn or remember how to listen to our bodies’ yearnings? Not just for physical contact, but for location, for work, for rhythm, for connection and distance.

There’s something I’m trying to do here. Pick one thing and begin it.

My good invitation this year, I think, is to release into being fully loved, into loving this life, into trusting that I have moved into something beyond survival, that I can put the vigilances down, that I can lean into joy because there’s no barbed wire on the other side of that loving glance.

Beyond survival is an unfamiliar space, and it scares the hell out of me. What happens when I am fully able to breathe again? What happens when I get to be responsible for this lifetime? I am looking to those leaping lambs for guidance: curious, then cautious, then flinging their new bodies into the green air. Hold them. Keep leaping.

Consider this for a prompt today: it is not too late / to dive into your increasing depths. What if it isn’t too late?  What if being in your joy is exactly what the world needs to see, as much as it needs to hear the stories of your loss and struggle? What if others who have survived something similar to you need to know that one day they can sit in the sun with someone(s) who loves them and not have to force away memories of violence — that, one day, they will get to hold joy in their hands like its their birthright (because, you know, it is).

Here’s to the joy you offer those around you. Here’s to the joy you accept. Here’s to the wonder of your work, your worlds, your words.

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