I want more than survival for you

It’s a stunningly beautiful day outside, the first day this year I’ve been able to go out and sit in the sun and not have to dry condensation off the chair or table on the back deck, or wait for the morning light to warm up the cool that the night brought to the city. I just spent about an hour with the garden: first, reading about all the edibles/vegetables that we planted (cucumber, herbs, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, strawberries); then I went down and examined all the new growth, hunted around the yard for sticks and tall things that could be appropriated and used as stakes for pole beans and snow peas, which need to get planted right now. I could spend all day there, but I’m pretending that I’m a writer, that writing is my work, and so I’m inside at the computer — with the door open, I can still hang out with the spring morning sounds: the bird trills and the rush of crow’s wings, hummingbird shuzhes, bees and flies and the hush of breeze through the new spring leaves (those lovely leaves that are now shading my what-was-once-full-sun garden plot).

~~ ~~ ~~
So, here you are, Jen, at the computer, fingers at the ready. You’ve left the deeply human work of physically tending to food that will nourish people you adore so that you can play with words. And what is it that you want to say? What was so important that you needed to bring your skin in from the sun, your ears in from the airplay of birds, your eyes in from watching the puppy watching the squirrel in those newly-leafed trees? What brought you back to the cave? What kept you from travel today?

(Who’s asking those questions anyway?)

I set my timer for twenty minutes and go. I want to write about gender and costuming, I want to think about the uses and message of this blog, I want to talk about worry for my friends who are sick and struggling, I want to write to you something exquisite about the kind of love that can blossom when you thought you had used up all your chances — body love, self love, love for another. Love from another for you.

This morning, I thought to say to someone young, “I wish this for you when you’re forty — a broad and incendiary love. Maybe it will be a new love — maybe it will be a love you’ve known for a decade or more that just continues to deepen and surprise you. I wish for you poetry and candlelight and struggle. I wish for you to never imagine yourself as too old for anything, that you never see forty as the end, as some peak over which you will have to tumble. I want you to find work that brings you alive and people who short-circuit your ability to deny yourself love. I want you to live long enough that you drop the need to perform a version of yourself that you think others will like better than who you really are. I want you to find love that fits into the underside of all your performances, people who see through your acts and personae and adore you anyway and because. I want more than survival for you, more than endurance, more than enough. I want you to have plenty. I want you to find, through the course of your every days, that you have grown into the self you might have been had no one ever interfered with your emergence, had nobody’s shadow tried to shade your face from the sun, had no one left you rootbound and withering in a shady inside corner — without water or food or song. I want you to have more joy than you think you deserve. I want you to slowly blossom into the realization that there is no such thing. There is no such thing.”

Maybe that’s all I have today — this openness and worry and gratitude. After twenty years of healing work, there can be a broad openness in my body; there can be dance by candlelight in beautiful, thrifted mary jane pumps with a corsage on the strap; there can be pleasure in understanding the nuances of my own skin. I can take off the masks that were given to me, I can remove the masks I created in order to protect my fragile heart, and I can be as loved in worn pajamas as I am in my costumes. This sort of love is our birthright — we work so hard to unknow it when we are forced to live without. Coming back into this understanding can be painful, even as there’s also hope. Water your garden with whatever moisture you have to give.

Thank you for your words today, for all that you plant, all that you allow to grow. Write however you’re drawn to write…

3 responses to “I want more than survival for you