Showing posts with label Rebirth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rebirth. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Freedom Tour

Over the last few days I've seen America the Beautiful. The Columbia River from Vancouver east: moody, foggy, mystical; 

Bridge of the Gods;

Highway 30, a picturesque road leading to Hagerman Fossil Beds in, um, Hagerman, where Grace wanted in on the picture;

and to Balanced Rock;

and Balanced Rock Park in Buhl, Idaho, where I boondocked one night and still can't believe that not only was I allowed to stay there, I had the park to myself when the day trippers left. That's Grace in the background. Again.

And then I hit Utah. There's a reason one of the license plate choices says UTAH!. I've traveled some here and there and I have never seen a more breath-takingly, heart-achingly beauty than in Utah. Have you ever experienced depthless beauty in whatever form - music, art, a brand-new baby, a spiritual awakening, looking into your lover's eyes - that has so filled, filled, filled your heart that you almost can't stand it, that if you look or listen or stay in that moment for one second longer you know your heart will burst with joy? I hope you have.
It is transcendent.
It is unforgettable. 

I drove up a long, steep road into Arches National Park the other day and thought my heart would explode with the joy of the magnificent loveliness everywhere I looked. This sounds pretty darned flaky but if you have ever been overtaken by this powerful awareness you know exactly what I mean. I will never forget how that place made me feel. I was, most simply, touched by grace. It was elevating, humbling, exhilarating, and bittersweet. I knew I would have to look away but I also knew it would stay with me. It was one of the most power-full moments of my life. 

No photo I could ever take can do the place justice. That night I boondocked in Manti-La Sal National Forest, down a dirt road a couple of miles off the freeway. Nothing there but me, total and utter silence, and a night sky flooded with stars. It was a very good way to end the day. 

The next morning I stopped at Newspaper Rock,where the only other visitors were a man my age and his teenage son, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I followed them to another place down the road, an unmarked trail a person at their hotel told them about, and we set off on foot to find dinosaur tracks and supposedly better, older petroglyphs than were on Newspaper Rock. It was rough, rocky country. We were climbing at what felt like a 45 degree angle and at an elevation of probably 5300 feet, and me in slippery-soled sneakers. I made it, though not without thinking I'd break my ankle any time now, and we saw some spectacular art. 

That's a dinosaur footprint, or so we told ourselves.

I questioned myself at the start if I was being an idiot, going off into back country with these two men, but I felt no danger at all. They were just two nice people who let me tag along. We then hop-scotched our way down the road to Canyonlands National Park, where they went their way and I mine. Here's Grace again. What a camera hog.

I've met wonderful folks even early on in this trip, people who've extended kindness, offered any help I needed, and engaged in conversation. The freedom in the title of this post means a lot of things to me. One of them is the freedom to talk to people and to learn a little about who they are without the uncomfortable awareness of an I'll wait outside impatience or an all-purpose distrust that have been in the background for years. I lived with that. I accepted it! What an fool I was to compromise my self to keep someone else happy, which never worked anyway. No more.

I may have had this different life imposed on me with unending shards of cruelty, but I will now admit to the world that I was done a favor. I was given a gift I would never have given myself. The divorce was, from the start, all about him despite the words he said, but I am surprisingly feeling like the winner (she said with quiet satisfaction) and life is looking good.

Thought for the day:
There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect. (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Identity lost, identity regained

When the bomb dropped, back in the ancient history of January, that I was to be Suddenly Single at Sixty, I became overwhelmingly disoriented. I was actually a lot of things but disorientation was the most unsettling and frightening. I've described it as being in a foreign country that has an unrecognizable language, lost, not a penny in my pocket, and a hostile population that refuses to help. That kind of disorientation and fright, with an intractable and immovable weight as though I were trapped under an enormous blanket of chain maille.

I'd suddenly lost my identity because over the years a slow and insidious change had come over me, the kind you can recognize only from a distance, transforming me from Kathy to Bob'sWife. I felt I had no sense of my own self but only as his extension. There are many reasons for this change, each one not powerful enough on its own, but the cumulative effect was transformative. When the one identity I had was gone, I was lost and alone in that foreign country, not having the first idea how to get home.

Since January I've been finding link after link of the chain maille breaking and falling away with the considerable help of friends (which includes my family) because who they're helping, welcoming, and offering kindness to is Kathy, not Bob'sWife. The friends who are always willing to listen, to offer a different perspective of events (he's shining you on), to give always-welcome advice, are offering it to menot to an appendage of another person. The friends who narrow their eyes with anger or widen them with a Good news! look and say You're better off without him or There's a weight off you or What do you need him for? The friend who cut my hair for free as a going-away gift. The friends who were genuinely sorry to see me go because it was the individual me they would miss, not the merged me I'd become in my mind. The friends around the country, some whom I've not even met yet in person, who are opening spots in the driveway for Grace, putting out the welcome mat, making up the guest room, and telling me that I'm their role model for strength and courage. I'm astonished by this support. Bob'sWife was sure she wouldn't deserve it but Kathy is tentatively recognizing her own value. It's becoming an amazing rebirth back to the land of the living.

I had my iPod plugged in yesterday, turned up loud, with the music wanted to hear and, yes, to define it loosely, even singing along. One of my favorite songs of all time is Molly Magdalain's The Open Road. Her open road is a literal road trip that revealed what's important in her life. I see my open road as not only my own literal one, but also my journey of transformation, my travels along a path with heart.

Like gypsy souls we travel, most of all we look within.
Reflections I'm confronted by
  will make me change as much as I can.
In the mirror of these strangers I see clearly who I am.
On the open road, this is where I find the truth of my soul.
There's no place like my home on the open road.