These last few weeks I have cusped a little prayer in my heart whenver I’m outside, in this new place called “home”.
What is it you would like me to understand? What would you like me to say? Help me to get to know you.
For all the words I have written here over the years about relationship to place, finding a sense of place, getting to know place, I have been feeling a bizarre sense of disorientation. As I write this I am also laughing to realize that I think this shouldn’t be happening…because I should know how to do this right? If I’m feeling lost or confused, it can’t be because I just moved and have left an intimate engagement of 18 years. After all, so the ingrained premise goes…I am a rock, I am an island. All that interelatedness business is fine and good, but the true hallmark of mental health is to be impermeable…to be able to put oneself in any situation and maintain a sense of true north. This internal compass also needs to be self-contained, unrelated to anything outside of your individual sphere.
And with that, I have just articulated the problem with western psychology (or with our western idealization of the maverick), the one that ecopsychology seeks to address.
The metaphor of uprooting for our recent move is apt in the most literal way. Whenever I repot a plant, especially if it was root bound, it can take anywhere from three months to a year before it begins to thrive. Everything above ground can go very still, even die back, while deep in the soil the roots untangle themselves, find their way through the dark earth and begin to take up nutrients.
Transplant is another good descriptive. Foliage, flower and fruit is in constant interplay with its surroundings. To be suddenly removed and relocated means a brand new dynamic of weather, sun pattern, pollinators, pests. Even if the new spot is more ideal, there is always a period of adjustment.
If you’ve ever picked up a turtle, say from the middle of a country road, and put it in a safer location, you were probably bemused to watch how, even after you walked away, it remained tucked within its shell, hunkered down, waiting for some internal signal to continue on.
The idea of right timing for our move was a rogue factor (as it is with most important things…birth, death, getting fired, getting pregnant), unless you factor in that the right time was four years ago. I had all these balls in the air, stuff I was working on, projects I was finishing, Big Important Things I was going to accomplish.
Not only am I finding it hard to get back into the swing of those things, but due to my sense of disorientation, I literally can no longer remember what some of them were. I was startled out of my juggling by having a three week deadline to pack up an entire house, and consequently all the balls dropped to the ground…I’m pretty sure more than a few of them rolled under a couch located in a forgotten corner of my psyche.
So when I tune in and I ask the land What do you want me to understand, what would you like me to say, at first all I hear is static. All I feel are the words caught in my throat.
Currently it’s early morning and I am sitting behind our house while the eastern sun peeks over the Santa Rosa hills, almost exactly over where I think Crane Creek (our new favorite go-to spot) is. The swallows nesting in our attic swoop over me in arcs of white, grey and blue, the red flash at their throats a surprise every time. The crow family has already made their morning rounds around the compost pile and are now harassing the red shouldered hawk that lives in the oak tree across the pasture. Sierra, the newest, and tiniest, addition to the ranch is nickering for her breakfast and trots over for a scratch. The rising sun makes her impossibly pretty.
The etymology of the word Disorient comes from the french desorienter, to turn from the east. Multiple religious dogmas, from Buddhism to New Age, consider the direction of the east and the rising sun to be the place of new beginnings. In following the path of the hero’s journey, this is where the footsteps begin.
After years of internship, new motherhood, and new relationship, I am loathe to relinquish any ground I think I’ve established. I don’t want to be in a place of new beginnings. I want to launch. I’ve been spending a lot of time on this here rocket of mine. I don’t want to go back to the drawing board.
As I stand facing east in the early morning light, I know. I must surrender, and I know it. But, whispers the land, in a voice new to my ears, you are building upon, not starting over. You can hear me if you are willing to Not Know what I am going to say. Come to me with open eyes, I’m going to show you something new. Oh, and try to be a little patient.
Beginners mind, stepping into the unknown, a fresh start…more apt metaphors.
I watched the almost-full moon rise last night and remembered a dream from the night before. I found myself unknowingly pregnant. I looked at myself in the mirror, turning this way and that, looking at my six month silhouette. Oh, that’s not so bad, I thought, with a joyful, and growing, expectation in my heart.
Something wonderful is on its way.