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I really do not want to start this month with something negative. So I won't. I will tell the story of the Hummingbird instead. Since the incident with the crows, I have had so many other amazing experiences with birds. It sounds weird when I write it, but not when I feel it in my heart. I was sitting in one of my favourite little garden areas close to my work where I go to get fresh are and to eat my lunch, when I saw a red flash pass in front of me. It was a beautiful little hummingbird.
I was thinking how lovely it was, and it did a quick little flutter backwards, and just hovered right in front of me for what seemed like minutes, but was probably only a few seconds. But it was long enough for me to see his beautiful red markings, and I swear, to actually look him in the eye. He seemed so still despite the whirring of his wings, and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. And then he was off.
I felt such a surge in my heart, I don't even know if I could possibly describe the feeling.
It felt as if a part of my heart had opened just a crack and light had been able to filter in where it had dark for a very long time. It was not a feeling of sadness, but a sense of wonderment.
I had been feeling very disappointed in the human race in general, my perennial idealism had been knocked around a little bit, and I was feeling that I could no longer do my job where I have to give and give to people that very often feel that I am just there to make their lives difficult.
That day, like most days, I had to teach a class after lunch to a group of people that had just had heart surgery. My job is to talk to them about the importance of moderate exercise during the recovery period, and the need to protect their breastbone so that it heals properly. The day before, there were a few people in the class who did not want to be there, were cranky and wanted to question everything I said and monopolize the class with their stories of how awful it has been for them to have their lives saved.
Somehow, just having that Hummingbird come right up to me and hover in front of me, stressing that little fault line in my heart so that it cracked open a little, gave me back the sense of why I do the work that I do. Not just that it was a beautiful moment, it was something deeper than that. It was like this little bird caused this surge of love within me that made me go back into work literally "light-hearted" and able to teach and experience one of the best classes I have led for a long time.
As I said,this is not the only experience that I have had with birds lately.There have been many more crows, and then there were the eagles, the hawks, the robin, and finally...the skunks. I have lived here for ten years and before this year, I had never seen eagles or skunks. Never, not one! This year, the year that the Tarot card reader told me would be a year of great spiritual awakening, I have seen these animals, not once, but many times. Now I want to ask her, "what are the animals trying to tell me?"
The Eagle sightings started in March, before I went for the Tarot reading. There were two of them circling above our house, their beautiful wings stretching out, not moving, just gliding in circles. I felt a strange and powerful connection to them as I watched their effortlessness. There were several more incidents over the the next few months where I would look up suddenly to see an Eagle flying quite low over my head. Close enough that I could see more defining features like the colour and texture of the feathers.It was always early morning when I was alone.
Then one morning early, when I was driving out to the ferry terminal to go to Victoria to visit my Mom, I saw an Eagle and a Hawk together. I had just entered the long straight road that heads out to where the ferries are docked, which has light standards in regular intervals on either side, and I noticed two shapes, one on either side of the road, perched on the light standards. I could not stop, as there were cars behind me, but looking up I could clearly distinguish a Hawk and an Eagle. It was a surreal experience.
I felt like I was being ushered into some strange territory, and they were to be my wise companions. They were there to assure me that all was well, and I felt strangely peaceful and safe when I saw them. I really didn't understand this, and I felt pretty crazy thinking this...what the hell did it mean?
And then there were the skunks. I know, they are not birds, but I have had five skunk encounters in the last two months.Three around my home and two outside of work. I have never before seen a skunk up close.
I had never realized what strange and alarmingly beautiful animals skunks are. The first one that I encountered was an enormous male, I think, that was waddling along through the ground cover at the back of the hospital where I park my bike. Nobody else was around, so I just stood very still and watched him waddle slowly by. He looked at me once and it didn't occur to me to worry about being sprayed as he looked quite comfortable. The other experiences were similarly calm,none of them panicked, ran or sprayed, even when my dog was with me.
I didn't really think much of it, the first two skunks I saw. The one outside the hospital was before the tarot reading, and the other four were after. After the second skunk, which was late at night outside my apartment building, I decided I should start looking up information about all these animals I was encountering. I remembered that the tarot reader had said I should pay particular attention to any spiritual "signs" I was receiving, particularly relating to animal and tree spirits. I kind of ignored her because I didn't know what the hell she was talking about.
Being a bit of a skeptic, and finding that although this reader was incredibly spot on with the other things she presented, she did have a tendency to cross a line that I was not quite willing to cross. I had always had a strong affinity with animals, but I still had a hard time accepting the idea of asking for wisdom and direction from animal and tree spirits. It just seemed too flaky. At the same time, I was having these magical experiences of connecting with animals in a way that cannot really be explained through logic and reason.
I decided to abandon my usual skepticism, and started looking up information about animal "medicine", and about animal totems. I had a vague idea of what these meant.
Wow. I was completely taken aback by what I read. When all the pieces fall into place so easily, and something resonates so strongly with my whole emotional being, I usually want to stop it, run away, and find something more concrete and easily explainable for my mind to ponder.
But I kept reading, and reading. I think I read for 3 hours straight, and I didn't panic once. Time stood still.
I just found the answer to a question that has plagued me since I was about 13. I think I have always been a spiritual person, searching for meaning in this life. Searching for something more. Even when I was 13, maybe even as young as 12, I would go into deep depressions, and have terrible anxiety and panic attacks because I was always so internally focused, always questioning what was our purpose on this earth. And anytime I came near anything that made my body buzz with recognition, usually something that I would now call "spiritual", I would run.
I would run because I thought I was encountering something that was evil, something that was "not of this earth", and therefore something that I could not understand or explain. I realize that I was very afraid of not being like other people. I was afraid of having thoughts and feelings and beliefs that I could not discuss with others, because that is what I would use as a grounding mechanism. If other people understood and accepted what I was saying/thinking, then I wasn't crazy. I was so internally focused, yet I constantly searched for approval outside of myself.
I had no internal "locus of control" is what psychologists would say. I could not understand and accept the thoughts, feelings and experiences that I had, because other people did not have them. I had the secret beleif that I was crazy, and I always thought that if other people found out what was inside my head, I would be locked up. All the strange and wonderful spiritual and other-worldly experiences I had, I negated because they did not fit the catholic belief system that I grew up with. They were the ideas and experiences that people died for.
The strangest thing of all is that I was just directed to a book (through events that had nothing to do with coincidence) that was written by a woman who is a lawyer and a Wiccan High Priestess. I had just started reading a lot about Wicca, but was having little bouts of panic, because I was starting to recognize some of these same thoughts, feelings and experiences that I had had as a young teenager. I already knew a lot about what I was reading, without having read it, and it scared me. Some of it sounded really spooky.
But the more I read, the less spooky it became. I read a few authors that were people that I really admired because they seemed like very intelligent and thoughtful people who really believed in what they were talking about. And they were so open-minded about religion and spirituality. Then I found the book about the lawyer and Wiccan High Priestess, and what a revelation! She went through everything I was now going through. The questioning, the skepticism, the fear. Yet she kept working with this magic and began to see the truth in it, just as I am.
While all this good and magical stuff is happening in one area of my life, I am being challenged in ways I never have been before in my life. Things at home are getting crazy as my husband's sight deteriorates almost daily. There is still one surgery that they can do that may restore enough sight so that he can at least do some of the things that he has lost. I am so hopeful, but he is not. He is sinking into a world of grayness that has him absolutely desperate and terrified. And when he's terrified, he's angry.
Unfortunately when he gets angry, it is usually directed at me. And my challenge is to try and step out of my own ego and not take his attacks personally, because most of it is crazy talk. I want to support him as he has always supported me. I cannot believe how difficult this is. It's the hardest thing I have ever done. At least once a day I think, "I am not going to take this, I am leaving". All I can do is react. That is what I have done all my life. I'm not proactive, I'm reactive.
This thing about being reactive, it is not a revelation, but it feels even worse today than when I first realized it. I feel like I do not direct my life, I react to the happenings and that is what changes the course of my path, not choice. I do not think "I am going to do ____ now". Except for writing. I think that is the only thing that I have been self-directed in, that is separate from other people and their influences. Of course, nothing is ever separate from these influences.....I should have celebrated Summer Solstice....
I should start meditating again. That is a ridiculous statement. I 'should' start meditating again. I would like to invite it back into my life again. I realize without it I start to feel bad about myself, as I was in the last entry. The depression slowly starts creeping in, then the anger, then the frustration, and pretty soon I am cranky with everybody again. This also happens when I don't take time to write, which is what has been happening lately. I have been very busy with my husband, reading things to him because, for now, he can't see.
It is my oldest bother's birthday today. Because of the postal strike, I couldn't send him a card, but I wouldn't have anyway. I can't seem to get cards to people on time, no matter how much I think about it. I got so mad at him with his reaction to my essay in the globe and mail. It's so funny, I am so used to the way my siblings manipulate language, and I still fall for it initially. His email response sounded positive. But then when you read between the lines, you can hear the subtle attempts at insult.
He referred to the essay as "a poignant 'little' story". Not everybody would see the insult in that, but I know it from the way members of my family subtly manipulate language. Nothing is ever said outright, either positive or negative. All statements are run through the filter of passive aggressiveness, so that nobody can be held responsible for what they say, because hey can always squirm their way out of it, claiming it is a matter of interpretation. I have been using the same dictionary for the last 48 years, I know how it works, I can decipher it.
Nobody in my family, except for my father, was capable of saying, "Wow, that was a great job you did!" He did, but it didn't happen nearly often enough for this approval-sponge of a youngest child he produced. But at least he was capable of doing it. He didn't feel that by complimenting somebody else, you lost a part of yourself. My mother, on the other hand, was a completely different story. She couldn't let go of any words of praise or love for fear that she would begin to disappear. Each compliment given leaving an empty space behind.
I am trying not to sound like a victim of my mother's inability to show affection. I am trying to see her for who she really was. Something happened in her life that changed her,made her shut down, turn away and hide. I don't know what it was, but it created fear and bitterness, and she was never able to let go of these.
When I was nine, I told her that I wanted to be a writer, and that I wanted to write about love, and she laughed at me. "What do you know about love?", she said.
I don't think she meant it to sound the way it did. Like when I told her a few years later, in a moment of weakness, that I loved writing, and that I wanted to be a writer like my brother (who she talked about as if he was Hemingway himself). She said absent-mindedly, "Some of us are meant to be special, and some of us are just meant to be normal". I have carried that with me for about 35 years. I don't want to be like her.
I don't want to be filled with hatred and jealousy.
These things are all bubbling to the surface in this year of change. I have held onto them for so long, thinking that if I didn't think about them, they didn't exist. I am finally realizing that the only way to counteract the effects of these memories is to look directly at them. Like the fortune cookie I got the other day that said, "Darkness cannot dispel darkness, only light can do that".
I think I am beginning to answer my husband's question about why I am unable to be honest and share myself with those I claim to love.
This day sits heavily around me. I got up early for the usual reasons. Noises from the other room. He is up after having another flush of sweating that has completely soaked the pillows and duvet. This has been happening for weeks now, and as much as we think we communicate, there is an unwritten understanding between us that we do not talk about what could be happening. I can't question what is happening without being accused of putting too much pressure on him. We think we have things figured out, but we are just as scared as everybody else.
I am really trying to keep some perspective, but I feel like I am drowning. I was doing so well only a few weeks ago. I was meditating daily, and then I stopped because I wanted to fill those scarce few minutes I get to myself with some writing. It's an either, or situation, and I am starting to panic a little. I have to try and remember that this is temporary, and that in a month or so, I will be able to take a little bit more time for myself, so I don't go crazy, or kill someone.
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