“Oh you set up your place in my thoughts, moved in and made my thinking crowded.”
I spent almost three hours on Sunday alone walking the beach. I needed to quiet the anxiety in my head so my creative brain could order the random thoughts that were clamouring for my attention.
One of my favorite Indigo Girls song is Mystery. There is this one line that just hits me soul-deep every time “oh you set up your place in my thoughts, moved in and made my thinking crowded.” This has been the state of my mind since the start of the year, and my salve for this has been writing, writing to get relief, writing to see what the heck is going on in my head and heart, writing to build my craft so it does not take me a week to let go and send to publish or share my semi-ordered, hopefully cohesive thoughts.
The whole verse of that song is magical: “Each time you’d pull down the driveway, I wasn’t sure when I would see you again. Yours was a twisted blind-sided highway, no matter which road you took then. Oh you set up your place in my thoughts, moved in and made my thinking crowded. Now we’re out in the back with the barking dogs, my heart the red sun your heart the moon clouded.” Indigo Girls – Mystery Lyrics
It is the perfect metaphor for what is going on in my mind lately. The cadence, the poetry, the rhythm, the deep meaning and synchronicity of this song always lifts me and has inspired me at various times in my life. Like it has inspired me now, reminding me that when my mind is full, I need to find a way to ’empty’ it.
If I don’t, then sleep literally avoids me like it owes me rent.
My mind is so selfish I simply cannot process any other thought until I deal with the ones screaming the loudest. It forces me to be focused (silver lining) but it can relentlessly keep me captive (think Doberman with a steak) and unproductive. Lately I have ruminating (i.e. obsessively thinking about) the phrase “life finds a way.”
I have observed this in nature and in the lives of people around me: the sweet and inspiring couple that met and married, both in their late 50’s…life finds a way. The woman in her late 40’s experiencing the early stages of menopause who finds out her days of bringing life into this world are far from over…life finds a way. The loving married couple whose love story includes him consoling his friend after a breakup and assuring him that he would not date the ex-girlfriend (short version of a much longer story – he and the ex-girlfriend lived in the same town, the ex-boyfriend was several towns away)…he made her his bride almost 30 years ago….life finds a way….or to put it another way, man makes plans and God laughs.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24
Life always finds a way to regenerate, to renew what’s been lost, and to finish the journey that was begun before we were even twinkles in our parents’ eyes (always loved hearing that phrase).
Right after hurricane Ivan I attended an art show and bought a triptych from Maureen Lazarus. The composition was a tree that had been stripped of life from the high winds, storm surge, and salty water that barreled through most of the island during those terrifying three days. I love these paintings because the details of this dying tree are so hauntingly well done.
It reminds me how much joy I, we, all felt when plants and trees began to show signs of life again weeks later.
Some of the most beautiful scenery in those early months was pockets of green interspersed between dead lifeless trees. Life always finds a way. Life found a way to go on after-Ivan with the trees, the iguanas, the cockroaches, and the chickens (bless their dear plentiful hearts in the first few weeks).
On my journey of healing, life has found a way for me to continue the journey with an important (hard to swallow) lesson. Let’s be honest, my journey to love, trust, and truly live my best life will be a life-long one. I have only just begun to peel back the layers of armor I built to create some semblance of safety. I know that every adult who has survived childhood sexual trauma will know exactly what I am talking about.
You compartmentalize and let people in only on the surface because you learned at an early age to fiercely protect how much of your personal space you let people into. But as each layer is revealed, I have received the ‘right’ gifts, just as I needed them.
The gift of an invitation to experience a ‘real wintery Christmas’, lunch or dinner invites when I needed human contact, but my anxiety would keep me permanently a recluse, or sage advice from an acquaintance to fully let go of situations and people whose season with me were clearly over.
I was so energized after this meeting I thought I could conquer everything on my to-do list. But that power surge scared the living daylights out of me. So for almost two months I ran, I hid, and I let fear close the gate I had just opened, only coming out for brief periods of superficial bravery. But life finds a way. I am a little stubborn and hard-headed, so life has had to creatively find its way with me, MANY TIMES.
Life found its way when I ran into a former dance mom (I can’t say old because she looked amazing) in the vegetable aisle in the grocery store. We reminisced about the many hours of dance I shared with her twins, exchanged tips on how to heal my current bursitis injury and keep her Pilates-trained body in tip-top shape, and talked lovingly (not gossip) about a mutual friend neither of us had seen in a long time.
Two days later I ran into that same friend at a 50-year celebration. From the moment we met we knew we were sisters, soul sisters whose paths were uncannily so similar that synchronicity stepped in to have us meet.
She is an amazing woman whose quiet strength is matched only by her knowledge of how to get everyone, and I mean everyone she trains, to try harder in the care of their bodies. We caught up and my soul cried out in relief because I needed to hear what she had to say…I actually cried while we talked, not just metaphorically. My soul cried because we are old souls who had been missing each other.
My soul cried because I needed to know that I was not alone in this journey of shedding the ‘old’ to make way for the ‘new’.
My soul cried because she knew the fear I was feeling and how easy it is to slip back into ‘hermit’ mode when it all feels too much.
But…Life always finds a way. Here’s the kick in the pants, catch-22, annoyingly on-point thing I did not want to hear: you have to be open to it.
Let me say it again. Life finds a way, but, YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN TO IT.
You have to be open to the flow, but you need the flow to be open. You have to step out of the boat. But you need to know that you won’t fall or drown. The inescapable fact is: you have to take the risk…of being hurt or loved, being supported or experience abject failure/ rejection, of being encouraged or totally shut down. You have to take the risk.
Being open is not my strong suit at the moment, but God has been gently prompting me to trust him first. My good friend Paul shared the story of how Peter stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus in the midst of the storm. He was fine walking until doubt crept in. I am Peter x100 on the risk pendulum. Over and over in the lessons I keep coming back to, God gently whispers “trust me my child.” After-all he provides for the birds of the air and the fish in the sea. “Real faith involves real risk.”
Matthew 6: 26 – 27 – 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
But He never asks us to take reckless risks. He shows up and gives us just what we need. It’s our need for control that leads us down our “own” destructive, FOMO-based path. We make plans and run full steam ahead, and then we expect Him to rescue us when we start to flounder. Man makes plans; God laughs then puts His plan in place. Because He knows that we often make our plans on sinking sands. His love for us is the solid foundation we need to stand strong in the storms. Life, and He is LIFE, always finds a way. He found a way over and over with Moses, Abraham, the Israelites, Jonah, Peter and countless others in the Bible. Along the way He teaches and reminds us that faith is always a risk, but a necessary one. “If you do this, then I will….” appears in the bible more times than I have the brain power to count.
Living requires taking risks. When you take the risk, guidance and resources always show up when you need them the most. Life finds a way…are you open and listening?
“Each time you’d pull down the driveway, I wasn’t sure when I would see you again. Yours was a twisted blind-sided highway, no matter which road you took then. Oh you set up your place in my thoughts, moved in and made my thinking crowded. Now we’re out in the back with the barking dogs, my heart the red sun your heart the moon clouded.”