“It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to a wholesome ease.”
~excerpted from “For the Unknown Self” :: To Bless the Space Between Us :: by John O’Donohue

This? This hollow start is where a new year begins? The big page of plans remains blank. I am empty.

Maybe empty is a good place to start. One thing I know is that my spirit wasn’t built for this much sadness. Or maybe it is. Maybe experiencing love to such extremes is exactly the point. It’s impossible to love this much without the risk of loss.

I am full of flatness and doubt this morning. I reach for God. I ask him to show me what I should do. I close my eyes and get a vision of bringing my upcoming solo exhibition to completion and then a sense of what is to follow. It’s just a glimpse, a feeling. The back of my head goes cold. The quality of light shifts behind my closed eyes. I know I’ve received my answer. Now it’s just up to me to trust it. I feel like fighting. I feel resentful today. I’ve been going through Carl’s clothes the past couple of days and the progress has been excruciating. His sweet smell fills my studio where I’ve gone to do the work. There isn’t enough room for his things in this little cabin. I progress at a snail’s pace. It takes more energy than I could have ever imagined. But I need to do this as a way of finding my way back to the easel. I feel like I’ve been hurtled backwards to that very first week of grief. I do not know how to change the glacial-like pace that this process seems to require. Logic and to-do lists do not seem to work in the precarious space I find myself in. A fragile eco-system, this current world of mine.

Yet I realize: it is only my own thinking that flattens the world around me. If Carl were here, he’d say, “You can do it; I know you can. I love you, baby.” Simple as that. A simple recipe of optimism and love. This was the basic premise of all our conversations. Constantly, we were lifting each other up, making space for hope, carving out possibilities. I stop to remind myself this. I do my best to recreate his voice in my head and heart.

Admittedly, I create an elaborate map each year. They are impressive. They are filled with goals, broken down into action steps, led by over-arching core emotional desires. It is colorful and organized, complete with images of the things I’m reaching for. This yearly habit has traveled me around the world several times. It’s built my business and strengthened my spirit. It brought horses and depth and love into my life. In other words, it has worked. Exquisitely.

But let’s be real. I wasn’t expecting anything elaborate from myself this year. Just something. Something to keep my eyes on the road ahead and my heart above water.

And so…on all this blank paper I would like to put three images and three words. I tried last night. I really, really did. But with all that trying, I found myself caught in a wave of exhaustion, in bed and asleep by 7:30pm on New Year’s Eve.

In the two hours that it’s taken me to sift words out of this inability to embrace a new year, a blue sky has begun to loosen itself from the clouds. I like the clouds. They seem safer. And yet…

I know this blank page is asking more of me than the safety of cloud cover. There is a mountain inside me. It’s been there for a long, long time. It should not surprise me that, all along, it was something only I could navigate. I’ve trekked the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas and know from old experience that, at certain airless heights, there is only one way and that is simply, the surrendered rhythm of one foot in front of the other….

I love you, Carl. You, who have brought me to this most meaningful, important and profound mountain.

{originally published Jan 1, 2015}

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