"Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us." --Virginia Woolf
Dear Wild One,
Our recent time together was a feast. It's all swirling and metabolizing in this really beautiful way, even despite the tinges of embarrassment that come as I hear the echoes of those crazy fillies who make me seem like a floundering, graceless girl.
You honor those fillies, the obstreperous young ones who run interference, and revere them as "wild," while I feel ashamed of them when I listen to myself. Your love for them, despite their frantic antics and the dust they kick up, is tremendously powerful.
There is a part of me that wants to say "I'm sorry" for subjecting you to them. I feel slightly ashamed; I want to say "I know better." I'm embarrassed that for all of my knowing, I still can't get out of my own way sometimes. These are the moments when I imagine you probably have it all together and I wonder if you ever feel hijacked by neurosis and fear. I'm sure you do; you're human, after all. But I see the side of you that holds me so exquisitely in all of this and I can't help but tell myself the story of how you've figured it all out somehow. And then I go into feeling separate and deficient. When I feel "unworthy" or like I "can't play," I pick at things. Usually what happens from there is that disconnection ensues. But, strangely, in our dynamic, something else occurs: I find my way back into the grace of truth. I don't know how to name what transpires in the alchemy of our process that binds us to connection ultimately, but it is new and remarkably precious. Forgive me if I fumble in the face of so much love. I'm still learning how to navigate such magnanimously hospitable terrain.
Thank you for holding me accountable, for calling me out, with such gorgeous respect, on those places where I still mistake the noise for the signal. It's a rare feat; almost no one in my life can or will do it-- and certainly not with such impeccable skill (which is to say with nothing but love for the residue that's "in the way"). Those fillies, as you remind me, are strong. If they manage to take you for a ride, I can only imagine the havoc they wreak for the less-practiced among us.
If one of my superpowers is that I am "a feaster designed to receive and be overwhelmed in the most wonderful way by the exquisiteness of this world," then one of yours is that you are an ambassador of fierce love, a masterful penetrator who disarms with artful, reverent candor. I long to be the one who cuts through so cleanly, to deliver (and land) exacting truth with the utmost devotion. I wonder sometimes if I have conflated ferocity with a certain kind of violence; no doubt I have one in there who says, "If you fuck with me, I will annihilate you." She's fronting with tenacity but she's actually terrified. I'm not sure it ever occurred to me that I could be fierce without stationing a bully at the helm...or at least without employing the slightly cleaned up version (the one who picks at things and calls out crossed wires). But as I watch how you show up to the game again and again, I am humbled by having to learn a wildly different way to play.
You and I have talked much of reciprocal impact; how we both feel and are felt by the world around us. We've nodded to the power in that, and the beauty and terror in it as well. You're no stranger to the fact that I long to feel my impact on this planet and am simultaneously terrified of it. Sometimes, despite your astute observation that I am someone who was, in fact, designed to feel every nuance of sensation, I don't always show up fully for the feast. And even when I do show up, I often prefer to partake in private. There is always that tempering. As I've told you, I'm embarrassed by how much and how deeply I love.
Lately I've been wondering about the relationship between love and hunger. You've called me both a lover and a feaster. You've said that I serve as permission to be ravenous in the world; that it's food for you all the way over there. I've long been ashamed of my desire and my appetite; my story is that it's weak to want so much. But you seem to have a different idea...and in your reverent gaze, something is beginning to alchemize. I'm reminded of a Mary Oliver poem that stopped me cold the first time I heard it in a workshop years ago; in it she equates the "desperation" with which the bees go into the flowers with "love." The reframe absolutely arrested me at the time and one line in particular has never left me alone: "But they did this with no small amount of desperation -- you might say: love." I've been afraid that if you see too much of the need, too much of the hunger, too much of the ravenousness, too much of the insatiable desire, too much of the heartbreak, that you will come to the conclusion that I am not in my wholeness. (Perhaps this is why those fillies think they need to work overtime.)
But you're beginning to have me see that perhaps wholeness is far more generous than all of that; that it is, above all, inclusive. That it's not just about paying lip service to the idea that all parts serve, but rather it's about daring to love all of those wild ones back into the fold.
I have this fear that if I show you how deep my gratitude and my love run that I'll be somehow at your mercy. But I know that's just a "good loyal soldier" talking. It's not the Truth. I've gotten it backwards somehow. My love isn't holding me hostage. I've been holding my love hostage.
In the name of setting it free, I want to say that I have extraordinary, boundless love for you. As I write this now there are voices that want to protest: that's feeble, it's lame, it's little-girl-like, it's bound up in primary wounding and transferential bullshit and all kinds of messy humanness. It's not "pure."
One of my greatest fears is that my love will feel trivial. That it will be insignificant.
I'm starting to know better, thanks, in no small measure, to you. It's courageous and grueling work to reconstitute "deficiency" as superpower. I'm comforted by the fact that, as I sit here, I can feel you embracing all of those parts (including the part that judges), without any regard for what is supposedly "superior" or "inferior." And out of that equanimous holding emerges a quietude, a stillness. A place where the turbid gives way to the pure essence of the thing.
I often think that the most difficult task of being human is to withstand love. To tolerate the light of it in the places of our deepest wounding feels excruciating at times; the impulse to turn and make it "wrong" can be absolutely overwhelming. I'm awed by how steadfastly you love the stubborn, unruly, chaotic, critical, childlike, and even ugly parts of me. I'm also humbled by how much I need this. Even still, as a grown woman.
Initially I thought this was a love letter to you. And it is. But it's more than that. It's also a love letter to myself...and to all the parts of myself that I've forsaken or shamed and that I've needed you to hold back up to the light. I guess that makes it a Thank You letter too. And maybe an amends as well.
Ultimately, though, this is a love letter to Love itself. It's what happened when I wrote my way to the other side of the dust that those fillies kicked up. I needed to get to the purest heart of the matter; I'm determined to get those young ones to finally line up in service of freedom.
Once upon a time I learned that, "Not everything needs to be so damn heart-wrenching." Tenderness has been my cross to bear in a world that isn't particularly kind to it. It's temping to keep trading it for a certain coolness, but that comes at a cost. I've yearned for a model of vulnerability that isn't sappy or insipid or lazy; one that, paradoxically, is rooted in a robustness, a rigor, even.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, it is simply an honesty that I'm seeking. Maybe the one I've been withholding from the world.
So here is the truth. My heart breaks every day that I'm here on this earth and I don't know of any other way to live. I'm not talking about being mired in melancholy when I speak of heartbreak. I'm talking at least as much about how, for example, my heart swells and bursts every time I think of our connection for even a moment, and I silently marvel at whatever intelligent force of magnetism it was that delivered me into your orbit.
Thank you for showing up so radiantly with your wild medicine of Wholeness.
And thank God.
For yes, our lives do indeed depend on it.