A singular Love

I am revisiting my Algonquin journal entries today, almost 2 months after that beautiful, intimate trip with Don took place. (I have begun blogging them on my other page –https://analgonquinaffair.wordpress.com/) Between that blessed trip and today, there have been 2 weeks of deep joy surrounding my son’s  wedding, one return trip to Algonquin,** where for a week we stayed in a cabin by night and trekked into the park’s waters by day, as well as too-many-to-innumerate, desperately needed, reconnections with family and friends.

And while that last trip north was a month ago now, it has just been in the last week that I have felt as if my whole self has returned to me here. All the important heart reconnections have been made – to children and grandchildren, to family and friends – the ties that bind (blessed be) have pulled me back and grounded me, here. My feet walking on the earth here, through the autumning landscape –with Don, the girls, or my camera  (which always helps me to see beauty less carelessly) — has also helped me to settle back in, to reroot my spirit into the soil of my homeland. Three weeks ago, my first day back from that last trip north, my granddaughters and I blew seed-bearing fluffs from dried pods into the wind. At the time, I felt a lot like them, adrift and unrooted…I assume that they too have settled in by now

Bloom where you are planted.

But for a while, I admit, I felt lost upon my return. A little foggy, in fact, as if I could not find my way back, could not seem to call myself home. I longed for the intimacy of those days with Don, the daily rhythm offering me its simple answer to ‘What should I do with my life today?’, and the way that I felt so completely at home in my skin there. With no mirrors, nothing outside of myself informing me of how I should look or what i should be, or what a good (mother, grandmother, sister, friend, community member) was supposed to look like, I was simply alive. No shoulds out there…there is simply the gathering of wood, carrying of water, building of fire, pitching of shelter, cooking of dinner,…packing, paddling , portaging, paying attention, being rapt (and wrapped) in love.


Out there, I am, simply there (here’s that word, “simply”, again. Indeed, life on a canoe trip is stripped to its bare essentials), fully alive, whole-heartedly living from the inside out.  Intact is the word that often comes to me when I reflect upon the feeling – a oneness of being, no part of my mind or my heart pulled from my body, away from the moment, the place. Back here, there are sooo many of those pulls, I can feel pulled to pieces… like those seed pods, and sometimes it feels as if there is no solid place for me to land. Sometimes I don’t even know what I am supposed to look like. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am.

Once again, I am reminded of the book, ‘Gift of the Sea’, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and her own expression of the way this feels. She names the feeling, Zerrisenheit- ‘torn-to-pieces-hood’

“With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married woman. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Relationship, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”

(I see now that I have referenced this work here, at least 3 times before, in separate posts. See https://emmaatlast.com/?s=lindbergh ) So, there you go.

If you haven’t felt the difference, perhaps you can’t understand what I am trying to express. And that is ok. That’s perhaps yet another mirror I don’t need to pick up with which to measure myself.

Living from the inside out.

That phrase, which sprung from my fingertips above, makes me pause now. The word Love seems to flow naturally from that phrase for me. Flowing from the inside out, from a heart full of Love, is not at all about being pulled apart, then. Rather it is about flowing FROM an intact center INTO all of the precious connections in my life. It is about living whole-heartedly, centered in Love, wherever I am.

I realize that this is the feeling I want to bring home with me, the sense of Self that I encounter out there, that feeling of intact, present aliveness, vitality, love, and joy, unencumbered by judgement or shame, which is living from the inside out.

Waiting for that alive part of me to return to me here, I walked about my days like a zombie, truly as if something else had taken over my body and was moving me from outside of my self. The outside womanipulators, in this case, were the mirrors reflecting back to me, no matter how real or distortedly internalized , my not- enoughness, my failures at loving right, my screw-ups, my missing-the-mark.

But, living from the inside out is not about being seen from the outside as good enough. Nor is it doing enough to be lovable. Nor is even about knowing that I am Loved as I am. Rather, living from the inside out is about knowing I am LOVE. Not needing external mirrors to reflect back to me my goodness, it’s about living from my goodness, trusting in my goodness, grounding myself in my goodness. Simply Being. Enough.

But there is something more here that I cannot quite wrap my fingers around. I must be careful with my perspective, see the beauty of this through the eyes of Love. (this is what my camera teaches me, that how I frame something can make a huge difference in what is seen… and that stepping back or moving in closer can reveal beauty previously unnoticed) …..

…. Stepping back, I do see the truth that there is only one me. There is not a me ‘out there’ and another ‘back here’, no matter how differently I feel about myself in each place. Both of these persons are me – the one who comes alive in the free and singular presence she experiences out there and the one who deeply loves so many human beings back home that she feels overwhelmed, as if there is never enough of her to possibly nurture each one of those precious relationships in the deep way that she wishes she could.

….the way that she wishes she could…

And in typing this sentence, my lens on myself zooms in closer, for a more intimate glance at my sadness, for within its frame I recognize that this is grief.  Grief that I have misplaced/perceived as judgment, as failure, self-recrimination, and shame, as if I was somehow able to love better, I would be loved, and I would not feel so bereft of belonging. Grief that I cannot have the singular intimacy here, with so many, that I experience there, with just one. Grief, perhaps, also at the loss of the intimacies I once had, as those souls have, rightfully so, grown or moved on, the locus of their intimacies shifted, my orbit about their lives bumped farther from the center, so that they also may feel that they have not enough me.  Perhaps the fullness I experience ‘out there’ merely accentuates the emptiness here.  

Perhaps in reframing it in this light—that I cannot possibly be a singular presence here the way that I wish that I could, and acknowledging that a longing for love is at its core- I can begin to let go of the (self) blame within this grief at last.

I am a finite being, after all. There is only one me but perhaps I can be fully myself wherever I am, one place at a time.  Fully present in that one place with the whole of my self, with all of my Love. One place, after One place, after One place.  

**(I had spent almost all of the month of August in Algonquin too, accompanying 3 separate groups of women on backcountry trips, a mixed bag of experiences with both highs and lows, some of which affirmed the gift that I hope to offer by ‘preparing a place’ for others to enter, some of which pained me greatly by the absence of hospitality extended and experienced ( here I acknowledge my own deep sadness in this regard)   Perhaps I will share those stories here too, though some of those stories are not mine to tell. I mention it here only to reflect upon how much of my spirit was transported to that place over those months.)

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