Thursday, February 28, 2013


Limbo is a strange place to be. It can be defined as a transitional state, and also as a state of confinement. Maybe as if all the lights went out, and you're feeling your way around the edges of the known world with your hands alone.

Right now, I am in several big, fat limbos. Unmoored and somewhat burdened by the weight of all this waiting. It puts me in mind of the time I got caught in a massive crowd leaving Taste of Chicago. People pressed against me tightly on all sides as we were forced to inch forward in unison through a bottleneck. To keep from panicking, I had to pretend that I didn't know that if just one person started pushing, I'd suffocate or be trampled. It probably lasted less than five minutes—but spiritually, it took an uncomfortably long time.

One limbo state is about to end. The company where I've worked for 5 years announced a year ago that it was relocating far away. I decided to wait until my services were no longer required in order to receive the severance package. Two months ago I received my official exit date, which is finally coming up next week.

It's been a long process, as friends have moved on to new jobs, new employees have been hired and trained, and I've stayed. The whole thing has required a sort of zen/passivity that usually feels energy-sucking, but that at other times feels like it's clearing out huge spaces. Of the external and internal sort.

What one person calls "waiting," another might call "being" or even "becoming." Demolish the autopilot routine and structure of one's daily life, and possibilities arise. So it is with me. I feel ready to let go of so much. I've tossed out a whole shelf of personal journals spanning many years; thousands of words about thoughts I used to have and things I used to feel. Donated piles and piles of books that now others may read and treasure. Tossed away things things things, the having of which was once important to me, but that somehow—through some under-the-radar alchemy—no longer is.

I'm not done with the limbos yet, but I have at least one brilliant plan. Very soon, I'll move on to much doing. But until then, I've got a couple more weeks to fill up the metaphorical and real trash bags with what I don't want anymore, to make room for what I do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The place of myths

Once upon a time, a young girl longed to live alone in an empty castle. 

In her land of birth, castles were as imaginary as unicorns, so she had never been inside of one; but she was certain that she belonged in a stark, gray castle, in an earthly Otherwhere.

Enwrapped by mists, and echoing with a magical, breathing emptiness, this castle was a place where anything could happen. She’d often gaze out the tower windows at another place of mystery: the deep forest all around. Where white stags ran. Where certain ancient oaks had secret doors that one magic word could unlock. Where witches tended their herb gardens by moonlight, and the Questing Beast roamed.

Some might feel such a life to be lonely. But young as she was, the girl had already learned to be comfortable with aloneness, and this breathing emptiness felt like a haven for her dreaming self.

When she wished for something to do, she undertook what seemed to her proper castle-dwelling pursuits; wove at her loom, strummed rather melancholy melodies on the lute, and read for days on end, rich tales of unfolding wonder. In these tales, life delivered on all its whispered promises, and the world sang her down a path marked by signs…birds and animals guided her on her way, speaking to her in words she could understand. Things made sense on a level strange and deep and true as dreams.

By living in the castle, she did more than just read tales; she was inside one, her specific tale, which called to her continually in its undeniable, wordless voice. She, like every human, had a soul-deep yearning for mystery and beauty, and knew, with a bone-deep certainty, that she had a destiny that shone as brightly as that of any hero-princess in any written tale. Even if she didn’t yet know what it was. Even if.

That girl, of course, was I.

For more on why we read mythic stories, read "The Desire for Dragons" on the Moveable Feast page at Myth & Moor.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love, Sol

Woke up to snow again on a Maxfield Parrish painting of a morning, with a delicate sky of apricot and whisper-blue, and the sun a softly shining pearl through candy-tuft clouds.

Parrish painting
Then my trusty shovel and I got to work clearing away the snow from the sidewalks. Of course, I took a few photos during rest periods.


Right now, the late afternoon sun is shining strongly through my west windows, and snow is dripping from the eaves. I've been feeling quiet and low-energy after days of clouds, so it is good to see my cats lying in the sunspots gilding the floor and to feel the rays warming the northern world today. A special valentine just for us.

On Saturday morning, I stuck my head out the door to sniff the air and was rewarded with a certain damp freshness that said spring, even though to all appearances winter still rules. And then Sunday, I woke to the sounds of freezing rain and the clear, sweet song of a Northern Cardinal, a beauty I haven't heard for months and months. I lay in bed and smiled in the dawn darkness, knowing that however many inches of snow fall now, winter is on the wane.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Strike of the match

Ash-gray February
Dozes and dreams
Clouds miles deep
Colors fast asleep—
But for this small flame,
A brief sun burning on winter’s edge.

First came sharp strike of the match-flame,
then a quick bloom of light—
Wisp of ivy smoke spirals to a ceiling 
stuck fast with glow-in-the-dark stars, 
for times like these. 

Now the candle shimmers from mirror-washed glass,
Golding my eye,
Holding my thought,
Feeding my cloud-swathed hunger
with a clear mango light. 

So why circle my thumb over each palm in turn 
as I listen to my heart’s throb,
and why this silent sway of my body?
Like an incantation
Like a song I can’t hear but dance to anyway
Like a cat kneads its bed before settling to sleep?
Am I reading the declinations? 
Measuring the mounts, muscles, valleys, bones, the lunarity of skin,
the scars, if I had any?

The Russian nesting doll of February 
Finds us edging toward a sun we may not see
Music we may not hear
Feeling our way by the light of the cat-napping stars
Guided by verities like hearts beating and candles flaming.

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