A Wider Roof
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” ~Rumi
Robert Kennedy once quipped in a speech, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times. ‘ Like it or not we live in interesting times.”
Sixty years later, the times are even more interesting.
The endless pandemic. The climate crisis. And now a brutal war.
The world, its creatures and the values of humanity are under assault physically, emotionally—and spiritually.
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The pandemic and the constrictions of the past two years pushed me to pick up a few rocks in the garden of my life and examine the squiggly things that live underneath.
Some I brushed aside, some I befriended, some I had to squash.
The resulting clarity—the reordering of priorities, the solidifying of values and fortifying of boundaries—propelled new choices for the future.
And then the war… its onset accelerated my personal timeline, especially as I am now in the third act of my life, the part of the play where resolution occurs, where questions are answered and faults forgiven.
The words of one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver, come to mind. From her famous poem, Wild Geese:
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the dessert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal flesh of your body
love what it loves…”
As you read this, I will have moved from Toronto to 18 acres of wooded land three hours east of the city.
Because I am clear about what I want to carry with me into the future, clear about what used to crawl beneath my garden rocks, and clear about the experience I want to create for the rest of my life.
I am trading cement and convenience for trees and tranquility, access and ease for solitude and simplicity, the scream of sirens for the sound of birdsong in the morning.
I am immersing myself in the art I once studied, the calligraphy I once created, the music I once made, drawing again because I enjoy it, and for no other reason than that.
I am reclaiming parts of myself long submerged, as though underwater, and allowing them air and sunshine.
I have simplified, sorted, stripped down to the essential, packed only that which serves a purpose and has a place in my new reduced square footage in the middle of wood and sky and stream.
This is my contribution to the collective in the face of life’s knee-buckling beauty and soul-crippling cruelty: to choose peace, here and now, because I cannot hold the homeless children or feed the starving refugees or change Putin or anyone else.
But I can claim joy. I can cling to it like a buoy and pray it suffices.
And weave words and woods together under a wider roof during these interesting times.
“Remember what it is to be me: that is always the point.” ~Joan Didion