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My essay In Falling is published here, through the Shambhala Publications 35<35 project, personal essays from Buddhist practitioners under the age of 35.

http://www.35u35.com/submissions/in-falling/

PS’s & dedications:

*so so so much gratitude to the lovely Ms. Meredith Arena for loving me through this madness

*loves to my sister Cindy for listening out loud at the EXACT right moment

*congrats to my brother Chris for the courage to share and be himself in the world

*and always to OWL, for saving & enriching my life

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Lines cut from weather, like the lines on my face and skin. Pockets of snow trapped between jagged peaks.  Trees march upward and halt in uneven unison across the range.  Dots of orange in the ochre and dust-colored earth. Rivers winding like snakes, deep pockets of blue-black. Stretching miles all around. Roads like scraps of discarded yarn, cuts exposing layers in lines of colors.  Dusty khaki to grey to brown.  Near symmetry.  Pyramids with rows of green running up & down.  Red to khaki back to red.  Three fires in three valleys form plumes of smoke, white dissipating to translucent grey to transparent charcoal. Peaks with folding sides, sandy looking slopes and dark lakes.  Weather worn. Lifting above the fields, square and round.  Ridges rise skyward like perfect spines pushing towards the clouds.  A canyon in the distance distinguishable by the sharp drop on one side and the rise on the other, the space between them almost unseeable.  Clouds in the distance a nest of soft down, cool with the high air and mist.  Ridges and slopes forming horseshoes, reminding me of the gift of flight.  How lucky to sit and gaze from this height.  Maybe, just maybe, when I am tight in the lungs from too little sleep and an empty bed and a sink full of dishes and a near-empty bank account I can return to this place, breath myself back here.  Nourished by its existence.  On the breath.  Rise up and study my topography with the same awe & wonder & curiosity.

Even mountains erode under the wind and the rain.  Explode with lava from their core, our core.  Deform under pressure sent from distant miles only to rise up again & again, and erode more & more.  Land burns under hot winds and sparks.  Valleys flood as rivers bulge, cut new courses.  Connects and liberates.  I sat listening as men and women recounted their experiences alone in the woods.  I hope to forget most of the details, not wanting to color an experience I may soon undertake. Striking descriptions of the self shattering, speaking in beauty & honesty & reflection, and in only a few words.  So much like birth, like my fight to carve out this space for myself only to watch it shatter in surrender to the moment of mamahood.  Time and time again.  Letting go.  I could feel those words all night.

Descent.  Seattle.  Foothills a carpet of green against the memory of the Rockies, yellow and grey.  Mt Rainer once again a majestic wall of blue and white ice.  A peak to be reckoned with.  Observe and appreciate.  Thick clouds with peaks rising out like islands from a white sea.  Airport.  So tired of all these tears, never in short supply. A father holding a newborn.  Think of what I cannot provide.  A house, with people and a yard and a dog.  Our house sits days away from foreclosure.  The walls of OWL’s room still painted blue & orange.  Hardwoods shining.  Garden window empty, its contents crowding my kitchen table.  Lawn unkempt.  Trees & roses unpruned. Empty kitchen drawers.

Train home.  Olympics pale, lightly brushed along the skyline.  Flat in the warm sun and haze.  A subtle shift in the hues of blue.  Train moves north, mountains disappear from view.  A hard homecoming.  Afraid again that my legs are too wobbly to do this on my own.  To make this trek.  My mind too small.  Obstacles too big & slippery for my tiny hands.  Wanting something to lean on, even for just a moment, to recharge that core so I can hold myself while holding OWL.  Sitting on this train, after this trip, I realize the enormity of what I gave away.  I know it wasn’t always perfect.  Or unconditional.  Times I wanted to give so badly I could do nothing at all. Caught in the hope.  Caught in the fear.  Always trying to keep it together.  Today I feel old and unsteady between breaths.  Not knowing how to  trust myself.  Feeling the rejection in waves as we move over tracks, behind painted buildings.  Feeling not out of belief, but out of loss.  Life shattered.  All four walls down.  A year past.

I see that I am somewhere new.  Out of the crisis.  Into a different space.  Ready for what is next.  Feeling stronger.  Yes, I want to fall in to someone.  To collapse & sit shaking in all my uncertainty.  Keep telling myself that the place I belong is the place I occupy every second of my life.  Right here, in whatever the moment is.  Hard to accept when this alternative version competes with the present in my head.  Feels like there is no one to bear witness, but I bear witness to all of it.  Now, among the clouds & peaks & train stations, I start hearing it.

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