Getting Over It
A grain of sand in my shoe bugs me while I walk to the stove to add a grain of salt to the soup I am cooking. They say when the cook oversalts their food they are in love. There must be a grain of truth in that expression as I cannot seem to get mine salted enough.
Looking at the shards of my shattered life, I take a deep breath and go for a walk. I would rather grasp the nettle than at straws and feeling my own feet on the ground is a good start. When I arrive outdoors, I have no opportunity to forage any nettles. Instead, Jack Frost is presenting me with a Winter scenery: Soft, white flakes hover to the ground – unique, symmetrical crystals building a whole that lays a blanket of silence over the area. A silver-golden sun comes out from behind a sea of clouds, causing the snow to glisten in rainbow colours. I notice muted sniffles of passers-by and the muffled sound of children laughing in the distance.
A crow looks down on me from an aspen-tree and is kind enough to share its thoughts with me. They emerge in my mind like wisdom.
They often say 'it's human nature' to explain wrongdoing. At the same time, it is considered humane to be kind to others.
To the crow, it seems, humans are masters at making excuses for shitty behaviour and also in forgetting that they are a part of Nature rather than apart from it. Maybe this, my feathered friend thinks, explains their confusion. The crow lets me know it often stands by the river at sunrise pondering about humanity. Then it spreads its wings and takes off.
I feel like my world decelerates and I can breathe again. In a plum-tree by the wayside, I hear a blackbird whistling its tune while in the barberry hedge on the other side various kinds of tits are chirping. A robin is dropping straight down in front of my feet out of nowhere and looks at me for a while before it takes flight, again. As the crow had indicated, aligning with Mother Nature helps me to tune in with my own, true nature.
When the shock lets up, the memory comes. For the past few weeks, if not months, I have been in this weird state. I have not felt numb. Everything rather happened in a blur. Now, with the calm settling in, I have space … to… to feel. And I am finding myself in that liminal state where the recent past is still present while a new routine is already taking root. I have survived and have a chance to live, now.
Walking past the old brick water tower, I see two pigeons sitting in the upper window. Like a couple greeting the world from the threshold of their residence. I remember that feeling. And then a hole opens.
I concentrate on the ground under my feet while I let this feeling of horror pass through and out of my system. Breathing in and out I stay present and open my heart just a little more. A pang of pain surges through me as from out of nowhere a memory of that tuft of fox fur emerges, that we found in the barbed wire by the wayside, one Summer at another time and in another place.
When I come home, I bring in with me fresh Winter air from my walk. My hands are cold and numb and I feel frozen to the bones. So, I warm up the soup I have cooked, earlier, and crawl under a woollen blanket. The hot liquid is warming me up from the inside. It tastes good but I decide it needs more salt. It seems, when the ship sprung a leak, the spice of life was washed away while the sacred space got flooded. Now, when I reach out, all I feel is cold.
The journey had started out on a deluxe yacht. Later we transitioned to a simple barge and it took some work to maintain everything. But we managed and most importantly, we never lost course. Enjoying what life brings to us, embracing it whole-heartedly and making the best out of everything… this was our motor. And it brought on board all the luxury we needed. Until the destruction began. . I try to remember how life used to be, before. What gave me support and structure, what brought me joy? Many of those doors are closed now and the spaces behind them lay barren. Then, pictures flash up in my mind of a garden adjacent to a pasture, lupines blossoming by a wayside, sparrows in hedgerows… I am now passing through memories like walking through a picture book. I remember contentment, light and an inner smile. A sacred space rooted in those moments. I could take it from there, no matter where I went or what was lying ahead. And I am beginning to wonder where that went and when I lost it.
In the beginning, there have just been short moments that were … different. A wall showed up in places where there used to be no wall and the tone got harsher. But those instants were fleeting and times had been hard. Then those moments showed up more often until they came periodically. They became more aggressive, too, and less random. Now, they were aiming at hurting me and diminishing what was most dear and important to me. It was like the maw of hell opened on a regular basis to swallow us. So, I began to protect and hide even those precious memories until I hid them as far away as from myself. Eventually, hell was the new normal and the peaceful moments together became the exception. First things broke. Then I broke. Even then, it was hard to make a stand and break up. But if I had not done so, I would not be here, now. There is no need to embellish anything – neither about the bad times nor about the good times. We did have good times. We were living the dream and we lived it for many years. A fairy tale, only that it was real. So were the bad times when the intensity that once had brought heaven on earth now brought hell. They say when you encounter a frog it means that good fortune is hopping into your life, and I wonder if this also counts for the one in my throat while memories of the recent past are washing over me. I know it is all a matter of perspective. Only it feels like it might take a while until I will be able to turn this pile of excrement into gold. Also, I am not so sure that I will make it, this time. So, I decide to let go. Either I will manage or I will die trying. The role of the eternal victim never sat well with me.
People often say, ‘It is time to get off the hamster wheel’. And I think that bears truth. But we cannot get off of the Wheel of Fortune or, more aptly, the Wheel of Life. When it spins too fast for us and we get dizzy, it is time to move to the hub, where we can remember that we are the wheel. This is the point where things begin to change. I am still in the process of getting there. But I know where I am going and I am on my way. The grip of the Kraken that wants to pull me down loosens, and I begin to remember how it is to swim. It gets easier, too, now that the pressure of the ocean does not weigh on my shoulders. Instead, I am carried by the water. The current creates a new experience and I get curious about that glow I see on the horizon. While I arrive in the present moment, I increasingly notice how everything happens simultaneously. Both are there at the same time – the old and the new, the past and the present – and probably the future. It is merely a matter of what I focus on. So, I chose carefully as I neither wish to bring in any of the past grue nor do I wish to lose any of the treasures. As, upon this, I open my heart just a little more the bank of mist outside the window lifts and a ray of sun brightens my face. I take another sip of my soup and I realise no more salt is needed.
© Stefanie Neumann – @KokopelliBFree
I hope you enjoyed my short story. I surely enjoyed writing it.
What creative endeavours have you been up to, lately?
Are you ready to shine a bright light on the path of beingness, today?
Much Love, Steffi