It’s so easy to get drawn into someone else’s myth when I don’t go to the creek.
Today for instance, I watched five episodes of The Deuce, which is good writing and acting and has Maggie Gyllenhaal as a driving force and okay yes, I am in bed with a cold but still, do I need to spend five hours of my day in the 1970’s porn industry?
"No," says the creek when I get there. "No, you do not."
This is why a practice matters. A practice that returns me to myself.
I have tried so many over the years. When I began initiation, one of my teachers, the wonderful Dawn Isadora, gave me a challenge of doing my own practice every day for 40 days in a row. She said it could be of my own making, but it had to contain five elements. (Oh gods. I’m going to do my best to remember them, Dawn forgive me, it’s been a while.)
She said to do it 40 days in a row and then she said “And I know you dear. I know how you like to be a straight A student.” (Oh, the chagrin that that still is so much a part of me, mixed with the relief of the hearing the truth of it!) “So if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Don't beat yourself up and start over at day one.”
(I have good initiators.)
And so I did 81 days in a row. Because I am an insufferable goody two shoes who sits in the front row of with her hand raised going “Oo! Oo! I know, I know!”
But it changed my life. No hyperbole. I found my own reservoir of self which is not self. I don’t know any other way to put it.
I don't do it every day any more. I do better with an assignment, which is why it's good to have a teacher, a coach, an ally in this work.
But the lesson stuck well enough that I can feel it when I begin to drift from myself. I feel it and I go to the creek, almost without thinking about it.
Also, my dog makes me.
Which is what happened today, in between episodes 3 and 4. I went down to the creek. I noted that we are entering the moss time of year, when the branches become coated with glowing green, and I noted that there are still snowberries clinging to the bare brown branches and I noted that the first buds of the first of the native flowers, Indian Plum, are swelling.
And just like that, I am out of anyone’s myth but my own. Just like that I can forget the porn and the president (and the fact that those words are so easily linked) and even the stories that are closer to home, about how much money there is or if I’m helping my client enough or if I’m a good enough mother, lover, daughter…
All of that fades away when I put one yellow booted foot in front of the other on the earth, beneath the mossy boughs, alongside the rain swollen waters and onto the arrow shaped boulder, where I face East and call in the words that link the magic and the mundane, and face South and call in the spark of stories – not the silly false ones, but the patterns of wisdom that endure in myth and in the human soul and which never fail to make me believe that we can do better. I face West and feel the water flowing around me, literally around the boulder at my feet, and in the earth around the creek, and in the air above the creek and also in the love that is so plentiful in my life.
And then I face North, the direction of earth, and I say, as I always do, I love you, I am yours, and feel the welcoming answer, which dispels everything but the self which is not self and which cannot be hypnotized by any story that is not my own.
Which allows me to watch two more episodes while I cuddle my dog. And still be connected enough to myself to get up and write after.