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I went to Beautiful

The time is right
The time is right
I'm gonna pack my bags
And take that journey down the road
Cause over the mountain I see the bright sun shinning
And I want to live inside the glow

I wanna go to a place where I am nothing and everything
That exists between here and nowhere
I wanna got to a place where time has no consequences oh yeah
The sky opens to my prayers

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. . .

Beautiful, by India Arie

My soul needed cleansing this morning. Last night, I let it get dirty. Someone said ugly things about me, about me to my kid, and I let my temper overwhelm me. I said some ugly things about that person.

Someone told me that same person said out of line things to her, as well. As she shared her story, I struggled back and forth about providing support or staying out of it. I feared, rightly, that were I to get involved and provide support, I'd be unable to set myself aside and simply be a friend. I rightly feared that My Feelings would assert themselves, and that I'd make this as much about me as about her. My feelings, it seems, are still a little angry, or perhaps it is my social justice nerve that is aggravated. I was angry about these events---these current and past events that all seem to flow together with the ease of dirty oil skimming the surface of water.

I stared at the dirty oil, and let it pollute the whole of the water.

I let it get inside me, and flow out of my mouth: an angry, ugly black stream.

And so last night, I let my soul get dirty.

This morning I woke with a bitter aftertaste in my mouth, a terrible breath of shame that I haven't felt in so long. I woke with a sense of karmic retribution hanging over me. And, defeated, I began to surrender to it.

By the time I drove my youngest daughter to school, I realized I had drowned in the oil and shame, the morning above the surface, over my head.

We drove across the bridge, water on either side of us---and though we could not see it at all because of the thick fog, we believed it was there, we took on faith that objects remain static in our world, even if we can't see them.

That's when I realized that I had not seen these feelings in a while, but that didn't mean they were no longer there. I tossed up a question to myself: and so what can I do?

resolve it. peacefully. let it go.

After I dropped off my daughter, I went to the track and began my stretches for my morning laps. I felt my muscles stretch and warm, and I realized I've been neglecting my neck and shoulders. I incorporated some Lotus Link yoga stretches, and felt such a loosening that I knew I had been not seeing my own stress through the fog.

I did my laps, tuning in to my mellow and positive music---skipping the invigorating dance songs I usually prefer. I turned it low, and used the music as background, so that I spent more time looking and seeing. As I came around the bend into the straight stretch, I saw the birds.

Two or three flocks covered an open swathe of grass under the oaks. They pecked at the ground for seeds and bugs, and circled the young trees where park gardeners had been watering around the trunks. A noise, maybe my own plodding feet hitting the track, shocked them all into flight. They alighted on the branches, and some of the birds pecked at each other to gain control of certain branches.

I realized that since the hurricane, there are now fewer trees, and the remaining trees have fewer branches. It looks like less, it is less. But it's still enough. There are still enough trees, still enough branches.

Why did that blackbird peck so fiercely for that one branch? It's a short one, it sticks out, unprotected. Why that branch? Why such a ferocity of purpose to get that branch?

That's when it hit me: like some of those other birds, I'll always find it easier to fly away to another branch because I know there are enough, there will always be more.

But some people are more like the blackbird.

And, having been pecked, I would have flown away, but I'm tied to this tree, this branch, by tresses of obligation.

For a moment, I lost my ability to fly, and thus felt powerless, at the mercy of the blackbird. There is the core of my anger. The blackbird is wrong, there are plenty of branches. There is the first ring of my anger.

I can't leave the tree, and it can be a pain point to have to find a new branch, is what I must do.

I let myself feel fortunate that I can believe that I will find a new branch. I let myself feel fortunate that I trust I will find a new branch. I let myself appreciate the power in me that i can fly, and find a spot to land. I let myself like this in me. I let myself think of it as a strength, not a weakness or flaw.

Then, I noticed the sun had come out and poked a hole in the fog and clouds, creating a crown of blue at the top of the sky. The blue slowly yet surely spread further across and down, the clouds and fog retreating to the sea. The unmuted and unfiltered sunlight opened up a fresh and crisp world.

new clarity. brightness.

Quickening my pace, I turned my face up to the sun and spread my arms wide.

I will let it in. I will let it in.

I walked on, feeling my own fog blow out behind me. I turned to look back, and saw the blackbird still preening on the won branch, keeping its neck and head high, working to keep its feathers from blowing in the wind. And I did not hate that bird at all, because she saw only one branch and had to have it. I understood, and looked at the other birds, back on the ground, hunting, pecking, eating, drinking, some flying up and surfing wind currents. That bird sat still on her branch. She seemed content to stare down from her perch.

I ran on, with a little laugh, birds off the tree in front of me coasting on warm air currents.

We flew forward, preferring the feel of the wind in our faces---in the sky open to our prayers, feet free of gravity. And she sat on that branch, and we were where and how we needed to be.


Ilina said…
Good Lord, woman. Your writing blows me away every single time.
Anonymous said…
Wow! Very nice. We all need to do that sometimes.
thordora said…
I dunno. Some people need to be taken to task because they spread their oil-and I hate to imagine how many people and children that person might spread it too.

I hold my inner peace much tighter now than ever, but people can bring out such monsters...monsters who are only bested when I fix the initial problem.

But that's me. :)
Yolanda said…
Your wigs are spread so far, I can see them here. Fly, Julie. Fly.
Ugh! I'm sorry this happened to you, but also glad you had the time and space to reflect on it this morning. Thanks for sharing.
thailandchani said…
This is exceptional! You even brought me out of lurkdom. Thanks for such a good post.. and a good reminder of the spiritual housekeeping we all have to do.

Magpie said…
J, you are strong and fine , and your ability to give voice to this is powerful. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
Knowing that we can move and it is a strength really resonates w/ me. Thank you for putting it into words.
Anonymous said…
Even Buddha had his unenlightened moments. The trick for the truly enlightened is rising above and moving on.

Very nice piece.
jeanie said…
I hate it when I am bogged down in negative energy - I love that you have described the flight from it so well.
crazymumma said…
okay aside from the fact that you write like a dream.

I think, and although I am happy you went to beautiful....that there is a place and a time for the ugly.
Anonymous said…
I needed to read this. So often I feel that I'm the only one wading through that oily ick. I'm the only one with negative thoughts flowing freely from my mouth. I want to be better. I do. And yet? I want to be heard.
Jennifer S said…
I love how you are able to see the world - really see it. And you write it all so beautifully. (The images, the metaphors...perfection).
ewe are here said…
A truly lovely way to look at it... but I agree with Crazymumma... sometimes you have to get ugly, especially when they involve your kids.
painted maypole said…
oof. I'm glad you're finding peace. I went to lunch with some fellow castmates and all they did was gossip and complain the whole time, and I walked away feeling oily... just as you described.
Anonymous said…
You have explained, very poignantly, the Christian concept of "turning the other cheek". Also, how difficult it is to do.

Liv said…
I suppose I could rely on context clues to get this comment right. Or I could lean on John Mayer with some trite blossom blowing bs to help you along, but the truth is that you have helped yourself and others along. You've handled elegantly and eloquently something in which I might have been tempted to resolve with a foot up an ass.
Profound and perfect. I wish I could write like you.
Bobita said…
Beautiful and, for me, timely.

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