I am always seeking to hone my technique, to generate new and creative ideas, to find a different way of looking at the world. But like the construction workers, I have to build on what’s already there. I have to strike a balance, uneasy though it may be, of honoring the strength of the old, and creating a little chaos to bring in the new.
I could probably find a way to heat treat everything else as well. Not only my food, but my home and my relationships. I could boil my garden vegetables, throw money at my old house, distance myself from friends and family and neighbors. I could fence my children in with a hundred thousand rules.
Then they would be safe. Then they would be contained. Then they would no longer have the power to break my heart.
It was a few weeks into the class that I suddenly felt as though I was in the ocean, treading water with seasoned and well-equipped scuba divers. The language was the water surrounding me, warm and inviting, salty and buoyant but dark below. It was the darkness that drew me. As much as I tried to get in touch with the text, with the loss of Eden, I felt drawn to the darkness below and I swam in that.
So far, I’d only added dirt, bone meal, and periodic water, then parked the cans in a sunny spot to see what happened. Yet thanks to this minimal work, green shoots were already seeking the sun, requiring me to add almost daily scoops of more dirt to cover the rapidly growing stems. Water plus dirt made mud in most other settings, but here were these plants, charting almost miraculous growth despite so little work on my part.
Maybe I grew like that too.
This is a lonely posture, but letting people in can hurt, bruise, bewilder. Looking into another's eyes and seeing myself there means encountering not just that person and their messes, but my own. It means I have to stare my own presence down and feel that pinch in my chest, that thickness in my throat. I have to face the former me because someone knew me then, knows me now, and if we both stick around, will know me in the future. That is love, and it is tricky.
To know someone else, to love someone else, is to lose myself a little.