One day in her office with the tiny fountains and giant stuffed bear, my witchy therapist tells me it’s all connected, as in once we get to the core, you’ll be healed, as in it’s not a million problems, just one. Another day she says you’ll never be where you were before and something tilts in the right way and I walk out into the sunshiney parking lot taller than I have before, carrying all the right weight, feeling like a part of the world rather than something misplaced. I drive the three minutes home with a big, goofy, nearly-drunk smile.
To write I play my current favorite song, the one that croons like the forest loves the rain, and today I’m writing because it’s about to rain, or it feels like it might, and that heavy, bloated sky feeling is one of my favorites. Next to the rain drops hitting the pavement. Next to hot, sticky Georgia thunderstorms. Next to thick green grass in North Carolina. Next to gently pressing my face into granite. Next to a really good kiss. Next to learning what the people you love love the most. All of this ours at any given moment.
The book Meghan recommends says feeling unworthy goes hand in hand with feeling separate from others, separate from life. And I guess it’s this that’s rolling around in my head, how this seeps into everything, causes it all.
Here in Mammoth it has quieted down, but just days ago it felt like a rift through the town — we don’t want the tourists, but we need them, but we do want them because they’re humans like us, and haven’t you had those times where you connect with their humanness and they just light you up? Last week I was the tail guide for the sweetest family, the mom a kindergarten teacher, the two teenage girls joyfully quietly riding along in front, the dad perched on top of Joe waving back at his wife every once in a while, and she left $60 for us, but work is so rushed that I didn’t get to tell her how much I enjoyed talking to her. And then there was Ava, the sobbing child who reminded me so much of myself, and how I told her I’m proud of you for staying on and then had to rush her horse back into the yard and help someone else off before turning around for another ride. And I do this one day a week! One! Imagine the joy if we all got to do the things that wear us out much less. How much more worthy we might feel, or just more open to connection.
It’s all so fast, this world. It’s all so entangled. There’s so little time for gentleness, for softness. The system wants us unworthy. In Tahoe, the news station pans their cameras from the tourists go home signs to the long line of cars driving into town. I’m part of the urgency too, the angst. I don’t get enough sleep and I’m banging the steering wheel or hitting my shin on the dumpster or spilling the cup of water. But there’s something deeper I feel now, realizing I can say no to this system that doesn’t serve me, craft a better one.
My therapist says breathe through your heart which only sometimes makes sense. Ross Gay says sorrow is not my name and Christi says it’s just love and all the people in my life live it a million times over so I can see it and be it. And I guess that’s what gives me a tiny, shiny sliver of hope in all of this, this wild world… that somehow I walked out of Judy’s office thinking I won’t go back to where I was and I haven’t. There are bad days and tears and hopelessness still, but far less than there were before, and instead I spend my time digging in to who humans are. Dreaming of what we can be, do, become, hold sacred together.
We’ll never go back.
We can’t unsee it… the extraction capitalism requires. The ways the resentment toward tourists here built up for a million good reasons til it bubbled over, like I’m sure it will again and again. How it asks us to look at it. The hunger and ache and murders of so many innocent people. How all these things ask us to look. The sorrow endless, the grief too big to hold, but it’s ours too.
My human design says when healthy, I’m fundamentally optimistic, “hoping and dreaming for the best in life for everyone, including yourself,” and I wasn’t always this way, in fact wasn’t ever this way. Yet somehow that has turned, and I can’t help but think it’s possible for all of it to turn, for all of it to melt into something far better, truer, holier, demanding of even more soft reverence, if we just keep looking at each other.
No matter the pull toward the brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything.