The thought tumbled into my head out of nowhere this afternoon. I was working the last hours of the week sitting in a circle of sunlight at the dining room table, when suddenly, there it was: “I want to move to South Africa for three months”. Uh, hello….anyone? Where did this come from suddenly?
But then again, a lot of things have been ‘coming’ to me suddenly lately. Thoughts, reflections bubble to the surface of consciousness like a volcano slowly coming to the boil deep inside.
First I thought: It’s all Brene’s fault. (Currently reading a book of Brene Brown called Rising Strong.) But then I think of the course I did at CCL and I think: that’s where it all started! And then I think of our wedding, surrounded by so much love, and I know: but that’s part of it too. And then there’s my ‘Marble Jar Friends’ – the mirror they hold up for me, their reflections which push me forward ever so gently, one tiny step at a time.
It’s like a door has opened and it’s all flooding in, with no turning back.
Out of nowhere this sentence appeared recently too: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
I’m not sure where this is heading, but of one thing I am sure: it is heading.
It happens to those
who live alone
that they feel sure
when no one else
Until the one day
and the one
working in the
when they realize
that all along
they have been
kind of trouble
and that life
to those who
like the bees
the tall mallow
on their legs of gold,
or the wasps
going from door to door
in the tall forest
of the daisies.
I have my freedom
and nobody came
to see me,
only the slow
growing of the garden
in the summer heat
and the silence of that
known at my desk,
with the crumbling
as I write
the first lines
of a new poem
of scarlet fire
coming to fullness
in a clear light.
‘It Happens to Those Who Live Alone’
From The House of Belonging
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press
Photo © David Whyte
Whidbey Island 2015
Her name is Aimy. She’s nine years old (“Almost ten, Beanie.”). She thinks that I’ve forgotten that I’m her marraine, because she doesn’t hear from me very often and I keep forgetting her birthday.
She’s a feisty one, our Aimy. I clearly remember her first Christmas dinner at the family table: just one year old and already she refused to be fed by her mom or dad. With tightly pursed lips she violently shook her head: no food was going in her mouth unless she was holding that darn spoon herself.
In a way, not much has changed over the past nine years. Aimy still does things only one way: Aimy’s way.
Here’s why I think Aimy is awesome:
- Aimy says it like it is. She is brutally honest. You’ve gotta be able to deal with that.
- When she’s with you, Aimy EXPECTS you to be in the here and now with her too. Whether it’s discussing (Aimy doesn’t talk, she discusses) horse riding, or gymnastics or the fact that she’s afraid of dogs (“I’m working on it.”).
- Aimy makes great movies. She can laugh at things (including herself), she plays around with how she can create something new and funny, and she does it. (She doesn’t yet know how good she is at it, so I’m hoping that I can encourage her to keep going until she does.)
- Aimy has a question for every answer. Someone once called me “The Why Kid”. Without a doubt Aimy is right up there with me.
- Sometimes Aimy does stupid things. (Let’s just say it had something to do with a book and Youtube.) But she does them from the heart: with passion and conviction. That’s a great start. Imagine that power once she’s learnt how to channel it well – she could do anything!
- And last but not least: Aimy is prepared to connect with you, for real. To tell you what she’s afraid of (and demand you tell her the same) or show you who she really is (and demand you do the same).
Her dad – my brother – thinks we’re very similar. Looking at this strong, determined little girl, I reckon that’s a huge compliment.
It’s Friday night. I’m lying in the garden watching the sun go down behind the trees. The braai is lit and the music’s playing in the background. The dogs wander around lazily, sniffing here and there after emptying their dinner bowls.
Everything seems so idyllic…and yet the front page of the newspaper screamed death and murder across my screen this morning.
Nice, France. A truck eats its way through the crowd celebrating Bastille Day on a seafront promenade. Eighty-three dead. Fifty children. Countless injured.
Inside me things stumble. I don’t understand. I try to, but I don’t.
He was 31 years old. Tunisian. He had three children and was getting divorced. This week he rented a truck and decided to plow through a crowd on an unexpected mid-summer night.
They tell me this is the new normal. IS tells us “the fighting has just begun”.
I left South Africa because I wanted to stop living in constant fear. I wanted to stop looking over my shoulder, not worry about where I was going or always be aware of who was around me.
Europe used to be the sanctuary I ran to.
Now the fear is here too.
Every time I’m in South Africa. Or driving on the winding roads in the South of France. Or when we’re having a braai and I watch the stars appear in the night sky. Or when I go for a Saturday morning run through the fields with my dogs and I watch the mist curl up between the trees. Or when I get into bed on Saturday night after I’ve just changed the sheets. Or lying in the sun with my book knowing I’ve got nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Or when I’m going for dinner with my close girlfriends and we laugh so much our bellies ache. Or, or, or…