I learned my Taoism young and from necessity: hold up the mountain or crumble with it. There is no better without change, and I have tried to understand that, accept or even find strength in the crumbling of mountains- the tumbling of momentum can be exhilarating if you let it, it’s hard to always live in terror.
It’s come in a series of tiny leaps and giant bounds. I had some clear revelations that moved me along, but didn’t sum up the problem in my life, what it was that I was always feeling the lack of… I always, always felt like I was special, somehow, that even through some pretty horrendous stuff, there was a certain enchantment to being me, that something was coming for me that was greater, I just had to last.
I haven’t been able to see past the crumbling, the allowing to be demolished, I have only been focused on being a good survivor of the process. Crumbling isn’t good or bad, it just is, so I keep feeling inside of myself, expanding, looking for sanctuary, meditating to feel the expansiveness that I know is there, just out of my physical reach. To mindfully exist within the falling rocks, to appreciate the darkness, feel warmth within the rubble, hold hands, survive together, last.
At forty-one, I’ve lasted a long time, and something inside of me has lasted much, much longer. At a time when all I’m supposed to care about is younger looking skin and keeping my car upgraded, all I can think is, hard no.
I’m not going to survive the next forty-one years in the fitting rooms, dressing it up, or the make-up counter covering the face I have finally come to love. Finally, finally, I have the face I have earned and A body that I co-conspire with instead of hating for not conforming. Now, my diet is water and food, I wear what feels right, and I’ve traded skincare for soul care. I no longer see the value in surviving, I don’t believe it exists outside of a single moment- a quick relief.
There is no surviving outside of the instant, it’s just as impossible and exhausting as holding up the mountain. Sustained survival is something hideously divergent than what I sense here, when I release even just a little.
The pressure is not from the pain of recovery, not from a fear of failure, in any real sense, but from a lack of perspective, from squinting at a tiny piece of the puzzle, like a child, believing what I couldn’t see wouldn’t hurt me.
I could live and die and only feel a vague pang that I might have missed something, that my life has slipped by me, and I have failed to grasp what my role really was.
I am not the one trying to hold up the mountain, that is my fears, my programming and my expectations, but nor am I meant to fall to pieces with the mountain- I AM the mountain.
A mountain can crumble, but it doesn’t disappear. It’s not made of millions of rocks, it is a mountain, in all of it’s forms, and if it crumbles that means it’s coming back with FIRE.
THE FRAMEWORK OF MY LIFE WAS NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR THE LIFE STORY I WANTED TO BE THE HERO OF.
I was keeping it small, hoping I was safe in there, if I didn’t offend, followed the rules. I was not allowing the space in my life to do the good I want to do. A mountain is a safe harbor, and I was only protecting and defending one spot- instead of living in my full majesty, abundant eternally, home for many creatures and in a deeply rooted, intrinsically connected union with all the other mountains. We are all connected. We are all bigger than we think.
I got here by doing less. Less caring what other people thought; that wasn’t my business. Less focused on how things should look; I was the only one living my life, only I have to get it. Less focused on how I look, more focused on how I feel. The more I could reign it in, make deliberate, mindful deep dives into understanding the ecology of this mountain- this fucking awesome mountain, that exists because it IS. It is all the elements, all the possibilities and all the sacred moments of my choosing, the actions and emotions and love and friction make the layers, and a mountain is a pyramid- it has a solid base, even as it is a conduit for source to breathe fire through.
Searching for what has meaning for me, consciously and unconsciously had led me a lot of places, and it is what has given me the strength to always be able to do what life asks of me, drawing power when I needed it, but unaware that I didn’t have to dig for warmth- my value is not labor, so I should only ever do that for love, not compensation. There is no cash value worth trading time that keeps your power under wraps.
My value is intrinsic, inherent, and exponential. I am CAPITAL- and that grows with interest, intention, and imagination. Because truly, truly, at the end of the day, it is all your imagination- it is all in your mind, and that is limitless beyond limitless- and there is not a cap, mountains don’t battle for resources, there is enough for every mountain to be a mountain. Every mountain provides. Every mountain is. We are.
I don’t know where this journey is taking me. I realized the helplessness and rage I feel from injustices, from suffering: it was actually listening with impotent sorrow to my dearest friend that flipped a switch, changing my mindset forever. That frustration that I felt wasn’t because I couldn’t do anything to change the course, it was because I COULD and I wasn’t.
We know what we’re good at. I had to dig around a little, no pun intended, but I feel good with my hands in the dirt, which was a clue. The connection I feel with the natural elements, the environment that I am in, helped lead me. I looked for the greatest adventures, the biggest thrills, and the most intense joys to understand where I should invest myself, where I should let my interest grow, and where I should exert myself, because there’s joy in hard work, too, if you’re not trading it for your life. I was always drawn to the ocean, so much that I became a fisherman at 38, bought a wooden troller and hand-trolled for two summers, all by myself, still trying to prove that I could be tough enough, brave enough and work hard enough to be worthy.
I did feel power out there by myself, but when I was honest with myself, it wasn’t right for me. The devastation of climate change and the visible signs of it in the Alaskan waters I had grown up on, learning to fish from my dad, gave me an anxiety I cannot adequately put into words. I spent a lot of time thanking each fish I killed, trying to appreciate the trade the salmon were making, but although I could see there was something about being out there in nature that did fill me up, it wasn’t going to be the thing that I could lean into for love. I missed my responsibilities, my plants, and my home.
At some point, you just have to stop. If being the captain of my own boat, by myself, out in the ocean, battling kelp and broken gurdies and big waves and screaming at my own short-comings wasn’t going to prove to myself that I was enough, if I STILL felt like I had to measure up in some way, then there was nothing I could ever do to prove it.
So I stopped. I stopped doing anything, and saw that when the curtains were drawn, when the audience had left, I always wanted the same thing, it was the same thrills that always called my name. Nothing is more exciting than Nature- nothing- and I shouldn’t limit nature to what was outside of me, nature is within me, within the exhilaration I feel in a storm, the magic I feel from watching a seed grow into a flower, a leaf, and the fulfillment that comes with feeding others is nature, too. My nature is nature, every tiny ritual and habit I reconnect with draws me closer to how best to honor that. I’m learning sacred all over again, and it’s more magical and comprehensible than I allowed myself to believe.
I love to tend my garden, mix my potions, feed my family. I love to tend my flock, it is natural for me to care for others, not natural for me to give tough love like society would like me to dole out, but to take the time to let healing happen, and to offer advocacy: I am the mountain and I am the dragon in it’s cave, I accept my guardianships with honor and gratitude.
As above, so below. The gifts I’ve gotten have been shared through process after process, but so much of that has come from the wisdom and guidance of others walking a path that I recognize, that I wasn’t able to reach, and they’ve reached out a hand, shone a light for me, looked out while I found my footing, and helped give me the proof that what I feel does exist, there are people in lives big enough for their stories.
Being a part of the conversation as someone steps into their power is powerful, too- we all rise together when we rise, or we’re losing to an illusion of separation.
I’ve embraced the growth when I expand in connection with others, share what we have remembered deep inside about how to live outside of plans and big ideas. The proof is in the things that don’t make you special, impressive, they make you who you are outside of your own ideas and stories about yourself. When I was failing, I was watering my little garden of radishes on the porch. When I was losing control of my life, I was learning that I, too, grow with water, and I, too deserve mercy, grace.
Tiny little glimmers emerge, through meditation, reflection, education and by not just allowing ourselves to follow our intuition- but to understand it is the only way out of the trap, and only you can free yourself- but we can each free ourselves connected to one another, adding to the story and making each of our lives big enough for our intentions and dreams.