Yesterday I hugged someone, one of my dearest humans, for the last time in our friendship here, as they will be out of town for the next couple weeks, and they cried in my arms and I in theirs. The tears were brief, because my loved one is kind and brave; and I, too, kept my word as much as I could that "I am going enjoy the time I have with you now, but I am going to cry my face off later. I'm still crying, off and on, and I spent 16 hours in my bed last evening and night, which is a wild luxury in this time of so much to do. I am taking a little bit to write this, too, because writing heals me, though I will not polish much, so this may be rough, which is appropriate.
Yes, our friendships will continue. Yes, there is the internet and videochatting and this blog and yes, there will be visits; us coming here and folks coming to see us. None of these change the very real fact that we are leaving the place where we have lived for 25 years and we are not likely to return to live here again. It is rightful and wise to feel the grief that comes with this loss.
This adventure is the greatest change in my life other than finding my soulmate in James. This is bigger than leaving my birth family to go to college, bigger than leaving New York City for San Francisco after college. This precipice is, when we look forward, a glorious rebirthing, and, when we look behind, a gutting loss. In the moment, this precipice is also lists that keep both shrinking and growing of that which must be tended for safe offshore sailing.
The title of this post is that of a gorgeous book of the work of the artist Damien Hirst which James and I bought in our early years together, so it must be nearish 20 years old. This, This. It is an impossible task to do justice to this parting. We have had so many friends, colleagues, lovers, dance partners, neighbors.... I always said explicitly that I considered my primary responsiblity as a healer and teacher to love my students. I worked very hard at it, at finding the perspective from which I could know, hold in compassion, and love every single one of the thousands of people who came to lie on the ground with me. And once you learn to love everyone, it is simply natural to love everyone. If I were to set out to spend a precious moment looking into the eyes of every person I love here, I would never be done.
I love you.
I love you.
Please come on Thursday if you wish for a hug (Virgil's Sea Room in the Mission, August 23 6-11p for our Bon Voyage party).
Mostly I have tried to keep the grief to myself, as I am the one who is choosing to leave, and it does not feel fair to ask those I am leaving to support me in my pain at doing so. Our loved ones have been so generous and supportive; we have been lifted up, housed, loaned cars, fed, and encouraged at every turn. I am humbled by the grace of your love. Thank you. But I do not wish to give the false impression that this is effortless, or even easy, pulling up the roots we set so deeply in this place. In order to be reborn, though, I must let go of what I was.
I have my practice, and my husband, and my ship, and the sea.
There was a moment this weekend, in the parting on land, when I felt a lot of emotion, and I reached down below me with my sensing to do the grounding practice which I teach and live by, and I was surprised and then dismayed and then surprised again at my dismay to find beneath me the steadiness of actual ground rather than the fluidity of the sea I have grown used to connecting with for the past year just beneath our hull. I'll have to come up with a new name for the practice of grounding with the sea! Perhaps just connecting. A sign of the fundamental nature of this change.
It has been my observation, as someone who has long been close to death and dying in my personal life and in my work, that grief is not specific; when we grieve, we grieve any loss that is not fully integrated. It is for this reason, in part, that I am making space for the grief of this parting, so that I can integrate it and be whole and not carry it as a wound within me.
Last night, then, as I worked to digest the pain of parting from my beloved friend, I dreamt. In my dreaming, I saw my house brother Dan, who died just about two years ago. (House family was the term that we use for the people who lived in our little intentional community in San Francisco.) In the dream, Dan was well, he, who was more often quiet and inward, was in his luminous, gregarious form. I was running into him in the midst of a party. Even in the dreaming, I knew that his body was dead and that it had been a long while since I had seen him, and I ran to him and threw myself into his arms. He wrapped his arms around me and I told him effusively how much I love him.
Yoga tells us that separation is illusion. The body of the universe is just one thing. Once, during the longest time that James and I had yet spent apart, I thought vividly of the fact that we were both standing, eventually, on the same ground, and I dropped to the ground and kissed it. We cannot be parted. And yet I will not easily roll into everyone's arms in person soon.
I try to let me grief flow rather than holding it. I try to focus on the love which is the source of the pain, to remember that while presence will be lost, love will not. And there is only one of us, truly, the cosmos, dancing. I set sail in order to feel into that.
I see, also, the tide of sailors all sharing this journey, the annual migration down the West Coast to be ready to head Mexico when hurricane season passes; the internet is kind this way, showing the belonging that lies ahead. It's all happening.
Oh, and here I come again, without intending to, to the little Zen for today, which is noted as a Zen Algorithm, "All is one, one is none, none is all."
I love you. I love you. I love you.
May we all be free.