Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Running With Wolves

I love moments of synchronicity - moments when something I've been mulling over crystallizes and becomes clear. I've been talking about inner strength for the past two days now, and just last night I stumbled on something in a book I often re-read. I hollered, "Yes! Exactly!!" The book is Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths & Stories About the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

"To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one's own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one's own way. It means to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live."

(Now, while you're all googling numinosity, pardon me while I go get more bean.)

Women Who Run with the Wolves was given to me just about 10 years ago, by my dear friend Jess. She gave it to me just before I moved from Maryland to the West Coast. She really championed my gypsy spirit, before I even recognized it for what it was. At the time, I thought I was just making a necessary change in my life - I didn't recognize the spiritual impetus behind it. I read through the book on the long, slow bus ride out here, and almost immediately re-read it once I reached Calfornia. Often, I'd take it with me when I hiked into the hills near John's parent's home.

In WWRWW, Estés recalls the old European fables and fairy tales, most of which feature women or girls as main characters, dissects the myths, attitudes, strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls and adventures, and compares them to those we have today. (Mind you, I'm not one for self-help style books - this is the only one I've ever read in my life. That I read it often speaks volumes, I feel, for it's validity.) Having grown up nurturing my macabre side by devouring anything fed to me by the brothers Grimm, I had no choice but to sit up and pay attention to WWRWW. Plus that, Jess had given it to me, and I knew she wouldn't steer me wrong.

Jess was a good friend of the Simon family (the family I was a nanny for), and we got to know each other and became dear friends through Cindy's illness and death. We made it a point to meet up one Sunday each month for pancakes and hours long conversations. Sadly, Jess died very suddenly of heart failure a month after I moved away. The unexpectedness of it tore me apart, and I miss her to this day. I often find myself thinking, "What would Jess say...?" I still have the enormous suitcase she let me "borrow" to make my escape.

There's another line from WWRWW that has become my creed in life. It's a question Estés asks, and I ask myself this question anytime I enter a new relationship of any sort, whether it's a love relationship, friendship, family, or work acquaintance. It's a line that jumped out of the book and knocked me sideways and it's made all the difference in how I perceive myself and my feelings in any relationship.

"What could he take from me that I wouldn't freely give?"

My answer is always, "Nothing." There's nothing I wouldn't give away. There's nothing anyone can take from me. If it's already given, it can't be taken - right? It's a perspective that evens me, and if there are any words by which I live, it's those. It's not about being generous, it's about being wide open to possibility. Sure, one could say it's merely dicing syntax, but the idea of it, the recognition of it, is what works. For example: If I give you all my money, there's no way you can take it from me. It's already been given. I haven't lost a thing, only given it away. See? You can't lose what you don't possess. Note: there's a big difference between having and possessing here.

In a bigger scope of that concept, if I share my spirit, soul or love, it can't be taken. It's already been sent out. When someone says, "I don't want to hurt your feelings." My reply is, "You can't." I've already let go of whatever that feeling is. It was never mine to keep (possess) in the first place.

I freely give anything that's mine to give, or try to, whether physical or metaphysical. Most people who know me, know that about me. It's the old, "Hey, it's just who I am." Sometimes it throws people a bit because it makes them somehow feel obligated to, I guess, reciprocate in some fashion. But, as I see it, that's their feeling and they'll have to deal with it on their own. For me, it's simply a need to not possess anything.

So. I leave you with this question today: What could anyone take from you that you wouldn't freely give? If your answer is anything but "nothing," it may be time for some introspection.

"That which submits, rules. The willow submits to the wind and prospers until, one day, it is many willows - a wall against the wind. This is the willow's purpose."
~Frank Herbert, Dune

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