"What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? What do I know should die, but am hesitant to allow to do so? What must die in order for me to love? What not-beauty do I fear? Of what use is the power of the not-beautiful to me today? What should die today? What should live? What am I afraid to give birth to? If not now, when?
If we sing the song of consciousness 'til we feel the burn of truth, we throw a burst of fire into the darkness of psyche so we can see what we're doing... what we're truly doing, not what we wish to think we're doing. This is the untangling of one's feelings and the beginning of understanding why love and life are to be lived by the bones."
~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Terri and I have been having great conversations lately about life, love and loss. It's been theraputic for both of us. One thing she said yesterday really struck me. She said, "Everyone tells me to move on, and I don't want to move on. I want my brother here with me always." I told her there is no moving on - there's no such thing. All we can do is move forward.
It's a fine definitive. My analogy is, no surprise here, a comparison to driving the road. If I pack my bags and drive off to California, Washington doesn't cease to exist as I drive through Oregon and cross the California border. It's still there, my home is still there, the trees and mountains are still there, all the memories of my time in the state are still there. I've moved forward. Will I enjoy California any less because I have all these thoughts of Washington? No. Will I miss Washington? Yes. Will I think about it; dream about it; and in many ways wish I was still there? Definitely. But life is about experiencing the new - being open to possibility and change.
"Change ain't lookin' for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to."
We move forward, not forgetting where we've been, because that enriches who we are now. Would I exchange some of the bad things that happened in my youth for a Brady Bunch existence? Never. As hard as it was, it made me who I am. I can't base my life on what might have been - it is what it is, and it will be what it's going to be. But, neither can I stay in the past and base every new experience and feeling upon something that is no longer a part of my daily life. All I can do is find some level of acceptance and move forward.
David and I have laughed about people who expect to find a partner without any emotional baggage. Well, shit, you can't hit five years old anymore without having some kind of baggage! The question is whether or not an individual is strong enough to haul their own luggage and not have it impact someone else's space, or whether they're hoping someone else will carry it for them.
Do I love John any less as time goes by? Of course not. Impossible. Do I think of him any less? No. But, I can't live my life as though he's still physically here without miring myself in what-could-have-been, thus losing out on what-will-be (and what is). It's necessary for us to move forward, to continue on, in order to stay healthy.
In the movie, Shirley Valentine, Shirley has a conversation with a Greek waiter that goes something like this (and I'm "shirley" misquoting here, because I'm going entirely on memory):
Shirley: Oh, Hiya! How are you today?
Waiter: Em... ok. This morning I wake with small pain in my back.
Shirley: Oh, I'm so sorry.
Waiter: No, no, is ok. I feel this pain and I am glad because I know I am still alive.
My left leg looks like hell and it often hurts. But it's my leg. I got to keep it. I get to use it. I get frustrated when it hurts, but I never stop being thankful that it's there. Sometimes I'll push it beyond what I think I can endure - but it's still there. It's healed as much as it's ever going to heal. The hideous scar reminds me that I'm lucky to be alive and walking this earth under my own power.
The emotional pain and scars that come from losing John remind me that I'm still alive. Remind me that I still have much to do, and much to give. So, I throw my little bursts of fire into the darkness, and keep moving forward... livin' and lovin'... by the bones.