Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Monday, June 20, 2011


It's been a while since I last wrote, and that feels strange.  Its been a long time since I've felt like communicating at all about anything that is remotely touchy feely or emotionally charged.  Instead, I've been in action mode.  My long-time housemate moved out to shack up with her boyfriend, so I've been re-organizing my home and moving in another housemate which, for a nester like me can be slightly traumatic.  I've also been launching some projects that I can't talk about yet, but lets just say that some of your wishes for this blog to morph into something else may be on the brink of happening.

It would be wrong to say, then, that I have felt numb in totality.  But, I have felt rather deadened in many of the areas of my life that were so vitally aware and ever changing while I was traveling in India.  It's as if my sense of wonder has dissipated, dissolved, and been replaced by eyes that see not in Kodachrome, but black and white and shades of grey.  Even the great mysteries that revolve around "why" and "how" and "who" and "when" have lost their pull and I feel anchored by practical conundrums like "oil" versus "gas", "family wedding" versus "bank account", "long hair" versus "short hair."  In other words, questions that make for lousy blog copy.

Perhaps I've just been shrouded in the collective shadow that has enveloped the Pacific Northwest this Spring, the same shadow that has sat over the area since last October and which shows no signs of vacating the premises anytime soon.  While much of the country bakes in record heat and battles tornadoes and fire and rising tides, we live in a perpetually chilled and gloomy green cocoon.  I feel like I am seeing the world through gauze, lying still and quiet, waiting for the next phase of the journey to start...only I suspect, or is it fear, that I'm going in reverse, from colorful butterfly to work-a-day caterpillar.

My first few days in Darjeeling the whole town was overrun by ladybugs.  They were everywhere, filling the air, blessing the walls, the trees, the cars, the people with their presence.  It was magical.  But by the end of my time in the mountains, their bodies covered the paths and made the air feel empty and ordinary once again.

So many parts of my life are dying away, I realize now.  When I was in Agra I wrote of feeling like my inner child had grown up.  This wasn't a mournful feeling, but a relief and a release.  The almost willful determination that I'd had to keep a sense of naivete and childlike delight in the world, was replaced by eyes that found beauty and joy in parts of the world and in even the darkest aspects of our own humanity.  I came home with a new strength that allowed me to see what I wanted with the kind of fierceness that I had when dealing with rickshaw drivers or storekeepers in India who tried to sell me something I did not want.

When I first returned I also had this burning sense that I had to leave Seattle, and soon.  But then I sank deeper back into this world, realizing that it is not a change of geography that is necessarily beckoning to me, but a change in form, in size and shape and texture.

Having been turned off and shut down and uncommunicative, I find now, now that I need to write once again, that I have been, am in the midst of metamorphosis.

What does the butterfly wrap themselves in when it's time to transform to the next phase?  The butterfly, like those Darjeeling ladybugs, dies and litters the ground with tattered wings.

Perhaps we humans get the chance to sprout wings over and over again, to fly and rest and fly again.  I hope so.  In some deep place inside I might believe it.  Though this phase in the transformation seems to require a complete submission to the the death of parts of myself that no longer serve.  I've been grounded for several weeks.  And only now do I feel that I am aware of a new stirring of life.  I've crawled into the cocoon to await the next awakening.

It's curious to me that at this junction my step-mom should be taking me, my step-sisters, and their families to Duck, North Carolina with a stop-over in Norfolk, childhood home.

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