“Are you in teacher training or are you writing a novel?” Mark asked me when he saw the thick brown, leather-bound volume on my lap one afternoon between sessions. During my collective four weeks at Kripalu getting my 200-hour certification I became synonymous with my journal; where many people only used theirs during lectures or when prompted, I carried mine everywhere. It lay next to my mat with my water and chapstick (another staple) during every class. It rested on my lap during meditations and chanting, and was infused with the energy of the room and the community. I battled nerves and a shaking voice and read aloud from its pages to my whole training class, my sangha, and it saw me through my YTT like a devoted and almost obsessively present friend. I insist that that journal may be the most charged thing that I own.
So on the day that I graduated teacher training, somewhere around a bend in I-290 in Worcester between Kripalu and home, realizing that my journal was not actually in the car with me was akin to how I imagine it would feel to suddenly look over and realize that my arm was missing and there was a good chance I would never see it again.
Let me pause for a moment to talk about why a journal, a silly little journal, would leave me working to calm my sobs and watch the road while I drove the remaining hour and a half home (because I’m sure there are people out there who are raising an eyebrow and questioning my stability for this). I started journaling, regularly and compulsively, back in the seventh grade. My first journal was unlined, I never dated the pages and I had the rounded, cartoonish handwriting that is the trademark of just about every 13-year-old girl. My handwriting has since tempered itself, and I’ve become meticulously picky about my journal pages – lined, but neither too wide nor too narrow. Plain covers. Thick and durable paper. Essentially, I have to pick it up and run my hands on the pages and feel invited and welcome in that volume, that I’m at home in there and that this book is trustworthy and loyal. Now, I know that personifying my journals like that might raise those eyebrows again, but my journals are my emotional home, right along with my yoga mat. Atmosphere is everything. So over the years I’ve perfected my standards for choosing the perfect journal, and once I found this leather-bound beauty I stuck with it. I’ve gone through a few like that at this point (thanks to Barnes and Noble for continuing to stock it). It feels so natural to carry it around that I often forget if I’ve grabbed it or not. I write in coffee shops, in parks, in free time at work and, most definitely, during my yoga teacher training. It’s the heart of my meditation practice. A blank piece of paper is where I go when I need to make sense where I have none, and I get very attached to my journals. I love them like friends. Some might argue that I love them even more (I refrain from weighing in on this).
I knew exactly what had happened. I’d stopped in Northampton, Massachusetts to have dinner with my friend Sonia, also a Kripalu graduate, to swap stories of practice teaches and emotional breaking points and asana victories and the sweet and poignant Kripalu graduation ceremony, and as I parked my car in the garage in downtown NoHo I glanced at my journal on the seat next to me. I thought of the passage I’d read to my sangha a day before, and on a whim I decided to bring my journal with me to share that little bit with Sonia. It didn’t fit in the small purse I had with me, so I tucked it under my arm and walked to the restaurant. We had our dinner, we meandered back to the parking garage, and this is where it all derailed.
The first thing that came into play in this equation is the fact that the Northampton parking garage is set up with a pay station on the third level. You pay there, validate your ticket then insert it into the machine on your way out, rather than handing a ticket and money to a real-live person (which is what I am used to up here in New Hampshire). The second factor is that the last time I’d gone to see Sonia in Northampton I’d been thrown by this minor change in routine and almost lost my ticket between the pay station and my car. We joked about this as I set my journal down on a small table by the pay station, and after I finished with the particulars I made a show of putting my ticket directly in my coat pocket, promising not to forget this time.
I said goodbye to Sonia at her car, headed back to mine and set off for the last two hours of my drive. It is also worth noting that my phone was down to the bitter end of its battery, so I’d turned it off as soon as my GPS had gotten me safely from downtown Northampton to the Mass Pike, where it was a clear shot back home. I was maybe 40 minutes into this leg of the trip, mind wandering between missing Kripalu already and my excitement to be home, relief that I had nothing to do the next day but wake up (unsure if it was even possible to sleep past 5am anymore), have a delicious practice at home and, as I imagined, write for most of the day. It was a golden feeling. It was late on a Friday evening and I was just about the only car nearby, the streetlights were vaguely orange and warm, and Worcester, not the most charming city from the highway, looked like it was glowing. My car was rounding a bend in the road and I was lost in humming along with the dissonant harmonies of Beck’s Heart is a Drum when I felt a sharp and halting chill. My hand reached over to the seat next to me, instinctually looking for my journal, because in that moment I realized that it wasn’t there. No, I thought, that’s not possible. There’s no way I would have gotten into this car without it. I turned on the light in my car, rifled through the jacket and purse and such that I’d tossed into that space, panic growing more and more as I tried to watch the road and reject the possibility that I could have fumbled so badly as to leave it. I managed to get myself through Worcester and onto 495, and once the road was straight and clear I pulled over, turned on the light in my car and tore the place apart. Logically I knew there was no way my journal would be in that car if it wasn’t directly on the seat next to me, but I simply refused to accept that until I’d put my hands on everything to be sure. I sprawled across the middle console and groped along the floor, hoping that it had just slipped underneath the seat. I shimmied into the space between the front seats and all but prostrated myself into the back of the car reaching for my duffle bag, aware that it wasn’t back there but fiercely hoping that I had just temporarily drawn a blank and tossed it in with my laundry and my yoga mat before leaving the parking garage. I hadn’t. I went in circles through the first four stages of grief in the five minutes my car was idling on the side of the road, from outright denial and refusal to overwhelming fury at myself for having made such a horrible, stupid, neglectful mistake. Everything I’d done in the last few hours was in such a haze that I wasn’t sure I could even trust my own memory. It was getting late, I was in tears and out of control, and in my mind there was no option other than to get my journal back. There was no such thing as acceptance of this circumstance. I called Sonia, explained through tempered sobs what had happened and apologized profusely but asked that she drive back to the garage and look for my journal. It was getting late. She and her boyfriend (now fiancé) were just about to go to sleep and it was a 20 minute drive for her to get back to Northampton. A potentially more sane person might have told me that it was just a journal, that if it was going to be there right then it would be there still in the morning, but lucky for me my friends are just as imbalanced as I am and she agreed without hesitation. She would call me when she made it back to the garage. I thanked her and hung up, returned to my sobs and just focused every ounce of energy I had on hoping that my little brown book would be there waiting when Sonia made it back.
But what if it isn’t? I kept asking myself as I drove on, acutely aware that with every mile I was leaving more and more distance and all I wanted to do was to turn around. I thought of how long I had been with that journal… It was February, and I’d been in that volume since the previous August. The first page of that journal was written on the day that I received my acceptance notice from Kripalu, the day that I officially signed on for yoga teacher training. The first thing I wrote in that book was “hello, page one. Nice to meet you.” What a lovely way to start off a relationship, don’t you think? A warm and engaging acceptance of this newness, a pleasant introduction, an open heart. All relationships should begin this way, I think. All new phases of our lives should be met with such openness.
I realize that this is something I struggle with immensely. I’ve always been terrible with changes, and with goodbyes. I was a shy and clingy child who would cry and feel legitimate and crippling panic when I couldn’t see my mother nearby. The poor woman had to suffer through my tantrum and desperate attachment every day that she dropped me off at preschool; it didn’t matter that I would recover as soon as she left and settle in happily with my class within a few minutes of her driving away. I would cry and beg her to stay, I would cause a scene in front of all the other kids and I didn’t care in the least, and I would hold my sobbing face to the small window in the back corner of the classroom and watch her drive away. Every time. And to be honest, it felt much the same when my parents dropped me off as a freshman in college. No, I didn’t throw a tantrum and beg them to stay (outwardly), but I felt like I could have. So facing the reality that I may never see my journal again, the journal containing months of my life and the entirety of my YTT experience (those notes! Those valuable notes!) was not the easiest thing, and to be honest I downright refused it. I coughed it up on the rug like a dog who won’t swallow a pill no matter how much peanut butter it’s slathered in. I would not get to that last stage of grief, the acceptance. That just wasn’t something that I was willing to do. Nope. There had to be another outcome. My journal had to be there when Sonia went back for it. There was no alternative.
Somewhere in the time I spent waiting for Sonia to call, I’d started humming a chant to myself to keep myself calm. It was the only thing keeping me from crying, which made it the only thing making me at all safe driving that car. The chanting kept me focused. I fell into a shaky, choked rhythm, jarred by the fact that I’d just been singing these words with my sangha hours earlier, that somewhere between the sun coming up that morning and it setting again, the meaning of those notes and those words changed for me. Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya… Maybe there was a chant out there that would have been more appropriate to my current circumstance, some kind of direct appeal to the deity of lost and beloved things, or the patron saint of suddenly missing limbs, or something to that effect, but in the moment the only thing that came to mind was that chant. A humble bow to divine and infinite wisdom. A chant that had brought together my sangha so many times, the chant that was so prominently infused into my journal from the myriad times it lay in my lap while we all sang together. Just like holding a hand on the surface of a drum and feeling the vibrations of every other beating drum in the room, that journal was connected with all of that energy every time we joined our voices together (and man, could that group sing together gorgeously…). So it was in the midst of singing to myself, unsteady but sure, that Sonia called back from the pay station at the garage.
“I’m sorry, honey, it’s not here.” The regret was palpable in her voice. I knew she’d been hoping to find it as much as I was, not only because it would have been worth dragging her out of bed and back into her contacts for, but because she knew that it wasn’t up to us anymore. It was gone and there was nothing we could do about it. She drove in circles around that garage for what must have been fifteen minutes before we accepted our defeat and I let her go home. No one can ever say the girl didn’t try (Sonia, you’re amazing).
“I’m so sorry. I’ll ask at the security station tomorrow to see if anybody turned it in. I can see a Lost and Found but the office is closed…” She offered suggestions for places to look, alternatives to my rising fear that someone had seen it, picked it up, wandered off, thrown it in a trash, thought it would be funny to take something like that and dispose of it… Or worse, that someone grabbed it with the intention of keeping it safe but would forget and it would get lost in a back seat or a trunk or a closet, and forgotten… I thanked Sonia again. I hung up. I tempered another wave of panic and wondered how long a person is able to cry before the body runs out, before all of the water is cried out and there’s nothing left but dried-out flesh and bone and broken heart. There must be a biological limit of water release through the eyes that precedes death.
Yes, this is what I thought in that moment. I never said I wasn’t melodramatic.
The rest of that drive was a dirge; I kept at my quiet humming, and I tried to imagine where my journal was then and who had it. I imagined that I could speak to that person, tried to guess what I would say. I wondered if that person had opened the journal and recognized that they were holding something that may mean nothing to them but was so significant to someone else. In that moment I became aware of how deeply connected I was to someone I had never met, that that person held the most personal insight into me that I could offer and that it was theirs to peruse at their discretion, completely uncensored and open. And yet I wasn’t worried about that person reading my journal or passing any judgement – they didn’t actually know me personally, and if anything I would consider what they held to be an offering, an appeal, a heartfelt plea to take good care of my journal and respect what it was to me, and maybe find a way to get it back to me. But no, I thought, that wasn’t possible. I never kept any personal information in my journals, never a name or contact information or the fill-ins to the printed “This Journal Belongs To ____” or “If Found Please Contact ___”. On principle, trying desperately not to fall into clichés of the “Dear Diary” stereotype of journalers, I’ve never written my name in one of my books. But before the dismay of that awareness could sink in I remembered something fortuitous, something unusual, that restored a bit of my hope. As a result of sheer fluke, completely random and seemingly inconsequential, it was all in there. Tucked into the back cover of the book, along with other papers I’d saved along the way, was a scrap of lined paper with everything on it –name, address, phone number and email. I’d written it down weeks ago to give to one of my sangha members, but ended up not needing it. It should have been balled up and tossed away ages ago, but in some strange coincidence I hadn’t gotten around to it. Oh god, I realized, it’s right there. It’s all right there. It was as if the softest light had been turned on in that moment. In those last miles of my drive, still maintaining my tenuous hold on calm, I felt the faintest urge to smile. At that point I spoke directly to that person, that mystery soul who found and kept my journal and must be intending to return it. Open the book, I told that person. Please, open it, it’s alright with me. Find that piece of paper. Guess correctly that it’s me and let me know that you have it and it’s safe. I don’t care what you read in the process, just keep it safe and let me know how to find you.
And thank god it was dark and there were no other cars around to see me, because I was speaking aloud to myself…
I made it home an hour or so later. I fed my cat and absently sat on the couch to pet him. I gave a halfhearted and last-ditch rip-through of my duffle bag to be sure the journal was nowhere, just in case philanthropic garage elves had found it before I drove off and tucked it away safely for me. No such luck. No surprise, of course, but a girl can dream; the existence of such elves would have been reassuring. Instead I sat on my couch and looked around at my living room, seeing that it looked just as I had left it but marveling at how different it felt with the knowledge that I hadn’t made it home with everything I’d taken with me. It hardly felt like I had made it home at all, really. I probably should have been able to put that aside for awhile and appreciate being home, but I couldn’t get my mind off of it. The most ironic and wrenching part right then was that whenever I feel that way about something, my instinct is to write about it, to put it all into my journal. My hand was already fidgeting for want of a pen, looking for something to write on. And yet I’m picky about my journals; I can’t open up and write in just anything, just as we can’t all easily open up and confide in just anybody. It has to be the right place; I wanted my journaling to all be together in one place, not scattered throughout different volumes. I felt stranded. Which got me wondering… And this was a troubling thought… How am I going to keep writing?
I ran through in my mind all of the times journals had come into play in my life in the last few weeks. My own aside, I’d had a few distinctly auspicious conversations with several people about their own journals recently. Sonia had talked to me a few weeks prior about hers, how her boyfriend had accidentally spilled coffee all over it, and the significance of stained journal pages. I had fortuitously crossed paths with one of my fellow students, Jeanie, before leaving Kripalu, who had found another friend’s journal left outside of the cafeteria earlier that afternoon. I had just said goodbye to this person, the owner of the wayward journal – let’s call him Kyle (because that’s his name) – and was able to catch him to return it before he’d gotten too far down the road. There had to be some kind of karmic charge in that, I told myself. Cosmically, energetically, in terms of sheer human fairness, that had to mean something. I deserved my journal back, I insisted. This was where I got myself stuck in that clumsy bargaining phase of grief, but I refused to let it go.
And then there was the reality of this specific journal. Really, I kept thinking, of all journals, this journal? Why this journal? This one, that was with me when I made the definitive choice to embark on yoga teacher training, that saw me completely overhaul my fitness level to prepare for this physical undertaking, that housed all of my anticipation of the emotional experience that was teacher training, too. That journal had been with me through the runs (and the endings) of a few very poignant relationships, had been there for several false starts and new beginnings. It saw me find a new feeling of presence within my own body, and within my emotional core. It captured a particularly profound window of time in my life, and those writings were not ones that I wanted to lose. They were ones I needed very much to go back and read in the future. They were ones that would sustain me in times of doubt and heaviness. I was still incapable of wrapping my mind around the idea of not having them when I needed them. This journal, I kept saying to myself, sometimes in more of a whine than I’d like to admit. Why this journal?
But was that the lesson? Was that the point of all of this? Was this journal lost because it was the very journal I would least want to lose, and therefore the most poignant loss to learn from? As vehemently as my heart and, I think, my instinct wanted to reject this possibility, there was something to be said for it. That journal was certainly a security blanket for me, and I felt baseless and lost without it. Not only would it kill me not to complete that volume and have those particular months of my life kept safely with all the others, but I was a freshly-certified yoga teacher in desperate need of integration. Without my notes I worried I would lose a part of that experience, and with it my confidence as a yoga teacher. Was this just another overblown melodramatic complaint, I don’t know. At the time it felt very real.
I sent myself to bed because there was nothing to be done at that point. It does not do to dwell, and there was no use wallowing anymore that night. I was fitful, but I slept. I woke to the realization that my phone had been off, that the battery had died and I hadn’t checked my email. Maybe, I thought, someone had actually found that information and reached out. And as if I knew all along that it would be the case, someone actually had.
“Your journal is on the table by the parking garage payment machine,” it read, sent at 8:00 the night before, right about the time that I’d noticed it wasn’t with me, which led me to believe that on some psychic level, that’s what initially tipped me off. And yet… it wasn’t at the payment machine. Sonia had made sure of that. I wrote back, exhilarated but still nervous. I told him that my friend had gone back to look and hadn’t found it, asked if he knew if it had made it to a lost and found (though, naturally, how could he? I had to ask anyway). Quickly enough he responded, but no, sorry, no idea. He’d just noticed it there and seen my email address inside. I thanked him for letting me know. I was nowhere closer to finding it, but at least he was able to confirm for me that I’d left it where I thought I had, instead of absently placing it on the roof of my car and driving off, unwittingly flinging it into the street. That was comforting, at least. I was grateful to this man’s email. His name was Simon. Thank you, Simon.
So at that point I knew where I had left it, I knew that it was no longer there and I thought it safe to assume that someone had grabbed it. Alright, I thought, this is where I surrender, and hope that that person picked it up with good intentions and would, like Simon, find my name in there and let me know. Come on, Mystery Person. I’m pulling for you…
The next couple of days were spent on my mat, focusing my thoughts as best I could on the person who had my journal and on that lingering question I’d asked myself about my ability to write. Honestly, I had no idea at first how to go about writing about this, and more pressingly, where to do it. I hated the thought of writing elsewhere, and I held out hope that I wouldn’t have to. I finally pulled from my shelf a small notebook, hard-bound, blue, wide-ish lines but reasonable, that had been a Christmas gift from Kyle (that same friend whose journal I had returned before leaving Kripalu). If I was going to write in anything, it was going to be the book that Kyle gave me. That much was obvious to me. I spoke with Kyle that morning, to tell him what had happened and cry about it all over again, and in his gentlest and most loving voice he sent me to my mat to meditate. “No phones,” he said. “No expectations. Just you and your thoughts.”
Ugh. What a yoga teacher response.
I’ve never been the best at silent, seated meditating, and my excuse has been that journaling is my meditation. “I guess you’ll have to try something a little different,” Kyle told me. I went. I sat. I stayed silent. I let that blend into soft humming, then quiet chanting. I reached for the notebook he’d given me, but nothing happened.
“What do you write in a journal that you don’t want to write in?” I asked my mom later that day, when I’d finally mustered the composure to call her and tell her what happened. Of course I cried all over again while telling her the story. My throat hurt from so much talking through tears. I felt drained of energy, of emotional resilience, and of most of the water in my body. “What do you say to a journal like that?”
“You thank it,” she told me. “You thank it for being there and appreciate that it’s giving you the space that you need to fill.”
Well. That’s just about the best response I could get, and the best advice, and the most helpful perspective I could adopt when looking at the blank page on my lap and wondering what could possibly go there. She was right, I knew, and I tried to go into those first few pages with that sense of gratitude… But my mind was still blank. Everything that came to mind seemed trite, seemed irrelevant, and everything I actually wanted to write didn’t feel like it belonged in that stand-in notebook. What I wanted was my own journal. I wanted to know that it was coming back to me. If I could at least know that it was safe and coming home to me, I might be able to write in the meantime. In Limbo, I wasn’t sure I had anything to contribute.
It wasn’t my words that that eventually got my pen to touch that paper. It was words that my friend Audrey had written to me before we left Kripalu, the nugget of wisdom she offered to me on one of our last days. I wrote them down at the top of that first page, and stared for awhile.
“Keep following the White Rabbit. When you find him, invite him to the mat, have a crazy talk and rest in stillness that comes at last.”
Beautiful, poetic Audrey. I repeated her words to myself, whispering them like a mantra as I studied the shape of the letters where I’d written them down. Keep following the White Rabbit… To do that requires courage and a willingness to follow a path that has no clear light at the end. It requires an insatiable curiosity, or at least an impulse to discover that is so strong that it outweighs every doubt and reservation and twinge of nerves. I needed a White Rabbit. I needed something to guide me through this destabilizing, unsavory exploration of my own responses to loss and confusion, to worry and vehement resistance. Until that point my guide had always been my pull to write, and what I realized is that there was no need for me to change that. I hadn’t lost my arm. I hadn’t forgotten how to think or speak, how to form language, how to translate a feeling into a word, and nothing had revoked my ability to process in the way to which I am drawn to process. Maybe journaling, as I’d always understood it, as a means of meditation, wasn’t the right medium for me right now. Maybe I needed some time before I could do more than cry and draw a panicked blank when searching for the words for what I was feeling right then. Maybe I needed some time to let the melodramatics fade… That didn’t mean that there was nothing to write. It just meant that I needed to write something different for awhile. That idea felt safe. Once it felt safe, it felt cathartic. And once it felt cathartic, it felt true. I suppose that’s the way to start healing.
I spent a day or two revisiting a story I’d starting writing months before, and poured myself into a character as a means of taking a break from my own head. In the times when I stopped writing, I let myself meditate and send thanks and love to the person who had my journal, hoping that some kind of channeling of energy would compel someone to reach out. But otherwise I tried to let it soften in my mind. No matter what happened, I kept telling myself, a journal is just a thing. The thoughts had still been thought and the experiences had still been lived. I was still ok. No matter how it felt at the time, I was still safe. I kept telling myself this. I knew that it was true, but I was waiting for the feeling to actually sink in.
In my memory it feels like this was weeks later, but it was really just a few days. As I go back and look at the email history, it was actually – auspiciously enough – exactly a year ago. I was on my way to work and stopped for a tea, and while I was waiting in line I thought I’d check my email. Maybe someone sent something about this, I thought. There was one person ahead of me in line, asking about different strengths of coffee brews, and I glanced down at my phone. Loading… Loading… Checking… Loading… I’m not very patient with technology. The person ahead of me picked a coffee and paid. I looked up to check his progress, looked back down again. And this is where the story starts to sing.
Your missing journal
“Hi Lindsey. My name is Carolyn, and I work at Rao’s Coffee in Thornes [market] in Northampton MA. A few days ago, someone returned your journal to our café. Luckily, we did a little snooping and found your contact info (don’t worry, we didn’t read any of your writings). I hope you come get it soon, because writing is clearly a passion of yours! Let me know, and we’ll keep it here for you.”
I read it over and over, and the man ahead of me moved to the side just as the grin took hold and I started to well with happy, relieved, truly absurd tears of gratitude. I’m sure the young lady at the counter had no idea why I was ordering a chai with such emotion, but she didn’t seem to mind (some people just have really strong feelings about their hot beverages…). I had the next day off of work. I would drive down first thing in the morning. My journal was safe. It was safe, it was safe, it was safe and I would have it back tomorrow. This circled in my head and as I walked into work that afternoon I felt like I could celebrate being home, celebrate my accomplishment, celebrate anything, finally. Oh, I could have burst into song. I could have turned the rest of my day into a rock opera and not cared how it looked in the least. It was magnificent. My god, I hadn’t fully realized how sedated I’d been feeling until it was lifted and I felt like myself again. Amazing, how that can happen.
I went into work downright giddy, and had the joy of telling my coworkers, my friends, what had happened. They had all been so sympathetic and understanding when I’d had to tell them that my journal was missing, so their excitement at its impending return was the cherry on top. One lovely soul in particular, my wonderful friend Sam, signed on as copilot and company for the trek down the next day to retrieve my poor lost journal. Sure, it was supposed to snow all day and we’d be heading into a veritable blizzard. I’d written back to Carolyn at the café to tell her that I’d be there if the weather allowed, but I wasn’t about to let the weather impede. Sam and I drove down (the snow took it easy on us). We found the café. I told them my name and asked if there was a journal there waiting for me. They smiled with some familiarity. They all seemed to know me (maybe they did read just a little bit?). I got to meet Carolyn, hug her, hand her a card I’d written out to thank all of them for their kindness, and was handed my darling in return, no worse for the wear, with a sweet little Post-It stuck to the cover with my name and a smiley face. The journal went into my bag and Sam and I went to a pub down the street to honor the moment with lunch and a beer (we definitely had cause for celebration).
I realize that the way I write about this makes it sound like I’m overly attached or dependent; this is the kind of emotional reaction one might have towards a pet or other living creature rather than an inanimate journal. I’m fully aware that my reaction to the whole situation, including (and especially) the luck of getting my journal back, was dramatic and that I felt it perhaps far more deeply and personally than any sane person would. But if everyone is entitled to attachment and love in this life, I stand by my responses. One of my favorite things that Kyle said to me was also one of the most ironic, and the most frustrating, and the most terrifying.
During training we studied the Yamas and Niyamas, two of the eight limbs of yoga, a practice of self-restraints that lead to a balanced, healthy and peaceful life. We were encouraged to choose one to contemplate, one that perhaps spoke to us in a way that begged deeper study and attention. I chose one of the Yamas, the fifth one, Aparigraha, the practice of non-attachment. I honed in on it because, as I’m sure I’ve made abundantly clear in all of this, I attach hard to things. When I love something, I want to keep it in some way. I panic at the idea of losing what I care so deeply about. I’ve wondered if my active caring can at times be a bother to the people I care about… Because it can certainly feel like a bother to me, if for no other reason than it leaves me unbelievably exposed and vulnerable to heartbreak. Love is the same for me in all of its forms – family love, friendship love, romantic love, platonic love… they share equal space in my heart. So when I explained all of this to Kyle and he sent me to meditation time-out, he left me with two infuriating but extremely true words.
Both the last thing I’d want to hear, and the most pertinent. The strength of the emotion I felt at the time was clouding my ability to consider the big picture and respond in a way that would serve and empower me, rather than allow myself to suffer. Of course, suddenly turning my attention to the idea of learning a lesson about Non-Attachment wouldn’t magically make it less sad for me that I’d lost something that I would much rather have not lost. That’s not really how it works. But it was an opportunity to observe myself in the throes of this, and at least gain a little self-awareness. In the grand scheme of things, that’s never not worth gaining. So I did. And what I learned is that I resist change when it involves a permanent parting of ways. That I want to be much more fluid, and to accept the unexpected with a little more grace. That I should always keep protected what matters most of all.
To have gotten lucky (or, perhaps, to have been taken pity on by some kind of energetic or karmic or divine or just plain human forces – you know, whatever you might believe in), and for this story to end in relief and good fortune seems mercifully kind, and while I am nothing but grateful to have my journal back, I wonder if my lesson is dampened somehow because of it. Can I embrace my challenges fully if I don’t have to experience them fully? How much suffering is necessary for the experience to sink in, for the lesson to be learned? Are we ever compelled to learn as deeply or as hungrily as when we are impelled by circumstance, by self-preservation? I have to wonder what kind of place this would be if we learned with that kind of fervor all the time, if we engaged at that level with everything we studied. It’s an interesting thought.
For now I’m well into a new journal. This time I’ve written my name in the back cover (you know, just in case). The old one, my Prodigal Journal, is safe on a shelf with all of the others, where it stays but for the times I go back and revisit.
And the White Rabbit is still out there, begging to be followed…
Sam and I mark a triumphant homecoming with pub lunch and questionable selfie skills