Year-keeping: The long document process
So much happens in a year – and reading the long document of 2015 was epic – like watching a miracle emerge in super slow motion.
The document opened just as the year had opened, with me still inside the story of my dad’s death. It had only been four months since he’d died (on my birthday the previous August) and the loss and the gain of his death were still working their way through me.
I can only tell you about this at all because I wrote about it then. It wouljd be impossible, now that it’s over, to access that version of me. It’s gone. She’s gone. Which is why having this LONG document was (and still is) so remarkable.
Re-reading it, I saw that the 2015 version of me lived in a slower world – where the air felt like sticky honey and everything took great effort. It offered a picture of the interior spaces where grief dwells.
And then, over time, the long document chronicled the arrival of a warm flow of change. As it began to trickle through, and magically and mysteriously, it swept the sticky thickness away, there was also – it seemed – the feeling of being on fire. Skin on fire. Hair on fire. Feet on fire. Belly on fire. And that sucked.
And yes, I know I am mixing metaphors here – fire and water, honey and air, body and time. But it was like that: Burning and melting. Sweetness and flowing. It was all of this.
Recalling it now, two years later, I see more. I see that sweetness and flowing are the qualities of the second chakra, Svadhistana – where feeling lives in a way that’s pre-verbal. A way that only the body understands. I see, also, the blending of inner and outer, of movement and stillness.
I see also, the outcome – at least the crossing out of one year to the next. At the end of the long document of 2015, life was easier – and I felt as if I’d always lived this way: Flowing. Easier. Sweetened.
But I hadn’t.
I was still getting used to it.
Still wondering if it would last –
iIf I could trust myself.
I was still holding my voice in the lap of my own tenderness
and building it a room.
and letting it walk around in there – without worrying (too much) about the mess it was making.
I read back through it all. The year when:
My dad died,
My car was repossessed,
I graduated from college at age 57
I quit my job of 16 years
I read back through the next year, when:
I completed a six-month yoga teacher training;
Redesigned my home with my daughter and my husband
Rebuilt the furniture with our own hands.
Enrolled and withdrew from a Ph.D. program
I melted down my business.
I designed a deck of divination cards.
I started two books. More than two. I will never finish them all.
I got super organized. In that messy way that I do it.
And my daughter slipped out of the house and into her own life.
And my mother slipped a little farther out of the world.
Reading the LONG document of 2015 was like watching myself being born (over and over). Like watching a wheel spin all the way round each day. It was like dreaming I was being danced by rhythm, by color, by shifting identities, trying me on like new clothes.
Dissolving and Melting
as I was clocking
– in the losing and the gaining-
something new and real in my own heart.
So that when my mother’s caretaker became gravely ill. And she needed my help – I was able to give it.
Not because I had to. Not because it was the right thing to do.
Because of 2015 –
and the burning and the melting.
Because for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I could hold the center of myself in the spinning chaos of my mother’s world.
Which may be the most remarkable thing of all – the great miracle of match against flint, the flame standing at the center of the halo of light.
PS just now, re-writing this, a ladybug flew across the keyboard of my computer, which is sitting on my desk, inside of a room which has been sealed shut for months. And I opened the window and set her free.
Update: January 2018
I loved this long document so much that I started another in 2016, jotting a few notes each day, recording my dreams, chronicling each breakthrough and breakdown.
By then, it had become a way of life. I couldn’t STOP doing it.
Now, I have the long document of 2015, 2016, and 2017.
And of course, I’ve started 2018.
I’ve also started a kind of personal archeology project, going back to rebuild long documents for 2014, 2013 and, if I can find enough material, 2012 and 2011. My sense is that this is going to be a seven-year journey for me – because why not? because life flows in cycles. Because this one was deep and rich and life-altering.
Of course, I suspect that the long document process deepened, enriched and widened my life. And on the chance that this is true, I continue chronicling.