can you hear it?
This afternoon, I was at a
cafe in the suburbs.
Ok, so it probably isn’t considered “a cafe” and should actually be referred to as a “large coffee shop chain.”
[excuse me for trying to sound more European and mysterious in my storytelling].
Let me start again.
This afternoon, I was at a large coffee shop chain in the suburbs…It’s a place I find myself ducking into each week before my regular Monday night plans. The staff doesn’t know me, and I don’t know them, as their schedules are always changing; and only a few times have I recognized a patron or two from my reoccurring visits.
You can always find me by the fireplace. It’s not usually very busy at this time in the afternoon so I’m able to choose my seat according to my current mood – AKA how comfortable my bum wants to be. However, today there were less seating options as others occupied my regular spots. So I had no choice but to take the only spot left: in the back corner and just two feet away from the fireplace. Prime pick if you ask me. I took off my coat and proceeded to the counter for my beverage.
It was in the seconds after taking off my coat that I came to the sudden realization that “Bethel Lacrosse” was written boldly across my back. Suddenly feeling very self aware of this fact, I wanted nothing else than to be sitting down, wrapped in the comfort of my coat and hidden from people’s looks. I exhaled and kept walking, grabbed my drink and proceeded back to my seat. Safe and sound in my chair, drink in hand, I wondered why I was so concerned with the other customers seeing these words on my zip up.
Let me tell you ::: I played lacrosse for the duration of my college years. Each season, we’d get new warm ups and sweats, which easily made up 65% of my weekly wardrobe. The title of “athlete” was a piece of my identity…I held on to it tightly…it was a part of me…and I stood proudly in it.
It’s where I met some of the most beautiful women. Strong women. Courageous and bold women. Not to mention, insanely talented women. They were my family and what kept my heart at Bethel. It was the team’s connectedness and willingness to love that got me up at 5am for practice and staying up til 1am for scrimmages. I was committed. I was ever-present. I was a lacrosse player.
And then tonight…
I found myself no longer wanting to be seen with these words – on a warm up who’s zipper has become tired & worn because of my excessive wears – I wanted out. I wanted it covered up. I wanted it off.
I wanted to be seen for who I am currently. Not for who I was. Although “lacrosse player” fits nicely in my belt of experience, I no longer am a “Bethel lacrosse player.” I wanted the coffee customer’s around me to know that about me – that I have grown into more than just these words that are so openly displayed on my back. Although it once did, the words of “Bethel Lacrosse” no longer apply to my current story; they are not my armor they do not fit me any longer.
I am more.
Growing up and growing out.
Or is it Growing up and Growing in.
Into the ground I stand upon today. Into the woman I am in this moment. Into the woman I will be next year. And the following year. And all the years to come. Growing into diana.
And growing into a more full version of me.
naming things is what i do.
when somebody tells a story of another, i almost always will ask the name of the individual they are talking about. it just seems to bring more life to their story and honor to their being.
i live in south minneapolis and often pass by individuals standing on the street corners with their cardboard signs. a handful of times, i’ve rolled down my window with a few bills from my wallet. only is it when i reach to roll down my window do i see the man scurry over to my car, quickly dodging in and out of idling vehicles, to accept the money from my hand and offer a rushed blessing of my day (i say “man” because i have yet to interact with a woman in such a way, although i do see them from time to time). our interactions last no more than 5 seconds for he must quickly return to the safety of the curb as the stoplight changes from red to green and the movement of everyone’s day continues.
part of me feels a sense of excitement when i see the light turn red and i know i have just enough time to pull out a few dollars and reach for my window. however, after the exchange, i realize that excitement is gone and i can easily slide into the routine of my day’s path.
and i wonder why this is.
i wonder why there is such a disconnect from my interaction with this man – that i’m able to do my “good” deed and move on.
i’ve wondered this. and i didn’t really realize it bothered me so much until yesterday. until i was driving home from the grocery store. i exit the highway and there, standing on a usually vacant corner was a woman. she was a woman clad in nothing much beyond a light jacket and stocking hat. but it was raining. and it had been raining all day. and i suddenly wondered how long she had been outside, enduring this minnesota spring chill.
i passed her and just as if it was a movie, took one more look in my rearview mirror before rounding the corner to my neighborhood. two stoplights later i found myself taking a left, an unusual turn for me since my flat is two blocks down, to the right. i circled the block, and came to the intersection again where the woman was standing. pulling up to the curb, i parked my car and put my head back.
wait, are you really doing this? what are you going to say?, i thought.
my mind was going crazy.
my heart was beating so hard, it was almost as if i was about to walk on stage in front of an audience and sing the national anthem, the words to which i always undoubtedly mess up.
but why the reaction? i was only [maybe] going to go speak to this woman i saw standing on the corner. a social interaction…i should be good at these! it should be a breeze!
i had to know who she was.
so i tried to hush my mind, and breathe deeply to slow my heart, as i opened my car door and began walking towards her.
i found my hands shaking as i stood at the crosswalk, waiting for the familiar white sign welcoming me to take stride across the pavement. the light changed and i took a step, shoving my hands deep into my raincoat, hoping i could hide them away.
as an artist and athlete, i rely on my hands to do the creating and developing. but this time…no, this time they could not be trusted to stay steady and calm. i decided to pass on the handshake, and kept my hands tucked away in the pockets of my raincoat.
“Hi there.” (so minnesotan of me, right?)
the woman turned, “Oh, hi!”, as if she had recognized me. meanwhile, cars buzzed by on the road filled with commuters hurried to get home.
we carried a brief conversation, i gave her the few dollars i had in my wallet and asked if i could buy her dinner. she graciously declined and patting her backpack, and told me another woman had recently stopped by and given her some food.
we continued on for just a minute more, and then i turned to leave. this time, when i came to the crosswalk, my legs were shaking. in fact, my whole body seemed to be trembling. i got to my car, planted myself in the driver’s seat and took many deep breaths, calming myself.
although i’m not sure, i wonder if my body was stirring up something new. something unexpected and something completely exciting. filled with adrenaline, i was completely shocked that i had actually just done that.
because you see, i just had to ask.
i had to know her name. to honor this woman. and honor her story.
so would you like to know her name?
her name was sandy.
Tonight I saw a documentary called I Am, written and directed by Tom Shadyac (you know, the guy who directed Liar, Liar and Patch Adams). It’s a film of connectedness, and not just with the human experience, but with all living things. It just so happens that the director was at the theater tonight and offered himself for a little Q&A after the showing. Regretfully I did not have a writing utensil around to quickly scribble his comments, however, it didn’t take me long to remember I have video capabilities on my cell phone. So, I recorded him.
So here is one of his responses. It’s about fear. It’s about something he calls the human condition. That we are sleepwalking in this dilusional state of money, power and fame and if only we were to be woken up, would we really see that are spirit is filled with light and cannot be supressed….
“Fear is the great and last illusion
I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
Which is fear-based
The astonishing light of your own being
Because when you look at reality
And you see through “fear”
You see who you are
You are starlight
What is in you
What animates you
Is the very thing that animates all other living things
This whole universe.
And when you realize that
And wake up that
Which is why the power that’s in some of our religious traditions
And not in a dogmatic way but someone like Jesus.
Jesus said, “I know who I am. You can take this body but you can’t kill me. In fact, if you kill me, all you’re going to do is going to unleash a force called love that is so much more powerful than the hate that you inflict on me.”
You see so the story is love.
Because he knew who he was.
And I’m not saying this in any dogmatic way.
But those of us who have the power to stand up to the illusion of the temporal, the body, you know.
This body is called the illusion
The separation is the illusion
We have to see beyond it.
So it’s about vision
And vision allows you to walk into the fear, through the fear, and it dissolves.
So that’s what it’s about.
It’s about vision.”
my hands are a bit clammy even as i type this. in less than 24 hours i will depart from msp airport, destined for chicago. huge trip, right?
well, for me, it feels that way. because you see, i really don’t do well on airplanes. or airports in general. there’s something about the enclosed cabin that gets to me. the tight seating arrangement. the loud engines. the silence. the noise. all of it – yes, all of it – rubs me the wrong way.
i thought i would be fine. i thought i could make it all the way to the airport without getting nervous but tonight, as i set aside my clothes to pack, i felt it come on. and woah did it come on strong.
the thing is, to be quite honest. it’s not really the airplane. or the airport. i mean, i actually love the idea of sitting in the pilot’s chair with hundreds of buttons just waiting to be pressed.
i just don’t like doing all this alone.
so tonight, even the thought of doing this alone is debilitating. i’ve stopped packing to have a quick skype convo with a faraway friend. i’ve even done some laundry and packed tomorrow’s lunch.
is doing this alone really that scary? really that difficult?
these are the questions i’m asking myself, as i try to find ways of releasing (writing being one of these ways) the fear.
because right now, yeah, it seems pretty damn impossible.
but there’s hope that tomorrow will bring a new sense of myself. of this skin i’m in. of the spirit i know is in me.
and i have to hold on to that hope for a new day, because it’s getting a bit old, this lonely tango i’m doing.
one year resident assistant
two years soccer captain
three years lacrosse captain
four years staff manager
it has been a part of my life for so many years, i actually can’t remember a time when i wasn’t leading a group of people. be that on a sports team, at work or at school, i have always seemed to find myself in a position of leadership. maybe its my loud conversational tendencies, my “WOO”ing personality (Winning Others Over), or my fabulous scarf trends…i really can’t say how it is that i landed the role each time, but i did. and i loved it, no matter how exhausting it was.
but now i have graduated from all these leadership positions.
i’m experiencing [and discovering] what it’s like to not carry such a title.
and it is now that i’m realizing i carried much of my identity in these roles. it is hard, in fact, for me to follow; to let others lead me. i must admit and say, i have had some run-ins with my ego. that we’ve had to talk it through, my ego and i: that it’s ok for others to go before me. that its good for me to try it another way. and that its important for me to listen.
so, i’ve asked myself
what it is, dee, that makes you you?
and can you possibly still be leading
without actually consciously leading?
what does it mean to lead?
are you willing to be led?
Water fell from the sky all day today. It added to the puddles that had already formed from the melting snow near the curb, making that first step off the sidewalk more difficult, even for the extremely flexible. It carried dirt from yards onto sidewalks, just begging to be played in. And filled street potholes to look like small swimming pools.
There was movement in this day, it came in many forms: in the water that rained down, wetting everything in sight; in the wind that found its way down the collar of your coat, running it’s cool fingers along your spine; and in the people as they ran quickly from their front doors to their cars. There was also a movement in the earth that we could not see, way down deep in the soil. It’s a movement of future life; life that we will see this summer as the brown grass of winter returns to it’s lush green glow of summer.
I wanted to be a part of this movement. I wanted to flow with the cycle of the earth; of shedding seasons and creating new life. So what else could I do? To become a part of it, I mean?
The only thing I could think of doing:
Bundled in my Rocky gear (hoodie and sweats) I ran:
Along the street that leads to the city skyline; over a bridge that crosses a highway of rush hour commuters; down a side street with few vacated houses.
All the way, I dipped and dodged; not letting anything get in my way: cars, branches, people, stoplights…I could not. I would not. Be slowed.
I breathed deeply and pushed forward. I ran until my lungs felt like they couldn’t take in any more air.
I ran until I could no longer think – til’ actually my head began to pound from the chill of the wind and the lowering evening temperatures.
I slowed my run to a walk just as I approached a walking bridge that would take me back across the highway. On the other side I knew of the landmarks that would lead me home to the flat: the neighborhood garden, the statue of a woman praying, the bright red house sitting on 4th ave, and then finally, my favorite, the fire station just around the corner from our door.
As I crossed over the bridge, I paused for a moment. I paused to feel the rock of the bridge as cars and trucks rushed underneath my feet. I paused, hoping to feel a part of their movement.
But in fact, I felt nothing.
The bridge, made solidly of concrete did not move. It did not fidget. I was surprised by this. And relieved. That I could command movement of myself and run. But that I could also command stillness of myself while the movement continued around me.
As I sit in the sun porch hours later and listen to the sleeting rain wrap against the windows,
Perhaps even when I thought I was being still.
I was in fact still moving.
Still shedding seasons
creating new life.
oh, and did i mention i love this weather? it’s perfect for pulling out the boots that I lovingly call, you guessed it, my “Ollies”…
sitting with my legs stretched outwards in front of me, I scribble notes on a piece of scrap paper using a firm book as my writing surface.
this book that i hold is ancient. it’s full of a history whose conents rests heavily upon my lap. for some, it’s a book that bears stories of great truth and miracles. it’s a spiritual book. a book of teachings. and a book of thought. it’s a way of life for some.
it’s mysterious and undefined.
that’s how some people might see it.
it’s a book that’s full of questions [and maybe even some answers], but it’s the questions that i cling to. because questions can create space, and right now, that’s all i can ask for:
s p a c e
space to wonder and wander
space to leave with no answers
space to be unsure.
s p a c e
that’s enough for me to pick this book up today.
As I’m driving through the city this morning, I am set down below the buildings where the sun cannot easily reach me, especially at that hour. I weave my way through hesitant drivers looking for their exit and come to a familiar curve in the road. It’s a road I drive everyday and I know it well. I know when to switch lanes because the other will soon be backed up with merging commuters. I know when to downshift so my car doesn’t choke below 1 rpm.
I know it because I have ridden it so many times that I know what works and what doesn’t. I know it so well, that now I must remind myself that I’m driving-to find the beauty in the ordinary.
I come around the curve, entering onto another highway, which will take me to work. Just as I’ve cleared the traffic of the city, I join the flow of the suburban commuters.
It’s then that I can see her; the sun that is.
She peeks over the maze of cemented roads to say good morning to all.
I see her coming before her light actually fills my car
But I can see her on the cars ahead of me, touching down and illuminating the salt stains and dirt that has gathered over the Minnesota winter
And as I drive further, I see her finally touch the front of my car and move backwards
Holding me and leading me onward.
And as I continue to drive,
The road lights up as well.
And I look in my rearview mirror
And I see her, the sun.
Standing high in the sky,
As if she had never left for a night’s rest.
Looking the same as she did yesterday,
And the day before.
I smile at her beauty.
And I think,
She might actually be smiling back.
I can’t help but notice how she has created silhouettes.
Silhouettes of the city line I just left.
Silhouettes of the walkway going overhead.
Silhouettes of the cars behind me.
Nothing is defined when I look behind,
Nothing is defined.
My gaze leaves the rearview mirror and I look forward (as a good driver should, right?)
I look forward and I see a path that’s lit,
I see a path of details and colors as the sun’s light guides my way into the day.
And then it brings me to the thought;
That I’m not a future thinker,
I’m not a planner,
Hell, I’m not even all that organized.
I’m a pick-up-and-go sort of girl
[With messy bed head to prove it]
Perhaps this morning is a reminder that it’s ok to be a future thinker;
Its ok to experience / to live in / to enjoy the thought of what’s next
The plans of what’s next
Looking in my rearview mirror I’m reminded that
Just as the city is not defined
Just as the walkway is not defined
Just as the cars are not defined
Whatever is in my life’s rearview mirror is not defined.
I carry many stories, yes
But they are just mirror silhouettes
Of memories that once were
Of experiences that once were
And I think of myself
My short life
And I must remember the same for me:
That I am not marked by that which stands as a sihouette in my past
Yes, it is a part of me
Yes, it is part of my trip [or morning commute]
But ultimately what lies ahead is what we should focus upon.
Because it is the potential.
It is the light.
It is the road,
Yet to be taken.
when i first met this woman i felt an instant connection. we sat across from one another at the dinner table, occasionally exchanging glances and laughing at the same jokes. i was intrigued by her profession, motivated by her hobbies and obsessed with her hair (you would be, too).
she quickly became a sister to me. a sister and a friend.
she teaches. she creates. she experiences and sees. she’s humble and caring. calm and generous. she’s incredibly optimistic and unbelievably talented.
the lens that she views the world through captures moments of time that are uniquely precious. they’re beautiful. simply stunning.
and while her eyes and hands can see and produce an image of great beauty, her voice stands out just the same. in getting to know this woman, i have the opportunity to hear her speak words of truth. of others and of herself.
while we met this summer at dinner with mutual friends, we have formed a friendship between the two of us that expands beyond the table. she is a woman i love to explore with. a woman i love to sit with. she is a woman i love to simply watch. because she moves swiftly in whichever direction she goes.
and just as i’m thinking she’s stretching herself too thin with a busy life, she amazes me with an invite for a cup of coffee or photo session with a setting sun – regardless of where time wants her to be, she is on her own schedule and takes control. i admire this about her.
and did i mention she has amazing [kitchen] dance moves (seems to be a theme with the women in my life…i like it)
she will forever be a friend that talking craft, making art, will always come naturally. because it’s how we know ourselves. it’s how we speak to one another. and it’s how we see this world. there’s no hiding from it, because when you have the eyes to see, you cannot deny them.