When the day ends, when the second ends, when we breathe out, that’s death in everyday life. —Pema Chödrön
Today I woke up to a pair of ravens at at my window. This particular window overlooks my loft bed; it is shaped like a wedge of cheese, offering me a slice of the outside world. When I open my eyes in the morning, I never know what I might see there on the other side of the glass. I have received visitors of this sort before, but today, these audacious corvidae fixed me in their midnight stares for a moment that stretched like molasses. One pecked at the glass. Then they took to the skies in a rush of beating black wings, leaving me to brush away the last vestiges of slumber.
After shuffling through breakfast and cleaning the kitchen of left-over party litter, I sat on the sofa and suddenly felt full to bursting; I was a storm cloud pregnant with rain. I decided that if I had to cry, I might as well go cry in the hills.
Such an urge came as no surprise because lately I have been a raw nerve walking. Every perceived slight, affront, or whiff of bullshit makes me want to arch my back and hiss at the world. Every pause in the day-to-day bustle, if a pause too long, could lead to over-steeping the emotional teabag that is me. So I went to the hills because they were there. I needed vastness. I needed expanse. I needed to sob and shake and be swallowed up and get the ground knocked out from under me a little bit. I did not go to escape grief and pain; instead I tried to find them there in the hills and have a conversation.
Three months ago, when life as I knew it fell to pieces, my best friend told me there is no short-cut to the other side of grief. Sometimes I am almost fooled and believe I see that other side, I start running to reach it, but I run far too quickly and fall into a patch of thorns. It is so very easy to shame myself for focusing on the things that make me mope versus the things that make me glow, but maybe, I am starting to think, versus is the wrong word because I can mope and glow at the same time, really. What is nice about being a raw nerve walking is that I feel, so keenly, from every side.
And I better see the little joys that make up a life, my little life as it stands now: the hills, my cottage, the smell of jasmine, the gentle-eyed deer, the wild turkeys, the squirrel that performs death-defying branch stunts outside my kitchen window, friends who gift me with books and laughter, my orchids that continue to miraculously survive, plans to adopt a parakeet, my new guitar Gustavo, my adopted family who always accepts me into their home and ensures I have a cocktail in hand, the children I am privileged to know and teach, the clear blue sky, my window shaped like a wedge of cheese, and the ravens who might have been a sign of birth or death, but probably both.