“beautifully equipped”

I had morning head when I started this post sixteen hours ago. Aviva came home from a Very Merry Theatre rehearsal a few minutes after 6:00pm last night and went straight to my bed, clothes and all. She didn’t wake until twelve hours later, rested and hungry. I fell asleep with Pearl at 8:00, got up at 9:15 to close up the house, and crawled in with V. Around midnight, Pearl woke up coughing up a storm. And at 5:30, my alarm went off. It was time to sit. Time to settle. And yet all I felt was stirred, drinking yesterday’s coffee.

I haven’t been writing much and I’m missing it, feeling that vague emotional sluggishness that comes with not flushing out the words, the crowd of experiences and feelings and changes and highs and lows that have gathered themselves together in the past weeks. Volcanic ash cloud. Bouquet of fall color. Yes, and.

Space between thoughts. Between dreams and the day. The space between trapeze bars.

Patti Digh, whose 37 Days blog and Life is a Verb book are both living works of art, has this quote on her Facebook page:

In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? -Siddhartha Gautama

It was my beautiful friend Jennifer who first turned me on to 37 Days. She also has an uncanny knack for emailing me just the right quote or post or poem. Two days ago, she sent me this entire post by Patti Digh about letting go of the monkey bar.

Today I saw a client, one of my last as I am about to re-enter the world of full-time employment (more on that eventually, I’m sure). This is a woman whose courage could be perceived as, well, insanity. She has risked everything – not “seemingly” everything but in fact, everything – to launch a business. But it’s not just about the business, it’s about her purpose on the planet. It’s about her vision, her values, who she is as a mother and as a woman. This afternoon over Vietnamese iced coffee that had me way too caffeinated for the late afternoon, we looked at each other and shook our heads, talking about women like Lucretia Mott who we call “before their time” but were, in fact, right on time. Who would have thought, almost ten years ago when we met, that we would have taken the whole trapeze act thing so to heart.

How well did I love? How fully did I live? How deeply did I let go? These questions lead me into the night. They guide me back to my breath when I think I might hyperventilate or simply buckle, an animal in a barn, weak, unfit. They anchor me when I’m moving too fast and release me when the vortex threatens to spin me away from everything real in my life: doing flying yoga with my girls in a friend’s living room tonight, or hugging Greg in front of the library this afternoon, clearly seeing and deeply recognizing his beauty. Lavender and sea salts in a glass jar, waiting to dissolve in a hot, hot bath. Unexpected laughter. A message from a friend, a perfect red maple leaf.

To sit with absence and fullness all at once. To let the paradox of this life unfold, puzzle itself out and put itself together again. Waves of grief and contractions of birth. The earthly and the cosmic. The chocolate ice-cream and the man and child and the front door opening and closing and opening again, like the letters we all used to write.

I’m signing my name still. Learning what it means to move around inside of these letters, the ones I chose and the ones I let go, the ones I vowed to keep and the ones I gave my girls, the ones I wrapped in rubber bands and the ones I never burned, the ones that encircle my head, a crown of tiny stars, each name a safety net, and the ones that are unutterable, the name that is breath, that is life. I am telling you, it’s easy to start getting all religious when you really start letting go, living fully, and loving well. Because no religion that claims to be about anything but those things can be a trusted source of sustenance, guidance, meaning, or comfort.

So, I miss writing, I’m going back to work full-time, life is changing fast, the seasons are changing fast (although what’s up with the warm weather, people?), the kids are all right, the Universe is a mighty river, and dear Lord, if the choices are to stay in the light or go to the dark side, then really there’s no choice at all.

What’s more, I shamelessly admit to reading several Free Will Astrology horoscopes every week in addition to my own. Several of my most beloved people are Leos, and this quote from their horoscope struck me today:

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, wrote philosopher Eric Hoffer, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

I like the sound of being “beautifully equipped” in times of change, which really, if you are awake, is all times.  Now to live as if I really believed it — that is the task.

6 thoughts on ““beautifully equipped”

  1. mb says:

    i love you, your voice. universal. going deep. we go as deep as we can go in each moment. and then again in the next. it gets more comfortable as we continue to practice momentary life. can we love well? or not well. we either love or we don’t. there is no sorta. you are love. you can’t be anything else. because you share this, and i hope more. there are spirits waiting to spray those words from your soul.



  2. Beth Patterson says:

    Dear Jena–
    Maybe I’m reading this quote wrongly (which I’ve actually had on my FB page and email signature!)–but being ‘beautifully equipped’ for a world that no longer exists is not a life-goal for me! Are you meaning ‘beautifully equipped’ for inheriting the Earth?!

    Much love, and I think you are beautifully equipped for living a full, long and loving life…


  3. Jeanette LeBlanc says:

    you. are. so. beautiful.

    and such a source of soul-inspiration to me, so much grace as you face this path. it leaves me, quite simply, humbled and breathless for what is to come.

    I carry with me the memory of sitting across the table from you, and seeing your face fold into that smile of yours… so completely that your eyes just about disappeared. I have a feeling that I’ll sit across from you again one day, and that your smile will heal me then as well.



  4. Paula says:

    Thank you for these beautiful words. You inspire me, Jena. And I LOVE Rob Brezny and am a Leo, so that horoscope really resonated when I read it yesterday.

    Beth, what the horoscope is saying is that learners, those who are continually learning, will inherit the Earth, rather than the learned, who find themselves adrift because the world has changed while they are clinging to the old ways of knowing and seeing. Or something like that. Read the whole thing here:


  5. Lindsey says:

    To sit with absence and fullness at once … the spinning vortex … the words piling up. All of these things that you talk about are so resonant I feel a deep hum in my chest. Thank you. I look forward to hearing more about the return to work.
    (and I’m a Leo! :))




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