Reverie

It’s been not even a month since I’ve quit the law, but I still feel that parts of the law are still with me. Because I started working right away, I haven’t had really a time to sit back and reflect on how my experience has been. Sure, I do it in the get-to-know-you calls with my current colleagues, but I don’t think I’ve truly debriefed what the law is and is not for me.

In truth, I will never know, but there are a few things that stand out. First of all the relentless pace of business to innovate and to succeed are even more pronounced once you get out of the legal world. What kind of stress it is, I do not know, but I do at least know that it feels more internally imposed than an external force I have to obey. And there is still a need to have a high quality of work, only the standards for judging it are different, and they come from you or the manager, not necessarily the client.

I think I would do better talking to more peers like this in the industry, being more honest about how it’s like for life after the law. I imagine that there is a growing period where we are simultaneously shedding our old identity while trying to grow our new selves. That can make the whole experience very jarring and very split. At least that’s how I feel now. On some days I feel the old urges come back, almost like an addiction, of who I was when I was a lawyer. The old ways of being anxious and a perfectionist. But some other days I feel more clear, and I am seeing a new part of myself, one that is more intrinsically motivated, more mindful, and more focused at the task at hand. Actually to think of it, whether or not I have changed at all or whether or not I am simply returning to my old joyful self is an idea that’s up for debate, questioning, or exploration.

We often go through life thinking that there has to be a goal to achieve. Often times I feel this too as I try to finish up an assignment or evaluate how far my projects have come. But then there are the rare moments when I remember to look up from my work and observe myself from a more objective standpoint. In that moment, the dread of the future falls away, the anxiety of the unknown fades, and I’m left with a sense of clarity that I need to do is to exist.

It’s been encouraging after a series of hard starts to finally make some progress on The Mental Arts. I hit a few bumps in the road with critique of my bumpy filming style, but I overcame that faster than I realized and now have a better sense of the standards when it comes to creating good content. Like it or not, my brain strays towards serving others, of seeing how they can benefit from the content. That is often done in sacrifice of myself, something that I need to watch carefully and love wholly.

It would be nice to have the same paycheck and the same amount of time, though I’m almost all the way there to knowing that this cannot be the case. At least, not with some luck and ingenuity along the way. As I have restarted this chapter of my life I get the feeling that I am more youthful than before, almost like the hands on the clock have been turned back though my body does not quite follow.

There are people now that I meet who walk the streets who I used to think we are brave but are now cowards. There are people who I thought were meek that are powerful beyond measure. There are those who I believed were starving who are full of joy and life and mirth; there are those who I believed had everything that in reality, have none. Such is the way my brain has shifted when it has come to perceiving the world. I walk the earth not knowing what is true or false.

 

After

Feels like new and powerful

Like a tree without the knots

Like life without suffering

Like a horse drinking from a clear water stream

I felt the clarity move through me

And I had no fear.

IN the distance a hawk would cry

And I would understand what it meant to be free.

Where do I go from here?

This old death and new life

I follow the stream of my ancestors

Feeling the two of me join together

The past with the future–

Together they form the present.

A gift of awareness I saw in the deep

Well of the world and all that was loved

Full in the air between the breeze

And the rush of melted mountain snow

And in that instant I saw the crack of lightening

From deep within that spring

A shadow parting from me

A power settling in beneath

A seething energy.

And in that instant there was no time

No place for me to be

Only the beginning and the end as one

I was in an endless pasture

A ball of fire

A lark

Flying through the nothingness of infinity.

I became whole.

I became me.

34,000 Feet

We walked ten miles yesterday down not a quite desolate road in Wyoming, the three of us with our backpacks and a camera that was way too fancy around here parts. We got stopped by a police officer, saw a dead cat, and several barking guard dogs of various shades and colors. But we also saw horses that approached us from many meters away (sorry, no apples), dogs that wanted to play more than guard, and the sweet sunset light basking the mountain valley in which we walked.

Mountains are everywhere.

In the ridges and peaks and valleys of tree bark

The slanted angle of a fence

The pebbles of a stream

This is Wyoming country, and it is where I’ve been staying for the past few days. I knew that this journey would be important for me, but I’m trying to wrap my head around the significance of it all. To say that Wyoming is life-changing would not do the experience justice, to say that it is life-shifting may come closer. Even before the moment in which I landed, the Grand Tetons greeted me with their indifferent yet majestic peaks–the entire 32-seater airplane in which we flew awakening with sudden gasps of delight at the extreme elevation on the right window side. A nice red-headed girl took some pictures for me on my phone; this started a chain reaction where the left sided passengers were suddenly asking the right sided passengers to help them capture a memory that they admittedly did not witness for themselves.

And then there was the landing; the elk antler statue, the look of the mountains through the windows of an otherwise barren airport that did not feel the need for frills. The only added touch of modernity may have very well been the Uber/Lyft ride signs at the two lane pickup in front of the airport, which reminded me more of the pickup lanes at my elementary school than anything for jet passengers. There was Sam, too, in all her smiling love–and the silence in which we embraced each other, like old friends. Very, very old friends.

As we went through the mountain pass, my black pen exploded all over my journal; leading to a split second of dismay but also a flash of insight that I had not thought of before. That ink blot which tarnished my otherwise pristine travel journal (though already filled with some scratched out poems in the ride to Dulles) caused something else to spill in my brain. So suddenly I was bubbling with creativity; suddenly the black smear became the snow on the mountains; my pen now more like a paintbrush in which I could see the world. Jiggling my pen this way and that, I drew the mountains that I had already come to love.

IMG_3889.jpg

I belong with the mountains.

There was Christian too. We embraced like old friends though we had only met each other in that moment; silence was the rule for the first day of the retreat and so we had only our eyes to accept each other. I thought back to my childhood and when I couldn’t understand the words being spoken, and all of a sudden I was yet a small child in a strange but familiar world.

I walked through the snow that day, in bare feet. To say it was cold and frightening would be an understatement.

We ate. Broke bread, except not bread, because we were supposed to be eating differently at our time here. So it was spaghetti squash, made with a certain amount of uncertainty and love. I debated (silently?) in my head whether I wanted to give Christian a gift–a sketch of him, meditating with agitation, after his healing session with Sam out in the woods.

I decided to wait.

At some point Sam gestured to me that the top room was mine, or maybe it was in a note, I cannot remember. I did remember the note that fell out of the book she had left on the passenger side of the seat. A gift that I didn’t know was a gift at the time. And a note written on it rules that I probably could have considered a decade earlier in my life:

No alarm clocks

Sleep when I get tired

Leave when I want to leave

Say stuff when I want to say it or stay silent if I want that

Technology only at a designated time, preferably before dark

A rough paraphrase but good enough; certainly different from the lifestyle that I have led for a long time. Not understanding breaks and self-care is something that everyone talks about and I am no exception to the rule that things can get out of control if I don’t pay attention to my body.

I don’t remember much of day two, except the most aesthetically pleasing whiskey and salad dressing store I’ve ever seen in my entire life (because it is probably the only whiskey store I’ve seen in my entire life).

IMG_3776
Not sure if #FlatJean is supposed to be decidedly irreverent in this way…
IMG_3778.jpg
But I’m gonna put #FlatJean in expensive whiskey

Animal glass figurines decidedly more vibrant than the taxidermy animals in the same shop.

IMG_3769.jpg

And a butcher shop that I wished was across the street from me back home.

IMG_3727

I’ve been introduced to epsom bath salts, coconut oil with cupping, dry brushing, and simply a good ol’ bodywork stuff. Nothing far off but still unfamiliar to me in a world that rewards grinding, both of your bones and muscles and joints but also your mind.

I’ve been letting Sam get her hands on me a lot more; working out the various energies in my body that I can’t quite comprehend. It’s like my body understands itself better than I can understand it, even though I’m living within the body.

IMG_3820.jpg
Samantha Faulhaber 

Somewhere along the line something opened up inside of me, though I’m not sure I like what I found inside. Perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit like I always tend to do (and ironically, I am doing right now with these words). It’s surprising and gratifying to know that there are hidden gifts inside of me (and inside of everyone?!?) that I did not know before.

Like when the bartender (transported from Maine) said “holy s**t” when I gave him a sketch of the bar that we sat and had wings at.

Like when the horses decided that I was friendly.

Like when I recognized a special moment that Christian was having, sketched it, so now he has that image for life.

Like when I found out purple, my favorite color, stood for intuition.

Like when I faced an invasion of privacy from that police officer and did not crumble with fear.

Like when I admitted I was f**king scared.

There have been so many wonderful moments. Small moments that I cannot comprehend, like only seeing a small piece of a constellation in the sky. I am ready to do more growing and loving in the few days ahead, and I am excited to see what is to come.

Cruising Altitude: A Poem

Cruising Altitude: Thirty-Four Thousand Feet

We sit, our seatbelts buckled

In two neat rows

And as two lovers hold hands across the aisle

I sit as a witness of their holy matrimony.

They were preparing to rise from the earth

Together.

And in that moment, I saw life in their hands.

Fingers forming a raft in the narrow strait between waves of people

Flesh touching in the quiet alley of a sleepy but sad romantic road

The kind covered in cobblestones that would stumble your feet.

And the caress of fingertips in the empty aisle of an organic hipster store–

A quiet respite from the throngs of hungry and prying eyes.

I saw their soul clasped together

In moments where the darkness fell

Into the hallowed earth and birthed a constellation of galaxies

Stretching far, far into the abyss above.

And at cruising altitude, they finally let go

Two hearts sitting next to each other

Content and safe in the knowledge

Of being up in the air.

 

 

Reflection

Goodbye, hello

Hello, goodbye

These are the things that I do not know

I write to speak and I speak to write

These are the spirits that make me chill

When the night fails, so does your will

I use my eyes for more than sight

These are the things that make me grow.

Hello, goodbye

Goodbye, hello