The words below are from a book I received on my way out of town, sixteen years ago, my first journey out of state, twenty years old with all my worldly possessions in a little Chevy pickup and tiny u-haul trailer. I wound up mountain passes through blinding snow, coming out into the bare expanse of land where people drive 95 and ending in the Rocky Mountains. One year in Denver and I wanted to kill myself. Things to do in Denver when you’re dead or alive are few. It’s a giant strip mall and no, I don’t ski. Thank god for Seattle and the years to follow that saved me, nurtured me. But Denver forced me to evolve.
This was a solo weekend for me. No cocktails with friends, no lunch dates, no lingering phone conversations with a faraway beau, none of that. I worked on my foundation, my sanctuary, my land, my Self. Moving at my own pace is my form of meditation. You don’t have to sit in one place to feel stillness. For me, I find my mind clears with intense physical labor. Nothing glamorous, nothing exotic, nothing highly skilled. I put on my garden gloves, grabbed a shovel, and went to work. With grubbies on, and perfect proof of my efforts at the end of each day, I felt this supreme, gorgeous exhaustion fill my pores, my muscles, my bones, at the end of yesterday, at the end of today. You know how when you stand in the waves and feel your feet slowly sink into the sand as the water rushes around? That was me, slowly being pulled into a easy sleep…
And I sat on the floor, going through all of my books. The two shelves of old books (remember that smell? i throw away the paper covers off hardbound books…nothing shiny, nothing new on my shelves) with Elsie Dinsmore, Little Women, Bobbsey Twins collections. Albert Camus and Jim Carroll from high school. Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison and Anais Nin from my 20’s. Michael Pollan, Alice Walker, Elizabeth Gilbert from this current decade. And all of the coffee table photographic books – Ray Atkeson, Annie Leibowitz, Peter Lindbergh, to name a few. The garden books, from my grandmother’s hardbound (drawings, not photos) to my father’s rose book to my newest kitchen garden darlings.
Then, the poetry of my life thus far. EE Cummings, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rod McKuen, TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda…and more. Then this little book, this little tiny gift shop book that my mom picked up and gave me, April 1994 as I left Stumptown, unknowingly not to return for 11 1/2 years… the words are simple, the words are basic, but reading reminds me of what’s at the essence.
BE ALL THAT YOU ARE The sun will fine you… give you her warmth… and bless you with her golden touch as you awaken.
The wind will call you as you gently bend and become open to the world that surrounds you.
The soil will ground you. The water will nourish you.
You have been planted here The world is yours to enjoy to expand to go wherever you want.
Life is the gift you have been given.
Love is the blessing you can feel.
It is all around in the flowers in the trees in the meadows… on the mountain tops.
Give yourself a chance. Give yourself some time to know who you are to become all that you already are.
Accept the gifts of the new day. Be a part of every person who says hello.
We are all just hearts alone and together beating to the music inside, fulfilling… our ambitions, finding… our places in the wonder of the universe.
More than to hope in yourself, may you believe in yourself.
Take your own hand on your own journey.
In the quiet you will hear the voice of wisdom.
In the stillness you will realize your deepest dreams.
And in your heart you will know how deeply you are loved.
~ Susan Squellate Florence