I long, as every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou
“One day’s worth of grace at at time,” I tell myself daily. Sometimes it works and I’m all wiggly inside from feeling all groovy with my infantile walk in faith. Infantile isn’t even really an adequate term for the undeveloped and ineffective sense I have each day I navigate this daily “God-sparked ride on a meat covered skeleton.” (I have no clue who wrote that, but I’m too bleh to Google…so anyway…) Maybe my doctor is right and I am bipolar. Or maybe I’m right and I’m actually experiencing a crisis of faith triggered by a spiritual awakening. Either way, it’s a crisis. Truly. And as I sit here and write, I’m not completely sure if I’m on my way down the rabbit hole or on my way up out of it.
I’ve placed myself squarely in the middle of the most isolated place I could find and I’ve separated myself from almost everyone I know. It’s time to find out the answer once and for all…Am I a middle-aged woman having her last and final breakdown before acquiescing to my incurable madness? Am I a broken woman healing from lifetime of emotional turmoil and damn-near-epic path of destruction? Are my daily mood swings the result of an incurable chemical imbalance in my brain or am I just experiencing a completely reasonable imbalance due to my recent choice to move away from everything and almost everyone I’ve known? Am I doing the right thing for myself and my mental health or am I once again choosing my own happiness over the best interests of my children? Am I completely batshit crazy or am I more sane that I’ve ever been before?
When my old friends text me and ask how I’m doing, I’ve very quick to answer with my token answer “It’s so beautiful and peaceful down here.” Aligned with my self-aligning quest to always speak the truth, I’m being honest. My new home is beautiful. And my new home is peaceful; a nine-acre tract of lush timber with fawns lying by my pond, extraordinary vibrantly colored butterflies, the constant chorus of singing birds, a comfortable hammock in which I can relax and enjoy all the beauty around me and, the real bazinga, the almost complete absence of the toxicity of human beings. Complete and absolute isolation in nature….my dream for the past four years.
Seeing this place for the first time and writing up a contract to buy it that same day wasn’t the result of my past characteristic nature to be impulsive. I’ve dreamed of finding a writing retreat in nature for many years and, while there are some finishing touches needed to truly make this my dream home (read fish in my pond and chickens in a coop), this home and property are perfect. My new home is exactly what I have dreamed of and planned for…the place where I could finally find peace. “Lynette,” I say to myself when I struggling to be peaceful, “what in the hell is wrong with you? You’re in your dream home and you’re still not happy? I mean look around! How in the hell can you live in a place like this an not be peaceful? Look at all of this fucking peace!”
The truth, as I’m discovering, is that I can’t buy peace and I cannot find peace. Instead the task before me is to become peaceful. Just now I’m starting to recognize the error in my thinking I could obtain peace like a commodity. If I had stopped for a moment to truly examine my expectations in finding peace by moving to a peaceful place, I’d like to think I would have made an adjustment…made things a little easier for myself as I navigated all of these decisions and big life changes. But better late than never, I guess. It’s become clear to me that I can buy property and a home that provides the kind of boundless beauty only nature can display and isolation from the toxicity of others and an incubator for my gestational faith and inner tranquility, but that is extent of my purchasing power when it comes to peace. My new home is not a cure…it’s a place to heal…a sanctuary where healing can take place. I am living in a peaceful place and I’m isolated, but I’m in the constant companionship of the one person who threatens my peace the most. And in order to heal, I have to meet, get to know and learn to love the one person I’ve hated most all my life…myself.
I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to avoid myself and succeeding in the most spectacularly destructive ways by creating personas and existences built upon the expectations and approval of others. I bobbed and weaved and evaded reality like a champion until four years ago when I was right-hooked by life and knocked on my ass. Looking back I find some level of grudging, and perhaps questionable in terms of mental health, respect for myself in the acknowledging the lengths I traveled and the stamina I demonstrated in maintaining a life, in the form of multiple false lives, other than my own. Today, however, I have no stage upon which to portray a character for others. No more smoke and mirrors, no more costumes, props and engineered realities…only excruciating isolation forcing me to face, examine, conquer my demons. The only path to true peace for myself is to find myself…and be myself.
So each day, even on the bad ones, I’m going to remind myself that I’m not striving for perfection. Instead I’m striving for progress. I’m going to follow my original plan and read, write, paint and pray in a way that leads me through this existential crisis. On the bad days, I’ll remember that I’m experiencing my own authenticity and forgive myself when my own soul itches in all the wrong places or feels blistered in the places it rubs. I’m going to get used to my own company and learn how to feel comfortable in my own skin while I focus on the beauty around me when I’m having a hard time finding it within myself. On the good days I’m going to take the time to reflect on the bittersweet blessings that have brought me to this beautiful sanctuary and just breath in all that is around me. And maybe someday, if I keep focusing on the good and finding my reasons to be grateful, I’ll be able to say “It’s so peaceful here” regardless of where I’m standing.