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The Dismemberment Journals: Part III

This morning I am in love. I have been given a gift. Like a sip of water in the midst of a necessary desert crossing. My dayworld mind (the one that was trained by my isolationist culture) continues to tell me I’ll do this journey without provisions - alone. But that’s not true, and this morning, once again, I’m reminded.

I tell my clients there are three things that heal a broken heart: Love, Gratitude and Generosity. Today I remember this in the field outside my back door, in a gesture that lives so organically in my elkhound companion.

Before the field, however, as I awoke this morning, I remembered a different thing entirely. When I was ten, desperately attempting to make sense of the world as I drowned in an elementary school wasteland, I was forced to memorize, as if it were relevant, that 2 cups = 1 pint, 2 pints = 1 quart and 4 quarts = 1 gallon. I was taught the Civil War was fought between 1861 to 1865. I was taught that "God The Father" is always capitalized but "love" is not. I was taught to pledge allegiance to my country and the white men who ‘founded’ it. I was taught that if I watch TV news and read the newspaper I will learn all I need to know about what is relevant and important in the world. As I lay in bed I remembered the imposed orphaning of me from my true belonging in all this irrelevant teaching.

What I wasn’t taught was how to say good morning to the cottonwood outside my back door. I was not taught that the conversations I would have with the cottonwoods, and their kin, would serve me more throughout my life than anything Walter Cronkite could ever tell me. What I was not taught was that if, every day, I kneel down on the earth and offer myself as its daughter, speaking with reverence and devotion to those who got me here and keep me here, my neurology will be so profoundly whole I will be able to figure out how many cups are in a pint - on the fly - if there ever came a time when I actually needed to know this. Egregiously, what I wasn’t taught was how to truly see all those who are right in front of me, nor was I taught how to see them seeing me back. I was not taught, in either actions or words, that my first and last relationship, the one that will endure through all time no matter what (and therefore my most primary way of belonging) is my relationship with this world. The World. I was not taught that Life and Death are lovers; the first lovers. The essential partnership within whose dance we all swirl. No exceptions. Over and over, every minute of every day. That our primary task is to learn how to love here gracefully and gratefully. Every minute of every day.

Today the elkhound bows down in front of the silver pine. Flickers and mourning doves make commotions just above him in the branches, busily building nests for this year’s offspring. He is intrigued. His head cocked to one side, he bends his body, bowing deep on his front legs. He rests his head on the earth between his front paws keeping his eyes on the commotion above. He stays this way for at least fifteen seconds. In the four years he has been alive I have never seen him do this. I wonder whether he’s been doing this every day and it’s me who has not noticed. I come next to him and do the same. We bow together to whatever it is that lives in these feathered ones that brings them to the arduous annual task of making their homes from scratch, gathering twigs, mud, their own plucked under-belly feathers, soft meadow grasses and strips of weathered plastic grocery bags, weaving them into the most perfect sculptures of home.

There is medicine and intelligence in the bowing. As I bow I feel my brain, the pathways of gratitude, love and generosity, the synapses connecting my heart to The World’s, fire madly in rapid electrical circuitry. I was not taught this. I was not taught that when (not if, but when) I come to a place in my journey where I cannot remember my own name, if I simply bow down, onto the earth, to that thing that got me here, I will remember everything I need to know to stand back up and turn towards my own life. I was not taught that, vitally alive within me, is everything that lives so perfectly in the mourning dove and flicker, that impel them to create such beauty each year in late winter. I was not taught that I am this beauty.

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