The Vienna Period: Letting nature run its course

I left Sedona when everything was dead. Not dying; dead.

At the time (a little over one week ago now) I sensed Spring would be any day now–the bones and the guts said so. And it wouldn’t be such a struggle this year, as in previous years where the sprouts writhed to break through in the dank cold. In fact, if you looked closely, which I did, you could see the daffodil shoots just barley poking through the mud already.

But there would be, of course, one more downpour. We received a lot of precipitation before my departure and the entire weekend I cried with the rain. (I’m not afraid to say publicly that it’s been a hard time. American society’s definition of weakness and mine are very different.) I was alone; have been alone; will be alone now. My leaving America for a long period forced a long, hard goodbye I had been struggling with to finally become final–a war of a goodbye. I was in need of a good cleanse.

Alone as I felt, and not one to ask for support, nature will always comfort me. I have the numinous red rocks to thank for holding me while I washed everything away. Will I smell and look as beautiful as the land after the soaking?

I will.

I know I will, because I have so many times before. And each Spring is always more beautiful than the last, isn’t it?

Saying goodbye to the red rocks, I headed straight for the mystical hues of the Superstition Mountains. All the mysteries contained there in that range—how fitting that those mountains have somehow become my “home.” Home as in the place you always go back to; the place you feel safe—the place you are safe to feel.

It’s a long ride through nothing pretty to get to the Superstitions from Sedona. You pass through desert browns and city grays. But once you get here, you understand the ride is a tunnel before the light, the breakdown before the breakthrough. On that particular drive, I could see the storm affected those mountains, too. The mountain after the rain looked liked a fresh, deep, dark but beautiful bruise: vibrant purples and greens with the occasional almost-black spot formed from the position of the sun. (Yes, it’s the light casting shadows—did you fool yourself into thinking otherwise?)

Dark but beautiful.

Dark but not dead.

Dark but mysteriously alive.

The mountain.

But also my heart.

You can love someone and leave them. Sometimes you should. — Jeanette Winterson

There are dark spots in this time in my life and that’s OK with me. Some people live solely for the light. But which days are the most beautiful? The blinding, scorching sunny days or the days where the clouds and the sun tango and the contrast brings an irresistible glow to everything? Even better when the wind rages and things you otherwise wouldn’t have seen blow into view. Or blow out. And after the storm, when the sun does come out–what on earth is better than that? I will never, ever try to win against nature.

And darkness, it is natural.

What’s unnatural is how we treat it unnatural.

When we so fear the dark that we demand the light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows ever more terrifying as we try to hold it off. Split off from each other, neither darkness or light is fit for human habitation. But if we allow the paradox of darkness and light to be, the two will conspire to bring wholeness and health to every living thing. — Parker J. Palmer

The rain brings forward the vibrancy in nature’s intrinsic colors; it draws to the surface the beauty that has always been there, if just under the dust. Why would it be any different with us? Though we forget, we are nature. We run from the dark in so many ways (pills, drink, sex, whatever your poison) and that obscures the dark for a while, sure—but, in the end, makes us ugly. What happens when we stay bravely right in the shadow and let nature run its course? What happens when we harness the lessons of the dark as much as the light?

I’m going to Vienna to find out.

Yes, I am going under the guise of darkness. A very dark dark, in fact. But in those ominous shadows cast by the sun I will find beauty–and more, I know I will find myself more beautiful from the mixture of the dark and the light. And, I will again do the most important thing; the thing I continually allow to be hijacked from me; the thing I came to this life to do over all else: create.

No doubt nature will be in full bloom when I return. As for me? And, more importantly, for mom? I’m betting on a metaphor.

IMG_4426

The view from mom’s cancer “klinik” in our temporary home, Hietzing, Vienna.

The klinik building... not too shabby!

The klinik building… not too shabby!

What I do at least once per day.

What I do at least once per day.

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