November 12, 2019

Traversing the Wild Soul: how to Embrace the Messy Contradiction of Being Human. {Chapter 1}

*Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series—lucky you. Head to the author’s profile to continue reading.


As I ripen into my late 30s, I am becoming an explorer of the vast landscape of who I am.

As I traverse the wild terrain of my soul, I explore its micro-climates, the weather-makers that each play their own music in the particular spaces of my being: the dryness of its huge deserts where things go to die; the heat of brush fires burning the old and the smoke hungrily consuming the air of what used to live there; snowy, wintry parts in hibernation; rainy sections of clearing and cleansing; and floral, lush alive places with gardens and magic doorways.

I also find crystals and enchanted forests, a tarot deck and fire-breathing dragons, spiraling DNA molecules and the planet Mercury. Fairies. The deep, salty ocean. 

I find images of the tarot: one single chalice overflows, inviting me into an outpouring of self-love with which to hydrate myself. A thin woman with short brown hair wears a blindfold and holds two swords in an “x” formation, reminding me to maintain boundaries, and that it can be this and that.

My entire experience is valid, regardless of what it may appear to be—regardless of the seeming contradictions. The waning crescent moon above her reminds me that there is a season to look within, that we too cycle through fullness and thinness and other times when we cannot be seen at all. 

Eight wands fly through the air rapidly like shooting stars, speeding to their next unknown destination—smooth, natural, not hasty. 

There is a library with high bookshelves: tales of high fantasy with wizards and mazes and dragons reborn, tales of friendship and spiders, tales of loneliness and childhood and the deaf and mute, myths of women running with wolves, manifestos about freedom, love, and c*nts. 

There is a little me, playing with impossibly small toys, lost in her imagination—plastic animals so tiny that only the small fingers of a six-year-old can wield them. They speak to each other, play, and eat dinner. She is a blank slate and still looks upon the world with wonder. She asks questions and laughs a lot. She also has lonely feelings that she doesn’t understand and often wonders what to do here. 

I meet my heart and she gently reminds me that healing begins when we tell the truth.

She helps me soften into change. She helps me honor the varied layers and identities, showing me they are all valid: grouchy, awkward teenager; all-star editor/writer of a college newspaper; my ex’s ex-wife; and an anarcho-scholar from the 00s. The barista, spiritual seeker person, cancer mom, high school teacher, good daughter, bad daughter, mom, reborn writer, friend—I am all of these things and I am none of these things. 

You cannot step into the same river twice, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus says, and so is the landscape of the human being. We’re fluid, and as the Two of Swords invites us to see, we are both this and that.

It is actually possible to be bored while anticipating a new adventure; 

to laugh in a moment of deep despair; 

to grieve in the face of profound gratitude;

to love our job and not want to go to work;

to believe in God and not be religious; 

to feel confused when all the answers seem to lay in front of us; 

to have a sense of clarity during a complete meltdown; 

to feel shame in a moment of victory; 

to find freedom in financial uncertainty; 

to find radical spaciousness in a season of extreme responsibility;

to feel doubt in the face of reassurance; 

to be professional during the day and howl at the moon at night; 

to be consistent and responsible and wild and unhinged;  

to be gorgeous and also a f*cking mess; 

to love someone deeply and need space from them; 

to find opening when we choose to feel, like really feel, our deepest hurts. 

Each thing crossing the other thing, making an “x,” not because we have to decide, but because we just simply are this and that. 

And while what we feel in this moment is viscerally real, it is but a material in our texture, one more addition to the composite of experiences and expressions that give us our unique feeling. It is fleeting and also real. It is the fact that it is fleeting that makes it so real because the only thing worth depending on is change itself. 

My heart embraces all of this, makes space for it. She is a space-maker in the service of change. The change happens in the synthesis of the contradictions.

The change is what makes me human. The change both uproots and grounds us. 

And in this gorgeous alchemy of contradiction, humanness, change, and growth, my soul continues to make space for the diverse landscapes of feelings and time—limitless in its capacity to hold, boundless in a way my mind is not.

I trust her and journey forward.


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