“Don’t you love me anymore?”
I looked up at him, collapsing into the grass. His silhouette grew larger under Naropa’s campus security lights.
I had jumped off the cliff of security to be with him, to reclaim my drying spirit and dwindling sexuality. I’d left my 16-year marriage and in-law family and shocked and shattered friendships to pursue my life. I’d compromised and negotiated away my deeper self, one for which I was desperate to reclaim.
I was putting everything I had into our newfound romance. My last hopes for a family with a man so interested resided with him. He was my muse and my inspiration. I saw myself sitting beside him, creative life exploding. I told myself in private moments, I am a passionate, soul-centered animal advocate, my inspiration is divinely sourced.
Our unity inspired me to have granola with Goji berries for breakfast, steam kale for dinner, drink matcha tea, and smoke copious amounts marijuana years before it became legal. I sat in Lotus-style position for 5 a.m. meditations. I spent Saturday afternoons hiking Devil’s Thumb and Jasper Lake trails in the company of him and my rescue dogs. I envisioned a life’s work so deeply satisfying that my final words would be:
Yes, I did what I came here to do.
I’d shared my Crayola crayons from that 64-count box with him. He’d walked into my death ceremony on my Naropa-required vision quest, declaring his everlasting love for me.
“What of the 12 years between us?” I asked of my 32-year-old catalyst.
“It doesn’t matter, Bo”—he’d pulled me close into his presence in that Canyon. “You are the one I dream about, the one I want to watch as you sleep…”
And now here we were, on break from Jack Collom’s Eco-Literature class, under Naropa’s sodium lights, months later and long after the matcha tea had grown cold.
I took a breath. Leaned in, held on. Our time spent together surged and pulsed, coalescing into that precise moment. He was wearing that Eddie Bauer canvas shirt I’d bought him for Christmas, standing tall and upright. So tall, his head blocked the campus security light.
“No, I don’t.” His words pierced the silence like a shattered bulb on a concrete floor. Then he turned and walked back into Eco-Literature class, the one we’d signed up for together.
It’s been 13 years since that moment. Looking backward, I can see it as the moment that I turned against myself. I began to dwell complicit in a belief that I was too many years into life to create a career anew.
I’ve had my 25 years in law—discursive thoughts cycled like the gears I turned on the mountain roads I pedaled—I guess there’s no room for me in the professional world any longer.
Feeling thrown away by a 30-something man-child as though he represented all of his younger generation in its entirety, feeling as though I had nothing to offer any longer since reaching midlife, has been the Sisyphean boulder I’ve been pushing up a hill ever since then.
Sometimes when we pursue our actual, soul-felt, irrational dreams, we trip. Other times, we fall. In just that moment 13 years ago, I fell down hard. Something in me had turned away from myself. I used his judgment of me—”He’s dumping you because you can’t have a bed baby,” my best friend confided. I felt old, infertile, used up. My time has come and gone, I told myself, stealing away along with it hopes of birthing anything—a baby or a new career—anew.
I stopped pursuing the dream that spurred my entire life change of finding my own authentic voice, cultivating creativity, fueling my passion for advocating on behalf of animals, and honoring my intuition. I allowed voices of self-doubt to drown out the spirit-filled guidance that had called me to write on behalf of wolves, which called to me on my vision quest. More than anything, I wanted to write to advocate awareness for God’s creatures, to encourage a culture of coexistence. Later, that same passion morphed into advocating on behalf of homeless dogs.
I let fear overtake all my beliefs in myself. After I spent cherished and much-needed divorce funds on a cycling apparel company, I relinquished the dream that I could convince mountain road cyclists to wear my cycling apparel to save animals. I donated all my unsold apparel to HawkQuest, rationalizing that they could use the proceeds from those gorgeous golden eagle jerseys to buy field mice for their golden eagles. I stopped showing up at cycling booths to sell my wares, telling myself that my impulsivity had gotten the best of me in the moment I most needed pragmatism.
I went from promoting that company, Is your Wildsight 20/20?, to feeling that my own was quickly dwindling.
I turned to writing, but quickly shelved every article I began to write as the voice saying, Who will read this? screamed louder than my morning dose of creative passion.
I gave up all matcha tea and returned to a simple cup of black coffee.
I shrunk myself small, stopped myself every time I took a step forward, tripped myself up, and closed my own door before I ever set a toe on the threshold.
Having left my illogically overconfident, talented, and forever supporting loving spouse for whom I once blamed for silencing me, I had no one now to blame but myself.
I had managed to silence my own voice.
Sometimes, we need others to help shine the light on our self-imposed darkness.
And when there’s no one there, we need to step forward out of our shadows, to look at what turns us around and say to ourselves:
If it was important enough to create a new life for, it’s worth trying again.
Finding ways to reconnect with our passion isn’t always easy. There’s a lot getting in the way. Getting back up when you fall down is quite a bit like getting back on my childhood pony my father encouraged to buck me off.
I know now that he did that just to teach me how to get back on.
As a writer with a frustratingly persistent nagging to create into the wind, or to write for the sake of expression, I feel the energy pulling me forward deeper into every blessed waking day. I feel the passion, once turned inward into depression, as liberation from old beliefs.
It’s been 13 years since I sat crumpled in a heartbroken heap on that Naropa grass feeling as thrown away as the rescue dogs for which I now advocate, but when you feel born to create—whether it’s writing, cooking beautiful foods to share with the world, or sharing your scientific genius—no one should give up or allow another to ever, ever, throw those creative dreams away.