so, sometimes it can take 40 years to really get it. you go around self conscious about how you are in the world. you're uncomfortable in your skin because your way is not the dominant, common role you see executed on tv or among "successful" people. you don't necessarily change to be something you're not. but you adapt to the thinking that there are some ways of behaving that have more value than others in your culture. you filter out some parts of who you truly are. then you're 41, and realize where you find deep happiness. and its always made you happy, so theres been a piece of it, or perhaps just a shadow of it at all times in your life. its different now, though. you pour yourself into it, realizing its not just something you can have in your life because actually its YOU. so you dream it, eat it, and share it with everyone who will listen. yet still, your opinion is that it isn't something your culture values. in fact, it may feel like there's a drought of it. a famine of it. but now you understand how that doesn't mean you crumple it up into a ball & throw it away, or keep it in a box for only you to play with when no one else is home. its clear now. its so loud you wonder how you've never heard it before.
this is it: when you look around & don't see many people who appreciate those things that you know how to adore, or don't express themselves in the same language that moves you, or don't show up with the perspective & offerings that you can't leave home without, then what you have is a missing piece. it was swept under the sofa and got tangled up with the dust & dog hair. but the puzzle isn't complete without it. if you don't see enuf out in the big world of what you know you truly have to offer, that is proof that you need to be out there offering it. it is more necessary than ever. keeping this fire burning depends on you.
your family, your community, your land, and your people, they may be-without knowing it-starving for this missing piece. or at least, not even considering its existence. don't interpret that as not having value, because your translation of this is key. as this precious perspective that is uniquely yours wanes in our world, its value is actually increasing. while its possible extinction is sticking its tongue out at you, smile back, and reward the world with your true presence.
I may sound over dramatic. it may seem that things are just fine the way they are. but I believe that when the existence of your unique way of being in the world is threatened, we are all being asked to sacrifice.
are you wondering what I am talking about? I guess I thought not wanting to be in the spotlight meant I was insecure. because all confident americans want to have all the lights on them? I guess I thought being careful and quiet meant I couldn't also be a smart ass. my story I told about me turned out to not leave enuf room for me. as it has become clear to me that I am slow and quiet and confident and a smart ass and sweet and careful and loving and compassionate and sentimental, I still have my place. it may not be what is sold as successful. it may not be valued by every passerby. but it has an important spot. it helps keep all the gregarious spotlight loving parts of our culture in balance. sure I may annoy someone behind me in line at the grocery store because I am slower than they'd like. yes, most people won't understand that hanging clothes out on the line to dry feeds my soul just like touching the wood of the clothespins that are the same ones my grandmother pinched to hold her own wet clothes on the line. certainly there are people that wouldn't have even considered digging graves for the decapitated rodents mama cat has captured, much less saying a blessing and marking their spot in the garden with a seashell. but these qualities define me. and when I don't see many folks sharing the same appreciation for details or tenderness, I don't say anymore that those things must not matter. I don't consider their worth based on numbers. I think, now, 'this is who I am' & its my responsibility, for everyones sake, to be me.
building shrines, for me, honors those details, those sparks that get looked over because the fireworks are brighter, those feelings that stir up connections to other times. I have the opportunity to pay my attention to the nuances, textures, colors, messages, and meaning. remembering deep inside me how building shrines is a way to express how I am in the world was like starting a fire. and every day that I bring reverence to that memory, that ancient fire continues burning. and every day I am more myself.
this is my wish: that you are in touch with your own fire, too. and that you keep it burning.