What strikes me about those times now was how little time we spent indoors -- and that music was always playing somewhere in the background or the foreground. In the car, by a pool or on an old portable turntable on the front porch one Fourth of July. The only 45 available to play was, "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis. Music was simply a golden thread weaved through the tapestry of my young life.
So was nature.
Every one of these musical memories has an undeniable cross-stitch of nature in it. The smell of fresh mown hay. A campfire. Wet grass while watching a meteor shower. The sounds of crickets and peeping frogs. The gentle light of fireflies. All the sounds, smells and sights of summer were magical -- and for me, had a soundtrack.
The Police album, Synchronicity was titled after a concept first explained by Carl Jung. Jung's belief was that, just as events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning. Events connected by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of causality. He variously defined synchronicity as an "acausal connecting (togetherness) principle," "meaningful coincidence", and "acausal parallelism."
Back in 1984, a copy of his book that The Police were inspired to create an album about, ended up in my hands. In Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung wrote:
How are we to recognize acausal combinations of events, since it is obviously impossible to examine all chance happenings for their causality? The answer to this is that acausal events may be expected most readily where, on closer reflection, a causal connection appears to be inconceivable.
Needless to say, my 17 year old brain could not fathom this concept. What I didn't realize until now, is that my 17 year old heart certainly did. I needed a dictionary to get through the first several chapters. It was no coincidence that when life offered chances to be spirited away to wild places, the book ceased to be as important as the lyrical lessons within an album sleeve, hunting mushrooms or the wind in my hair.
And rightfully so. I was in love with the world, not so much words at 17. That same year, I'd foolishly fallen in love with a cartoon character of a boy whose ego was larger than his heart. He'd given me attention I'd never had before but I was naive and my intuition not properly informed by the women-folk in my life that this is the kind of attention to be avoided. I became pregnant, we married because 'that was the right thing to do' and my world changed forever.
I'll be 49 years old this June. Divorced twice and single since 2000. I find that Carl Jung's work speak volumes to me now. My synchronicity? A young boy who lived near my friend's house back then came back into my life in 2010. I had lost much that year. I had worked hard on a music project that nourished my soul in a world that had become unfamiliar to me. I lost my project, my home, many friends and very nearly my reputation. Luckily, after my second divorce, I dove into spiritual practice that would see me through the trials ahead and family who helped me as much as they could through the aftermath of such profound loss.
Understand that this loss was far greater to me than any failed marriage. It was my own spiritual death. A loss so complete that the only thing left was rebirth. A fire that burned away everything that was unimportant and the reality that a choice would have to be made. Return to a world that felt alien to me and sell my soul or seek what was missing. The rug was pulled out from under me and I was at a crossroads. I engaged in a renunciation of all things material, impermanent and hollow; everything that no longer resonated with me. What possessions I owned, I put in an 8 x 10 foot storage unit. I let go to practice the Tao.
This man who reappeared in my life came to me open-hearted, vulnerable and confessed his love for me. A love that spanned 30 years of wondering where I was and what my life had become. He remembered a look in my eyes, a light that had gone out when I'd married our mutual acquaintance at 17. He feared I was still married to this man and that my spark was entirely snuffed out. I couldn't tell you the last time any man remembered a light in my eyes, let alone remembered something deeply profound about them. He was a messenger who delivered a truth from my younger self. And it spoke volumes.
Unconventional circumstance be damned, I accepted this man's love, this gift and for this surrender, I was reintroduced to my wild heart. Moments of pure bliss were stolen and shared, naked under the light of full moons near forests singing with life. Bathing nude in downpours of rain, laughter and descriptions of passionate love in poetry. I was slowly weaving threads back together that had become worn and tattered by this culture, technology, and yes, industrial civilization. He gave me strength I'd forgotten I had and he encouraged my travels, research and my writing, often when no one else did. It was a time of great healing for me; a reclaiming of my own magic -- a journey fraught with obstacles but a mended altar cloth in my heart six years later.
I'm often reminded of one of my favorite poets, Wendell Berry, when he describes himself as an ignorant pilgrim:
I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circling or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led - make of that what you will.”
I find it difficult to imagine a better description of my experience with the Tao.
My spark returned to me but the man I loved who loved me well, left for other things like a new city, modern culture and civilization. I am not angry or hurt about this -- in fact, I understand on many intuitive levels why he had to leave. Being in the same place for almost 30 years without truly living will do that to people. It's happening a lot now, more than most people know or who are unaware of the paradigm shifting under their own feet.
What broke my heart was that he blamed me for not wanting to return to the very world I'd worked so hard to leave behind. He perceived my rejection of this dying paradigm as a rejection of him. Nothing could be further from the truth. You see, even the most beautiful souls we encounter are hopelessly enamored with the idea of a life that truly has no soul. The very world that stole the spark his love helped rekindle is the world that will eventually steal his, too. I cannot make him see this and most certainly don't have 30 years to convince him of something he must learn on his own. I don't have it in me to harbor ill-will for him claiming his free will. So many never do. The time spent with him I could never regret. How could I? It was a gift I thanked him for but this angered him. So I must let go again. I can no longer abide projections or expectations from ungrateful men. I've loved a few...seems these days it is difficult to swing a cat without hitting one. But I am grateful and wish them peace. This world is full of bitter pills without me being one.
I've learned a lot the last 10 years and most lessons do not come without wounds. The hardest knowledge I have ever won in this life is that no one can put a price tag on the work we do to reclaim our true selves, our wild hearts. No one may unless we give them permission. My spiritual practice has taught me that there is nothing more important to manifesting what we desire in this life than gratitude. Though the man who once worshiped at the altar of my heart is gone -- I kneel unbroken before it, in tune with nature's beauty, admiring the glow of the tapestry woven with golden threads of music, poetry and the joy of simple pleasures reclaimed. My altar holds the scent of wet grass, shimmers like fireflies and waves in the breeze like the hair of a goddess, whole and divine.
All are welcome to visit this temple but it will never be for sale. There is always room for a man who dares to be vulnerable. This is bravery -- and the key to the kingdom of wild hearts.
This was what I knew intuitively at 17 that I couldn't get out of a book. A whisper of knowing once lost in the cacophony of the modern world: it is our spark and it is the only currency worth having.
The earth does have a soul, Uncle Carl. It is our soul, too.
If you wish to read excerpts from the upcoming book publication about my 6 year journey to reclaim my wild heart, please make a recurring $5 donation -- all $5 patrons get first access to signed copies of the book as well as an all-access pass to my work here. Thank you all for reading ~ Gabrielle