by L.M. Browning
“Sit with the silence. There is something there waiting for you.”
—Journal Entry, May 2019
Virginia Woolf believed that life was composed of one or two days that change everything―pivotal days that ripple out to effect all the days to follow . . . events that define us. I believe this is true.
Four years ago, on August 14th, I had one of those days. I was sitting at a table at a local haunt, I looked up, and met someone who would change my life. It was a star-crossed lovers moment―something fantastically wonderful that was destined to end in tragedy.
Ripples went out from that moment that will define my life . . . some ripples resound with growth, some with pain. I thought the person I met on that fated day was my “soul mate” ( . . . and I say this as a person who was disillusioned at an early age that such things exist). The euphoria of the meeting eventually waned into grief; however, I wasn’t wrong to think that I had met someone who would become central to my life. I did indeed meet my “soul mate” that night. I just didn’t know at the time what a “soul mate” truly is.
Many of us inherit the fairy tale that our soul mate is the missing half of us―the single person on the planet destined to complete us. What we don’t realize is, we are complete within ourselves and a “soul mate’s” role in our life is not our completion; they are the catalyst for our becoming.
In Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert explores this:
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”
Since suffering the end of a relationship I never thought would end, I’ve searched for some other person to fill the hole left in my life . . . once again forgetting this lesson, which I so painfully learned . . . I am whole within myself; I do not require another person for completion. I searched for a new connection with the same need that a lost pilgrim in the desert would for water…desperately. Only to discover that the solitude of my single-hood had changed me . . . .
Early in the summer, just when everything was coming apart, I wrote in my journal “Sit with the silence. There is something there waiting for you.” Little did I know, I was giving myself instructions for how to move on with my life.
These last months of solitude―of sitting with the silence―have changed me. I’ve found a freedom that I am not ready to let go of again. I enjoy my love affair with poetry, the moon, the mountains, the open road . . . all this time I was searching for someone to complete me, when I am spoken for without even knowing it.
And so, I go off to sit with the silence. I’ve been ailing for years both in body and mind, looking for cures everywhere except within the place my soul was telling me it lay: in the “wild silence” (a term I scribbled in my journal almost 5 years ago).
In the high-Rockies, across the deserts of Utah and Death Valley, and into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I will roam. Departing on the anniversary of the day I thought I had found my completion in another. Coming full circle as I realize I’ve always been whole.
Car packed. Calendar cleared, I head out heading Grandfather John (John Muir that is) as my guide: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
And the road, once again, turns West . . .
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They say poetry must tell us something of life and the wider-world, else it is confessional blather beyond use, but what if I want it to be only for me—in all its obscurity?