For Amira de la Garza
“You can’t expect insights, even the big ones, to make you suddenly understand everything, but I figure, hey, it’s a step in the right direction if they leave you confused in a deeper way.” — Lily Tomlin
Lately my dreams leave me rattled.
In them, I unpack a very large cooler — the size of an army duffel bag — full of clothes and books and steak knives and papers.
At one point, I realize I cannot carry them any longer. I figure I will be stopped at security, so I leave my cutlery behind.
I disarm myself. I empty my bags. I lighten my load.
“I try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.” ― Johnny Depp
Given the state of things, doing this makes perfect sense.
Who needs all that old crap anyway?
In the end, I can’t take it with me. We can’t take any of it with us.
So, why do I feel like crying as I carry the garbage bags full of detritus out of the house and donate them to charity? Why do I suddenly remember what it felt like to wear the lithe body of that young woman, the one with silver boots and glossy lips and a purse full of demo tapes?
Why does each stage of life start with this molting, this shedding of skin, this peeling of an onion?
Why do I weep over what I’ve left behind?
“Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die…” ― George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
More than Skin Deep.
In one of my poems on aging, What I See, I refer to myself as a “thrumming hive/a frayed overcoat beaten soft.” I wrote that while pondering the maps and tributaries life’s etched across my skin over the last five decades.
Still, there’s this roiling life inside us, even as the bodies we inhabit, crease with age.
Look closely. Develop the eyes needed to really see.
I went to see Mad Max – Fury Road* last night with a friend.
Although the movie’s target demographic is clearly twelve-year-old boys, it heartened me to see a cadre of crones in the final third of the movie. They wore leather, post-apocalyptic goggles, and wild silver braids, as they kicked ass across miles of desert, more than holding their own against the evil asshats representing the worst the world had to offer.
Those broads’ craggy hearts were visible on their faces. There’s a wonderful, bloodied-but-unbowed kind of beauty to a face that has circled the sun for that long.
The eyes of that woman show she knows what’s true and what’s utter bullshit.
And she doesn’t care whether you see her luminosity. She doesn’t care if society renders her invisible. She knows things.
She just is. Like the air you breathe without thinking or the sliver of moon you cannot forget, she’s pushing the world into consciousness.
A smattering of far-flung stars…
My confusion, my muddledness, my sense that I don’t have solid ground beneath me, is terrifying. At the same time, I know I am navigating another rite of passage.
Life’s a riddle, a joke, a tragedy, and a trickster.
It purposely unravels you; then it laughs at your unspooled heart.
It encourages attachments and then severs them.
It offers solace and then rips it out by its roots.
The only constant in life is change.
That’s the mantra. Keep going, keep growing, keep sifting through these stones.
Walk barefoot or wear red cowboy boots. Wear long skirts that shift and twirl. Adorn yourself with turquoise rings, coral necklaces, tiny mandalas.
Wear Mr. Peabody glasses and strings of beads and velvet scarves.
Remember every once in a while to sit outside at night and soak up the sight of Jupiter’s glow or Venus’s shadow.
Realize that the wild woman inside you has taken root.
It won’t be long until you meet her.
*Overall, maybe three stars, IMHO.
However, Charlize Theron & her posse of ass-kicking crones? Five stars and two big thumbs up.
© 2015 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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