Friday, October 31, 2014


It has come to my attention that my blog posts are making a few of you a bit weepy. To be sure, I didn't really think anyone was reading this little ol' blog-o, but now I know for real and for certain that many of you are.

It means a lot to me.

I've hesitated to write this episode for some time now, thinking that I would jinx the very person or the very process, but in an effort to keep myself from being committed by various friends who think I might just benefit from an extended vacation giving myself an involuntary hug, here goes nothing.

When I worked in college admission (and therefore inadvertently counseled numerous eager and brilliant young minds), I used to describe the butterfly process. You've probably heard it before, and the dear Martha describes it well in Steering by Starlight. College graduation is very much like hatching from a cocoon with a whole new set of expectations and abilities. I think we go through many of these such processes in our lives: get tired of crawling along, hibernate, disintegrate into goo, put ourselves back together again, and then POW! WINGS.

A few years ago, as I prepared to retire, I had a sense that what I was experiencing was not the lego-esque butterfly moment, but something entirely different. More than a metamorphosis, but I couldn't really put my finger on it. I didn't feel as though I was about to sprout wings and fly gracefully, I felt like I might spew fire and be ready to take names (as they say). I called it my dragon moment, and it just happened to occur during the transition to the year of the dragon. It was dragons all around as I launched my business, leapt from the safety and security of the 401(k) and wrapped myself in the fragile threads of faith that I had carefully kept hidden from the world. I jumped from reality into fantasy.

Wild dreams came true. Pretty much everything that I set in motion either took off or very quickly disintegrated, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I would never have to do something that scary again.

(Hilarious, I know).

This transition… this transition isn't like a game of legos, where you build your tower and then take all the pieces apart and start over again. This time I've started by tossing my beliefs into the fire.

Security? Illusion.

Forever? A myth.

Future? Not guaranteed.

Expectations? Worthless.

In some ways, this makes breathing easier, because the enormous backpack full of crap I've been toting around is losing weight as the crap inside starts to burn... And then there's the smoke.

I'd love to tell you that I've done this entirely on my own, like Pippi Longstocking or She-Ra (or any other strong female with gorgeous hair and long socks). But the reality is that even in this very intimate and personal moment, I've done this and am doing this with the support of many, many friends.

Like you.

Your words and thoughts and intentions give me the strength that it takes to weather the flames.

But that's not the end of this story.

I have to be careful here. I'm walking dangerously close to the line of the knight in shining armor, and I don't want you (or the alleged knight) to think I'm a damsel, or that I'm in distress that someone else can save me from. The truth is that I have been inspired by someone who has already experienced this rebirth-by-fire. That he is willing to watch patiently from the sidelines, to push gently when I get stuck, and to hold on when I think I'm about to burn up and die? This has been a gift I couldn't have asked for. I didn't know it was possible.

It's inspiring (and scary) to transition from the lego-world of reality to the dragon world of fantasy to the other world-li-ness that comes with starting from scratch with a whole new batch of beliefs. I'm not sure I would have said that it happens outside of the epic poems like the Odyssey or Siddhartha, except that I've seen it. And every time I think about jumping back into lego-land or closing myself off to the pain (and subsequent beauty), I see this mythical creature soaring in front of me.

Waiting for me.

Edging me along, encouraging me. Loving me.

And so I sit on the pyre, knee-deep in ashes, waiting to grow wings.

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