Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ella's Valentine - Thoughts on Keeping Close and Floating Away

Audio Link to this story HERE.

If I hoard anything it's paper things, notes-to-self, quotes, information, recipes I enjoy reading yet seldom make and cards, the things made of paper which comes from trees.  People use to receive cards in the mailbox the oblong structure on a post in my case out by the street not to be confused with the today's inbox. The cards in the mail box hold personal handwritten text, unlike generic digital text sent and received today.

I recently went through a minor paper-clearing spree and came across one of these cards, a Valentine saved from a few years ago.  It was from one of my favorite families who use to live next door.  The inside of the Valentine got my attention in a necessarily uncomfortable way the first time I read it.  It did this time as well. 

Drawn in pencil, on the left was a crescent moon on a heart-shaped balloon. The balloon floated among clouds.  Written in pencil were the words: "Keep the ones you love close, don't let them float away." Love, Ella

The first time I read this I felt sick for I knew I had let Ella float away.  How had this happened?

Ella's parents moved in next door as newlyweds and had lived by us for several years at the time of Ella's birth. I forget things easily (one reason I keep my journals) but I think I was the first to baby sit Ella so her parents could go out to dinner when she was only a couple of months old.  She was two-ish when they moved a few houses down the street but it still wasn't uncommon for me to knock on the door just to check in or for us to get together to eat just about every week.

Ella and her eventual sister Lily inspired many of my stories from spontaneously making an airplane out of a cardboard box in which to fly to Madagascar to the special woman we met on one of our Christmas eve adventures. 

Then there was the night I will never forget when I volunteered to baby sit while their parents went out.  I don't ever want that night to float away.  Lily who just a baby was asleep. As I tucked Ella in she asked if I'd lie down by her for a moment.  We lay there side by side on her twin bed as she said, "Aunt Dawn, you know my favorite thing about you?"  Certain I was about to hear, "Going to get ice cream" or "When you take me to the Frothy Monkey" I asked, "What?"

Instead this child of four gently tapped my chest with her hand and said, "My favorite thing about you is your heart. You will always be in my heart and I will always be in yours."

A tear ran down my cheek as we lay side by side on her twin bed and I told Ella she would always be in my heart as well. 

This is the child who at my women's drum circle a couple of years later asked if she could say something. She was the only child there. All eyes turned to her as she said, "Everything in Nature has a heart in it."  Then at the circle's close when we were naming specific people we wanted to hold in love in the circle's center Ella asked, "Why don't we just put the whole world in the circle?"

How have I allowed a child of such heart and love to float away?  How have I allowed her younger sister Lily filled with such spunk and spirit to likewise drift?

It's easy to blame the distance on my spending weekends in the country over the last few years and on Ella and Lily's busy schedules.  It's easy to blame this floating thing on adolescence being the stage and age in which things get awkward between kids and grown-ups.

Yet this floating concept in general is used often in our world. Buddhists practice non-attachment because all things are temporary (ie. they float away.). Many Christians look forward to floating away to the sweet-by-and-by where suffering and sorrow will be no more.  Likewise people often use drugs, drink, spend compulsively, and self-medicate to temporarily float away and relieve themselves of trauma and the tension that comes with living.

Biologists, environmentalists, sociologists and linguists can attest to the fact that species, cultures and languages are floating away at a faster rate than at any other time in recorded history. Some say this floating thing is inevitable as Earth is now in the process of a sixth extinction.

My truth is I let Ella float away. In this painful realization I also know I have allowed slices of my life to float away, time that can never be recaptured. More significantly I let my heart, the core of who I am, periodically float away. In my unawareness and ignorance, I have not consistently valued who I am. I have allowed myself to get easily discouraged and distracted. 

So dear, dear Ella, this is my Valentine to you not just on Valentines but everyday. 

"You hold within the most beautiful treasure on Earth for you hold a compassionate, wise and wonderful heart. 

I did not fully recognize the gift you shared with me ten years ago as we lay side-by-side that night because I didn't at the time recognize the full beauty of my own heart. You saw it. You saw my heart as a four year old! And I thank you for that. I thank you so vey much. 

When adults, like your "Aunt" Dawn, don't recognize things within themselves, it's harder to receive these very things as gifts. When you shared your beautiful words with me in the Valentine, I was just beginning to wake up to who I more fully am.  Waking up is a process, for me at least. It's similar to having a dimmer switch inside that turns the light on gradually rather than having an off-to-on switch.

I came into the world wide awake and free. Then I gradually abandoned myself through trying to please others and make them happy. I began to follow the rules of my time and home. Rules like "Don’t let people see you sad or scared for they’ll judge you, try to change you and at times even make fun of you."I so wish I had known that being made fun of was about them, their discomfort and lack of self-esteem, and not really about me.  I wish someone had told me that I had a beautiful heart long ago and that beautiful, open hearts are touched by everything in the world - the sad, the scary and the happy. Over time, I began to abandon my heart which in turn meant abandoning me. As strange as it may sound I floated away from me which brings me to "keeping close."

The most important thing to keep close is to yourself. Stay close to you for this way you are less likely to abandon yourself. You’ll always be true to you. When you are true to your insides, everything will be alright. That doesn't mean that events aren't challenging, trying and sad at times. If you are true to you, if you keep close to you, it will be alright which brings me to “floating away.”

You, I and all on Earth similar to us are the Heart walking in the world. When you’ve a big, open heart, living can hurt. It can hurt so because the truth is people do float away. They float away as they change, move, grow, get upset with us, have health issues and yes, die. Things float away because change happens. The key, and I still have to practice this daily, is to live in a continual place of keeping close while letting go. 

These are opposites of course, which can be hard for adults who learn over time to think in black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. How can we keep close while letting go? 

Children know we can hold close and let things float because the truth is they never float away. You knew that truth at four years old. When we have had someone or something in our hearts as you told me years ago they never really go away. 

So show up. Stay awake. When you catch yourself falling asleep, meaning you feel yourself disconnected from yourself, check-in and be curious about what's going on in your heart and head because you can always wake up again. Honor your heart and let your feelings flow through you. This way they don't get backed up and stuck inside you which is often why we disconnect and fall asleep to begin with.

Love everything. Even the hard stuff. This is still periodically challenging for your "Aunt" Dawn, but I know our hearts are built in finding joy in loving the hard stuff. Keep your heart open and your mind curious as to how even the hard stuff can benefit and help you. Try to love, love, love everything and remember as you told me years ago, I will always be in your heart and you will always be in mine.  Ella, you were a wise child. You are now a wise girl."

I love you, 
“Aunt” Dawn 

There is much good, such beauty, going on in the world today and I believe there is much at risk in these trendy, techy, hip, fast times.

When we don't recognize the beauty of Earth, we allow it to slip away. When we neglect or forget the beauty in the personal whether in the handwriting of someone we love, the sending of a card, the song of a bird, the feel of grass under our feet, the sound of a friend’s voice, the touch of a pet's fur or simply saying, "I'm scared. I hurt" we risk the floating away of our sensory, sensitive, beautiful, vulnerable selves and the exqusitely personal on Earth. When we don't realize the beauty in getting to be here on this profound planet, we run the risk of missing so much. 

Let's not let Earth float away. Let's not allow the personal to float either.

Show up. Wake up (repeatedly) and practice keeping close while letting go.

...and here's a magical story inspired by Lily - The Earth is Magic.
...and the first story inspired by Ella and Lily The Day My Funk Flew to Madagascar. link to "Friendship." to our meeting Corina Christmas Eve at "Gifting One Another."

-Dawn, The Good News Muse 14 February 2015

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