I’ve been thinking so much about the messiness of life, as my own life has taken a sudden turn, the comforts I have known and the meanings that I have so deliberately constructed have shifted, no, more like have been completely obliterated (a touch of drama never hurts)! The bottom has fallen out from beneath me – the daily assault of mysterious health problems, the end of a beautiful relationship, the loss of home, the instability of a job that I’ve been so dedicated to for years, oh yes, and that pesky on-going existential crisis – and I find myself floundering and floating. Lost.
I was always the girl who grasped for control, who lost herself in the grief of the past, or blurred her reality by fixating on the dreams and anxieties of the future. This sense of longing followed me around like a ghost that I could never release. These were the stories I told myself. I told myself that I had to run from pain, escape my uncertainties, and mold my scary feelings into something digestible, more manageable.
This time though, the stories have changed. This time, I have chosen to fully immerse myself in the open space of uncertainty and messiness. I am walking straight into it, letting it envelope me without balking at the ‘bigness’ of it all. I am letting all the honest rawness spill out. I am beginning to trust that, at the end of all the grief, things will work out as they are meant to. There are vibrations of excitement in my gut, as things begin to unfold. It is liberating.
The other week, I was given a book by an amazing woman that I had just met at an arts retreat. I spent the entire week devouring the pages, first quickly, and then savouring it a second time, digesting the words slowly and mindfully. I was left reeling from it, illuminating with inspired wisdom and giddy excitement. In the first few pages, Natalie Goldman writes,
“life is not orderly. No matter how hard we try to make it so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce. In summer, we work so hard to make a tidy garden, bordered by pansies with rows or clumps of columbine, petunias, bleeding hearts.
Then we find ourselves longing for the forest, where everything has the appearance of disorder; yet, we feel peaceful there. What writing practice, like Zen practice, does is bring you back to the natural state of mind, the wilderness of your mind where there are no rows of gladiolas. It does not think in the way we were brought up to think – well-mannered, congenial”
(Wild Mind, intro, xiii).
I love wild overgrown gardens that spill out onto the sidewalk, I love climbing over tree stumps and tripping over roots, and squeezing myself through narrow spaces between bushes, I love gnarled branches knitted haphazardly together in the woods, I love weeds and wildflowers overtaking open fields and private lawns, I love muddy shoes and dirty knees, I love old rustic cabins and old faded photographs, I love overflowing disorganized bursting bookshelves, and cramped used bookstores with piles upon piles of books, and secret nooks to crouch in and consume words.
When I travel, I crave raw, rocky, jagged, soul-shakingly wild landscapes, rather than manicured, contained, tamed, all-inclusive packages. I want to explore, not to be given predetermined meanings and experiences. The journey is sometimes messy, but if you allow yourself to flow in its messiness, you find growth, strength, authenticity, discovery, new meanings, and life. I’ve always loved the imperfection and disorder of nature, but it’s been a long, slow journey to embrace my own beautiful flaws.
I’ve lived so long in the shadows of other people’s stories, while not acknowledging and honouring my own. I used to think I didn’t have anything worthy enough to share. On bad days, I still do. But I’m now leaping into the unknown and taking my personal power back. I have begun writing down more of my own messy wildness, my unfiltered stories of the experiences that I’ve lived. I have found beauty and trust in the uncertainties and the fears, I found so much heart in my vulnerabilities and my pains, I found so much healing in the act of releasing my truths onto the page. The words and the tears flowed, and as I expressed and let go of my stories, I began to create internal space to house new meanings, new perspectives, new possibilities.
Our messiness is where the power lies, it’s what connects us to our hearts. Life is not only about learning, it’s also about unlearning. It’s about deconstructing the false stories we have been fed. It’s about sculpting our own narratives that affirm ALL of our glorious disorderly parts that refuse to conform!
How can you write your own Truths? You need to split yourself open and let your own beautiful messiness spill out. Write your hurtful, painful, shameful, embarrassing, secret, hidden, vulgar, “inappropriate”, racy, sexy stories. Even if you just write them in private, for your eyes only. Even if you never share them, or never read them again. It’s okay. You are safe.
Our stories are never neat and tidy. They don’t always make sense, they don’t always follow convention, or a tidy timeline, or a traditional plot structure. They are not always deemed as “acceptable” by narrow societal standards, they’re not always going to please your family or your friends or your culture, not everyone is going to support them – but, they are YOURS, own them, embrace them, honour yourself. Be yourself and somebody will listen and discover themselves in your words.
So here’s to owning and embracing our radiant idiosyncrasies, our messy feelings, our creeping fears, our shitty days, the plans that don’t come to fruition! I have stepped out into the unknown with a sense of love and trust in my heart. I have pages full of my own vulnerably empowering stories waiting to be released out into the world! They are not going to arrive in a neat, little package with a bow on top. And that’s more than okay.
Sharon is a wild-writer, a curious-dreamer, a creative-badass, a feisty-feminist, a community-craver, a shameless-idealist, a tea-lover and a nature-explorer.
She is a counsellor and support worker for Deaf adults with a variety of developmental and physical disabilities.
She lives under the magnetic pull of Peterborough, Ontario, but has brewing desires to explore a bit more of the world. She hopes to one day run expressive arts retreats and to travel across the Arctic Circle.