Some days it feels like I’m dealing with the irreversible consequences of a choice I didn’t make.
My whole life I was taught that if I planned, organized, and did things the “right” way, I could avoid so much of life’s uncertainty. No moment has proven that more false than this one. Some days I wake up and have to remind myself of the strange new world I now live in. Everything feels so surreal – like living inside a movie.
I recently started reading Alicia Keys’ autobiography, More Myself, and have found it revelatory in many ways. She writes, “Nothing but uncertainty is certain. Circumstances come together, only to fall apart moments or months later. And then, in a flash, we must rise up and regain our footing . . . It’s not that the ground underneath me was suddenly shifting; it’s never been still. That’s part of the work of my journey — getting comfortable with life’s groundlessness.”
It’s comforting to think that life is something stable and controllable. That you can detail a clear path into the future. Paved and planned. But I’m learning, yet again, that’s not true. Letting go of a past where the future felt certain in order to make space for the uncomfortable present is a kind of surrender I’ve never experienced before. I am humbled and forced to bow in the presence of change; God. In a recent poem I describe us all as being widows to the Future and newlywed (an arranged marriage) to the Present.
All our plans are casualties to change . . . and yet our dreams are untouched. Transferred across generations, physical space and spiritual realities in pristine condition. They are our most precious hope. We’re often taught that dreaming is wistful or silly. That planning and logic are the way of maturity and wisdom, but now we see that our plans were just a card house that crumbled in the wind. Maybe dreams are the only real anchor we have. I’ve been thinking a lot about what “dreams” mean to me. They feel like the inverse of prayer. Dreams are things God sends down through us and asks us to live out. Prayers are us asking for guidance in living out those dreams. Like an endless circle, the dreams and prayers clarify and intensify each time. Nothing can derail them because they’re divine in nature.
Daily, I have to remind myself that this is my life. This is the time and place I’ve found myself living in. I’m working to be present to all the pain and beauty bound up in that reality — to feel truly wed to the Present in all its idiosyncrasy and unexpectedness. I hope one day I can grow to love it — the strange and overwhelming Now. It is causing me to have a kind of faith and courage I’ve never needed before. Each day I create, what my friend described as, a sand mandala: a detailed, ornate and beautiful 24hrs that are then wiped away for me to create again. I’ve also been holding on to the Greek folklore of the phoenix that burns and rises each day, somehow made stronger by the ashes.
Amid all the challenges and changes, I am reminded of a dream that is planted within each of us: to seek, create and embody expansive love. My friend Aisha wrote the words that spoke to something I couldn’t name:
Maybe love is nonlinear and doesn’t have a beginning or end.
Maybe I thought I grew to love you, but really I watered a love that always existed, and in our crossing, a new branch emerged from it’s sturdy, deeply-rooted trunk. A part of history, with the power to sprout future generations of love.
And each love, it dances inside of me to its own unique rhythm. Yet my body recognizes its pulse. How could it forget? A love uniquely ours yet a part of a legacy, that I inherited. My spirit whispers, “ahlan wa sahlan” and expands its unbounded home.
As we make peace with the present and remember the dreams we’ve neglected, may we find power in a dream that never dies: love.
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