I don’t even quite know how to start this post because my friendship with Susan is sort of that way. Beyond words. We’ve been friends for over twenty years and I’m not quite sure how to pay homage to someone who lovingly transports a rehab-bound friend to the airport at 9AM, drunk on the wine indiscriminately polished off from the evening before. She didn’t even hesitate or chastise when I realized I’d lost my debit card and vodka was maintenance required for the trip, at that point. Not having cash on hand, she dug through her purse for quarters so I didn’t have to worry about getting the shakes.
For the record, she’s the kind of friend who has two airport vodka tonics worth of quarters in her purse and infinite gold in her heart.
Every couple of months we go hiking. Frankly, it’s more like a walk, but a walk in the mountains through dirt road neighborhoods featuring a hikey path halfway through, so we call it a hike. It’s a daily thing for her and since I am an intermittent resident of 9,000 ft altitude, not to mention a former smoker, our arrangement is that I fill her in on my life while we’re downhill and she fills me in on hers while we’re uphill.
It’s lovely. And I feel like a total badass every time we do it.
Most of you know, I’m very open about my life. It’s just my way. Jupiter conjunct Chiron, I’m looking at you. This post isn’t about astrology, however, that information proved very useful in my own healing Journey.
I heal by learning and sharing. I don’t feel weird about that anymore.
Even still, there is a lot I don’t share with God and everybody. Well, God, sure, but not everybody. Not until I’m ready at least. Once the seeds of valuable lessons I’ve planted in a given experience have had time to germinate and break ground, strengthened by the sun, then I will share what I’ve grown.
I do have a small council of folks whom I trust with my gardening projects.
To be blunt, I don’t like others’ thoughts, feelings, and energy all over my shit. I’m selective about the fertilization of my sacred ground.
Anyway, as we were hiking the other day, I was huffing and puffing, yes, even downhill, and sharing some of my tender bits. Unfolding the bandages from my wounds and exposing them to some fresh air and thoughtful examination.
Susan simply witnesses. She has a magical way of holding space.
After a bit of sharing I trailed off mid-sentence.
“You know what? I’m actually going to stop now. I don’t like how my words feel.”
It wasn’t that they were emotional or that I was being avoidant. I tend to march right up to most feelings these days. What I meant is that the words were starting to move differently. As though they weren’t content to occupy the space between us anymore. They wanted to flee. To inflict.
It’s hard to explain.
One of the most pivotal and life-changing books I’ve ever read was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’ve posted the agreements below, but I highly recommend the entire book.
‘Be Impeccable with your Word’, the first agreement, is written in invisible ink, on invisible paper, and pressed close to my heart in an (almost always) invisible pocket.
There’s a churning in my stomach and a throatiness in my voice when my words start to feel, well, harmful. To describe them as harmful seems a bit dramatic but it’s the best way I know how. It’s like they’re preparing to take flight, seek the subject, and nibble at the energetic bubble enfolding them. I actually believe, left unchecked, they would do just that. Whether that person is aware or not.
And that’s not what I’m about. It’s important to me not to go around launching little energetic piranha words at people’s bubbles unbeknownst to them. Which is why I’m very careful with them.
It’s not unusual for me to trail off in a conversation like that so we shared a momentary silence and enjoyed our walk until something caught my eye and I pointed laughing. A bit maniacally.
“Oh my God, Susan, look over there.”
Just ahead of us at the end of a driveway was a large green bin emblazoned with the words ‘Talking Trash’ which is the name of a local garbage company.
“Holy shit, I stopped myself first but the Universe was ready to remind me!”
Susan laughed, too. “Oh Larry, I just love how he’s always talking to you.”
I am often awe-struck by the fortune and messages in my life. Friends with quarters and big hearts, gardens to grow, and perfectly placed trash cans. And that’s the truth.