“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Today, my youngest daughter became a teenager.
I don’t post this just to honor that special being who blessed my life 13 years ago today. Instead, I post this to tell a story, as is often my want.
Gianna was born a premie. and as such had what we were told was “retraction”. When she would inhale, her not-quite-fully-developed lungs would contract, making it impossible for her to get a full inhalation. Having been blessed with the instant love a Dad feels for his daughter, my joy went to worry instantly as we could only spend a few short moments with her before she was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
What I got to see from there was the pure glory of a human spirit untouched by human ideas, or human conditioning, or human teachings. I watched my little girl fight like hell for life, and for the way she wanted to live it. She’d tear out the feeding and ventilation tubes the staff had put in her, rid herself of the IV, and fight anyone who dared violate her space to put them back in. My little girl was, and still is, a fighter, and to watch that little being not only survive, but say to the world, “ON MY TERMS”, inspires me to this day.
She would fight the doctors so hard, they finally said, “if you can get her to eat, no more feeding tube.” They were exhausted, and she had exhausted them. Well, she ate, and ate, and then ate some more. Never had I felt so happy watching a child eat.
A few days later that Lioness came home. Needless to say to those of you who know her, she’s always been a sweet and strong girl. She doesn’t suffer fools, but she’s nice to them. She doesn’t like to be told what to do, but she’ll listen to counsel. When she makes up her mind that fierce determination I got to watch for the first 10 days of her life comes out, and she not only stands tall in her conviction but lives with the consequences.
I am not blessed just because this girl, this young woman, is my daughter. I am blessed because of who this girl, this young woman, is. She blesses me with her truth, even when that truth reminds me she’s still very young. She blesses me with her strength which, humbly, reminds me of me. She blesses me with her compassion (she is a devout vegetarian because she could never hurt an animal), her kindness, and her determination. She blesses me with her fierce adherence to who she is, and her unwavering passion for living the life she, and no one else, wants to live.
She blesses me with the world “Dad.”
Gianna doesn’t like words, despite her sometimes rambling, never-ending sentences (as her brother and I call them, sometimes telling her, “breathe, Gianna, breathe!”). When I tell her I love her, she replies with “thank you”. She doesn’t say words like “I love you” often, but she doesn’t have to. I know she loves me when she lays with me to watch a movie, or sits with me to have a chat, or tells me her stories, or when I come home and she has cleaned up a bit. She tells me she loves me with her smile, or when she tells me my jokes are corny, or my music “old school”, or when she decides to simply tell me that I am old. She’ll hug me, but it is usually that side hug that will let me know she loves me, but that she is going to decide how she expresses it.
I absolutely love my girl. Completely and without question. She never offends me, and I never want her to change. That was a decision I made 13 years ago when she was doing her thing, her way, with the determination I adore. In those days, I swore I would protect her with my life if necessary, and be the best I could be every day I had with her. I would defend her right to live her life, and help foster in her the awareness that could guide her in her way, not in mine.
My Gianna, my sweet, adorable Gianna. One of my proudest moments was when I blessed the world with you, a moment that has never ended.
I want to love you.
I want to take your face in my hands, and breathe life into your soul. There are no options to this desire, my back us up against the raging sea and survival depends upon that single kiss. Hear me, and feel me in the truth you know so well.
I want to hold you steady when the gales rage and the rains beat down hard upon our space. We will leave our footprints in the mud, and laugh as we slide our way forward, tracing those lines only we can see, painted upon the stained flesh our dirty dance has created.
I want to carry you when you simply wish to know you can be carried, when you wish to be certain that the whispers that you hear in our dance are truth against loud voices in your head. We will create a new truth, one built firmly in the stones we lay against the hard backdrop of the life we’ve lived, until those voices become muted in the harmonic chorus of our lives.
These are the things I wish to do, I just ask that you arrive. I ask that the misty visions that you are become real touches in the Sunrise, and that the dreams of sounds I hear become your voice as we play our daily ritual. I ask you for your truth, for your courage, and for the essence of who you are as you make your way through the miles you must travel.
I want to love you.
I want to walk with you enjoying the silence of the snow, and singing with the sweet music of the flowing spring streams. I want us to watch the winter drip slowly from the green pines that line the earthen paths along our way. I want to lay with you under the Harvest Moon, and make love to you as the spring moon rises. I want you to announce your arrival with a gasp, and then a moan, and then the sweet call of ecstasy.
I want so much from you, but that is nothing compared to what I am wanting to give to you. I want to love you, and with that I want to give you all I am.
I’ve been thinking about you.
Good thoughts. Thoughts about the way your words cascade down my spine in little waves of something. Thoughts about the way your eyes can penetrate even the thickest walls I’ve constructed along the pathway of this life. The way the thoughts you share settle in the depths of my heart, filtering down the heavy grime and leaving the waters of my soul crystal clear.
I’ve been thinking about you.
Good thoughts. Thoughts about the way your hair frames your face, and the way your lips curl when you smile. The way you look when you offer that mischievous grin, the one that sets my body in its sacred motion. Thoughts about your thoughts, and dreams about your dreams.
Yes, I’ve been thinking about you.
Good thoughts. Thoughts about how good it would feel to hold your hand, and to hear you sing when you think no one is listening. Thoughts that carry with them little imaginations of something neither of us has found, yet both of us are looking for. Thoughts that tell me who you are, even when my mind is riddled with doubt that you truly exist, that you are something other than a figment of my desire.
In a world that is fraught with danger and the evil that men shall do, I think of you.
Good thoughts, and suddenly the world seems a pretty good place to be. After all, if I have a chance to hold your hand, kiss your lips, and hear you sing nothing could be bad. If, in time, I can look back upon the happy, muddy trail that I have walked and see your footprints there, somewhere next to mine, I will have lived for something special. If not, then I surely must live again to see the dream real, and to have it realized as the summer Sun dawns upon a day of our choosing.
And what a good thought that is. <3
I walked into a cemetery this morning. There, scattered about the balls of dandelion seeds and neatly trimmed grass, where the remnants of lives once lived and dreams once dreamt. I wondered about those dreams, and the loss that each of these names must have felt as those moments shattered like fragile glass. I wondered about the suffering and pain each must have felt in their life, and perhaps even in their death. I wondered about the moments when the tears of both laughter and remorse, of both happiness and sorrow, ran free down the faces of those of whom I now kept sacred company.
I see littered about me the names of husbands and wives laying in eternal togetherness. I see the names of mothers and their sons, of fathers and their daughters. I see the dates marking the beginning and the end of what once was. I see the faded remnants of those who lived so long ago, and the deeply carved names etched in shiny stone of those who may have walked this ground not too long ago.
I wonder then when it will be my turn. What will my stone say? What name will be stamped next to my own, and what story will it tell? To whom will I lay next to, eternally embraced in our own, sleepy romance? The world is but a cruel place, and perhaps there will be peace when I am finally able to let everything be put to rest.
I have searched so long for some meaning in the journey between the dates that will be stamped upon my marker. A place like this seems like home. To the man who seems so found when he is lost, and so lost when he is found, there is no better place to realize the short time he has remaining. I wonder when the sound of the stones crunching beneath my feet will go silent, and when the morning Sun will shine beyond my ability to see it. I wonder when both night and day will look the same, and when the tears will fade to nothing but a distant memory, and I wonder if I will have nothing but dirt and worms by my side.
When it was time for me to go, I said a silent goodbye to my new teachers, to those who have come before me. I bend to touch the stone of one who was but a child. I am unsure if he is lucky or unfortunate, but I utter some quiet words of hope that he was somewhere in between. We are all, it seems, somewhere in between.
From the depths you rise, unsure if you’ll make it to the surface. You want to trust that there is breath above the waves, and you struggle against the current for your survival.
If you could only reach the light, take that single breath…
Sometimes you need to lose your breath in order to take another. Sometimes you need to struggle in order to crack the surface wide open. Sometimes, you simply need to go numb to realize what you are feeling.
There are moments when we falter, when we lose our sense of direction and get sucked in by the riptides pulling us to a vast unknown. Fighting the current is exhausting, and spells certain death in the dark depths you are resisting. Sometimes you just need to relax, and let the current take you to wherever you are meant to go. Such trust is hard, but will set you free to find places you would otherwise never see.
In the throes of your despair, take note. There is great wisdom in that darkness, and like some great teacher your own shadows will guide you to the truth. You will find clarity born in your clouded mind, and when you are struggling for air you will feel the truth begin to course through your body. The voices will silence, the shadows fade, and what you will be left with is all you’ve ever needed to know.
Trust that. Don’t ignore it, and be guided toward the purpose for which you were taken, and tossed, and finally discarded upon the shore. Stand, inhale, then create those wonderful footprints you were destined to create. Do not pause and give the voices an audience, and do not pay attention to the shadows pointing in the direction of the depths. Head, instead, for the rising Sun.
Sometimes nearly dying is the greatest source of survival. Sometimes when you have to face your inevitability you gain a strength for which there is no equal. Sometimes when you see the pathetic parts of your own reflection a truth will announce itself in the sobs of your discovery. You will always find yourself first in the honor of nearly drowning. You will always be blessed with truth in the lies you hear in the darkness. You will always find discovery in the throes of being helplessly lost. Just be patient, and it will come.
From there, you discover your authority, your vulnerability, your power. You no longer walk a victim of the tide, you control each place your footprints are born, and you stand tall against the raging sea no matter what the waves will bring. You’ll know your steadiness against the wind, even when you feel as though you can stand no more. You’ll not find sorrow in the stumbles, nor failure in the falls. You’ll bleed. You’ll cry. You’ll survive.
One day, when the storms have mostly settled and the seas have mostly calmed, you’ll sit next to an angel. You’ll hear her song and feel her power and it will remind you of something. She’ll hold your heart, cradle your fears, and protect your entirety with the fierceness of a warrior. You’ll rise up in the memory of the storms you have survived. You’ll sink into an illusionary abyss. You’ll fight her as the imaginary water fills your chest. Until, she just looks at you…
…and holds you…
…and commands the waves and winds to subside.
Everything you ever avoided you will find within her eyes. Everything you ever ran from you will feel in the grasp of her hand. Then, you will feel how the strength empties from your veins at the thought of losing her. You’ll realize that any man standing by himself can be strong, but the real courage lies in surrendering to another who could destroy you in a whim. You find that when the idea of trust weakens your knees, she’s there to hold you steady. You discover the truest love you’ve ever known.
In the devotion that you give to her, in the reality where your entire being cradles her in love and safety, you’ll honor the moments when you nearly drowned. You’ll remember your chest straining in the absence of air, and the struggle of trying to maintain your consciousness as you headed toward something. You’ll relive the sighting of the surface, of the blinding light bouncing through the waves, and the moment your soul broke through the surface of nearly ending.
She was always there, waiting, breaking through those surfaces of her own, struggling for air in her own abyss. You will honor those moments she nearly drowned, too. When her knees grow weak in her own swirl of memories, you’ll hold her up and keep her steady. When she gasps for air in the throes of remembering, you’ll breathe life back into her. She is your angel, and you realize that you are hers as well.
From that moment forward there will never be a single set of footprints in the sands where you walk. There will never again be a lone set of ears hearing the morning songbirds sing. You’ll share the Sunrises and Sunsets that bring you both to tears, and you’ll find the firmest hand you’ve ever known holding on to yours.
Let those fears subside. Let them go. Let her take over, and she’ll give you all she is. Love her deeply, trust her implicitly, hold her for as long as she needs you to. Kiss her as the man you are, helpless in her arms and destined for her lips. Rise to meet her demons, and allow her to face yours. Give in, open up, cry on her shoulder and just love her forever.
That’s what I plan to do, for I have survived nearly drowning just to be her man. I’ll honor her by being so forever.