Yesterday evening, I asked the universe about the path to peace. Serenity, the first thing I ever prayed for when I took to whatever one means by “praying” again. I remember it well, that first prayer three years ago in my little room in the half-way house that was built to look like a log cabin, a large log cabin with plenty of locks and certainly no sharps and safes in the back where all our meds lived. I’d just been wrest out of the grips of a very fine dipsomania, and these are the sorts of places one ends up after that. I was so excited to be out of in-patient and in that house because I could cook there. I was desperate to cook. There was a grill out back flanked by rocking chairs where we chain-smoked, and I dreamt of grilling eggplant with nothing but salt & oil. I find it spongy, and I don’t even like it that much, but for some reason I romanced smoky, salty eggplant. It seemed to me at the time to be the entirety of the dream of normal. So I grilled on the days they’d let us and started praying & making inspirational collages out of Better Homes & Garden’s clippings—that’s the sort of thing they make you do in treatment. I prefer my floral wreaths. Those first prayers were nothing but a silent, furtive plea for peace. I didn’t pray for success. I didn’t pray for love. And trust me, I had neither. I didn’t even pray for forgiveness. Just for some preternatural silence to fall on my heart. That’s how I always imagined it being. Like some sort of kind cotton.
Maybe I found it and lost it. Or maybe I never found. Or maybe I never lost it. But again, last night, I prayed for serenity, to be shown that path to peace. The answer seemed, at first, obtuse. Three images are what the universe gave me, as it often does, because that’s how I talk with that “wild unknown”. I wondered at The Fool, and he, spread eagle and looking to me quite golden, wondered back. It meant nothing. There he was splayed on the dining room table betwixt swords of ruin and disks of worry, all golden and tangled in umbilical cords with some senseless red tiger gnawing at his leg. The collective unconscious utterly failed me, and I saw nothing but technicolor bad omens. And I know better than that. The future’s too shimmering a thing for omens of any sort.
It took me a full 24 hours to hear the answer: wonder, not fear. Create out of wonder not fear. The tiger gnawing at you is fear. Fruit born out of fear is bitter. Only what you create out of joy & wonder will be sweet. And there you will find peace. And by create I don’t just mean a photo, a dinner, or a crown of flowers. I mean, rather, that mad edifice built of the impossible geometry of yourself in relation to the rest of creation, that thing I call, unthinking, “my life”. What a strange phrase. Can we even talk about our lives as an object? Or is that such an impossibly abstract concept that one direct glance at it renders it nothing but a flurry of petals?
There are many reasons people create. They aren’t all savory. Insecurity and fear can drive people to all sorts of perilous heights and they do. But every success will turn to ash in their mouths. And each time I feel insidious fear creeping up my spine or twisting in my belly, I remember that faith yields meaning, purpose, and fearlessness. And that, in the end, there is no tiger. It’s not real. There is only light, suspension, and total realization. The only real things are flowers in my hair, morning tea, breathing, his skin, her smile. My unborn niece. A plane to catch. A clean load of laundry. That I can say to hell with if I please. It’s all so spacious, so much room to breath, to flow, to be.
My name is Beth, Elizabeth Evelyn to be exact. A native Tennessean, I was born in the South.
I am the author behind Local Milk Blog.
Local milk is a journal devoted to home cookery, travel, family, and slow living—to being present & finding sustenance of every kind.
It’s about nesting abroad & finding the exotic in the everyday.
Most of all it’s about the perfection of imperfections and seeing the beauty of everyday, mundane life.