Friday, February 25, 2005

A Plymouth winter and an emergent spring

[The final version. Recovered and reposted. Whew!]

I moved the last of my belongings and turned in my keys to Chez Potrero yesterday. In all honesty, as I've been sleeping here at Chez Shotwell for the last few days, the hand off was more symbolic than significant. At the same time, it comes in a period of personal milestones and reflection.

Several weeks from now will mark the first anniversary of my arrival to San Francisco. One year ago next Tuesday, I started 'Operation San Francisco' on as place to gather resources and ideas for my move from Portland, OR to the Mission. It took me over a week to gather the courage to create the tribe and solicit help as I had an instinct that once the ball started rolling, events would take place faster than I had anticipated. That instinct could not have been more correct: my goal was to arrive the week before Halloween. I pulled up in front of Chez Potrero shortly before 8 pm on April 16th.

In ways that I am certain I still cannot fully fathom, this last year has been the culmination and manifestation of a stubborn refusal to relinquish the idea that the life I could envision was possible, if only I was willing to work for it, find and claim it. This process began in earnest ten years ago, when, for reasons I'm unable to explain, I began to experience an intense sense of urgency. I had recurring dreams of being on a platform and hearing my train in the near distance while my bags were yet unpacked. Bags that needed to contain vital items, well chosen and useful items. Items and tools that would make the difference between success and failure in reaching my destination. This sense of urgency was largely pervasive over the course of 2 cities, 3 relationships, 4 jobs and 9 years as I traversed a terrain of brilliant blunders, interesting mistakes, failed experiments and remedial lessons finally learned.

Which brings us back to a year ago. I finally found what I wanted: the indescribable something that I had always insisted existed and knew without a doubt that I was ready to claim. I also knew that it would come at no small cost and would likely be one of the most passionate and lucid challenges I had ever taken on.

And so it's been.

I love the person I was a year ago. So full of strength and determination, even in the face of the knowledge that she was nothing more than the ch
rysalis, that only through her destruction would the next round of growth be able to take place. Thus the process of birth, passage and rebirth with intent. A true personal evolution. Such are the rewards of asking life and the universe for action and being ready to act on the opportunities presented. Yet and still, at a cost.

Understand that, in no way, do I feel I possess an unusual amount of anything (except perhaps attitude and body heat), and as successful as this life and this year have been, mistakes have been made and I have been as fallible and graceless as the worst, at times. But also understand that, at some point, it became evident to me that this little girl
Posted by Hello deserved an opportunity to experience her heart's desire and pursue joy with the same wild happiness that shone from her eyes 33 years ago.

Walking out the front door of my mother's house some two decades ago was the first step that I took in creating a safe place where that little girl could come to the surface and live without daily fear of emotional or physical harm and literal death.

Driving into San Francisco to make my home amongst wonderful and amazing friends, some 10 1/2 months ago was the latest in a series of steps that the little girl who grew up to, indeed, pursue joy with wild happiness, took in living a life that fulfilled her heart's desire.

I look back on these words and think that, to a certain extent, it reads like a fairy tale and perhaps in some ways, it is. In the original fairy tales, the reader was not spared the brutal nature of the struggle. The hero/heroine was often bruised, bloodied and nearly broken before achieving success. That is the simple fact of real living. It's only as pretty as we choose to make it and even then it's never easy.

For all of the rewards of this adventure, both recent and longterm, that has come to be my biggest lesson. I've long held on to the idea that the older and more adept I became at living life, the easier it would become and that ease would become the hallmark of my success. This last year has proven that concept to be an utter fallacy.

Perhaps it's the challenges that I choose to accept, but what I've come to find is that instead of becoming easier, it is that the goals have become more desirable. The result is that the lengths that I will go to in order achieve these goals far exceeds the quality and intensity that I poured into survival and maintenance modes previously; the struggle is always there and in some ways the challenges are more difficult, but the rewards are exponentially greater. Even when it means getting bruised, battered and perhaps a little bloodied in the process, the price of my efforts pales in comparison to reward of attaining each piece of that vision.

At some point, in these early morning hours, the little girl in that picture who grew up to be a Frisbee Girl in the Mission will climb into her bed in Chez Shotwell. Wearing a few Band-aids and not a few bruises, she will fall into a wholly exhausted and contented slumber with the knowledge that she is home at last.

And that true living has only just begun.

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