Have you felt like a part of you has been missing?

Have you felt disoriented with all the isolation, fear, and constant doomsday talk?

I imagine during this time, you may be asking,
Where is my joy?
Where is my freedom?

Where did it go?

And you may have gone looking for it in many places, reaching for social media, Netflix, food, drink…anything….

And yet, here we still are, still indoors, still restricted. Still uncertain.

You may be returning again and again to this feeling of loss. I know I have. So, the biggest question I’ve been asking is,

How do we connect back to the hope we had before the crisis hit?

When our parks closed, I started walking down to the marina in our backyard, just to connect with the river.  It’s been calling me. I have found nature to be a great balancer, reminding me of something far larger, as I watch the seasons change and move forward regardless.

The wind knows no virus.
The flowers know no stay at home orders.
They continue their cycle of life.

They are true to their wild nature.

The Metedeconk river is right in our backyard and for the past couple of weeks, it has swelled and churned.  Almost every time I go to stare at the expanse, I am met by the dark surf, the cresting waves, and stand buffeted by the wind.

With all the loss, my symptoms have swelled like the river.  My headaches that were abating in February have come back with a vengeance alongside fatigue.  It’s been devastating. 

Looking deep into the water, I’ve sought the wisdom of this greater current.  I’ve felt like I’m being dragged down without the certainty of my health.

Reaching for inspiration, I was listening to a recent Zen talk by a senior monk, sharing how touched he was by his monastic family for taking such loving care of him during this time as he is the oldest in the order.  To inspire us all for how to deal with uncertainty, he spoke the words of this Leonard Cohen song,

Ballad of the Absent Mare

Say a prayer for the cowboy
His mare’s run away
And he’ll walk til he finds her
His darling, his stray
But the river’s in flood
And the roads are awash
And the bridges break up
In the panic of loss.

And there’s nothing to follow
There’s nowhere to go
She’s gone like the summer
Gone like the snow
And the crickets are breaking
His heart with their song
As the day caves in
And the night is all wrong

Did he dream, was it she
Who went galloping past
And bent down the fern
Broke open the grass
And printed the mud with
The iron and the gold
That he nailed to her feet
When he was the lord

And although she goes grazing
A minute away
He tracks her all night
He tracks her all day
Oh blind to her presence
Except to compare
His injury here
With her punishment there

Then at home on a branch
In the highest tree
A songbird sings out
So suddenly
Ah the sun is warm
And the soft winds ride
On the willow trees
By the river side

Oh the world is sweet
The world is wide
And she’s there where
The light and the darkness divide
And the steam’s coming off her
She’s huge and she’s shy
And she steps on the moon
When she paws at the sky

And she comes to his hand
But she’s not really tame
She longs to be lost
He longs for the same
And she’ll bolt and she’ll plunge
Through the first open pass
To roll and to feed
In the sweet mountain grass

Or she’ll make a break
For the high plateau
Where there’s nothing above
And there’s nothing below
And it’s time for the burden
It’s time for the whip
Will she walk through the flame
Can he shoot from the hip

So he binds himself
To the galloping mare
And she binds herself
To the rider there
And there is no space
But there’s left and right
And there is no time
But there’s day and night

And he leans on her neck
And he whispers low
“Whither thou goest
I will go”
And they turn as one
And they head for the plain
No need for the whip
Ah, no need for the rein

Now the clasp of this union
Who fastens it tight?
Who snaps it asunder
The very next night
Some say the rider
Some say the mare
Or that love’s like the smoke
Beyond all repair

But my darling says
“Leonard, just let it go by
That old silhouette
On the great western sky”
So I pick out a tune
And they move right along
And they’re gone like the smoke
And they’re gone like this song

Tears streamed down my face as I listened to these words.  It was as if the river was answering my prayer.

And I realized how I had lost connection WITH my health, with the feeling of being healthy.  I was so afraid of the loss OF my health, that I was placing my attention there.

I felt my heart open, as I stared at the water and the wind coursing through felt cleansing.

Thank you Leonard, thank you Metedeconk. Thank you.

It can be so easy when we are challenged, especially when the crisis is compounded to feel like all our attention is going towards what has been lost.

And it HAS been one thing after another for us all.

For me, it has been challenge after challenge, endless months of migraines and fatigue, and I honestly thought the end was in sight before the pandemic hit.  I felt I HAD found my mare again, my sweet companion, only to be wandering aimlessly to seek her.

And yet, as I listened to the song, I asked myself for the first time,
What if she never left?
What if she’s been here all along?

Perhaps SHE was staying true to her wild nature…the wild nature OF healing. It’s not linear, and nothing I can ultimately control.  My body is going to take the time it needs for this journey.

But, I can partner WITH her.  I can release the reins and instead allow a collaboration, a communication that is a daily check in.

I can simply take each day, one day at a time and ask,
What do you need today?

What if we ALL could do that right now?

My head coach said to me last week,
It’s the Wild West out there right now!

And I couldn’t agree more, but I’m curious if this can actually be a calling for us all to connect even deeper with ourselves.

Really, in loss there is always the opportunity to heal, and it’s a choice for each person. 

What if there is an invitation waiting for you as well?

I have learned this month that the more I focus on what I have lost, the worse my symptoms become.  So, what has shifted has been allowing myself to deeply grieve FIRST, and then connect back to my wildness.

My natural state.

My body of health.

And I have cried, and wept, and then I have sat in silence and allowed in healing.

As Leonard says,

And he leans on her neck
And he whispers low
“Whither thou goest
I will go”
And they turn as one
And they head for the plain
No need for the whip
Ah, no need for the rein

We don’t need to force the joy. 
We don’t need to force hope.

It’s there, within you now.

So, allow yourself to FEEL.
Allow yourself to process the grief.
And then open to the truth of who you are.

This is your greatest power. And maybe all this loss is what’s bringing you back home.

What if this is here to remind you of what is truly important and how capable you are?

Do you hear the river?

Know your wildness is there, just like nature.
Moving forward regardless.

©2019 NikolRogers | Design by Rachel Pesso | Caitlin Cannon Photography