/ Philosophy

Grieving and Growing

Tonight is the Brotherhoods celebration of ShadowDance. This is the season of the Shaman, the season in which we yearn for gnosis, and the transformation that gnosis can provide to us. It is a time for reflection on the interiors of things, a time to gaze into the flames or into the shadows and let ourselves walk the path of mystery.

For 12 years now, since 2004, I've opened my eyes and seen the flames of transformation at this time of year. For all of those years I have seen the future ahead of me, and it has been full of possibility. This year is different.

I've tried to write this post several times in the last few months. I'm trying to express the inexpressible. Now, finally, I feel like I am close enough to the heart of it to give it form. All year, I've felt a deep urgency surrounding the need to question everything. I've been discovering deep challenges with the assumptions and beliefs that permeate the world we live in. Some of those are things I've already documented on this blog. Others are things that I have yet to share with anyone.

For me, this year has full of loss. I've lost a parent. Dear friends have moved away. Other friends have grown more distant. I've lost assumptions and beliefs. I've lost the sense of belonging I once had with the Brotherhood of the Phoenix. I've lost the belief that our society might act with some sense of reason.

And loss is never as isolated as we might like to believe. With my losses have come discoveries, both pleasant and unpleasant. I've always asserted that I am not an easily defined person. This year has taught me that I did not understand how true that assertion is.

So tonight, I am not celebrating ShadowDance with the Brotherhood. Instead I have spent it alone. I've spent time with myself, pondering where I'm at and where I'm going. I've spent time with fiction and craft projects, with wandering stores and getting dinner.

I've been moving through my days as a wraith through the underworld, animated by a sense of loss but ponderous in my grief and search for what comes next. I've been struggling to understand why I feel so disconnected, because while it would be easy, and accurate, to say that I am grieving, I have felt deeply that there is something more.

The apathy which has been cradling me hasn't gone anywhere. It still wraps around me, but I can see it for what it is now. It is a cocoon. I am being transformed. By grief. By stress. By anger, love, and compassion. The person that I thought I was a year ago is changing. I am, in a way, dying. I am, in another way, being born.

My therapist says that grief is a slow process, and that I have had more than enough of it in this year alone. And yet the blows keep coming. I am told that it is different for everybody, that it comes in waves that crash upon the shore of my self and withdraw leaving the wreckage of my sand-castles in their wake. I am made to believe that this is natural, and that I must make space to experience it.

And that is what I've been doing. Even before really knowing it, that is what I've done. I have abandoned building sand-castles. I have left the shore to be eroded, to be transformed.

The metaphor is not perfect, but it serves.

Some day, when the tide has become more stable, when the waves that crash upon me are akin to the sussuration of spring rain, I will return to the shore of myself and I will be able to build piers and docks and sand-castles again.

Some day, the cocoon of apathy will crack, and a new version of me will come into the world. I don't know a whole lot about the person I'm becoming, but I know that I have the opportunity to shape them within this shell of grief and pain. I know that I want to permit myself the blessed compassion I've discovered in recent years. I know that I want to remain sensitive, open, genuine.

Tonight, on ShadowDance, I gaze into the shadows, because the flames of transformation are within me, and I within them.