The pathway of healing is not a wild, untamed path. It is a manicured path, a watered path, a tended path. The sweet bloom of integration can only unfurl under certain conditions; as Miles of Sideways puts it, “Pinot is very temperamental. Only the most nurturing of growers can bring it into its fullest expression.” If the soil is barren and the ivy has strangled the yarrow and the birds have no seed to feed on, we won’t be sustained. The wild, untamed path is that of epiphany and revelation. The tended path is that of returning to wholeness.
I know this logically. I think most of us do. But to know it in our bones and to have the strength to trim back the vines and cut back the shade is harder to summon than a thought. It takes willpower, self-control, and dedication. It also takes a leap of faith.
As of today, I have gone a week without smoking cigarettes. This habit, so taboo in contemporary society and even more so in the witchy/metaphysical/new age community, was the vestige in a string of bad habits I’ve managed to break over the years. I felt shame over the fact that I smoked, but I smoked anyway. A dear friend’s mother died of lung cancer, and still I smoked. Neighbors would slam their windows shut in reaction to my morning smokestack behavior, but still, I smoked. I justified it based on the fact that I had rid myself of all other vices; indeed, that marriage and motherhood were largely incompatible with the word “vice”. As I spoke from my righteous soapbox, however, my convictions felt hollow. I knew that I was harming myself. I knew that my values and beliefs violently clashed with the habit, but I simply didn’t stop. I was the modern day St. Augustine; “give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
But a week ago, it was time. How could I possibly dedicate an entire month to healing without considering the dire effects that smoking was having on my body? How could I ask others to bravely move through their suffering if I wasn’t willing to let go of my own self-harming behavior? Smoking hadn’t made sense for a long time, but I clung to it like a well-loved, ill-fitting jacket. I’d long outgrown it, and it was time to finally bite the bullet and move on.
I’ve had cravings. I’ve been irritable. I’m experiencing insomnia the likes of which I haven’t seen since I spent the summer of 2008 in Norway (ever wonder what it’s like to live and work in a country/season where it doesn’t get dark?) But my energy seems boundless. I’m happier, lighter. Everything seems clearer, somehow. And my muse has flown from her tower to perch comfortably on my shoulder, and oh, how happy I am that she’s here. Sometimes taking care of yourself means letting go of things you love because you know that you’ll be better off without them. Sometimes healing means trimming back the overgrowth to make room for a new, beautiful direction.
Much Love Seekers,