The more I work in my garden, the clearer my ideas of a happy life become and the less I care what anyone else thinks of how I live my life.
It’s odd, to have come full circle, letting the Little Banshee (my name for my wild-unfettered side) out into the light again. For so long I hid her away like a deformed Victorian child, afraid that she’d say all the wrong things in certain groups – groups I didn’t belong in to begin with. I felt ashamed of her eccentricities and her wildness. I tamed her with formal education, with forced decorum, with mild speech, muffled words, and the right sort of clothing and a safe bob.
She forced her way out a few years ago and I found myself cutting my hair super short, exposing the folded ear I hate. Later, I shaved my head and left the top just long enough to cover it. I longed to wear it in a mohawk, but didn’t have the guts. My guts shivered inside at the thought of the extra attention, even as I took pictures of the mohawk I created one day when I was bored and wished like fuck I really was the gal in the image. She seems confident. She seemed like she didn’t care what others thought of her.
But I cared.
This may all sound crazy and that’s okay. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am borderline, perhaps I have a touch of multiple-personality disorder (I asked my husband one day as a joke, “You didn’t know you’d be marrying all of us, did you?”) Haha. We laughed. Sometimes I actually do feel like perhaps there are more than one of me inside my mind. Or perhaps each of us is just multifaceted like a perfectly cut diamond and each of our sides harbors a different side of our personalities.
I’m not even sure if it matters anymore. At forty-two, I’m growing tired of analyzing myself, criticizing everything I do, second guessing my actions, my words, my mannerisms – for the love of god, stop fidgeting, woman! I’m at a point where I just want to wake up and be fucking happy to be alive.
And that’s how I feel these days: Happy.
I awake eager to start my day. I see my life so clearly and it’s rare for me to have a clear vision of anything, to be honest. Usually I fumble around, check out what others are doing, wonder, Should I try that? Would that make me happy? Would that be cool? I had no sense of self for so long, I couldn’t even answer what I thought was cool anymore. I drifted in the sea, a piece of driftwood with no destination. At night I’d cry, “Please, Goddess. Please guide me.” I’d give thanks and fall into a restless sleep that brought no respite.
These days though, I feel peaceful. I feel less of a need to tell others what I’m doing and I stopped comparing my life to others. I wear whatever the fuck I want. I leave the house without brushing my hair sometimes, because I feel sexy with wild hair. I just told you that! Me, feeling sexy?! It’s true. I leave the house without makeup, not because I’m trying to make a point, but because I don’t want to have to wash it off to get back to work in the yard or to hop in the pool with my daughter. Plus, I like the natural pink color of my cheeks. I do still feel insecure about the old acne scars along my jawline, but I don’t think about it too much. There are worse things.
Many years ago when I was in California, a thought came to me as I sat in my friend’s garage. It was an unusually chilly evening, having dipped into the low-sixties and we were listening to music and chatting. Suddenly, the thought came to me: “You will know who you are when you stop realizing it.” I wrote it down on a torn piece of paper and carried it with me everywhere I went for years. At first, I didn’t understand it and I sort of blew it off, but over time, I began to understand that “realizing who we are” is like putting a label on ourselves. This is who I am. This is what I stand for. This is what I am doing with my life. You see these all over social media in the bios. I have used labels in mine in the past: Pagan. Mother. Wife. Grandma. Gardener. Writer. Bibliophile. Traveler. Former teacher. I felt compelled to label myself constantly. Recently, I have changed it, except for the wife, mom, grandma bit, because I love having those titles. The others, well, what’s the point?
I know what I enjoy doing. That’s all I need to know and that’s all anyone else needs to know. I don’t need to REALIZE who I am and slap a label on it. I am me. Simply. I continue to change and evolve and learn and grow. Who I thought I was five years ago is only part and parcel to who I am now. Who I was as a twenty-something was only a tip of the iceberg of who I am. This is what I’ve learned in my garden, shovel in hand.
Being outside, working the soil, I think a lot about the past as well. As I scooped shovelfuls of soil to backfill the pool, I thought of the men who built the railroads. I imagined them working in the hot sun, sweat dripping onto their brows and into their eyes, burning their vision, just like it did mine. As I sipped cold water from my stainless steel cup, I thought of how they didn’t have such luxuries. Later, as I worked the soil for the herb garden, I thought of the migrant workers who moved from the midwest to California and how they would have wished to have had my tiny space to grow turnips and potatoes to feed their starving children. As I sit on my hill and look to the Ohio River, I think about the slaves that lived in Kentucky and looked across the river to the “free” state of Ohio right there. Right in front of them. I imagine their longing and I imagine the reasons they did not try to escape, even as many of their friends and loved ones did escape.
Working the land has rooted me in a way I cannot explain. It’s brought to my Spirit a peace and serenity I’ve never experienced before. I no longer feel lonely. I no longer feel isolated, even though I am not one to engage socially too often. That said, lately I have gone out more. I am trying to have meaningful connections with people I love, rather than relying on social media. It feels good. It’s genuine and real.
As I work and meditate, I have a clear sense that I am living the life I’m meant to be living and I also feel the tug, a sense that there is more coming my way. I don’t know what it is and honestly, I’m not worried. While in the past I might have begun groping around for an answer, anxiously awaiting the next thing, I’m content to take care of what I’m doing now. I’m content to be present and to keep my heart open to receive whatever the Universe decides to send my way, when the time comes. It’s funny. All that time I spent trying to calm the Little Banshee and all I had to do was drop the facade and be who I was born to be, and she would quiet on her own and lead me in the right direction.
It may sound silly and that’s okay, but it feels like the feeling of coming home. For the first time in my life I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
It feels good to be home.