Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Walking Asleep- Dancing Awake!

Last week I began working on the two books that keep coming to me in dreams, working in earnest, taking myself to one of the university libraries daily (where I am not connected to the ever-seductive internet.) I’ve covered the walls of my tiny apartment with flipchart paper where I make notes with (literally) a hundred different coloured markers, beginning to feel out the armatures of the books, to sense and see where vivid threads fit into slowly revealed tapestries.

I work for hours and then return to the apartment to make notes and reread what has been written that day. And there in the privacy of my two small rooms I find myself both spontaneously dancing (again, literally) with the ecstasy of returning to the center of who I am and, at unexpected moments, coming to my knees in both gratitude and sorrow- gratitude for the reunion with myself, and sorrow at the full realization of how far from home I had wandered.

The writing I love is open-ended (as in, I don’t necessarily know exactly where it is going,) a discovering that takes me deeper into my own life, my own heart and the world. And I have not had a sustained period of following this fire that lights my way for many years. This, this writing, this following of the creative fire, this welcoming of Spirit in the form of words and image, story and colour- is how I touch the Mystery, the essence of who I am.

And I abandoned this to be married.

No doubt, in time, I will write more about how this happened. And no, it was not my ex-husband’s fault, although our neuroses and blind-spots dovetailed nicely as so often happens in intimate relationships. I can say that now, returning to the joy this writing brings, I find it hard to believe that I would have bargained this away for any promise or dream. And yet, having worked with groups and individuals for more than thirty years I wonder why I am surprised. I have often seen people abandon their deepest soul desires to do what they have been taught they “should” in the hopes of earning love. Of course, we don't earn love.

It's both humbling and frightening to know that even after all I have learned, I am still capable of abandoning myself, still willing to risk life itself when I am walking asleep. And the commitment to being fully with myself, to following the fire that lets me offer something to the world cannot be made once-and-for-all but must be lived one step, one breath, one moment at a time.

So, here I am- simultaneously humbled, ecstatic, sorrowful and filled with joy but most importantly: grateful and writing!


  1. I followed the should in 1979, 26 years later I broke free to find me again. I regret that this caused the hurt it did. Early this year I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease and have had surgery and further treatment. At my daughter's wedding, my ex-husband drew a line under his hurt and acknowledged publicly that which was good in those 26 years together. This has set me finally free from my guilty feelings and allowed me to move forward. I'm now living life as the me I should always have been, not someone doing as she 'should'.
    Lovely words as always Oriah.

  2. Oriah - I feel like you are writing my story. I too muffled my creative self to be married and then totally shut her down to do a dance of denial about the many dysfunctions in our relationship. Now divorced, I am re-discovering my voice and find much joy in my writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keep right on dancing the good dance!

  3. Oh Oriah, how could you? Just when I was feeling comfortable with compromise again you remind me of what it is like to dance. lizzie

  4. Wow! That was absolutely beautiful. One of your most moving blog posts yet. Thank you! -Leanne

  5. Aah Haa! It is amazing how the Universe works with you if you only make it so! Marriage, and the 'death' of marriage is deeply important, because it enables us to grow:

    "There is nothing left except your soul- so please judge me with justice- which is your glory- or call death upon me.

    You have burdened me with a love I cannot handle.

    Will the high meet the low?"

    And of a lofty unknown person, she wrote the following:

    "And why did I not write sooner?

    Why did I not pour out myself with ink, as soon as I came into my room. Why? Aah such wounding questions…

    You see what? What shall I call you? Learn me your name for God's sake and save Me.

    You see; There was a cup of wine, a poem and your sad eyes - one pain in three formless forms;

    One tale in three chapters - three sad flowers in a vase - so when I came to write that same evening, I found how little one could say.

    For who can speak of the soul - who can reduce the infinite into five lines? Write me a word and wound if you will, for I love a beautiful pain.

    I understand...

  6. Previous to my last... How about a Safari (and other) retreat in South Africa? No clothes (or very few, now cell phones, no TV, no laptops, no news papers. We would be delighted to host you...

  7. I was just recently introduced to who you are and I am bashfully curious and afraid to learn more. But here I am...Universe is crazy for me at this moment. Thanks

  8. I so thank you for your honesty. Again and again. As I sit here suffocating in my own fears, I find so much strength in your words.
    With time I know I have to and will take the necessary steps towards change in my life. For now, as I gain courage and sort through what needs to happen, to the best of my ability, I will continue to gain strengh from your sincere words.