In August, everyone seems to lose their minds. The vacationers leave their minds on the ferry, on the deck in between the uncomfortable aluminum seats or in the crack between the wall and the polyester covered cushions in the snack bar. The summer folk leave their minds in their mainland homes. And the islanders, they let their minds out for a refreshing bath in the ocean, where they are promptly swept away, tumbled into a heap with the eel grass that washes up on the sandy shore.
I held onto my mind this August, maybe a little too tightly. I think I squeezed it a little too hard, inspected it a little more closely than was comfortable. I didn’t lose it the way I usually do the in the summertime, with exhausted dreams of a wintertime of rest and quiet hibernation. Nope, this year I lost my mind the way that I used to lose my sunglasses on the top of my head…too close for me to see.
This spring I set off on an exploration and experiment to see what it would feel like if I slowed down and let the world come to me. With this new way of doing things, my life seems to have gotten very, very small. I feel as though I have been living inside a pressure cooker. Just my mind and me, crammed into a little island cottage. I haven’t had much else to look at, and I like looking at things closely, so my mind has been under 24-hour surveillance, and it’s starting to act the way any living thing might after such close observation…like a crazed monkey who wants to get out of her cage!
I am really good at talking myself into or out of anything. I can almost always see both sides to any story. In the Enneagram, a personality typing system with roots in a few different ancient traditions, I am a type nine, also known as the mediator or the peacemaker. Sometimes I take my peacemaking and powers of mediation a little too far, especially when it comes to conflict between my heart and my mind. And the rational human that I am, living in a time when rationality is celebrated, I often let my heart get talked over by my mind.
I live on a small island off an island, a forty-five minute ferry ride from the southern coast of Massachusetts. This is the place I grew up. I know its roads and woods and beaches by heart. I can walk them with my eyes closed. This can be extremely comforting. It can also feel too small. Too close. Too comforting. A couple of weeks ago, all of a sudden I heard what my heart had been telling me, without my mind having time to talk her out of it. I heard, “I NEED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”. And I felt it resonate through my being.
No, I didn’t need to MOVE, I just needed to MOVE! To go, to feel the wind in my hair, the road beneath my tires, unfamiliar sights before my eyes and new hearts for mine to connect with. I needed to go, without a plan, wherever my car took me. I threw a bunch of stuff I might need in the car, realizing as I did so with only a plan to head “up island” for the day (not off-island) that I was probably practicing for a bigger trip.
I spent that day following my heart. I heard that she wanted to see this friend who I hadn’t visited all summer, and bike on this beautiful road, and go out and treat herself to dinner in celebration of a successful event I had co-catered a few weeks before. I finally heard my heart telling me that she needed to GO AWAY. To get out of the pressure cooker and find a little freedom.
It took me at least a week to get all my ducks in a row, to clean the house, to make apple sauce and apple pie, to make sure there was someone to feed my goat, and make sure the garden would take care of itself. One of the ducks that I hadn’t even considered was this idea of MY HOME. Who was going to take care of my home while I was away? I realized that for me, my house is like a partner or a best friend. It’s where I spend a good portion of my time, and we have a relationship. Last winter, the last time I left the island for more than a day, a blizzard had come, and the door to the house where I was living had blown open. It had taken me until now to see that part of my hesitancy to leave the island, to get away, was a fear of leaving my home un-protected. It felt good to notice this, to see that I feel protective of my home. And then it felt good to let that fear go, to double-check that all the doors were shut tightly and wouldn’t blow open, and to finally, finally, finally, pull my subaru into the stand-by line for the big ferry to Woods Hole. It was 6PM. I didn’t know if I would get off the island before the last boat at 9:30, and I had no plan for what I would do once I got to the other side.
There is an amazing freedom in trusting the universe with my life. One that I think cannot be found in any other way than surrendering to the flow of what wants to happen. And sometimes in order to be able to hear that call, and get in that flow, it is necessary to do what feels naughty, irresponsible, and completely senselessly irrational to our minds.
There is a list on my fridge that I wrote this winter. It is a list I made to keep me on track towards my right life. Near the end of the list is this: “Naughty leads to play, play leads to love.” Sometimes when I feel like I have lost the path of love in my life, my first step is to figure out, and DO, what feels downright naughty.