| Monique Rust |
"We’re captive on a carousel of time.”
Does that have an impact.
And the imagery...it’s spot on. Sometimes we get to ride lightly in the saddles with the intoxicating and beautiful wave of the up-and-down ponies, to feel the wind on our faces and note the admiring glances of the passers-by. Other times we are observers, sitting at the back on the caboose. Sometimes we can’t wait for it to stop. Sometimes we could ride all day. And sometimes the whole thing just makes us sick to our stomachs...
And, “CAPTIVE”?!? What does that mean? Am I being held imprisoned, captive by something I can never fully escape? Am I captivating a crowd, as I writhe and struggle and gasp and grasp and wake and sleep, hide and, once again, seek? Or, am I captivated by the whirling and whirring of the whole darn thing?
Yes! I think the answer is yes.
The source energy was really flowing out of Miss Joni Mitchell when that song came to her, “The Circle Game”...and I have felt that energy as I have sung it for years to both of my babies as a lullaby, as I have played part of and witness to their budding wings, growing and beginning to gather strength. It has served as an encompassing touch-stone, threading like a bittersweet warp and woof through every beginning and every end, as I have known them, so far.
They say perception is reality...and everybody knows that nothing can change someone’s ability/willingness to perceive more wholly than a little dose of perspective (a lens broadening experience of some kind). Recently, I had a very full-circle day of really incredible perspective, a day that didn’t just broaden the scope of my view-finder field of perception; it blew the damn thing to smithereens (in a fantastical fire-works display of infinite love). And, as a continued study of what’s written, here, above, I want to share it with y’all in the unabashed desire to connect and in the equally unashamed hope to make you feel a little more connected, wherever and whatever leg of the journey you are on today on your own circle of life (right here, in this moment, this only-thing-ed “now”), to perhaps invite you to feel that your own round-and-round is inevitably connected to mine and to all of the circles, at all of the moments in all of the times. So, here it is, My Day With Joni:
A few weeks ago, I was keenly aware of the fact that a LOT was culminating in my life, in that churning, roller coaster, “dude, this ride has got to be coming to a nice, comfy plateau here, soon, right?!?” kind-of time...I have and had been going through a true wilderness (an “in- between” or an “upside-down,” a lost period of pain and suffering on myriad levels) for a solid year-and-a-half (contents and context are enough for their own piece or series of pieces, as you might well imagine). And, in the course of this period, I had moved, I dunno, like three times. Moving is its own kind of transition, beyond the obvious change of physical location, towards the more profound shifting and sifting and sorting of all things in life that have come before and all things in life that may lay ahead, a real death and birth in its own right. Well, as all wisdom would suggest, I was moving, again! So, an already topsy-turvy time was made all the more so.
In the midst of moving preparations, I got some happy news that my (California residing) best friend of a little sister, Joy (name not a coincidence), was coming to town. This was good news because of not only that, but because she was coming to town specifically in the context of expecting her first child and that we would, therefore, be hosting a celebratory shower for her here, in Indiana...and, oh, yeah, would I maybe want to physically host this upcoming party in the house into which I would be actively moving into, like, the party was set for a few days after taking possession...Oh. OH! Crap. Well, of course, I committed to hosting but was graciously saved by my mother who ended up offering her home when reason and any possible logic made its way into my brain to say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!?” In addition, the kids are starting up the new school year, one of whom is entirely changing school districts as a result of the move, etc and so on and so forth...
On all cylinders by this point, things are frantic. We are now one day into the new house. My sister calls to say she is packing and about to get on a plane. I try to sound excited, but I am physically and emotionally weak and frazzled and confused and exhausted. I have sat down for a few minutes to eat a late supper of jimmy john’s with my husband and younger daughter when I get a phone call. I get a phone call that my dear friend of many, many years has died...and not only has she died, but she has died of a heroine overdose. My friend. My sweet friend. My friend who was a beacon of endless light. My friend who has four children (all of whom she home-schools). My friend whose laughter had a pure life and light all its own. My friend...who must have been suffering under something so heavy and consuming that she just couldn’t find a way out. My friend.
And so it came to be that on a beautiful Saturday in early August, 2017, I woke with the sun while my family slept, all of us in a house that didn’t quite feel our own yet, and did what I could to “ready” myself for the day. On this day I drove to Southern Indiana and stood holding my friend’s mother, as we wept over her daughter’s body, a body from which we would never again get to experience that laugh that had so solidly and infectiously reminded us that everything was alright. And I said goodbye to a life that had been stunning and gorgeous and magic and also endlessly tragic. I said goodbye to my friend.
...I said goodbye to my friend, and I got back in the car. I got back in the car and headed, hurriedly, right back to Indianapolis, right to my own mama’s house...to hold another soon-to-be mama as we all said, in our own way, “hello.” We said hello to my unborn niece, housed so cutely and so compactly in my sister’s belly...We said hello knowing full well, each of us in our own way, and perhaps more importantly, not knowing at all, really, what magical tragedies life, here, holds in store for her.
I rode that day on the carousel as the earth rotated beneath my feet and Joni Mitchell whispered in my ear, spending time on each of its positions. I flew through the wind with butterflies in my tummy as I gleefully felt for the kicks and sputterings of what (and whom) will be the newest addition to my family of life and blood. I mourned and pled with the conductor to stop because a piece of my soul had fallen off, and for that moment, all I did was want her back. I sat a little removed in the booth at the back and watched and noticed and did nothing and did everything. And in which of these roles did I learn the most? And in what position was I most myself? And are there really any answers, or is it sometimes wise to stop searching?
Yes! I think the answer is yes.