A Holy Yes
“Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist—the real truth of who we are.” - Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
I read these words today, standing at the front counter of a Greek restaurant, waiting for my takeout order. I was alone, except for the music of Frank Sinatra, and I snuck in a few moments to read.
Sometimes I feel that my writing teachers, both in person, and in writing, wrap an arm around my shoulders and remind me that what I’m doing is important. Natalie Goldberg did that for me today.
Life is in the details for me. I have a whole series about details right here on this blog. Perhaps it is because I’m only five foot two, but I’ve always felt that little things matter desperately.
Perhaps that is why I’ve felt so scattered lately. The details of my life are both swallowing and escaping me. I can’t seem to get caught up, and just when I check one item off my to-do list, several more appear in it’s place. It feels like too much.
They say that the devil is in the details, and sometimes I wonder if that’s true. It’s easy for me to fixate on one small thing that isn’t right (and that I can’t change), turning it over and over in my mind and missing other, more meaningful things.
The details are lovely and luminous until they aren’t. A broad, sweeping brush makes things look spacious and wide, hiding my toilet that needs cleaning and those feelings of sorrow that float without effort into my mind. It is times like these that I want to hide in the general, or in someone else’s details.
Natalie Goldberg put a virtual finger under my chin today, and asked me to own each little thing. She joined the voices of my mother, my therapist, and my God, asking me to own the person that I am and everything that I experience in the world, even when it feels like too much for me to hold.
So I’m owning the discomfort I feel in my body right now, the squirming in my gut, the dissatisfaction I feel when I look in the mirror.
I’m saying a holy yes to the drowsiness that won’t lift in the mornings, my boredom with my tea selection, my frustration that one of my (store bought) tomatoes is attempting to grow another plant, through it’s skin, in my fruit bowl.
I’m cupping the anger I feel when people tell me that I should be grateful for my singleness, the suspension of time and emotion I experience when I cook, and the taste of perfectly cooked fish that I made myself, all in my hands.
Whether I say yes or not, these details continue to come. These ones are mine and I can’t escape them. But they cannot be taken from me, either.