Listen, Witness, Release

[gallery columns="1"] The list of items lost, forgotten, broken, or misplaced is long and, for one thing in particular, heartbreaking. But as I work my way out of the self-loathing I decided was a good course of action when I realized the heartbreaking item in question was, indeed, gone ~ clinging to the belief that it was nothing more or less than my own irresponsibility that made me forget the phone charger, lose the camera battery charger, render useless my brand new portable iPod speaker with a spilled bottle of water, smear a sweater, a dress, and a t-shirt with tiny globs of tar from one misstep on the beach, and ~ I almost can't bear to write it ~ lose one half of my favorite pair of earrings in the world ~ I step closer to the realization that I can also blame my uncharacteristic absent-mindedness on being blissfully lost in the small handful of moments I was given this weekend with a dear friend in a magical part of the world.

I'm not even sure that paragraph-long sentence makes total sense ~ that's how far up in the clouds my head floated over the weekend. I'm not entirely convinced my brain is completely back down to earth yet.

I am about as organized as it gets. I reach my appointments on time, I meet my deadlines, and I never ever lose things ~ especially when I travel. I am the most methodical packer you'll ever meet, and I always have what I need wherever I am in the world. This is how I am wired and who I am, and although I am sure I sometimes come across as too tightly wound, it is difficult for me to function any other way. Being a responsible grown-up is ~ and I know this sounds weird ~ something I am quite passionate about. So when one thing after another got lost, forgotten, broken, and misplaced over a mere 48-hour period of time, I was ready to hang a scarlet I on my chest for being so Irresponsible and drown myself in shame.

As the realization that my earring was lost sunk in, and I started griping and groaning more enthusiastically to my friend, she asked, "What do you need?" and when I thought about it, I saw very clearly that I didn't need anything except to stop my demons in their tracks. After a few minutes of considering this, I said to my friend, "This is what is going on ~ I am totally beating myself up about this," and proceeded to explain the negative thought cycles that were beginning to spin out of control (because by this time two chargers, a small speaker, and three articles of clothing were already toast thanks to me.)

Part of being a responsible grown-up is not only being attentive to the details of life as they pertain to those around me ~ which speaks to things like being prompt and writing thank you notes ~ but also to myself. So although oddly alluring, it would have been irresponsible of me to let the voices that wanted to flog me continue to run wild. I needed to call them out, pull them into the spotlight, and see them for what they were ~ judgments based on shame, negativity that would serve no purpose other than suck the joy out of a magnificently beautiful weekend.

Maybe my head was in the clouds, and maybe I was a little too caught up in running on the beach in a sequined dress, writing poetry in the sand, and feeling the cold water wrap around my ankles. Maybe I didn't pay attention enough; maybe I should have kept that uber-organized part of my brain on high alert. Or maybe it was time to let go of that sweater, and maybe my lone earring can now become my favorite necklace. I can buy a new battery charger and a new portable speaker. With a little time and effort, I can get the tar out of my tulle skirt. What I wouldn't have been able to do is get back that time, and that would have been the biggest loss of all. All it took was a willingness to sit still for one small moment, observe what was happening, and say out loud what that was ~ to listen, to witness, and then, most important of all, to release, and then go back to the business of having fun, to send my head right back up to the clouds.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide