48

Photo by Morgan Wade

Photo by Morgan Wade

"Everything that is made beautiful and fair and lovely is made for the eye of one who sees." -Rumi

What a strange time - full of madness and fury and boundless joy, with moods so buoyant at times I feel like my heart might burst out of my ribcage. These days, just to stand in my shower and feel the warmth of the water is a reminder to stop thinking whatever I'm thinking and scoop up all the tendrils of my attention so they can't drift beyond the boundaries of my own skin. My life right now is a glittering buffet of ease and beauty. It might not - will likely not - always be that way, so I'm going to bask in its glow and devour every morsel of it while I'm able.

There have been strange and tragic turns of events in the lives of too many friends and loved ones. Head-on collisions, double funerals, parents holding their daughter's hand as her young life slips out of their grasp, a young woman who was thriving as an NYU film student one day and the next day unable to move or feel anything from the neck down. Have you ever heard of a spinal infarction? I hadn't either. Did you know there are companies out there that provide medical escort services for patients needing to be transported from a rehab center in Los Angeles to a different one in Paris, France? 

And then there's that - Paris - where recent events have put the world on notice, made us hug our families that much closer. That there is a force operating in this world whose aim is nothing less than absolute darkness is nothing new, but there's something about these recent attacks that made all the hairs on the back of our collective neck stand up even straighter. The energies feel more threatening than ever.

Am I telling you these stories to make you feel guilty for all the blessings you have in your life? To remind you that, whatever your woes and worries, you need to "keep it all in perspective" and buck up? I am not saying that - not at all. I am acknowledging that life is hard, and we are all - all - one hair's width away from whatever we have falling apart. Which doesn't mean we should live in fear, but with conviction - with the knowledge that our presence plays a role in the fate of the world, that what we do matters. Whatever love and beauty and light we are able to create in the world, even if (we think) it won't expand beyond the walls of our own homes, it matters.

~

I finished my book. After years of talking about it and then about a year and a half of working on it in earnest, I'm sitting here with a 196-page book with 19 chapters and about 80,000 words. There are still a few copyediting issues to work out, but there will be no more re-writes, no more major revisions. The changes from the previous version to this one were by far the most significant. It is as if the book that wanted to be written waited until the last minute to reveal itself. Once I saw its shadow hovering around the corner of my awareness, I became obsessed with following it and doing its bidding. In between this, that and all the other of life's current distractions and obligations, I snatched up every available sliver of time to work on the book in order to meet a self-imposed deadline I set many weeks before so many lives around me took strange and unsettling turns.

In the midst of all this, a funny thing happened - as the book came to life in a way I hadn't expected, I started to care less and less about where the book might go publishing-wise. A friend observed that when I was still working on the first draft, I talked a lot about wanting to "help people" and tell my story to "encourage others." Those are nice thoughts, but now that I'm here, I understand I needed to write the book because it was begging to be written. I couldn't not write it. Where it will go from here is anyone's guess, and that's not for me to decide.

While writing the book, especially during this last phase, I started to experience a strange sense of anxiety - What if something happens to me before I finish the book? Hence my obsession. It became that much more imperative to give it everything I could, knowing it isn't possible to see what's coming around the corner. I worked not from fear, but determination.

For now, while I'm able, I'm going to keep creating, feeling, living, crying, laughing, breathing deep breaths and being of service in whatever way I can. I will continue opening up my home to those I love. I will keep on trying to create the best I can create, whatever that means.

Today, I am turning 48 years old. Today, I am in awe of everything my first 47 years have given me. Today, I'm here to do one thing:  LIVE.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide