It’s summer here in my little corner of the world, and I’m on vacation. I’m headed to an island, with my paints and my pens and my Bear! So over the next several days, I’ll be reposting favorites:
“You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”
“This has the power to fill you up again, if you’ll let it.”
“My life -like all lives- mysterious, irrevocable and sacred, so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.”
— “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
I am fortunate to be in a new, long-term, romantic relationship with a fearless, beautiful, loving, polyamorous woman, who calls me her Mond (the German word for Moon.) I call her my Wolf. On one of our first dates, my she-Wolf and I watched the movie, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon in the lead role. Throughout her excellent performance, I was struck by the courage of Cheryl Strayed, who set out to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail, and succeeded, then wrote her memoirs about the life-changing experience of finding herself, and the woman her mother knew she could be.
I was also touched by the several literary references, the quotes of poetry, and the quotable passages from Cheryl’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. It has now found it’s home on my ‘books to-be-read’ list. Watching the movie planted a seed in me. It made me ache to push and challenge myself in a new way. By the time it was finished, I was determined to find opportunities to ‘put myself in the way of beauty’.
I have, for too many years, been the girl who let her physical limitations get the best of her. I’ve been out of shape for a long time, and haven’t chosen to do much about it. I have been convinced that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t risk it, when it came to intense physical activity, and though I know that intensity is relative, what I previously considered too risky, and a bad idea, really isn’t. I’m learning I was wrong.
The past several weeks have been both wonderful, and deeply stressful, and that is nothing new. I’ve chosen a complex, crowded, polyamorous life, with a house full of my three adult children, a son-in-law, two grandsons, my husband, three pets, multiple polyamorous lovers and metamours, and often more people than beds or chairs in which to sit– and with it comes all the agony and ecstasy one person can hold.
I wouldn’t trade my life for the entire world.
The thing you should know about my she-Wolf is that she is strong, and fierce, and physical! She’s a master welder, a hiker, a runner, a primal, dominant woman who is most at home in the woods. Our very first date, we spent sitting on a huge bolder overlooking a ravine, and we talked about everything under the sun, as it set behind the trees. Even that evening, she challenged me to face my fear of heights, and trust her to keep me safe.
Her quiet strength has been something I needed before I ever knew I would. She came along and made a place in my heart and life, just in time to offer me a very different kind of strength from any other I know, which is remarkable, because I have several amazing, rewarding, romantic relationships with incredibly strong, smart people. I spent some time on the phone this morning with my she-Wolf’s wife — an equally beautiful, strong, intelligent woman, and we both agree — we are stronger, empowered beside her. She brings out belief in ourselves, and that is an incredible thing to discover next to someone so very generous and strong.
My she-Wolf pulls strength from me; she challenges me to be better, to try harder, and to attempt new things I wouldn’t have tried six months ago. In the past few weeks, because of her, I’ve found my feet climbing over stones and boulders, stepping around sleeping snakes and poison ivy, standing on remote, rocky paths through thick underbrush and magnificent trees — chasing sunlight, chasing shadows, chasing peace.
I’ve often sat listening in the woods — where the nearest human being was well out of sight and earshot. No doubt there were birds, snakes, beavers, mice, deer, badgers and a host of other animals much nearer than any person who might be able to hear my voice. I have found, as I stood or sat in this wilderness, I am mostly listening to myself. I have been pushing myself farther down the trail, deeper into the forest, stretching my sore muscles, and I’ve kept going when before, I might have given up and turned back.
It’s an amazing feeling to step off of the well-traveled road, and onto the rocky path through the trees like Robert Frost. It feeds my spirit to see such beauty — the sinking sun setting the the trees on fire, the stillness of a creek so placid that it mirrors the sky, the rocks that look like the back of some great dragon beneath the earth, and even the leaf-strewn dirt beneath my feet. It feels incredibly satisfying to challenge and push myself this way — and it is partly inspired by the way she looks at me, the way with all her strength and beauty, she believes in me. She makes me want to be a better version of myself, to be the stronger, brighter light she sees in me. I am different, because of who she is when she’s with me, who she is with everyone I’ve had the privilege to see and know, and that is the most incredible gift.
I am changing. As I mentioned, the days of my life are filled lately with turmoil. My family is fighting for one of our own, as she battles against insidious mental illness. There are days when I feel powerful and determined. There are also days when I am not sure how much more I can take. But I usually find strength I didn’t know I had. I love fiercely, and am well aware that the love I’m given strengthens me for the days ahead. I purposely step into the woods, once or twice a week, just to replenish the well of reserve that we, as a family, so desperately need.
I put myself in the way of beauty, and I find it… in the trees, and on the path, in the eyes of my She-Wolf, and in other lovers who are amazing in my world. I count my blessings, and I draw from the gifts I hold in my open hands. My life is changed, and I hope every day that the people I love, find beauty and strength in me — as I do in them.