I recently learned a lesson in both the magic of the unexpected and the life-giving and deeply complex flow that makes the ordinary and everyday possible, which begins with the earth’s turning to bring each dawn and has grown into cars and jobs and all that makes up our modern life.
I was waiting at an intersection on a snowy day when a driver on the cross street ran a red light, hit another vehicle, skidded, and came flying across the intersection to whack me head-on. My car has been out of service ever since and it is only now, two weeks later, that I am beginning to feel as if my soul has re-entered my body. I now know why traditional people and others seek shamans at times of illness and trauma. Even though my trauma was minor compared to what many other people face, how I have wished that someone would venture into the otherworld to retrieve who I was as I wandered without center, without the previously unspoken, but still absolute belief that I would survive each day unscathed.
So, during these two weeks I have worshipped at the altar of the Goddess of the Unexpected. I have been cast into her realm where no other, more comfortable, aspects of the divinity within can dwell. It has been just She and I as I have come to slowly explore my home in exile from my comfortable kitchen where I know who I am and what I will do each day.
It is a place where the everyday becomes deified simply because I finally understand how each day is truly a miracle, where each moment that goes as I expect it will is a complex orchestration of galactic mathematics, of earth’s delicate ecology, of human interaction and cooperation. I have come to truly appreciate this everyday life that I have been trying to celebrate in this blogsite.
But, this temple of the Goddess of the Unexpected is even more than that.
It is a place where I can be truly myself, can finally see myself exactly as I am because who I have built myself up to be, who I wish others to see, no longer exists while I am in this realm.
It is a place of true new beginnings. Without the gravity of the my own expectations of what I should be and do that day pulling on me, I can now take flight into the endless sky.
It is a well of power freed from within myself as I experience my own will to survive, as I allowed myself to fall into dissolution and stopped the descent by pure desire to live again my everyday, “in a teapot” life.
It is a well of intense terror that I had no idea could be unleashed within me and the knowledge that now I can magically turn it back by the force of my mind’s ability to see myself from outside myself and to think analytically.
I am now gathering all these gifts as I embark on my journey back to everyday life. Even though, during the first few days, I experienced that realm as a prison into which I had been cast to undergo some kind of tortured inquisition, now I embrace this Goddess of the Unexpected and express my appreciation that I have lived in Her Realm, as much as I hope not to have to go there again anytime soon.
Coincidentally, before the accident, I had been “memed” by Cate to list unusual things about myself. Each of these aspects of myself is a small spell cast by the Goddess of the Unexpected, something that does not quite fit with most of my everyday life and makes my life therefore more fascinating, more passionate, more creative. By venturing into these unexpectednesses, I taste some of that power, some of the liberation, some of the otherworldly sparkle of life outside the routine and expected.
1. I love kitsch. When I moved into my house, I inherited lots of objects from my grandmother and mother-in-law so my home reflected their rather elegant and Baroque tastes, respectively. As I came up on half a century of life, I decided it was time for my surroundings to appeal to me, so I went shopping and bought whatever caught my eye. As I unpacked my shopping bags I came upon an undeniable truth. I love kitsch – tiny ceramic teapots for my kitchen, silk flowers in every room, circus pink pillows. Someone stop me before I hang velvet pictures of waifs with really, really big eyes… I think I love the innocence of kitsch, the pure childlike joy of it, the colors and icons that bring my heart back to another time of my life when I had fewer questions and answers were surer. Maybe I just have no taste.
2. I once sat in a taxi with Helen Hayes, the famous actress. I was working for the press office of a NYC agency and she was helping us publicize a program for low-income, frail elders. I have no idea what I said, but I’m sure it was ridiculous, and I’m sure she was absolutely gracious. I also met Danny Kaye at a fundraiser for the same program. He was extremely jolly. And I once danced with Patti Smith at a rock and roll club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That’s about it for my encounters with celebrities.
3. One of my legs is a half inch longer than the other. This throws off my whole bone structure and has ultimately caused me to be in mild pain just about all the time. But, at the same time, it makes me constantly aware of my physical being and the fact that I am connected to the air around me and the rock or soil of the earth under my feet, since these both determine if I will walk well that day.
4. I look almost exactly like my mother. Photos of us when we were both quite young are almost indistinguishable and we both look different from anyone on her side of the family. Sometimes this is distressing, when I think of some of the physical problems she had that I worry about inheriting or when my identity sometimes seem to meld into hers. Other times it is quite comforting, an obvious link to the women of my family that has, I think, made me more aware of the importance of being bonded to those women who came before and after me.
5. My favorite Goddess icon is The Sleeping Goddess of Malta, the statue of the woman or Goddess asleep on a couch, possibly experiencing some kind of vision. In fact, I love sleeping more than just about any other activity and always have. I don’t have especially insightful or inspiring dreams, I just love the physical feeling of sleep. Perhaps in a former life I was some kind of priestess whose job it was to envision while sleeping and I got a taste for it.
6. I have an almost supernatural attraction to Scotland. I may or may not have ancestors from there. One evening, about 30 years ago, I heard the Tannahill Weavers, a band that plays Scottish traditional music and I was completely mesmerized. For about the next 15 years, I was obsessed with finding out everything I could about this country and its history and culture. About 20 years ago I took a trip there and came across the field where the Battle of Culloden took place, the battle that ushered in the attempted destruction of Highland culture and the migration of hundreds of thousands of Scots who were forced off their land, including possibly my ancestors. I found the spot where the clan that has the same name as my mother stood. I stood on that ground and thought about how forces much mightier than me in terms of weapons and power had done everything in their power to destroy the spirit and the lives of those who had stood on this ground before me, but, yet, here I was 250 years later, their living legacy, returned, alive, remembering, and carrying on all that had been taken from them and that they had come to America to regain.
It has been so long since I have been able to write in this blog that the meme has, I’m sure, gone on without me. So I now tag anyone reading who would like to make her or his own venture into the Temple of the Goddess of the Unexpected by writing about seven unusual biographical things.