My life for the past few months has revolved around the house fire. And though I try not to talk about it in conversation in my regular life, it is in the undercurrent of every single thing that I do.
I’ve been writing in my book journal much more than usual. My words fill page after page.
There’s been much to think about, to churn over, to question.
I noticed that in the few journal pages that were saved from the fire, that some pen ink resisted the flames more than others.
I wondered about “flame resistant” ink…
I imagined my words in all of those journals from all of those years carefully falling from their burning pages and landing on the floor. I imagined the winding cursive of my hand decorating the ashes. I imagined walking around gathering up my words into pretty pails. I imagined written words rising up from all of the burned journals…finding their way back to me. I imagined weaving them back into the folds of a new page.
But there is no such thing as flame-resistant ink.
Most of those words are gone into the ether. They have ascended, if you will.
A friend was talking to me about all the of the wishes and dreams that Burke and I wrote that were hidden in the walls of our Enchanted Cottage. She said that she was taught to write her wishes and burn them so that the smoke would reach the heavens and the angels could hear. So all of those wishes and dreams written in my walls, all of those dreams and thoughts in most of my journals, have been released in the smoke drifting to the sky to be heard by the spirits who watch over us.
A neighbor who ran into us on the street, told us that the flames and smoke reached high into the sky. I tried not to cry when I heard this. I tried to shift my mind to those billows of smoke holding all of our wishes, our history and our dreams – transforming themselves from something physical to something you can no longer hold….but in this alchemy…they are now translated into the language of angels.
When it hurts, I try to imagine the curling smoke that rose to the sky transform into my curling cursive. Smoke twisting to form words. Wishes. Dreams. The tangible memories of my ancestors, of our childhoods, of our history.
I have to believe that they are wishes come true on the other side of all of this.
And then I was hit with another question in my mind… “Would I sacrifice the physical history of my past to have the dreams of my future come true?”
And in that case, no matter how deep the pain has been in this, I would have to say yes. I would say yes to the dreams of the future.
This was our sacrifice.
And those journals and things I held dear, although they are gone, I still lived those days. I still have those words inside of me. All of those beautiful experiences were swallowed by my soul. They are part of me. They are in the way I walk, they are in the way I hold myself, they are in the way I have exchanges with others. Nothing can take that away.
When I talked to Burke about all of these thoughts, he remembered a question from a game he used to play with his family. The question was, “If you could live in pure paradise for a year, having everything you ever wanted, but after the year was over, you would have no memory of it – would you still do it?”
Burke had answered, “Is all we are only of value if we can remember it?”
That struck me.
I would say yes to the year in paradise with no memory of it. I don’t think I would have said yes to that question before the fire. But the fire has been a teacher, it’s changing my view. I would say yes to that year in paradise with no memory now, because even if I couldn’t remember it – I feel like it would affect my spirit. That perhaps I’d walk more confidently after the experience. That somewhere I would know what true overall abundance was even if my brain didn’t remember having it. It would be carried in my body and my being.
There are things we just know that are unexplainable. There are things, these messages and memory in our bodies that venture beyond what our brains can retain.
The exact moment that I was writing this in my book journal, my email made a “bing” noise and there was an email from my Mom. She knows how connected I was to all of the family things that were lost in the fire. I was the record keeper for our family, I was the one who held most of the tangible history. She sent this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh to ease my heart, “If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”
I carry the imprints of my life on my soul and I carry my ancestors there.
The things I learned, the adventures I had, the love I shared, the awe I have felt, the friendships I have experienced CAN NEVER BE LOST.
And to a girl who has lost most of her physical history to the flames – that realization meant everything to me.
There is a new journey ahead.
There is a new path taking form.
And we are venturing onward to the dreams that await us.