The Strange Woman Inside

I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, ‘I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I wanted to say’; but I know now I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to.- Mary Ruefle

You reading these words, I writing them– where are we going?  What is the plan? Your find yourself here– but do you really? Do I? Where do we find ourselves– really? Sometimes, even on days when I have nowhere to be, I feel a strange pressure within. What is this feeling? I believe it has something to do with the strange woman inside. 

It has come to my attention recently, that inside me, is a woman who believes she is running late. Who is she? How long has she been there? And late for what? These are reasonable questions. I don’t believe she knows the answers. I know I don’t. This does not stop either of us from feeling a sense of low grade urgency. “Hurry please!” she whispers, always demanding, but never impolite. “Hurry please!” And I, who have always disliked hurrying, feel an odd compulsion to obey.

At such times the delicate, green fronds of my awareness pull back and curl up tightly. Like a touched touch-me-not, I too am capable of closing up shop in an instant. Capable of withdrawing to a safe distance within myself, that is to say, out of reach of the coltish and curious present. Dogs and toddlers are the opposite of touch-me-nots. They gambol about in constant full-bodied contact with the here and now. Because they exist in a state of near-constant surprise, they are not fascinated by the future, and they are unafraid of delays. 

But for those of us freighted with dreams, unmitigated contact with this moment always runs the risk of delaying our arrival at the next (somehow more important,) moment. And according to the nameless, recently discovered woman inside me– the one who believes she is running late– all delays are disadvantageous. So even though we do not know where we are going, she and I, we have been trying to get there quickly. We have been trying not to waste time being here, when we could be arriving there. But recently, it must be reported, I have been falling short. 

Ignoring the exigencies of the situation, I have tended to tarry. Have allowed myself to be waylaid. By crow calls and hummingbird wings, by moss drifts on old oaks, by the long lasso of the lily’s scent. By the sunlight that pours into my pockets bearing a silence so wide, it opens closed spaces within. A silence so deep it swallows up the strange woman inside. Her urgency, mine, and our memories of each other– submerged in a sea of gold. 

Now, you who find yourself here (or do you really?)– tell me — where did I lose myself? Where am I to be found?

No, no – wait!

I’ve changed my mind. Don’t give me the answer. Why spoil the mood?

Let’s continue to dance instead. Let’s continue to dance this dance, of losing and finding, finding and losing, losing and finding — until we are both so dizzy, so dazzled — we cannot tell the difference anymore.


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