the first birthday after a loved one dies is a particular kind of strange. i lost so many people this year, none of them expected, each one devastating in a different way. i lost one of the people i thought of as family, a little brother, a mischievous and mysterious god amongst men. i wake up from dreaming of him, and of all of those gone this year, and last, and back and back, letting their spirits and eccentricities shape a nonlinear unbound ancestor party. it’s the most dynamic, interesting space.

i wake up very full of the awareness that i am not dead. i am 45. at this point i have actively chosen to stay, so more and more i understand my responsibility for these years, day by day. there’s no time to waste, and no rush, and the quality of the time really does matter more than any other aspect.

i am sharing a planet with so many people i love madly…and so many people i do not understand, people experiencing humanity completely differently than i do. i sometimes feel like humans are a species only a mother could love. but i also feel, most of the time now, (motherly, motherish, parental) unconditional love at a planetary scale – i am in head-over-heels-forever love with the earth. a lot of my time is spent casting spells to make everyone else love this planet whole, the way i do; keen for the miraculous the way i do, slip into awe with the ease i feel in the presence of life: short, wild, dualistic, mundane, misguided, precious, stunning life. the spells change my relationships most of all, bringing back kindred. when the tether feels fragile, i am comforted by the not-aloneness of my love, wonder and grief. 

my life is all about gathering lines from and for worship poems, and letting myself be known as deeply as possible. for a long time i only felt truly known through my writing – “i am a writer, i am going to write” is what lorraine hansbury reminds me every morning with my phone alarm. (later in the day audre lorde adds, “i am who i am, doing what i came to do.”) recently i have been writing with less attachment, writing as mandala, writing with my breath in real time, writing with eye contact and quiet and ease, risking it all by lifting the veil on my terrors,  showing my heart to people in real time.

i have been releasing the good/bad binary and counting all that comes to me as miraculous. it’s either a blessing, a lesson, or beyond my comprehension. i can only do my best. 

i understand more than ever that the best parts of a good human life are peace and people. and that both are a function of internal prioritization – even when no one else understands, i choose my peace, and i choose people who love and protect and add to and deepen my peace. 

i know the many costs of sacrificing peace, i know that there are slow and fast ways to throw away the miracle. i know that peace unravels the knot of time, making moments last for lifetimes, moments thick enough to feast on in the afterlife, forever. i am grieving all the time, it is the concurrent rhythm to every song in me. and from the precious perspective of grief, what i return to most easily are the moments i was really there, really with someone i forever-love. in this way i am learning that my attention dictates the depth of memory. therein lies the secret to my abundance and joy and any wisdom i may acquire. 

i am 45, and i am here on purpose. and that wisdom of ubuntu – of “i am because you are”, and you were, and you are – is the way.