Autumn is usually when a deeper, bereft sadness and sense of uncertainty and out-of-jointness has tended to surface, it’s just the time of year when hard or stressful things have tended to accumulate over the years and leave a heavy residue. Usually I don’t get through it without buying a few school supplies (though I’ve been out of school for awhile) and sneaking out a few times to smoke Djarum clove cigarettes, with the first one always bringing me close to either fainting or throwing up, and these actions somehow helped with whatever felt wrong. When I first moved to Germany in the early 00’s, congregating with others who had or needed “Feuer” was a great way to meet people and socialize. So it served a great social survival purpose (I always carried two lighters just in case the my first didn’t work), as well as being a daily flirtation with my own mortality that helped me to feel I was walking the edge of being alive. These days, my origami kayak fills more of that role – inevitably people are drawn to watch as I unfold and construct it or refold it, and in this way I meet people in suburbia; I spend more time talking with people than actually setting up or taking down my boat.

However, that deep bereft sadness, cloves and school supplies have not been a part of this autumn. Which is strange given some uncertainties around a planned but still pending separation from M. Perhaps it’s a more global sense of being alone together in the covid19 era which alleviates some of the past isolation, or the gentle rise of worth and utility in the shared purpose of political and global activism and interest, or maybe the sadness that afflicts so many has made mine just a small drop in the bucket. But it seems like more than that, something on a subconscious level that feels very primal that’s been popped back into joint as the larger world order becomes more restored, and something else released. Like I could finally digest some things and keep them down. Like being bent over a pain for a long time and then supported in standing up again without the weight and being entirely new in one’s opened body, a sensation approaching holding an active peace. Like I’m more me. Before this season, I had been feeling bad or defective that I had not been able to heal, control or regulate some things on my own, and that the help I had found along the way hadn’t in fact been terribly helpful.

Healing can be a tricky thing in terms of figuring out the space in which it transpires and who is involved. Following the ankle injuries that landed me in the hospital, my dad decided to make a visit while I was in skilled nursing. He wanted to bring his new wife, who I did not know well, and with whom I had very few positive interactions or associations on file. I did not want to see her while I was feeling so vulnerable and lame, and I did not want her to be the one telling all of my extended family members about my medical status. It felt like an intrusion. I just didn’t really have the bandwidth to deal with newish stepparent dynamics on top of everything else. But I did want the support of my dad. So I told him it was fine if he brought her along for his own support and to do things with in the city, but I’d rather not have her visit my room. This made him incredibly angry, he felt insulted that I was not as accepting of his new wife as he wanted me to be, so he visited for 36 hours and was cruel and pouty the whole time. So my solution didn’t really work for anyone. I would like to believe that I would, if confronted with that situation again, have the grace to have them both visit or ask them to postpone until I felt less vulnerable, but at the time it was also important to honor the little sense of control I could have over my space and circumstances. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a wonderful local community of friends which I didn’t really know I had before – I’d met most within the year via a meetup group and the things that spun off of that – show up for me in wonderfully supportive ways. Many who visited me also brought their potions, lotions and notions about how to heal and how they could help. One friend sent me blue light through the matrix. Another brought crystals, and a third tinctures of homeopathic remedies that she wanted to talk with my doctor about. So some of it was an exercise in finding diplomatic ways to say thanks but no thanks while still appreciating and connecting around the intention. I have to credit the support of M and of my community as being a major factor in why I was able to recover well. Well ok, M is more social than I am and played a big role behind the scenes of reaching out to mutual friends behind the scenes on top of visiting each day, so she gets even a lot more credit than that.

Emotional healing is a different but related thing. The first time I went though a deep emotional healing, it really took me by surprise. It happened very organically and it “just was.” They say that during your 20’s, you come to terms with your family and work on seeing and separating from it. I had been taking a class which dealt some with literature that featured family dynamics somewhat similar to my own. But I think the much bigger contribution came from feeling seen, appreciated and supported in my life in ways I never really had been before and hadn’t known I could be – it had been a field of fresh snow that I hadn’t even known was there for someone to cross, like it had been in my blind spot all my life. Though it took a little time to warm up and although it was incredibly frightening to feel so suddenly vulnerable, I was incredibly fortunate to land in what felt like a perfect fit of a situation which unloosed, at warp speed, a Great Unlocking on more levels than I could count or could process at the time or have fully processed. Someone had taken my arm and escorted me across a bridge into a new dimension of being. After something like that happens, one feels a deep well of gratitude and then, creeping in, also a new fear of losing and having to let go of what now seemed essential and the New Way Forward and a search for ways to perpetuate it, as well as search for the words to describe this new place. And then if one describes it to the wrong people using some of the terms and frameworks available to do so, it is actually quite striking how unfathomably bad and evil it can be made to sound. It’s the sort of thing that one just has to be there for, but also absolutely cannot be abandoned within. It’s hard to just rest in the deep quiet place with it, where a knowing just surfaces as though from a deep spring – but in not doing that, in the search for explanation of something which “just is,” one risks losing touch with the quiet deep place and the agonizing, snakebit and fallen from Eden task of trying to recover it, which only drives it further away. Like those finger-trapping toys – the more one struggles to get free, the more tightly it traps the fingers. Maybe the big gift of covid is the stillness that lets us look into the water again.