“It is better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed at the dharma of another.”– Stephen Cope
The canal is sparse today. I’m alone. I sit on a groove in the grass, thinking that my sit bones carved it, creating this space to dangle my feet. For once the sky is pale blue, instead of tinged with smoky grey and I tilt my chin to capture a warm kiss from the sun.
I made mistakes. Pamplona was one. It wasn’t about conquering fear or proving a point, it was about meeting a man there. When you think it’s something, to be turned into something else. To walk away and be unloved once again. Then know he was never meant to. All along – a mess.
A soft pink lotus skims the water, beckoning me to poke a foot in and touch its petals, tickling the sensitive area between my first and second toe. I exhale a laugh. It will bobble and weave, as though giggling along with me.
I read her writing today. It sang to me. Lyrical; so powerful. I wonder if I have it in me anymore. That the routing inside is severed and I can’t lift words from a page to craft symphonies like she can. It leaves me afraid.
The sun beams down on the black, opaque water, breaking the surface into shards of glass. Glass that shimmers and ripples with the rhythms of my heart, yet if I touched this glass, my hand would emerge wet and dripping.
I took a writing class. One day we had to write a short piece of prose and switch sheets. Each person read out the anonymous piece and had to guess who wrote it. A paragraph was read, someone pointed to me. Another one, also mine. Then another. Until even I believed them – that l wrote them all. My teacher praised me for this, claiming I could write in any style. An asset. This was a long time ago.
I sit at the edge, at the point where the grass burns from the heat and swaddles the backs of my thighs like a warmed blanket. A Chinese fisherman is across, plunking in his fishing line. He nods his head at me, to acknowledge our conspiracy to remain cloistered here, cut off from words, but not worlds.
Sometimes I just want someone to tell me it’s going to be alright, when I spent a lifetime reassuring others. To hug me fully with their body and hold me there, even if I struggle. Because I do that — worm free and run away. I like stillness now, being squeezed in the bosom of the earth. People think this life is easy. Sometimes, I am so tired.
The ground is uneven, but inviting so I lie backwards hoping to form shapes with clouds, but Wuxi skies are always cloudless — infinite. I point my finger to the blank sky and write in the air, drawing out my dreams and speak them out loud. It’s that time of day when the sun yields, wrapping around my skin in an embrace, littering my bare arms with delicate pecks. I sit up. The fisherman has caught a small fish and a bull frog. The fish is oily looking and inert. The bull frog peers back at me calmly through a net, his skin mottled with dark brown spots. It’s almost time to return to classes. The sun. And the water. The endless sky. It feels good.
China is… Puzzles me. Fascinates. To stop was right. I’ll move forward. Leave China in a few months. Gather my mistakes and my fears, detach from the things I’ve collected, hold the people that I met close and be on my way again. Learn to love the imperfection. Fall into a new place. Do what I was meant to do. It may not be teacher, but an artisan of the possible.