Feelin’ My Way Through the Darkness

Writing 101 ~ Day 3: Write about your favorite song

“Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beatin’ heart
I can’t say where the journey will end
But I know where it starts.”

I love this song by Avicii. So do 448 million other people. It’s called WAKE ME UP. I remember when I first heard it. We were biking with Gerard through part of Flanders, and had stopped exhausted to refuel ourselves at a little tavern. The music was what revived me. That was 8 months ago. Several months later I was in Venice and stopped to talk to a group of young people waiting for the same bus. When I asked them, ‘What’s your favorite English music?’ they answered, ‘AVICII!!’
‘Who? What song do they sing?’
‘Hey Brother! Wake Me Up.’
It wasn’t til I got home that I found out who it was, and why those kids were so excited.

“So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I’ve been finding myself
and I didn’t know I was lost.”

When I don’t like the words of a song, I always feel at liberty to change them to suit my situation. I agreed with my daughter when she said she doesn’t like the refrain, “Wake me up when it’s all over.” I don’t like the idea of sleeping through a storm. I mean, how will one get wiser if one isn’t even awake to experience going through the difficulty? However, I can think about it differently: sometimes we need a breather, an escape valve, a little distance.

I did change the words to the next part:

“Don’t tell me I’m too young or old to understand
Or to be caught up in a dream
Life will pass us by if we don’t open up our eyes
and now it’s time to see!”

Part of waking up is SEEING. This summer I thought I was at Barrytown College for a media workshop. It turns out that was only the bait to get me there. Guided by a beating heart, I kept passing the chaplain in the hallway, and every time I saw him he was smiling at me, and saying, “Come see me!” I finally did. I’d been feeling my way through the darkness, and he held the light to show me my next step.

“So wake me up BEFORE it’s over!
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I’ve been finding myself
and I didn’t know I was lost!”

Thank you, Kone!


Writing 101: A Room with a View

Today’s assignment: “If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? The twist~ organize your post around the description of a setting.”

The "office"

The “office”

I love the room I’m sitting in right now…I’m in the full sun, watching the clouds roll around in the sky above the treetops and rooftops across our street. The sound of children laughing in the park below; The occasional car starting or stopping; the distant hum of traffic on the main road…signs of life. I’ve never been a glutton for silence, or total darkness.

I look around at the furniture, and how gracefully it has been arranged. The mirror on the wall has a black leather frame that matches the trim on the ceiling; the drapes are pulled back to let in the maximum light (they’re never drawn if I can help it) and frame the large picture windows that stretch all the way across the room. The accent colors are red and orange~ the cushions on the desk chair, the picture frame on the wall, my paper art-work above the couch~ never fail to lift my heart a bit when I see them. The wicker chair and footstool always look warm and friendly; The couch is deep and wide and full of pillows to lay against, or to prop your legs up on if you’re like me; I think of Lia when I see them. This was her furniture before it became ours. Her leaving and our finding a new apartment couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

The Inner Sanctum

The Inner Sanctum


However, no amount of nice furniture can really make up for her absence, or the absence of the kitty we left behind when we moved from a street-level house to a 3rd floor apartment, or other friends who have gone, or who are too far away to share it with. Maybe one of the reasons that this room feels so good to me right now is that I’m preparing to leave it soon as well.

For me, the perfect space is not so much about the physical location, or the type of furniture. It’s about the people, and the connections that make life worthwhile day to day. I think I often took those things for granted. Sometimes you don’t know how precious the light is until it goes out. Here, often alone, I have come to appreciate the simple sounds of daily life, the comings and goings, and the words of encouragement and welcome in between. Silence is good on occasion, but not as a steady diet. The ideal for me is to live with people, AND to have a private space to retreat to.

I like a full house. I like the hustle and bustle of friends coming and going, and when they come, I like the time spent over food or coffee, catching up, laughing, sharing the simple daily joys and problems.

So, a room with a view: it’s a room with friends and lovers; it’s a room in constant motion with comings and goings and ins and outs. It’s a room where the heart has found a home.

Saying Goodbye to Liege

I’ve been saying goodbye to Liege today.

I had soup with a good friend, and we talked about the changes going on in our lives; It’s good to be on a parallel journey with someone. She’s leaving for Brussels, I’m leaving for the US, but we’ll be connected wherever we go, fellow travelers and seekers after the life we know we were meant to live.

Telling myself that I don’t want to see the inside of any more department stores, I took the river road home, avoiding the shops, and saw the sun glistening on the Meuse, the tree-lined park, and the bridges crossing the water. From up on the bike, I couldn’t smell the urine on the sidewalk. When I noticed it while we were walking, she said, “It’s the smell of LIege!” I never noticed it before today.

I stopped at the Quick for a coffee and a beignet, and thought, “This might be the last time I sit out here. How strange. How nice!”

At the corner SPAR, I greeted the manager, and told her I’m leaving. She told me she is tired, and wants to get out of the grocery business with her brother, but hasn’t found a way yet. We smiled at each other, and she took my card. “You’ll do well. I have a good feeling.” “You, too. Let’s keep in touch!”

My little village of Angleur. Jean fits here, but I don’t.
Life isn’t always what you expect it will be. I wonder where we’ll be in two years, or five?

Today I’ve been saying goodbye to Liege, and packing up my things. It will have been 2 years, 8 months, and 21 days since I arrived here. It feels longer, and at the same time hard to believe that so much time has passed.

I have to ask myself, “What is the lesson here for me? What have I done, and what have I learned?” It’s better than I think, but longer than I wanted.

I round the corner and ride up our street. The sun is bright and the day is warm. Belgium, showing off it’s best self in honor of my leaving? Maybe. Or trying to entice me to stay? Too late for that.

I take off my scarf, and look at the road in front of me. Our apartment is a good place for Jean. I’m happy that he is near the woods where he loves to run, and near his father’s house, where he often visits. Our windows face the path running up into the trees, and look out over the park. We’re on a street that doesn’t go through, so it’s always quiet~ except for the trains. I love the way they sound at night. They remind me that there are places to go. We can stop treading water, and jump on.

I’m saying goodbye to Liege, and I’m glad I’m still alive, and that I have somewhere I want to go. My mother is counting the days until I arrive. She has cleared out her other closet, and emptied half of her drawers to make space for the things I bring. She is waiting with anticipation. She’s getting old now, and tired. I can hear it in her voice. I am glad to have someone who is longing for my return, and to have the time to be there for her. We have many things to share~ two adult women, getting to know each other again.

What else should I write? I still have people to say goodbye to. To embrace and wish well. I saw another friend last week. We met in her front yard, her two small boys excited about their first day of school. She clasped my hand and sighed. Yes, she understood. Japan is her hometown and she is dreaming, too.

I still have an open suitcase staring at me on the floor, but my heart has already started moving. It’s pulling out of the station. A little rusty from having stood still for so long, but I can feel an engine revving somewhere…

I’m wondering if I can still fly…

Let me arrive, safely, with my body, mind, and heart intact.
Let me be ready to discover my SELF on this journey called LIFE.

Goodbye Liege. Thank you, and I wish you well!