Nature knows well about the cycles of endings and rebirths.
I was born amid the concrete, in a busy city, and my experience of nature was limited to the plants in my grandfather’s patio. At home we had a dog, two canaries in a cage, and two water turtles my mother cared for, all orphans that brought some color to the pale gray atmosphere.
Occasionally I went to the park, where I worried about who would play with me since my brothers enjoyed entertaining themselves without my presence. I carried a shaky feeling in my belly all the times I was around them; I feared getting hit. During the family summers spent at the beach, I was on the outside, observing how others enjoyed the ocean. Looking back, I was disconnected somehow, as if life was not meant for me.
I moved from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles, and after 25 years of developing a career, I moved again to a place I didn’t even know existed. On the big Island of Hawaii, nature grows raw and wild, active volcanos destroy and build new land, double rainbows shine through the rain and ocean waves erase the shake, the fear, the anguish.
In my new house, I pull the relentless weeds that grow between the banana trees my neighbors gave me. Although they may have a purpose, weeds do harbor insects and diseases damaging my new garden. I want to pull out what hurts and keep what nurtures me.
Do the weeds know they will die? What do plants know?
I had another house before, a seven-acre dream for my family to rest, unite, and thrive. I worked for ten years to finish the building, a shelter for peace, for connecting deeply. I insisted on something that was not meant to be.
Have you ever insisted on something that was never meant to be?
I created a castle and placed a prince on it, a white house with many windows to view the green lush and early morning sunrises. I had a plan, but it was not God’s plan. If there is a God, I guess she would acknowledge my efforts in trying to know her.
Is there a destiny that we are meant to fulfill?
When things don’t work as planned, what do we do?
I adapted and placed the house for sale. I protested and complained. I didn’t want to give up bathing in the rain as plants do. Walking under the light of thousands of stars on new moons; meditating under the full moon shadow. Breathing fresh air as if for the first time, listening to thousands of myna and saffron finches chirping in the mornings. Sleeping in the deep darkness of silence.
Something told me to move on. I held tight to the house posts. The day it was sold, I cried like I have never done before. Yet I knew I needed to live in a city with a good internet connection for my online classes: close to my son’s school and basketball practice; closer to people. I needed to reclaim a space where I could own my journey, my growth, and my beauty. I closed a cycle, with grief also for the ending of my marriage.
I’m allowing the growth a new me. It feels like for fifty years I have been living a life for others, for an idea of how to behave to be accepted; to please in order to receive love, and to allow being imprisoned in order to belong. I said yes when I wanted to say no, I cleaned after someone else’s mistakes, I held tight when I should have let go.
Today my inner tree grows new understandings. I feel bravery sprouting at my feet. I have grown big ears for listening, and big arms to hold it all, the ugly and the shiny. If I see a friend, my attention is devoted to listening to her; if I teach a class, I am authentic and honestly aligned with myself, without anxiety, and without the need to get things done in a certain way.
I am not the sum of my accomplishments, but the sum of my understandings.
I am re-surfacing from the underworld of patriarchal standards, breaking the chains of what it means to be a woman. Hawaii taught me how to change my car oil and filter, fill my propane tanks, trim my trees, and fix what is broken. I drive with a machete in my trunk, and a swimsuit and towel by my side, ready to meet challenges and to have fun.
I recognize wildlife everywhere: I am fed by mangos and avocados, washed by raindrops, embraced by the wind, and rocked to bed with the sound of coqui frogs. Nature tells me that my life was meant for me.
I want to hold the hands of my beloved ones as I hold geckos and dead birds. I want to honor my relationships like the natural world honors me.
As I type, I am engulfed by life’s rhythmic tunes. My dog lays by my feet, her snores tickling my skin. To the west, I hear distant cars passing by. To the east, laughing children run. They are dying and rebirthing, going through cycles like me. I am not alone.