How does a flower dare to bloom a million times over in a million strange places to a million different faces? And how is it that I see you and me, abloom in every new face on the street? How is it possible I’m here at this moment, a whirling manifestation of choices I’ve made long ago and far away, and choices I’ve made this very day? This is the face of who I am. The heart burgeoning red with desire and fire. The heart bloody with rhythm and beats. The heart, my heart, shared with affection to closed ears, to countless fears. My heart and my rhythm. And yes, I’ve been to crossroads where I was pitted fiercely against the me of who I was and the me of who I knew I was supposed to be, two opposites beseeching the way to the road I walked upon.
Allow me to share a simple story of one of those moments of crossroads divine. A day I surrendered upon a lake.
It was a hot summer day, a vacation day spent with one of my best friends. We were to commune with nature in the woods of Montana for four glorious days. The trip, as most, was not what we expected and we were forced to live in a new understanding of what “godliness” meant to us. There were challenges every day, and it was most certainly not a laid back, easy nature, soaking in the all glorious divine weekend we expected.
On one of the days we hiked to the lake near where we were camping. My spirit was a little down and I, hoping to gather some much needed inspiration and guidance from the saturation of nature, was feeling low that life hadn’t already jumped out at me and sung to me all the answers I was so desperately seeking. Along the walk, we were trying to be in good spirits, my friend, our guide, and my pitiful, dreary self.
I was feeling insecure because a week later I was going to be seeing a guy who I hadn’t seen in months and who I dug intensely. My mind was already fully occupied with scenes of impending disaster, all egged on by premenstrual insecurities and quickly turning into monstrous negative thoughts. The part of me inside who was still hopeful of some drastic change of mood was looking forward to the lake, but when we finally got there, we soon discovered mosquitoes and less than idyllic surrounding. I mean, it was beautiful, just not pleasant.
My friend wasn’t gonna let it get her down. She stripped down and jumped into the lake before I could lather on repellent. She seemed so free, yet I could not get past the muckiness and the bugs. I was getting deeper and deeper into a funk. I stood there, wanting so badly to just jump in the lake. What was wrong with me? Why was I frozen with inaction?
I was turning into a black hole of doubt and fear. Nothing felt right. I felt so out of place. My friend finally surfaced. We talked for a bit but decided to head back when the mosquitoes started getting worse. I had missed my chance.
As we began to put our layers back on, I felt like crying. What was I scared of? Maybe I’d be sucked under by some dark demon of my own making and drown? What if some weird flesh-eating fish was in there, just waiting to gnaw on something? It was useless. We started to walk away and then it hit me: a knowing that I had to jump in the lake, no turning back. Without hesitation, I quickly threw off my clothes and dove into the water, far beyond the murky edges. I came up engulfed in sunshine and the cool peace of the lake and I floated there for a while, feeling no more agitation, no more worry, just a oneness with myself, with my own inner knowing, my own breath of life.
When I felt my head return to daily thoughts I swam back to the edge, renewed. My friend, with a knowing look in her eye, just smiled.
A week later, when I saw that guy, it was difficult, but I know that if I hadn’t faced fears back at the lake, I never would have been able to face him with the full force of who I was that day. Everyday that we make a choice to be who we wanna be and not let fear freeze us, is a day we get closer to god, the universe, all living creatures, and pretty importantly, our own selves. I also learned that there is no wrong answer, or wrong path. If there’s a lesson you need to learn, you can be sure the universe will continue putting forth the quizzes. And if you fail, no worries, just remember, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.
Ilse grew up in a small town in New Mexico with only one traffic light: “Listening to rock and roll saved my soul.” She dared herself to move to Los Angeles and formed her own band, Zeitgeist Auto Parts, playing her original songs, with Ilse on lead vocals and bass guitar. Only one year after playing their first gig, Music Connection Magazine listed ZAP among the top hot 100 unsigned artists in southern California. Today, Ilse resides in London.