Last week I was in Sao Paulo for work. Now I am back again, amidst the dirty dishes and dirty laundry and dirty floors that constitutes my life. Walking through a Sao Paulo neighborhood looking for lunch last Tuesday, my friend and colleague commented, “Isn’t it amazing. We went to sleep last night above Washington DC and now, look, here we are on the other side of the equator, here in Brazil its autumn.” One minute I was in a sweater sweeping mud in my kitchen. The next I was in sandals humming Bossa Nova under palm trees.

There is that wonderful saying (and book by Jon Kabat Zinn), “Wherever you go, there you are”. And its true. There is no escaping the fact that we can run, fly, sail around the world but we cannot escape our life which we are living one breath, one step at a time. Whether I am at a meeting of activists in South America, or a meeting of children at a karate class or a meeting of the cats desperately meowing for food, there I am.

This seems like such a simple concept when I write it down here like this. And yet, it has taken me 40 years to understand it. No matter how much I wish to be elsewhere I always am exactly where I am and no matter what I WANT to be doing, I must simply do what is before me. Sometimes that something is speaking in front of a crowd, sometimes it is loading a dishwasher, sometimes it is simply stretching out in the sunshine or dancing.

One night in Sao Paulo it was so hot in my hotel room. It was oppressive and I couldn’t figure out how to regulate the temperature in the room. So I opened the window of my 14th floor room and lay down on my bed and listened to the sound of Sao Paulo breathe, the hum and the rhythm of it. We all breathe, I thought. Even cities. It is what connects us.

One day in Sao Paulo, at a mobilization, a Brazilian colleague asked me if I wanted to take the microphone and speak to the hundreds of workers arriving at their job. I thought she was offering me coffee, so I nodded. While I can give a great wonky presentation, I am not one for motivational speaking so delivering a rousing speech to this crowd, cold without diligent preparation, was, something of a stretch. Yet there she was handing me a microphone with hundreds of eyes looking my way. There was nothing to do but push through my fear, take a breath and speak. Just do what is front of me without thinking or worrying about the outcome.

Where am I going with this? Who knows. I don’t. But writing is whats before me. And so these words appear here.

Actually, I suppose it matters simply because of this.

When I first started this blog I was recovering from the loss of a life I desperately thought I wanted. I used this space to grieve and then, to begin to allow myself to see what had sprung up in its place. I challenged myself to imagine the loss as an opportunity to imagine something different, something amazing, something adventurous. I practiced and I dreamed and I thought and I wrote about it. I moved from a space of grief to a space of great excitement. Every cell in my body tingling with the anticipation of dreams I never knew I had maybe coming true. I used this space to entertain, explore and believe in my heart that dreams can come true. To find evidence of it. To find the courage to dream, to find the permission to do so. To birth brilliant little floating orbs of possibility that shone like angels but never were quite real, that slipped in and out of view depending on the light.

I have kept many of those dreams, like sparkly little gems, up on the shelf of my mind–safe and sound and perfect–but also not real. Some miracles, like finding a deep warm loving community, have sprung up unbidden, a gift of the gods to inspire me and hold me but most of what I imagine remain ideas, hopes, wishes.

Now its time to take them down, and one by one, to birth them–make them real, true and physical. To take them from their safe and sparkly place and make them real and physical if not entirely perfect or exactly how I imagined them. Some of the dreams are small–like painting my house the colors I always wanted. Some of the dreams are big, like learning a whole new way of being. Some are quite practical, like living a simple life where I grow my own food, make my own music, and make my own quilts to keep us warm. Some are too tender and precious to speak out loud. But all of them are demanding action, like the cats meowing for their food, like the Brazilian workers demanding justice. It is enough to make me want to run and hide from myself.

But a funny thing happens. Wherever I run, there I am and there too are the dreams I carry with me.

And the only thing to do, is to do what is in front of me, step by step, bit by bit, word by word, bird by bird, breath by great big breath.

2 Responses to “Wherever you go”

  1. Trish Says:

    You are a gem. visionary. and a love.


  2. Diane Says:

    this was a pinch in my arm. amen!