There’s something comforting about the sound of the weather person reciting the forecast. She rattles through, state after state, and her voice becomes like a drumming in the back of my mind, while I go in – in where I feared to go before. And before I feared it, I was oblivious to it. Oh yes, there were those that spoke of it, but they spoke as if it were chocolate pudding; tangible and accessible, somewhere on the outside. So I kept walking through my life, spoon in hand, and tried to believe. I had no choice, you know. Because if one has nothing to believe in, then there would be no need to keep walking. And personally, I like to walk. I like the way it moves my heart into action and I become aware of each beat. It all became something so real, yet so unlike chocolate pudding, one day in April. I’d gone to a local quilt show. I do love quilts. All those fabrics and all that thread, all brought together to form a unique and comforting picture. There is something to me so comforting about the feel of fabric between my fingers, but at the show, I was so aware of the creative energy flowing through the rooms and into me.
I attended the show with my sister, mother, and mother-in-law, and halfway through the display, we stopped for coffee in the concession room where we were surprised to see old friends and old acquaintances. Each was anxious to share their stories and to hear ours. I felt as if I’d been in exile and suddenly was being welcomed back.
While we rested our backs and legs, sitting at a table drinking coffee, a local world-renouned artist approached. She was an acquaintance through business and the local woman’s club with my sister, so they began to discuss fund raising and programs to be scheduled. I sat staring at her, and although I’ve never been one to think I would swoon over a celebrity, I was drawn in by her energy and realized that she was an artist who was known worldwide, and here I was, sitting in the same room, at the same table, just talking with her as if she were my neighbor. I realized I was a bit starstruck. But more so, I was fascinated how humble, human and full of love this woman seemed to be.
As we chatted, she revealed that she had just gone through breast cancer treatment and reconstruction. She told of her experience and how it took her art to a whole new level. She told us that the calendar that she created while going through chemotherapy revealed more of her than any of her art had ever revealed. And I knew what she meant. She had found her soul. She had found the chocolate pudding. Without her spoon ready, she had dug in with paintbrush and pencil and was now wearing it all over. After this artist left us, we all agreed that speaking with her was very moving.
When we walked outside after the show, the sun was shining, and as one does in April in the midwest, we were all ready to celebrate this bright warmth shining down upon us. I wanted to twirl and scream. I felt that I was flying high. Was it the sunshine, the caffeine from the coffee or all that creative energy? And in that moment, in that question, I realized that for the first time in my life, I felt my authentic reality. The chocolate pudding was all over me and in me, and I realized at that moment, too, that I had been searching for something that was buzzing in my chest every day. It had been keeping me awake at night, and I had even been tempted to take medication to make that feeling go away! Yet in this moment, I realized that this was my life force; the one that I had been searching for, but was too distracted with children, husband, job and, well, life. And that was what I felt this artist had found through the crisis of cancer. She had found her soul.
I had a knowing at that moment, too, that it was time for me to find this freedom of life within me, this authentic life force. And I felt a sadness that it had taken me this long to find it, although I also knew that had I not lived the life I’ve lived, and gone through all the trials and the searching that I have, I would not have found this authentic reality. To feel such a presence of my soul is a scary thing at times. I have kept myself above it and away from it, staring at it through my magnifying glass like it is some strange growth, something that needs to be removed or quieted. But when I let it take me in, I find a feeling deeper and more like peace and freedom than anything I have ever known.
I used to pray for freedom. I made it my password on e-mail and tried to make it my focus. And now I have realized that it is just a matter of time, of letting go of the fear, and moving into this next phase of my life. To let myself move through that scary feeling that the quivering of my soul can bring with its unknown presence brings me to a place of trust and quiet, something like I feel heaven must symbolize. And in that, I find a freedom like nothing I have ever imagined.