Sunday, March 13, 2011

In The Shadow of the Crone

Here I sit celebrating the evening of my 55th birthday drinking a homemade cappuccino,eating a so-so previously frozen crab cake and watching my Rock God muse Rick Springfield  live-streamed from the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville...and I'm happy. The concert is the frosting on the birthday cake I didn't buy or make myself, the link sent by a Facebook friend minutes before I was going to sign off  the computer out of boredom.Serendipity intervened once again, because I was going to finish my coffee and put the other half of the disappointing excuse for a crab cake into the fridge for later and go to bed.

I am happy- but have the gnawing feeling that I ought to be doing something other than stuffing my face and watching a video for my 55th birthday-what I don't know exactly. The world has become a very scary place in the last few days after a catastrophic earthquake in Japan and the resulting rupture of nuclear reactors. So many have died, and their confused spirits fill the air crying out, which is disconcerting  for this empath. What to do? Scaling Mount Everest is out of the picture. Spending time with my BFF Melinda would have been fun, but she's sidelined. Maybe I should have bought myself a bunch of flowers or something. I feel unsettled and I'm not sure why: 55 should be a milestone birthday.

When I am aware of my mortality, I know that the shadow of the Crone is stretching out over me. In a few years I will be old, provided the societal "they" don't move back the boundary of when we Baby Boomers cross out of middle age again. Right now I have the right to a free birthday  meal at Denny's and a membership in Elderhostel. Where are all those other senior discounts? I guess I need something to look forward to in the future.

My inner teenager is riveted to the computer screen as Rick Springfield jumps, spins and bounces his way through a litany of power pop/rock songs, stopping only to make self-depreciating remarks and raunchy jokes with the audience of women (and a few men) who are my age.Our age. We've grown up together, Rick and I; there is a vague feeling of recognition and sadness that I probably won't be spending my 60th birthday watching him in concert. The shadow of the Crone is lengthening over my girlhood hero, too,who is now in his 60's. Posting to his online blog the other day, his tone melancholy and  serious. Rick wrote:" I feel I will see my sweet Gomer( his canine companion of 14 years who died) soon...either he's coming back to me, or I'm going to him. Maybe I'm going to kick the bucket soon." That's not over-dramatic attention seeking on his part: it's the life long chronic depression Rick and I share talking. I have called mine The Darkness since my early twenties. It worsened when I was attacked a few years ago and had to start a long course of medication and therapy. Things level out for a period, then The Darkness finds a way back into my head and screws with me.And it enjoys every second of it, too. Compounding this is the fact that if I vocalize that I am feeling depressed to those around me, they instantly respond with some version of " Why? Look at what you have."

Oh, goody...depression and guilt. Yum...

By all accounts and my own admission, I've had an incredibly successful life. I've done nearly everything I set out to do and have had several careers in areas I am passionate about:teaching, healing and spirituality among them. I have not only met most all of the people I grew up admiring, I have been extraordinarily fortune to have nurtured deep relationships with several of them along the way. I in no way want to sound flip, but it was simply a matter of setting a goal and achieving it on my part. Those who I knew and loved-now gone- live on in me and through me as I continue the work we cherished together today. But the Darkness doesn't care about what I have achieved, it cares about the things that were passed over along the way, and it finds a crack in my armor, and sticks a bony finger in to probe the wound and make it bleed. Damn it!

The Darkness is poking at me tonight as I watch Rick and think about how a CD of his helped to break through the pall of hurt and anger after the assault  a few years ago.The songs on the album didn't relate, but the sonic vibe that was the undercurrent did. Rick and I bonded virtually in those evenings we were angry and pissed off together, driven by the atrocities of ourselves and others against us. It scared the hell out of my Darkness and  at the time it felt as if I'd sent the Darkness packing. At it least put a fair amount of distance between us so I could get around the corner out of sight. Momentarily giving the Darkness the slip was a major accomplishment on my part when all I really wanted to do was just curl up into a little ball until I disappeared, and I was pretty proud of myself for having the intestinal fortitude to pull it off. I was and am thankful that at least there was one other human being in the world who seemed to understood what I was feeling and who could articulate those emotions-and I had the opportunity to tell Rick in person face to face one day before a concert. I  know there are millions of others who suffer from the same feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness I do, but the intimacy of that connection through the music will always belong to RS, since coincidentally, he identifies his depression in the third person as Mr. D-the Darkness.

The concert is over and there are three of us sitting it  the room-the Crone, the Darkness and me.  They are on either side of me, and instinctively I want to reach out to the Crone for protection, but I am afraid the darkness will notice and poke me harder. Finally I decide to go to my altar and meditate. The Crone doesn't immediately follow but the Darkness does...Damn it again. It sits a few feet away picking at scabs and generally causing a disturbance as I battle what Buddhists call 'monkey mind', the inability to focus and release thoughts which inhibit the meditation process. My monkeys don't just create mind chatter, they swing from trees screaming. Finally I get up and go to the fridge in search of some wine for my ritual cup but end up filling it with milk, and I head back to the sacred space to meditate. The Darkness is curious and tries to come closer, but I have managed to focus on the scent of the milk and it's coolness, which allows the Crone to come in. The Darkness backs away and fades, and it's just the Dark Mother and me, and mortality.

" You're beyond the middle now, your life is more than halfway over," she whispers, "We don't know where the time goes, but it cannot be wasted." I try to think of something good and noble to plan, but nothing comes. The milk is good and comforting, and I can relax now that the Crone is standing between the Darkness and I.
I feel I should be doing something of some great importance that will make a difference to others but can't for the life of me fathom what that should be. I don't feel very heroic or existential at the moment. In fact, I feel like I did when I was 16 years old and was listening to Rick Springfield on my tiny AM radio, confused and unsure about what was to become of my life but awfully excited to be on the threshold non the less.

Maybe that's the right way to feel at 55, too...confused and unsure about what's next but eager and excited to open the door and step across the threshold to the rest of my life. The Crone nods and smiles; her shadow enfolds me and takes me in. I am now a part of her, a Crone myself. Instantly, I know what I need to spend the rest of my life doing...being me. That's all, just being authentically Kate and giving myself away to who and whatever has a need in the Universe. It is enough.

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