I’m sitting on the fourth floor of the library, facing west. The just-risen sun is washing liquid gold over my shoulder and into the platinum strands of my hair, and I’d still be facing that way if it didn’t make it so hard to look at my laptop screen. It is 9am. By the time I’m done writing this, it will be 10am, and I’ll have an hour to complete a summary I was supposed to write two weeks ago, for today. Awake since 6:30, with far too much coffee in me for my own good. It is a Thursday morning in late October.
I come to you today, whomever you are, as a form of prayer. A spiritual, otherworldly beckoning had me running up the rainbow stairs this morning whilst blasting EDM remixes through my headphones. I’m someone who can sleep in until noon if left to do so, who detests mornings, as if they are a savage enemy relentlessly seeking pleasure for my suffering. Something larger than myself has come over me today. This is prayer, for an ex-catholic atheist who burns candles on my windowsill for charging earth elements in the smoke. Prayer for a survivor of at least third-generation mental illness, primitive unconstituted witness of domestic violence, doomed carrier of bad mothering genes. Prayer for a brash woman of colour with birthright citizenship to an overapologetic country of privilege, its aggressions microscopic and humming, its racism smoothed over in buttercream on ten provincial and terriorital cupcakes of colonial Eurocentric egotism. I have fired more therapists than I have had jobs myself. Well, no, maybe they’re on par with each other. I have fired therapists, mostly white women, who have sat pompously in front of me on the throne of their masters degrees, laying diagnoses on me they were unqualified to quantify, determined never to give me any drugs and to find no shortage of eloquent terminology for “shut the fuck up princess, get over it.” I would’ve taken to that better. I tell you this because before I learned I could pray through breathing, venerate through writing, praise the unknown and the known through the vessel by which I do know, I surrendered to a system which mercilessly broke my already-fragmented family, and extended no more mercy when it pounded my broken, twisted parts down to dust.
Stardust. My acupuncturist explained to me that it’s what we all are. It’s mythical-sounding science for the composition of stars in the sky, glowing disasters, and how whatever those distant storms are made of happen to be what lives in all of our imperfect, human bones. For that reason, along with many of my own, I feel empowered day by day to redefine what I have been taught to be God-words. I never capitalize the g in god anymore, but I just did so you know where this is going. If you are religious and you’re already miffed about what I’ve said so far, leave this page, and go to your church and pray.
If you’re still with me, hear my prayer, even though you are no lord. You are no more special than me, an equally coddled and crushed millennial born with dreams far bigger than herself. Who came of age in an age where everyone was special, and therefore, no one was. But we all are. Is that what I want to say? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I believe it. I have a feeling that if I say what I want to say next, you’re going to judge me, and I’m probably right because you’re human and well, I’m special. Not everyone is special. Not everyone is exceptional, extraordinary, wildly talented, devastatingly emotional, frighteningly intuitive, “Crazy.” But I am. Proudly, honestly. And suddenly my voice has just shifted from the coddled millennial still reeking of stale catholic guilt to the confident, forest-nymph goddess I found in and around myself last winter, when I did a strange thing and moved to Salt Spring Island, “to be a writer.”
What the hell was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. I found my way to the west coast by following my heart and listening to it as it whispered. The day I heard the call – my own – I was on a plane and on about as much coffee as I’m on right now. I’d slept less. It was July 23rd and the longest day of my life, literally, because I had spent half of it in Japan/the Incheon airport and flown westward across the Pacific to repeat the same day in Seattle. Of course that will make a person crazy. Throw in the fact that July 23rd was a Saturday and I backpacked around Pike Place Market on a weekend at the height of tourist season, which of course included a 35-minute wait in line outside the original Starbucks (I fucking hate Starbucks) so I could buy a mug from a disgruntled employee in my left hand and collect an iced diabetic coma in my right. The American dream. How did we get here, anyway? Oh yeah. Salt Spring. I talk about Salt Spring all the time and that isn’t what I want to talk about today. Salt Spring isn’t part of my prayer. There’s something sustaining about living on an island, but a bigger island, knowing that the return of traffic lights and properly paved streets didn’t mean the dissolution of my spirit. My fierce, flaming spirit. I don’t know if I like the word flaming. I’ll leave it there for now.
It’s been more than ten years since I said fuck you to a religion that felt the need to make its people weak for the image of a white man. It’s been just about ten years since I mentally checked out after my dad died, and that’s the end of that. I should’ve known. Mornings like this are a clue, something bigger than me is coming and it isn’t going to stop. It’s going to pick me up and take me for a ride, and sometimes that ride is made of flames and sometimes it’s water, and sometimes it’s pure grief or pure love or pure devastation. It’s always inspiring. Mornings when I’m comfortable thinking about death, almost in a meditative state, not unlike my dear Buddhist roommate with the deer skull on his dashboard. Mornings when the peace that came over me in those brief moments after surviving such painful death and loss and the consequent carnage of devastation is the same peace that settles over my shoulders, blanketing me in a gentle darkness that is warm and wise.
I come to you, whomever you are, with a prayer for your love and support. I pray this way because I’ve fired all my therapists, and the one perfect in-between of therapist and friend is now a real therapist in the cesspool of my hometown, but she is well. After she moved on and I moved on, I had to accept a life without a sounding board. A sounding board of a [white] woman with a psychology degree. It was unspoken, but I had to rise to a life where I was no longer a problem, no longer a product of unfortunate circumstances and several generations of poor planning and the snuffing of intuition. I was ready when it happened. Rise, I would: to the top of the CN tower to 40,000 feet into the clouds, down to my family crypt in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, and then out to the ocean, on a island, where a _____ soul like mine belongs.
This morning is a reawakening. It is another shedding of old skin, my heart a speeding meteor, an explosion waiting to happen, a magnificent one. Imagine the colours. Protect your eyes. Open your hearts and ears and hear my prayer, feel what I have inside me that’s ready to come out and change the world. Is that my millennial talking? My artist talking? My proud, catholic late grandmother talking? Who knows, who cares. I am all these people and things. Today, as I watch another ferry reach our departing shore, I take another sip of coffee (I know) and listen to two students speaking German as I type a little less madly. The whole world is closer to me than I think. I should not be fearful. I should be heart-centered, focused, brave, well. What else is there to be in a world filled with pain? With fear? With doubt? Why cry, why shy away, and why stifle what I’ve always known in my soul of souls to be true on mornings as perfect, as life-giving as these? I am healing more than the wounds on my own heart. I
Not because I’m afraid of being left or leaving, but because I always feel pressured to end these on some positive note. The truth is the coffee is starting to wear and I am 25 minutes ahead of schedule, so I’m going to work on that summary on a dreadfully boring article for a class in a discipline I have decided to drop, as of this morning. Oh yeah. That was my realization. That was the big awakening I wrote this all for. The prayer was for my decision not to pursue first nations studies as a major, because it isn’t my journey. I’ve always known what mine was.
I never needed your validation for that. Your love or support or your coddling words. I’m not the soft millennial you think I am, that I’ve been, for so long. I was going to do it anyway. I’ve learned that I don’t need everyone else’s input for my decisions. It’s the realization that you have the potential and the power inside of you that is terrifying and mad and brilliant all the same. That is worth sharing. That is worth putting out there. That makes it all worth it, and that’s why I’m here today. For all the reasons.
So, I’m gonna do it. I love you. Thanks for listening.