To speak of it

When a soul gets in a Bronco with a bulldog and starts driving, unencumbered from most things for the moment - how does she speak of what is happening?

Do I tell you that I have been in 7 states in the last 2 month?  About the music, hot chicken, laughter, scooter adventures, family, old friends, new friends, coffee shops, gas stations, scenery and life life life that has poured through me?

Do I tell the story of the woods in Tennessee where I met beautiful souls who fed me fresh venison & lions mane mushrooms and taught me the phrase “we’ll just take it as it comes”?  Should I tell you about finding a copperhead in a woodpile and in my innocence, not knowing enough to be afraid?

Should I tell you about how the trees taught me about acceptance?  Do I speak of the moment just before sunset when the trees appeared to be strung with fairy lights?  Or what it was like to be without people, screens, clocks or running water for 3 days? What is the best way to say that there is anything but silence in the middle of nowhere?  

Should I share with you how I camped on a bluff in Alabama and met a wonderful man named Zeb that wears overalls, eats squirrels and had been on a walkabout of his own?  

Do you want to know about 2 days in an Airstream trailer in Georgia - during which I existed purely on homemade pico de gallo, guacamole and air conditioning?

How do I tell you how hot it was when we broke down on the side of the road in Florida and there were fire ants on my feet, but 3 people showed up to help me - one of whom was missing a front tooth, is an avid supporter of gun rights and asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ?  This same man who loved his job helping people and before we parted ways, looked at me and said, “know how you change the world? One person at a time.”

Or the tow truck driver: a great mass of a man with a fiery red beard & BOSS tattooed on his knuckles and sparkling blue eyes - who hails from a long line of long-haul truckers and was one of the kinder, gentler people I have ever met.  

How do I talk about the fact that I have met people in the last few weeks, who on paper & by belief or background are radically different from me - and I have felt completely held by them?  How do I tell you that I feel tenderness for them all and gratitude and that I smile when I think of them?

How do I tell you that I have felt more like them than different from them?

a love note

I love

...writing on paper with a pen.  Page after page, pouring out utter nonsense & pure poetry into the safety of the grain.

...the way my soul was calls out to broken old barns and the way the yearning to straighten their boards, prop them up and smooth them over with my palms comes bounding from my marrow.

…air hankies

...walking through the mountains alone.

...walking through fields with humans who talk of the big, shimmering ideas and challenges of our humanness.

...Moose Crossing signs of all kinds.

...drinking coffee in the chill and quiet of the morning.  This love cannot be overstated.

...the way a feeling from a dream stays with me, just below my skin for hours and days on end.  

...folding warm laundry.  

now you see me....

Close your eyes, take a deep breath.

Remember that moment when you were not at your best.  Your posture, the way your body felt, what was happening in your mind, the words that came out of your mouth, how you felt afterward.  And the person on the other side of the table sees you at your worst. They see you as worse than your best. Perhaps they get angry, or shutdown or both.  They dismiss you. They label you.

One more deep breath.  Reset and…

...remember that moment when you were not at your best.  Your posture, the way your body felt, what was happening in your mind, the words that came out of your mouth, how you felt afterward. And the person on the other side of the table sees your earnestness, your care, your fear, your drive, and your heart.  They don’t see you as worse. They don’t see you as not at your best.

They simply and profoundly see. you.

Note: you can cannot make someone see you.  
Inquiry: how can you be one who sees?

What a dance.

In the last 2 weeks, I have traveled roughly 1100 miles. About 100 of them have been by train. About 20 by foot. The rest in the Bronco.

I’ve stood on the tops of 3 mountains:
a snow-covered peak, so windy that ice was coming off of the trees: fulfilled exhaustion & empty legs.
a quiet, gentle slope overlooking a tree-filled valley with the sound of a dog barking in the distance: silent revelry & leaf crunch.
a bracing and gorgeous wind-filled rock face looking right down on the Hudson River: gasping overwhelm of full heart & almost tears. Wow.

My assessment of intimacy until now has been a rudimentary equation:

If it feels good, it’s good = I should stay
If it feels bad, it’s bad = I should leave.

But intimacy is a wily gal. She changes her face and her tone. She expands and contracts. She’s never only one thing. She is never ending. She and I are getting to know each other - I’m standing on her feet while she teaches me to dance.

I wanted to (metaphorically) leave two people this week. Because I was uncomfortable and challenged by the story I was writing about intimacy. I was calling her a red flag. She doesn’t care for that.

I wanted them to make it easy for me to quit on them - I was practically waiting for them to give me the go-ahead to high tail it out of IntimacyLand and back to the safety of Alone. They buggered up my plans, because they both made it really hard for me to quit. They showed up. They held space. They met me in the mess. They invited me to dance.

It was horrible. And lovely. I panicked, I writhed, I sighed. And I was so in love with intimacy as she picked me up and twirled me around, that I giggled and shrieked out of joy.

What a fucking rollercoaster ride. What a wild embrace to fall into over and over again.

What a dance.

The next edge

[Molly Radio: Walk Me Home, P!nk]

Tuesday, I packed it all up, loaded up the Bronco and headed North.

Several moments of what the hell am I doing and is this real life peppered in amongst singing at the top of my lungs and taking in the moonrise on my way to Framingham, MA (or if you say it backwards: Mahgnimarf), where I fell into the arms of a dear friend. And this is really the first time since leaving my flat last fall that the question of where I might sleep any given night is anything but a given.

I don’t have to be anywhere. I can be anywhere. So how do I decide? Following my internal magnets - and leaning into the pull. This adventure is not about planning - it is about not planning. It’s about trusting that I will know where I’m supposed to go when I’m supposed to know and not a moment before. The ambiguity and the unknown still grabs my chest and my throat. Each time the grip tightens, that’s the next edge: the only one to jump off of - until the next arises.

Meet me in the darkness (and the light)

[Molly Radio: Melt, Big Red Machine]

The best way I know to describe love is by recalling that moment when someone meets me in my darkness in equal measure to my light.

Until recently, I didn’t know it was even possible for another human to do that. I hadn’t experienced it. I hadn’t let it in. And it wasn’t until a particularly brave and wonderful soul celebrated me in my darkness, that I thought it was even possible. I saw darkness. They saw light.

After experiencing this kind of love - I believed that it came only from the outside. Time and again over the last few weeks, that belief was challenged - how could something like this be unidirectional? Love can’t possibly operate exclusively from the outside, in.

And so began the exploration of relentlessly honoring my own darkness. My own pain. My own fear. Honoring it. Celebrating it. Giving it space to throb and shine in all of it’s painful, dark, scary glory. And it was dark, painful, scary and glorious. I wrote in a previous post that there are things that I could do for myself, but didn’t have to do alone. This was one of those things.

On the other side, I was feeling quite proud of myself. I had found the key! Reached the top of the mountain. Until today - when my belief was challenged yet again (by another phenom of a human) to honor, not my darkness, but my light. It was painful, scary and glorious.

As hard as it was to dive into the dark places, sitting in the light feels even more bizarre. In a squirmy, face-scrunching kind of way. Here’s the thing I don’t want to type, so I’ll type it: I’m afraid of being too big.

Unsure of what do do next, I think I’ll just sit here - gloriously uncomfortable, afraid and completely sure that…

there’s always more.

Die Empty

Why am I doing this?

As soon as I share with anyone that I’ve given up my flat and most of my possessions to “go full nomad” I get two responses, in this order:

  1. I wish I could do that

  2. Why are you doing it?

As I consider the irony that those two questions emerge from one human in one breath - I am called back to my own experience...I wished I could do it.  

Now.  Why am I doing this?

Ephemeral answer: to have more of that which is precious and sacred in this life

Intellectual answer: to find out what I want and where I want to live

Ephemeral answer #2: for the feeling of something

Intellectual answer #2: to expand and challenge my worldview in pursuit of connection

#realtalk - because if I didn’t, I’d regret it. Intuition tells me that this holds something for me.  I’m holding the doors of my heart open with all my might to receive whatever that is.

I am a seeker.

I am a questioner.

And as soon as I have a question, it is impossible for me to not seek out the next question.  And the next one. And the one after that.

Yesterday, I was in Dubai.  One of my first experiences after I landed was listening to a beautiful Emirati woman speak on a stage.  As she spoke in Arabic, I couldn’t understand her words, but felt their meaning. Towards the end, amongst the slew of words I didn’t know, I heard her say, “die empty”.  More Arabic. And again, “die empty”. Four or five times, I heard this phrase “die empty.” The Emirati man sitting next to me leaned over and translated: “She is speaking about the most valuable piece of land on earth - it is the graveyard” he said.  “The people and bodies are placed into the ground with knowledge, ideas and knowing still within them. She is saying the importance of sharing your ideas, of using your voice.”

As I considered why I am where I am, what it’s all for - It rang in my head with the clarity of a bell:

die empty

To Return, but Not Go Back

[Molly Radio: Home, Pt. 1, Justin Jay]

This week, I came back to London.

I can trace so much of my recent unfolding to the last time I was here.

It was on the way to London in June 2018 that I met a stranger, talked to him for the entire flight in the dim cabin and found in him, a dear friend.

It was in a tiny room in a tiny flat on a dark night that I decided to apply to the altMBA, sure that I wouldn't be accepted - sure that I wouldn't be pushed to leap.

It was on the tarmac at the end of that trip where I sat in tears, desperately sad to be leaving and decided to challenge all of my ideas about home.

It was on that trip that pieces of my sleeping self started to stir in the mist of London mornings.

When I landed again at Heathrow, it all came rushing back. And I was confronted with the fact that the Molly Strong who just landed in London is materially different than she who came on a whim in 2018.

In more ways than I know how to share here, I have returned to something old. Something old, that isn't old. Something old that feels new again, because I am new.

The life, the beauty and the complexity that is simply pouring out of every moment has me quite breathless.

Sadness came when I realized: I cannot go back to her. She is safely ensconced in the past. But oh, how I have returned to her...and in that return, found the joy.

Returned to her bravery, her spirit and said to her: thank you for making me possible.

The Things You Say at the End

Several selves contributed to this week’s endeavors. Each day, a different one shared their voice. The first day was anger. The second day was sadness. Today, there is more space. Each version is important. And this is the stuff.

First, my anger wrote:

How many times have we become kinder when the thing is about to be over?

How many times have we become braver, knowing that we wouldn't have to sustain the bravery of being vulnerable beyond this moment?

What is that? Why do we wait. Why do we find it untenable to be honest all the way through? And then, just when it's about to be over, we give it our all - we throw caution to the wind, we have this "last chance", this "defining moment" to share all, be all and be true.

What. a. bunch. of. malarky. Hogwash. And stupid protective BS that only prevents us from connecting and shedding a layer of our precious egos. Ugh.

Second, my sadness wrote:

I was angry when I wrote that and mostly angry because most endings are quiet. Silent little things that don't do the thing itself justice. One last breath and the soft closing of a door.

I have a lot of tears for this. I intend to cry every single. last. one. of. them. And I am crying all of the tears that are worthy of this thing. And I will cry until I'm done crying.

I couldn't look at you yesterday. I wanted to pick a fight with you and you knew it and you just kept going, gently along.

Finally, my space wrote:


Navigating the distance

...between my expectations and what is.

...between (my perception of) the expectation of others and my current set of choices

...between the story I'm currently telling myself and the myriad others that I could choose.

...between me and this person. And this person. And that person.

...between me and my own heart.

When the distance goes from short to what feels like very far.

When it goes from comfortable to too close.

When it feels like loss.

When it feels like gain.

When it feels like work to be close or far.

And when you remember, it's all the same.

[Molly Radio: The Distance, Cake]

The inverse of lonely

[Molly Radio: Only You, Maths Time Joy, JMR]

You may recall the exquisite solitude that I experienced in Kyoto. I do. I remember it in my bones. The rich, deep vibration of it. The feeling of connection. The momentary understanding that all things are one thing.

And then, there was Tokyo. This bustling, insane city. Offerings pouring out of its building and its tiny back alleys. Lights and screens and very organized subway maps. Highly-curated chaos, arranged in an elegant code - if only I knew the decryption key.

The solitude was not exquisite. I wouldn't even want to give it the beautiful title of solitude. I was just alone. I felt stale and tired: a dull husk rather than an orb of light. I thought I was just ready to come home, fatigued and yearning for familiarity.

It wasn't until I got back to my family that I could give this feeling a name - I had been lonely in Tokyo. What flipped the lonely switch to "off" as soon as I walked in the door? Was it this wonderful house? The hugs? Faces happy to see me? The smells? The light? The washer/dryer? All of sudden I felt...what is the inverse of lonely?

It's an odd thing this concept of lonely....I can be by myself, no other humans around and be gleeful and in awe and connection and feel whatever the inverse of lonely is called. I can be in a room with one other person or 20 other people and feel deeply and profoundly a.l.o.n.e. Unseen and far away from anything that feels like whatever the inverse of lonely is called.

So what is it that creates on condition or the other? Is it a sliding scale or a switch?