Saturday, June 9, 2012

Butterfly Wings

There's this story that somebody told me one time, and since then it's made the rounds on facebook several times, and it's all over the internet. You can see one version of it here:

The story in short is this: A man sees a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon and tries to help it, with really pretty heartbreaking results. 

In some versions of this story, the butterfly dies immediately. In other versions, it just wanders around crippled for its short miserable life, but in either case the moral of the story is that we need to struggle in order to gain our wings.  

It's one of those stories that has become ubiquitous precisely because of the comfort and even some degree of justification it  offers to those of us struggling or close to someone  who's struggling, which is to say, everyone. And you know, it just sounds so damn inspirational. But here's the thing -- I am not a butterfly. 

I'm pretty sure I won't suddenly die or be crippled if someone offers me a helping hand now and again, nor do I believe my help dooms another to a life of flacid mediocrity or, you know, death. In fact, as I sit here thinking about this, I realize that just the opposite is true. The reason I've made it this far, and have accomplished anything at all with my life is because at every critical juncture, someone was there to encourage me, to support me, and to assure me that in fact I do have wings and that it is my birthright to soar. 

So, to those of you who have been there in the past and to those of you who are here now, love and gratitude. 

Bless you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Leonard Cohen Interview

Just came across this interview of Leonard Cohen. Speaks deeply to me at the moment.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Begin Again

I want to blaze 
to streak across the night sky
in flame in glorious incandescence 
white-hot and fearless I want 
to dance until I'm breathless with
sweat rolling down my back between
my breasts into my eyes
I want to laugh
until I cry
and cry
until I empty out become
a small brown husk 
weightless and bouyant
in a wild wind
I want to sing too loud
stay up all night talking
watch the sun rise
on mystery 
and awe
and endless possibility  I
want to touch 
that sweet raw wound
where the music coils
and recoils I want to touch
and be touched
and there
until my skin burns 
and the world folds into itself 
like velvet origami and
the sky collapses
and I fall to earth
to begin again. 


© 2011 Tessa Murphy McKay


Friday, August 12, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight

Many many many years ago, I ran away from home and found myself in a small town in the high desert in an old mining town that had become a haven for artists and hippies. I was nineteen. When I arrived there, nobody knew who I was, and the rules that had defined my life no longer applied. I had no idea what I was doing, I had nobody telling me what to do, and I literally had no no idea what was going to happen next. It was terrible and wonderful and the person I became there is the me I respect.  When I was 22 or so, I left.  I loved the place but I had my whole life ahead of me.  Many of the people there had come to hide, and I didn't want to hide.

Turns out there are lots of ways to hide. You can hide in a small town in the desert, or in your dreams, or other people's dreams, or in "what the world expects." You can hide without anyone, including yourself, noticing that some important part of you is no longer present. Recently I've discovered you can hide especially well in the past, and in regret.

I have no idea what comes next in my life, where I'm headed or what I'm going to do but I'm tired of hiding. The last time I found myself in this place, I was 19. And I was terrified. That's probably a good thing to remember.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sisters of Mercy

So much going on in my life these days, most of it invisible to the naked eye. This song speaks to me right now.

"Sisters Of Mercy"

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long.
Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how you're pinned:
When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you've sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
Don't turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
We weren't lovers like that and besides it would still be all right. 

-- Leonard Cohen

Friday, July 29, 2011

Still Fighting, Maybe

Last night John asked me if I was thinking of giving up. I told him I was pretty sure I had already given up. He pointed out that I still made soap, and was still trying to launch my incense. I explained that the alternative is for me to crawl inside my head and live there. I have a vivid imagination, so that's a lot more doable than it might sound. He insists that until I do actually crawl inside my head for good, I'm still fighting. So okay. I'm still fighting. Doesn't sound much like fighting to me. Sounds kind of wimpy. 

I'm perfectly fine as long as I don't actually think about my life. Usually I'm a lot better at doing that than I have been lately. 

You Were Once Wild

You were once wild. Don't let them tame you!  -- Isadora Duncan 

Over and over again in my life, change comes sneaking up on me. Sometimes I welcome it with open arms. Most times I do not. Rather than face an uncertain future, I let my fear lead me around and around in an ever tightening circle of misery and doubt and free-floating angst. You'd think that after 54 years, I'd have figured out that the future is always uncertain, and that avoidance only postpones the inevitable, and postpones it painfully. You'd think I'd learn that the harder I fight, the more brutal the change. But no. Every time, the same paralysis, indecision, and self-inflicted agony. I'm amazed, sometimes, that I've had any kind of life at all, and done any of the things I've done. I've done them by letting my dreams and aspirations germinate just beneath the surface of my consciousness until they're coiled to spring at the first opportunity, propelling me forward too fast for the fear to kick in.  
Change is knocking at my life again. And knocking. And knocking. And it must be a doozy this time because it's been knocking louder and louder for years, and my fear is so big, it's drowning everything else out. I think it's going to hurt this time. I think it's going to hurt a lot.