“ ‘D’you want to change?’
‘It’s the only evidence of life.’”
- Eveyln Waugh, “Brideshead Revisited”
evolution, adaptation, and ink
(life is full. change is happening. let’s cross over together)
- i’m in the changed and changing place. the watching as this moment in time spins its orbit and sets me into the next incarnation, place.
there is, in the chaos, the most sublime clarity. not of what to do or what comes next. but of what matters and what you will one day remember in its stunning ordinary honesty. the way my coffee is now cold in my cup, but i’ll finish off those last three sips all the same. and what the weight of her personhood and presence felt like last night, skin against skin. and knowing the edge of a thing, where you end and another begins. and how when we talked on the phone last night, his voice changed. and the smell of incense spilling out of the church, as if it might have the power to call forth the thaw of the frozen.
to have the routines disrupted, is to wake up and fall in love with reality, again and again and again. and sometimes it hurts, so so much. and sometimes it is the reconciliation of finding and being found. things change. we change. there is no way out. thank god. so let’s enter more fully in.
- “What I came to understand is that change is not a choice, not for a species of plant, not for me. It happens, and you are different.” - Charlie Kaufman
- Adaptation- noun
1. the act of adapting.
2. the state of being adapted; adjustment.
3. a form or structure modified to fit a changed environment.
4. an alteration in the structure or function of an organism or any of its parts that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive in its environment.
- it is revising. reconstruction. it is mending in the presence of the breaking. it is the ways of water and fire.
this is not our origin myth.
this is even beyond the survival myth.
this is the life force myth, the beginning already begun, and something has been now set in motion.
- so yes. even the in the face of destruction. of endings. of change both chosen and unforeseen and unwanted, make something. even as the scissors cut it into pieces, sew something. mending and making as the most revolutionary act of evolution possible.
- my changes now are one’s of agency and commitment to be true to my path. they are changes of choice, of unfurling into the next evolutions. they are hard won, that i had to work for, asking everything, and they are some kind of grace.
and i’m only here because of what i was willing to do all those years ago.
and so there is always the deeper question that is the groundwater of all change.
why did i survive, and others did not?
and is this a question of biology, or philosophy, or psychology? or is it matter of poetry? measures and beats; syntax and symbol; hoping that the language is, if not direct representation, some kind of arrow pointing the way in the dark toward the thing we are all circling around, until we stumble or are thrown into the holy of holies and no one comes out of there alive.
maybe it is all of these, an interwoven womb of ways of understanding, and our insistence in creating ever narrower divisions of specialization is just one more way we have attempted to adapt to what is vast and ultimately unknowable. so we learn to see only from our own lens, pretending our narrowness is a pathway to truth.
it is life, i want to say. it is the movement, always, towards life. sometimes, this is called survival. i call it faith.
- and so next thing you know, you are by the ocean of the west coast, where sun comes in every morning as if it doesn’t know how to not exist, and where women wrap themselves around one another like long love stories. and she looks at you and says, “you look different” and you think, i feel different, so thank you, for noticing. and then you are branding the symbol on your skin, because ink is one way to honor the changed and changing, leaving a living narration.
it is a small triangle tattoo, to the left side of the inside of the left wrist. lines that connect and intersect. how there is wholeness, but then there is completeness. which is its own thing. within, without, open and contained, edged and intimacy.
if you look up from below, from the outside looking for in, it is pointed up to sky, which is fire. and how, after so many years of fight, my heat gets to burn quiet inside, just for me. if you look from below, from outside, you can see how the fire isn't an offering, its an origin. no need to diffuse energy and burn out; just the smolder of my own creative life force, contained. complete.
if you look from inside to out, from above to below, you see the triangle choosing, pointed up toward me and the blood line, inverse which is water. this then is the way through the world. to keep the heat and offer out in fluidity, shape shifting and never forgetting. be like water. to welcome the change. to know you get to keep the definition in the clarity of your complete lines, and still let this life hold you like salt water that saves skin, let your heart love like the storm that comes in the thick is heat, like lightning and drench and the steam that rises, released.
triangles. the holy door. symbols that are evolving stories.
- because to be unwilling to change is a kind of abandonment of ourselves. to choose to hold onto something that has long wanted to leave or change shapes, simply because it is familiar and known, is to turn against ourselves, our own movement toward life which is forever evolving. so let it. participate in it. do not abandon yourself by denying your own evolution.
- if you ask me what evolution looks like, i would say, come look at the walls of the room where i sleep now. under the bed grow the roots of the dandelion, which is the resolute resiliency of my origins. but look at the walls. a room full of orchids. the great unapologetic and elegant sprawl of them. their dormancy and insistence on extravagance. their humid hot house ways, requiring a certain kind of love, and when that happens, they can’t help themselves but to expand into their own becoming. i would say, evolution is the room full or orchids. and this will only really make sense, if you know the origins of what came before them. and it will only be understood if you know their invitation for what follows.
- so what do we keep? what do we release? what to hold in our fists as we walk through the door, and what do we leave behind like offerings at the alter of the living?
“The great mystery of adaptation is that true fidelity can only be achieved through lavish promiscuity.” – David Hare
if you want to be true to the essence of what once was, to the substance you are changing (whether a book to a screenplay, or your own self to a new way of being) then you’d better stretch yourself wide open for a while and let it all come in. only then will you know what still belongs, and what can be left behind. only then will you understand the new order in which the pieces fit. only then will the devotion come through with the integrity of one willing to be lost for a time inside the changing.
- this past weekend i was on the mountain and in the woods. i watched as snow fell heavy and the words you thought you’d never hear but always needed were uttered to you, your name coming from their mouth, and something set right inside by knowing that you were not all the way alone those years ago. we made it. and it was worth it.
the thing is, real change is so, so slow. and then in that moment, it seems to come all at once, fast, a rush as the train whooshes by with force enough to blow hair off your face and when you stand there and open your mouth, the sound echoes out in vibrations from the sheer force of the movement of metal rushing against track and air. and i saw myself at fifty-eight, and seventy-six. and i saw all these moments of my life yet to come. these sublime and ecstatic moments, these terribly ordinary and quiet moments which cause a rupture in the heart’s ground only after the fact when you understand just how alive it was to stand in the street and call out after her and how nothing happened but that look on her face when she turned around, how it was everything. and i understood that in all the changes, all those that are part of my adaptation, my survival into the living, and all those that are rich with the becoming that is this moment right here and now, there is nothing to figure out. there is just being here, in the living of this life. and the life. oh dear god. it was magnificent.
- and now it is now. changed and changing. i am sitting here in my new space, where there are still boxes to unpack and things waiting to find their places of belonging in a great many ways, and i’m also home. i am sitting here in the room full or orchids. i am sitting here knowing i have a right to come and sit and feast at this table. i am sitting here soaking in the change.
the triangle is the way of the third way. which is what i have chosen and what has chosen me. what i am creating and what comes and calls after me. what i found in the questions of my own survival and what i know of my own adaptation. something complete. and so it evolves. and so i fall in love again.
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species