This May I've been musing on the idea of portals. A portal is, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary online: "a door or entrance, especially a large or imposing one." And this season in this part of the world always presents such a door. Everyday the landscape unfolds a little more and I'm keenly aware that this week is when the leaves go from bud to new tender green to lush full expression, and then it will be over. The summer branches will be here. And it is so beautiful and it is so terribly sad all at once. Though so brief, this seasonal portal ushers us into a whole new reality and indeed a new season of our lives, whether we see it as such or not.
And yet so often it is the not: we forget to pay attention to the power of a portal, seeing it as outside of us rather than a reflection of what's within. We sail along in the same course as ever before, not really happy but not really sad, this blandness covering up a deeper more terrifying sense that there's something more meaningful and beautiful meant for us in this lifetime – and though it would deliver us into a more true, whole, and authentic version of ourselves, it is, somehow, mostly too hard to face. And so we chug along.
At the start of this month I entered the last year of my 30s, which brought with it some reflections on a decade rife with change – change of location, jobs, relationship status, becoming a parent, and much more. Throughout the time as I was making these choices and building the life I now have, I always felt like my life was still ahead of me. Fatal flaw of my 30s season. And as 39 crested into reality, it hit me – and admittedly, I am a late bloomer here –
My life is now. It's. All. Happening. Right. Now.
I've always been vaguely interested in time travel, not so much in a sci-fi sense, but in the sense that through our chosen beliefs and internal landscapes we can step through the linear trajectories we find ourselves on and into parallel tracks: we are always one decision away from a major life change. True that daily we move through the world mostly choosing the same things – or almost the same things – and staying on our track. But we always have within us the power to change our time here, to trespass into other realities that are just as much ours. The things that keep us from this timeline jumping are myriad – some in our control, like self-limiting beliefs, some not, like systemic or environmental factors – yet there is always some modicum of possibility, or a range of possibilities available to us, no matter how small the shifts might be.
Staring into my last year of this wild and transformative decade, I've been thinking a lot about the portal ahead of me and how I want to live the next decade of my life. Around this time, I found myself listening to a podcast episode of We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle about the merits of sadness. And by sadness she means the intrinsic longing that lives inside of us: the part of us that feels sad when we see something beautiful, that has the capacity to feel stunned in certain moments by the sheer enormity of beauty and loss and imperfection and fleetingness of this great big and complicated world that we live in. She talks about sadness as stemming from an inner knowledge of a "truer and more beautiful world" that we each hold inside of us, a vision we dream of and long for. This vision is obviously different for each person, but the point is that this inner knowledge, this source of longing, is telling you a very important story about who you are.
So I suppose my offerings this month are towards this aim:
I'm inviting you to ponder along with me what your truer and more beautiful world looks like. And to let yourself explore your own sense of longing, wherever it arises in your life. To let your sadness tell you about what it is you find most beautiful. To imagine that the true, whole, and authentic you that you long for is always right here speaking to you, if you dare to listen. It can be painful to let them out, to look them in the eye, to embrace them. It is also relieving beyond measure, and like this week of spring-to-summer, a swift portal to your own truer and more beautiful world.
Below you'll find the monthly playlist, curated to allow for some spacious tender time with your own longing, your grief, your sadness. And to feel through these things not as blocks to your truer and more beautiful reality, but portals through which to get there.
I'm also sharing the podcast episode in question, and for those in the North Country, a beautiful theater event I'm helping produce this week that will surely be a portal of some kind in and of itself ♡
3+ hours in which to explore your own longing. To hold beauty and loss in equal measure. To open to the power of fantasy in shifting timelines. To imagine parallel realities unfolding like a flower. To choose beauty amidst a broken world.
If you can make it through the chatty / glib first 10 minutes, this podcast episode is what kicked off my own existential journey this month. What you'll find is a thoughtful and in-depth discussion of history, religion, spirituality, sadness, longing, and human nature between podcast host and author Glennon Doyle, her wife (and former soccer star) Abby Wambach, her sister Amanda Doyle (referred to as "Sister"), and author Susan Cain, best known for her book Quietand the newly-released Bittersweet, which explores these same topics. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this conversation since I first listened, so I'm offering it as a potential portal to you as well ♡
Saturday 5/21 @ 8pm: If you're in the North Country (you know what that means if you know what that means), I invite you to join us this weekend at the Upper Jay Art Center where our newest CA+MP artists-in-residence, the Philly-based theater company Die-Cast, will be performing a first-ever iteration of their new piece: Baal and Dix.
Please check out the description of the work (including the content warning) via the link below, where you can also procure tickets to the show! Alongside our own personal longings, art of any kind is always a portal to a new place and I encourage anyone who feels called to just come and see where the experience takes you.
Safe travels through the portals of your choosing,