My knee is throbbing a little bit this morning, and that’s a good thing. It’s better than a torn vagina, and probably less painful. Still, it’s a battle scar from my most recent adventure chasing the dragon.
The dragon is not something illicit, but it is intoxicating: it’s the knowledge that you can conquer something huge, intimidating, primal, and powerful through one decisive action. Like childbirth, for example. A personal challenge that you have no choice but to go into head-on, knowing nothing other than the fact that you will be a very different person on the other side.
Every since I pushed the first puppy out, I’ve been exhausted, overwhelmed, and in a constant state of flux. The old “ages and phases” maxim holds true: as soon as I think I have my footing, there’s another incline, another push in a new direction, a sensation of starting over. Does is surprise anyone, then, that for the last couple of years my BBFs and I have been road-tripping to chase the dragon with a goal set so impossibly high there’s nothing else we can do besides put one foot in front of the other, just as our foremothers did, as we conquer Mother Earth’s impressive challenges?
(Full disclosure: This mid-life crisis hiking thing shocks the shit out of me, actually. In my former life, the most strenuous I pushed it was an hour-long gym class. And even then, I feigned my huffing and puffing like so many fake orgasms.)
But in the great outdoors, there are no steps or stationary bikes to hide behind. Last year, the dragon was the 17-mile hike in and out of the mutha of all mutha’s – what I call G-d’s Vagina — the Grand Canyon. This past weekend, it was another trek to Mecca, Zion National Park. As my BBFs and I navigated the narrows and scaled the heights to Observation Point, four miles up a steep, meandering trail, we dove in deep, as always.
We shared birth stories, made each other laugh, took a million photos, and became acutely aware of how small and insignificant we are, yet great and powerful at the same time. My friends are sincere mothertruckers — there are no physical challenges they don’t rise to, and they’ve weathered their fair share of mental and spiritual ones as well. And yet, they move forward so fluidly, with such strength and grace that it takes my breath away. Literally, in the case of 2,000-foot elevation gain with nothing but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sheer idiot logic to fuel me.
By idiot logic, I mean this: if I can’t see a reason why not, then the only answer is to just do it. Thank you, BBFs, for insisting on training, prepping, and remembering to bring Advil. Otherwise, I’d be fucked.
It’s my own mom, however, that I have to thank for that foolish belief that I can do anything.
Now she’s no mountain climber (in fact, when I told her about the Grand Canyon, she said, “What the fuck are you talking about? What is wrong with you?”). But from the time I was a little girl, my mom has scaled unimaginable heights of creativity. She came of age when not many women had careers, and she was raised in the family where graciousness and being the hostess with the mostess was considered as high as a woman could or should aspire. Yet for as long as I can remember, my mom’s invented stuff.
First it was “the executive pacifier” – a pacifier painted gold that hung from a lucite stand — that she managed to place in my favorite gag-gift store, Spencer Gifts. (It was no Pet Rock, but it had amazing placement in a display next to my favorite black-light posters of exotic creatures like tigers and Jimi Hendrix.) Then it was a slew of personalized pillowcases that she sold in catalogs and at crafts fairs for many years, helping line the college fund coffers. And the pièce de résistance was when she invented kosher for Passover cereal. Although the packaging might have said Crispy-O’s was created in response to her little ones wondering why there was no cereal for breakfast during the ancient holiday celebrating the Jews’ liberation from slavery, the real inspiration was college-aged me, fumbling an excuse for why I couldn’t keep Passover at school.
To put this accomplishment into perspective: for the first 3,300 years after the Jews bailed from Egypt, kids were left gnawing on matzo and fighting constipation for a week every spring. Thanks to my mom, the inventor, no Jewish child should suffer like that ever again.
How does my mom do the things she does? She never questions her creative power. Never has one second of thinking twice or stopping to consider possible consequences.
Instead, she routinely dives in. Takes the risks, shoulders the associated burdens, and pushes her creations out into the world for all to see, admire, and enjoy. She treks through the swamps of self-doubt by holding her nose, and neatly avoids any obstacles by never taking her eyes off the prize.
Mother Earth offers the same lessons. There are pitfalls and craters, sheer cliffs and raging rivers that threaten destruction day after day, year after year, eon after eon. And yet, in places like Zion, she demonstrates the creative process at its best, leaving astonishing beauty and impossible accomplishments in her wake.
At this mid-life point I realize the gag-line standard is true: I’m becoming my mother.
And suddenly I realize that this has been the goal all along.
Happy Mother’s Day, my bitches!