"i'm in the process of becoming, in the process of evolving." -pema chodron
i underlined these words in a book last night,
just after sending an s.o.s. email
to one of my best friends back home, in seattle.
"this project isn't unfolding the way i thought it would," i wrote to her.
"will it be okay if i leave australia without having photographed
any women down here? or does that mean i'm failing?
i woke up to her reply.
"of course it's okay," she wrote.
"great projects take time. years. decades, even."
"the only thing you can do is move forward with honesty and integrity."
"then, you must trust that the path will unfold before you."
good friends are gold, aren't they?
deep breath. keep moving forward.
last week, when i arrived in this tropical north queensland town,
i met a fantastic woman.
she is not a celebrity.
she is not a ceo.
she does not live in a huge house.
her life is big, though.
beautiful. grand, even.
she is an artist.
a world traveler.
a heart-centered being.
she lives with her family
near the great barrier reef
and the daintree rainforest.
over a glass of water in her kitchen one afternoon,
she generously shared
some of her story
years ago, in her twenties, she was in a relationship that was abusive.
eventually, her partner became frightening and violent,
which is when she left him.
something she said really struck me.
she said that
as she was leaving him
she thought to herself:
'"what the hell? i'm educated. i'm smart. i come from a healthy family.
how is this happening to me?"
i know that feeling because i had it, too.
it's a feeling that nearly every woman i've talked with
for this project in the last several months has expressed having had,
in one way or another.
yet hearing her articulate it so bluntly
so fully, so easily, so truthfully,
in my heart.
it had to do with how she said it.
frankly. her eyes, her expression, her honesty,
her authenticity, her presence.
i was hearing what she said
not only with my ears,
but also with my heart.
after our conversation,
i spent the rest of the week trying to listen
to everything and everyone
more with my
because that moment
this kind of listening is.
i went snorkeling on the great barrier reef,
it was incredible.
i swam with a green sea turtle,
and three sharks.
i saw cuttlefish,
no, thousands of others.
the reef is teeming with life.
it is so alive there is something else amazing
to see every single second.
even the coral itself is alive.
did you know that?
i think i did learn this at one point in biology,
but had forgotten.
coral is a living being.
it even reproduces.
but only once a year.
in fact, the coral is spawning
yep. it's one big coral orgy out there this week!
all of the coral in the entire reef
(yes, the whole thing)
eggs and sperm
into colorful nighttime clouds
and it all happens
about one week after
the first full moon
(e.g. right about now)
when i heard this,
i made it my mission
to not just "see" the reef while i snorkeled,
but to try to also feel it
with my heart
in the way one would feel or sense
any other living being,
and much the same way
i had felt my new friend and her story,
from a place deeper in my body.
with hundreds of colorful fish swimming all around me,
i placed my hand on my heart
and felt it beating while i floated.
as i did, one of the fish swam right up to my mask
and for a moment it did feel like
we shared a heartbeat.
me, the fish, the reef,
all of us.
then it swam away,
and i found myself back in my head again.
another thing i am re-learning
as this project unfolds
is how true it is that
it doesn't happen overnight.
or even in a week.
so i'm re-discovering, as i travel and meet new women, that the process
for this project will be a bit slower than i first envisioned.
it simply has to be.
and for now i'm feeling my way through
as much as i can,
with my heart.
"i am in the process of becoming, in the process of evolving."
i guess any process
sending love from magical port douglas,
where the tropical air is full of summertime,
the 100 million year old rainforest looks like jurassic park,
giant cocker-spaniel bats are floating through the pink evening sky,
tiny geckos are chirping and darting around on the walls,
and the entire great barrier reef
tomorrow i fly to byron bay,
where i hope i get to do some
southern hemisphere stargazing