being animal

WORKed ON thE FRICKIN DICTIoNARY/EnCYCLO, delirious from trying to coordinate them.”

That was the actual thing I wrote in my notes for Tuesday last week.
Then came this:
“Sooo hard to coordinate the entries of the Dic, the Cyc, the Boo, the Atle (translation: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Book of the Darrjad, and the Atlas) especially when we change the name, or spelling of a name, of something that has to then be changed and rearranged in all four books, in all 250 pages or some crazy number I don’t want to try to figure out right now. Sheesh. My brain is totally wasted.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love this project, I am completely smitten with the work that my sister and I are doing together, both as an amazing way to deepen our appreciation for one another and because this work, for both of us, is absolutely gargantuan with meaning, purpose, substance, pith, pertinence, weight, and other significant sounding words

But still, after I went to bed that night I had this experience of wanting to just be the animal self that I am, to know that while I am doing all this work that I consider to be incredibly meaningful, rich with import, part of my destiny and all of that, I needed very much that night to also immerse myself in the opposite – the idea that life has no meaning, that nothing I do matters, that I have no special gifts to give, that I am, in the simplest, purest sense of the word, “just” an animal. I was in big need of a howl. Here is some of what I wrote that night:

“I’m ‘up’ most of the time. cheerful, or grooving, or busy. But now, something in me needs to really slow, to really be heard, to really cry. I don’t need to take a vacation, to “rest”, but to howl, to slobber, to be the beast … black-eye, filthy hair, love me love me love me anyway.
Tonight I am not a good friend, not a sweet woman, not a helpful sister, not a diligent writer, not an attentive housekeeper, not a loving mother, not understanding, not chipper, not smart, not smiling … but slavering, snotting, dark-breathed, dirty-fingered.
Tonight I am not organized, not health-conscious, not careful … but baleful, woeful, naked. Hairy, horny, smelling, unkempt. Loosened. Blurry-sighted. Can you carry me this way?
I need a break from sunshine. I need the half-moon making shadows with the trunks of many trees laid down over me. Do not smile. Breathe out. Close your eyes, take my hand and just be here, all the way here, only for now, next to, inside of, and cradling all all all all … of … me.”

The way I see it, there are a minimum of two true sides to everything (and I always include a third, which is the total mystery). My work on this book is both vital and of no value. It is both meaningful and meaningless. I myself, to put it in my ancestral Jewish terms, am nothing but a worm, and the whole universe was created just for me. And my life is so inundated with the perspective that what I am doing is meaningful and that I have an important job to do and that I am filled with love for the world, that sometimes, I need to change over and feel the other side of that. That night, I needed to. I needed to let go of all that I consider significant and just … be.

Meg and I tried really hard to work – every single day – together this week, and damnit, we sure did get a lot done. But in the end, the animal had to come in, and so we took our moment to lounge like lions in the dust and sun, yes, and yip in a thousand coyote voices under the swoon-worthy moon.

Love you, like always …

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