Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Didn't Die – Or Did I?

© 2010 Karen Van Fossan

I went ahead and did it. I rode my bike on Boulevard Avenue, in spite of the risks.

Risk 1: Splatter myself with mud.
Risk 2: Splatter myself with slush.
Risk 3: Tempt fate and die.

It was Risk 3 that nearly kept me off Boulevard Avenue forever.

According to one source, Boulevard Avenue was where I would meet my death. In fact, according to this source, I already had.

My dear friend Ferne – who's just about 101 and isn't prone to confusion – recently told her daughter I had died. I'd “been killed” was how she put it. Killed riding my bike on Boulevard Avenue.

Luckily, she was wrong. At least so far.

True, I didn't die on Boulevard Avenue. But just a few weeks ago, I began my own dance of dying.

In a good way.

(Sort of.)

Here's how it began:

I received a letter, which said that the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners had refused my application for licensure as a counselor. According to my graduate school, my professors, and myself, I am trained and ready to serve as a counselor. I'm a Dance/Movement Therapist, yes, but also a bona fide counselor.

The Board was unconvinced.

So I had to ask myself, “What next???”

I could...

Move away,
Go back to school,
Learn an alternate trade,
Hire a lawyer,
Count my blessings,
Ride in the middle of traffic on Boulevard Avenue.

In my mind, I found myself running from one idea to the next. And I hated all this running from one idea to the next. Pick a plan and stick with it. That was my general stance.

But suddenly, as I walked beneath the foggy spring sky, I saw my path.

This is it. This running from one idea to the next – this is my life. Today, this is my life. My own real life. My life isn't waiting for me in the answers to my questions. My life is taking place as I grapple with these questions. My life is happening now. My life isn't waiting in the well-plotted future. This is it.

And so, can I dance with this? Can I follow the rhythms and gestures of this dance? Can I be present and alive, letting myself experience my actual experience?

My dream of being a counselor – at least for now – is dying. This is a dance I have witnessed. I have sat with those who are dying. I have seen the stops and starts, the fits of life, the letting go, the ecstasy and the panic.

Today, this is my dance. Will I go here or go there? Will I stop, or will I start?

I don't know.

The knowing isn't now. Today, I have only to dance.

Maybe even up and down Boulevard Avenue.

A Note: Much gratitude to my teachers at Naropa University who helped me learn the dances of living -- and of dying.


JGH said...

Please, PLease, PLEASE do NOT ride in the middle of traffic!! Now that I have that off my chest....Great blog as usual!!

GG said...

Karen. I am very happy you did not die. The world needs you.

I just finished watching an Italian film directed by Frederico Fellini. The film is titled "La Strada" and stars Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina. Masina reminds one a lot of Charlie Chaplin.

The following conversation takes place:

The Fool: Everything in the world is good for something. Take this stone for instance.

Gelsomina: Which one?

The Fool: It doesn't matter which. This one too, it has a purpose, even this little pebble.

Gelsomina: What's it good for?

The Fool: If I knew, I would be God. But if this stone is useless, then everything is, even the stars. You too, you have a purpose too.

Fellini says: "At bottom, I am always making the same film.....I am telling the story of characters in quest of themselves, in search of a more authentic source of life, of conduct, of behavior, that will more closely relate to the true roots of their individuality."

I've been seeing on the news where you are bracing for the spring flood in Fargo. Hope it is minor.

Sincerely GG (Gadfly Gerry)

Kristi said...

Oh my, be careful on Boulevard! And wow, I forgot just how huge that piece of carrot cake was. Glad I had plenty of people to share it with...good times!

blogslut said...

I will be giving you rides on Boulevard from now on. And that Board is full of idiots. There--got that off my chest.

Desiree' Uhrich said...

Hi Karen,

As usual, your writing is profound and universal. Waking to
death - literal and metaphorical - it is a daily struggle.
The death of a dream is hard, isn't it, and yet you seem to
have been given a large measure of grace upon learning of
the board's decision. That grace has made you gracious to
what may appear next for you - what your unique call in the
world is. Remaining curious and hopeful in the midst of
disappointment is a true gift. I am reminded of a quote that
I recently put in my journal as a reminder to me this next
year as I also face many changes and potential disappointments. It reads: "Discernment is the process of perceiving what already exists in the will of God. . ." What
already exists - won't it be interesting to see what that is
for you? Be well. Keep the faith.


Kathy B. said...

And I'm supposed to be able to sleep after reading about Ferne's dream?? What a profound interpretation (interpretive dance, perhaps?) on the theme of dying. There is great strength in being able to let certain parts of you "die" - and allowing the phoenix to rise from the ashes!