So there I was driving a and minding my own business …
… contemplating the Quantum Universe and time/space when, as if by David Lynch-ian magic, a deer appeared on the country road.
RIGHT. IN. FRONT. OF. ME.
I wasn’t going very fast and my attempts to fully brake were chuckled at by the Universe. I heard a THUMP. The deer and I locked eyes. I recognized her. Most likely from
another life, I later thought. There was something timeless there however—in her eyes. Something timeless and full of wisdom. How, we both must have thought, had we both met at this exact moment in time/space? Me .. traveling, randomly on a Wisconsin country road, a nomadic soul searching for his true physical home. She, a native creature adept at wandering. Here. There. Everywhere. The open expansive of prairie, of forests—these are the places she calls home.
Who knows with these sort of things. I can’t seem to escape a day without moments of deep reflection, lately. Every day brings another cycle of Where Am I? What Now? What’s This? If I had known several years ago that in writing my family’s memoir, I would have been thrust into a microcosmic—well, at times, macro, too—reenactment of their Polish refuge experience in the 1940s, I may changed careers entirely.
On the flipside: Who knew epigenetics and inherited family trauma could be so potent and juicy!
So, what I am left with is a recurring question: What lessons must I learn … while I wander; while I am a nomad?
Let’s start with the deer.
Fortunately, she wasn’t injured. Strong and versatile, after impact, I watched in slo-mo as she sprang into the forest on the other side of the road, taking some flying car parts with her. It could have been much worse. Dumbstruck, I kept one, sending out a blessing out to the creature, hoping that she wasn’t truly injured and she’d be okay; that she would heal.
Later, I did what any soul-searching, questioning recovering Polish Catholic boy who fled to Northern California to find himself would have done: I looked up the meaning of deer totem animal.
Here is what I found: “Deer spirit appearing in your life acts as a teacher of how to be gentle, determined and sure, even in difficult situations. Remember that a gentle soul is not a helpless one. Deer wisdom shows you how to use your great horns for defense. Deer may also challenge you to leave behind the safety of your grassy bedding for fresh horizons.”
Fresh horizons. Now, that I like. That I can hang onto. For what is a guy with labile mood disorder, somebody capable of mood swinging with reckless abandon, supposed to do when he finds himself living back in his family home, attempting to step into his Next Best Self, and feeling completely gutted by the industry that he spent so many years devoted to: Journalism and Media?
What happens when, during our life’s most curious and head-scratching transitions, we discover that no matter which direction we turn, none of those directions feels familiar? What happens when we realize that we may very well be lost in the maze of our own minds, attempting to figure a way out of it? What happens when God forces our hand and asks us to surrender and trust in the process?
Can we be patient enough to know that at some point, we WILL come up for air and realize that our “flight or fight” mechanism—our lovely amygdala or repitlian brain—has been working overtime?
In the game of surrender and trust, in the spiritual playing field where the baseball players are all Gods, can we surrender long enough and trust that something bigger than ourselves actually has our backs? Or, will we opt for trying to control the situation?
A few things I have learned over the last few years, since this spiritual endeavor began. 1) Sometimes, the greatest suffering arrives when we try to make something happen. 2) It may not be serving us to attempt to make sense of mystical experiences. By their very design, that absolutely defy logic.
With that in mind, one cannot rush the cycles of our own soul. Like nature itself, we will bloom when the timing is right. In the meantime, it’s best to pay attention to as many “signs” as possible. (And have good insurance, spiritual or otherwise.)