Dear Adventurous Souls,
I am turning the The Inner Adventure posts into a book. In order to do this, I returned to the blog’s early days, a time when my outer life crumbled in order to be built anew. Here is one story from that time. Enjoy!
If, like the prophet Noah, you have patience in the distress of the flood, Calamity turns aside, and the desire of a thousand years comes forth.—Hafiz
Weary from a journey to Gallup and Acoma in western New Mexico, ready to sleep in my own bed, to once again eat the healthy food that makes me feel good, I open my front door.
I see water. Inches of water cover the floor of my great room. Sensing the crisis, I chant my word, a mantra given to me by my spiritual teacher. Its calming effect helps immediately as my shoes splash from room to room, the floor covered like a baby pool with a layer of water.
I find the source under my kitchen sink, where the water purifier has split open and now spews a steady stream. I reach back and turn off the valve. The air quiets, but my heart beats so loudly the sound fills my ears and seems to make the whole house throb with panic.
I should call someone—my mother, a friend—but I don’t know who, so I continue to chant my word as I take out a mop and begin to push the water out the doors.
It’s no big deal, I tell myself. Once I get the water out all will be fine. I can open the windows for a few days and let the house dry. But my mind goes back to that Acoma pot I broke on my trip, to the sense that my life is falling apart, and a dark dread comes over me.
Exhausted, I sleep the night in my guest bedroom, which received the least damage. The next day I call my mother. She suggests I talk to my insurance company, which I do.
In the afternoon a truck arrives, along with three big men. They pace through the house poking a monitor into the walls to check for moisture. Next they haul in fans as tall as I am and heating units nearly as large. I slink around in an attempt to stay out of the way, while assuming the men will dry the place out in a few hours and then leave.
The team leader wields a power saw and begins cutting open the walls. He makes the incision about three feet from the floor, then rips away the drywall below and pulls out the insulation.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“It’s all saturated,” he says.
The air fills with the sounds of whirling fans, grumbling heaters and grinding power saws. Extension cords weave like a tapestry across the concrete floor. I pace from room to room, watching the men work, wondering when they will leave.
I intend to cook a healthy dinner and get a good night’s sleep, but soon recognize that this project is still very much in the destruction phase, with little chance that it will resolve soon. Finally I corner the team leader and ask what I should do.
“You don’t want to stay here,” he says. “In the next few days the temperature will be about 110 degrees.”
“Where do I go?”
“I don’t know—a hotel?”
I take my phone outside and call around town, only to find that on this Indian Market weekend most rooms are booked. Finally, I find one with its price tripled at Holiday Inn Express. After the work team leaves, I load up some spiritual books, my guitar, computer, some clothes and a few things from my kitchen and head over there.
The coming week, I chant my word relentlessly, calling on the Beloved to give me strength. I am deeply attached to this house, not so much for its material value, but because it is my sanctuary. It sits in a piñon forest outside Santa Fe, with views in every direction. It is warm in winter, cool in summer. Mountain bluebirds and morning doves visit the water pool just off my porch where I sit and watch their graceful antics. And now it is torn to pieces.
Will it ever again be whole?
When I first saw this house, I had to have it. It was a perfect home and office. I always joke that I would never commit to a man, but I did commit to this place, and so I see that many powerful lessons must come through this attachment. I know my grip on it is too tight, but I can’t help it. I am in love.
My fears for the future of this house go beyond the material as well. Over the years I’ve struggled with chemical sensitivities. After the house is reconstructed and painted will I even be able to inhabit it with all the new toxins, I wonder?
These are the concerns that try to monopolize my consciousness. I check them with my mantra and with the omniscience of my Beloved, but in the night and at dawn they visit me with their relentless doom.
At the house I meet the contractor that the insurance company sends. He is tall, with a bit of a belly and face creased with kind lines. He explains that he is part of a team that travels the world doing jobs such as this. Their specialty is fixing water-damaged buildings. We walk through the rooms, where my furniture is piled in the middle. We discuss the floor, which he thinks he can fix, the drywall that will be replaced. He assures me the house will be good as new.
My sense is that all of this will take a few weeks if the workers start right away.
“How long will it take?” I ask, as we stand in the driveway.
“Not too long,” he says.
I wait for a more precise answer.
“I’d say two to three months,” he says.
“Yes, there’s a lot to do and it takes time.”
“Where do I live?”
He explains that the insurance company will find me a place.
Throughout our meeting I’ve silently chanted my mantra, but now I lose it and with it the steadiness of the Beloved’s calming presence. Back at the hotel, I frantically dial the insurance company. They start right away finding me a place to live.
The next day I check out a condo. It’s nice and clean, with Santa Fe Style décor and a small balcony overlooking a courtyard. But as I drive home I feel the familiar downward pull of allergies. The carpet there, as in many rental homes, is musty and so by the time I reach the hotel my head is pounding and full of fog. I know I can’t live in that place.
I visit another condo the following day. Two steps in the door, I turn back, the scent of cigarette smoke so heavy even that small exposure makes my head pound.
The next morning I drive down the highway to check out another house. After a decent night sleep and a good spiritual exercise, I feel better today, but still my mind tries to race. I’m afraid that I will again face a headache, and so I feel desolate at the prospect of finding a place to live.
Tears fill my eyes and soon I am weeping from all that has transpired in the past weeks. I pull over and cry and cry, lumpy tears falling on my steering wheel. When I have no tears left a sweet calm fills me. I talk with the Beloved. I see that I have to surrender.
Dear One, I say to my Beloved inner self, I am willing to sleep—to live—wherever you want me to be.
I give it all to You.
In this moment I feel the grip I’ve had on my house loosen. Truly as long as I have my Beloved I can live anywhere. I feel this deep in my core. My true home is within. This is my sanctuary.
My heart soars with freedom, a sense of flying high above the earthly plane into a vast kingdom of Love.
I start the car and drive to the townhouse that the insurance company has found for me. It’s a lovely two-story place, only a few years old and just minutes from my house. It has very little mustiness and a sweet, gentle feel. I can see the blue arc of the Sandia Mountains to the south, and finches flit in and out of a fountain on the quiet patio. Yes, I say, I can live here, and I thank the Beloved for all of it—the flood, the homelessness, and most of all, the surrender.
Six months later, after the construction finishes and the house has aired, I return home.
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