whole of chaos


credit – arik baltinester

Last week we planned a theme around ‘wholeness.’ Must have had an inkling of what was to transpire after chow the night before group. To wit, the unannounced and immediate emptying of Echo unit, dispersing the women to Houses 1 and 2, and a few to Bravo.

A number of our writers had been living in Echo. But aside from that, this kind of dramatic change shakes up everyone. Creates a ripple effect. New balance of power in each unit. New roommates. New squabbles. The reawakening of old issues. And above all, the ongoing reminder that nothing inside is secure. Not where you’ll be sleeping at night. Not with whom  you’ll be sharing a meal or shower. Not even, in some cases involving moves, whether you’ll have your few allowed possessions with you again.

Needless to say, the chaos of that dramatic change in the status quo led to an evening of extreme unsettledness. We had women dropping in without signing up, perplexed at the patient explanation that everyone needs to sign up ahead of time. It’s part of learning personal accountability, which we take very seriously. Then there were the couples who felt the need to see one another, to reassure themselves they were still OK despite the seismic shifts swirling around them. And there were others who merely sought release from the stress, needing to giggle, mock, blame, and otherwise let off steam. Which also means there were regular writers who felt the need to leave a group that was quickly unraveling like the chaos that had so recently preceded it.

Fortunately, as is the case with a well-crafted container (and remember, we had just the week before held, examined, appreciated and retooled the container that is our writing circle), things righted/rited/writed themselves by the end of our writing time. Those seeking what our writing group does not offer, left. Those who were left, pens streaking across the page, managed to find the peace they had anticipated, and had come to enjoy. In the end, chaos found its place in the wholeness of this life called imprisonment, spelled on the page as some of the following:

The eyelids of morning peel open a new beginning each day. So blessed am I that I can start over if I so choose. Nothing can stop me, but me. I’m my own worst enemy, in case you didn’t know. The hardest critic and the toughest judge … It’s always been this way. So many think I can when I think I can’t. It’s just the way the story goes. My skin is tough, like marble, sanded and smoothed to fit the contour of these curves and limbs. Polished just enough to almost see your own reflection, but gritty enough to still feel the friction. Cracked in all the right places, maybe a little too imperfectly. The mold is broken, I assure you of that. There is only one. What you see is what you get. However that doesn’t mean I get what I see.

Why is it the view has been so obscured? That question has haunted me for too long. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but my eyes seem to be like black holes in space. A void. In the name of the sun and its mirrors, I try to shed the light and see what everyone else does; but my mirror is broken, my sun gone dim. What exactly does it take to become the healer of misery and a messenger of wonder, to be able to see into the true window of the soul? How deep is the hole I’ve dug? What will fill it? Nothing grows in this dirt, so it seems. No beauty rises from the ashes of this fire. Does complete destruction have to take place in order for new growth? The rebirth of the soul, so to speak …

And this:

With my mind like a tangle of branches, I sit in contemplation and struggle with my sense of inner peace. Over and over again I ask myself how can I unravel the tangled mess of thought and vivid images inside my mind? Like a vice grip, I feel them crushing my skull. My heart racing faster than a cheetah on the chase, emotions flowing through it like a raging river. All while my face remains as blank as an artist’s canvas before the brush touches it. On the surface I am calm. Perhaps this is the calm before the storm. It’s true that looks can be deceiving. I strive to keep myself together, for I know losing control solves nothing. But that does little to calm the storm raging inside me. Can nothing break this cycle? How do I put out this fire? It blazes hot and wild, like a mighty inferno that slows to smoking embers only to rage out of control again without notice. Who will get burned this time? What will it destroy in its path without mercy or hesitation? The path of its destruction carved its trails in the earth like the lines of tears down a  mourner’s face.

. . . and you?

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