I’ve had an intense couple of weeks with the most recent event being a power outage caused by a windstorm on Thursday.
It was dramatic, with trees crashing down on friend’s houses and chicken coops, trees strung across rural roads over electrical wires, every intersection turned into a 4-way stop and sirens wailing all day long. Fortunately, these emergencies in Canada never seem to last that long, and after 9 hours and a detour to have dinner at a friends’ place (they still had power), everything was back to normal.
Truly, I find there is no better way than losing an essential service to bring me back around to what is most important in my life.
To reconsider what am I most devoted to.
A friend recently said some kind things to me, and along with feeling a heartswell of love and the prickle of trembly tears, it got me thinking. These moments of being witnessed and seen, they are such gifts!
One of the things she said was that I’m deeply loyal. Although I have sometimes felt that this loyalty of mine runs into a faultline, leading me to hang onto people and situations longer than I should, it’s not always a bad thing to feel so devoted.
Devotion is a concept that has been guiding my choices for a while now.
It is also a word I love. The D, the V, and the final syllable coming off my tongue with a SH sound. It combines my love of saying long words with a deepening into all that is mysterious, sensuously joyful and profoundly unalterable. All I have to do is say it in my head or out loud, to get a centred, rooted feeling.
And the meaning of devotion – of being profoundly dedicated and loyal, of using time, money and energy towards a particular purpose – it’s starting to sink in, finally. That the things I’m devoted to remain in my way and on my path, whether I choose to ignore and avoid them (which I most definitely have tried to do), or dig in and start trying.
Here, then, are some stories and offerings of devotion.
Devotion as service.
Mothering, caring for my child, even when I am tired of it all. Porridge, laundry, school lunches, evenings in, soups, healthy foods, activities, and attentiveness even when my quiet introverted nature just wants to turn the switch off and disappear for a while – parenting is an act of devotion that is deeply frustrating, exhausting, anger-inducing, yet just as deeply joyful, surprising and illuminating.
Loving my body. Devotion to my physical self.
Again and again, over and over, I come home to my body, and through my body, my self. Through dance. Meditation. Walking in nature. Evening baths. Tensions in the jaw, churnings in my guts, my body is always talking, connecting and guiding me. All I have to do is listen.
Devotion to dance. Dancing as devotion.
When I was in my 10th year my father took each of his four children out on individual father-child dates. All four of us loved it, but the most interesting thing of all was that the special event we chose as children has remained a constant thread of interest in our adult selves. In my case, I asked him to take me to the ballet. Because I have always been devoted to dance, and dancing.
The technical skills that could have led me to a career as a professional dancer were not mine. But my joy in dancing and curiosity about this joy has led me to classes in northern First Nations dance, West and Central African styles, contemporary, ballet and hip hop classes, aerial dance, to going out dancing with friends regularly, to getting a Master’s Degree in Dance. To creating, performing, exhibiting and collaborating, even sometimes being paid for creative work in dance. I have truly been devoted to dancing.
And yet, even with this devotion, I have still attempted to deny myself the pleasures of going to class, of joyously going out and losing myself in dance, of making it as regular a part of my life as I desire. Excuses of ‘it’s too much money’ and ‘the schedule doesn’t work, I’m a single mom’ have dominated for the past few years.
But my body doesn’t care. My spirit doesn’t care. Everything in me just wants to dance. My devotion is leading me back, again, to my passion for movement, for finding the joy in dancing to music and then just dancing. Again and again. Over and over.
Recently I found an advanced jazz dance class in this little small town I’m in. Because I’ve become SO hungry for dance again, I want to dance every single day, and always have. This recent seeking out of dance has led me to bellydance in a sketchy back-alley studio, salsa dance clubs in nearby towns, a 5Rythms class in a glamorously peaceful yoga studio, a jazz dance class in an old-school studio with egg cartons nailed to the walls to muffle sound, houseparties where I beeline to the dancefloor just so I can dance my heart out.
The energy of devotion waits for my return to it.
Of friendship, of vocation and of calling.
Witnessing my friend Emma Barr’s devotion to her artistic path no matter what, and seeing her flourish because of that devotion.
Observing another friend from high school, a woman who is an intensely talented painter express her devotion to her art in an explosion of her deeply expressive and colourful imagination. Seeing both of these women grow intensely loyal followings as they remain true to their visions, and share that with the world reminds me what happens when someone is singlemindedly devoted to their path.
Friendship and loyalty. Devotion.
A dear friend, despite challenges, pain and confusion in our friendship, despite hurtful choices on my part, remains devoted to me. Devotion was expressed in his declared intention to support and assist me in any way he is able. I receive, from him, a constant, deep and cherished experience of loyalty and devotion.
It flows in a steady stream of masculine doing-ness – creations made from wood, acts of service, dinners and small kindnesses and serious moments of awkwardness, all interwoven into a cloth that wraps around and lifts me up, a hammock that will never dump me onto the ground.
Devotional Paintings. Devotion to art-making.
This fully formed concept that came to me last summer. Alarming, and deeply rewarding, the intuitive readings I do through my painting process match my desire and devotion to witnessing. Seeing what people are longing to have witnessed, seeing what people can’t access themselves, seeking and sharing the images, ideas and stories that come to me. I have discovered a deep devotion to being of service through my self, and my art.
This devotion is another one, like my dancing, that has taken a long time to get to. Longing to go to art school, squelched by my practical internal self. Longings to write, photograph, paint, perform and dance – rising and falling as I tried to be practical and set those longings aside. And yet, the devotion with which I approach my ways of seeing the world, and the desire I have to share that, it cannot be turned off.
Being dedicated and loyal to your path, whatever that may be. That’s what devotion is to me, and what astounds me most of all is how that devotion, that energy, that path of intention, which starts so young, is a thread that can be dropped, lost, forgotten, denied even. But if you just look, you’ll see the clues, see that it is always there, trailing along, ever-present, waiting to be picked back up. It does not seem to be something that can be easily denied.
As always – I’m so curious.
What are you devoted to? Are there constant threads in your life that keep calling you back, no matter what? This devotion of yours, has it been an easy and clear path, or have you had moments of questioning, of trying to do the ‘practical’ instead of following the calling? When you dig in to the things that you are devoted to, what happens?
Until next time,
ps – I’m devoted to writing, to unraveling, to witnessing and to life. I love providing inspiration and connection, much of it for free, and the bulk of it happens in my weekly e-letter. You can learn more and sign up for that here.