When I came to Guatemala in February 2012, I had a poem in my pocket, a few words written on a loose blank page and a pulsing piñata metaphor. I wanted to find someone, something, anything that could help me “crack open my piñata.”
I had traveled to the beauty of many places, but I felt there was a sweetness at the core of me that I had never yet arrived to.
I longed for it. I held no map to it. I couldn't break through the decorative, reinforced and confusing shell that was around it. I mistrusted it was there at all - my center, my sense of self.
So much beauty out there, but what about within? I ran away from my own perceived empty.
I had another metaphor, the hollow chocolate bunny. I feared being bitten into, with the questions, probes, the gazes. What if you found out I was a hollow chocolate bunny, not the solid one you'd taken me for? If you truly took a bite, you would be disappointed. Better to only let you lick the surface.
Avoid direct questions, avoid getting known too well. You hate being put on the spot, my ex-girlfriend would say to me, while we were traveling and meeting strangers. And I did. Outside of the false and safe context of the earned worth of my achieving, I hated being put on the spot.
Or maybe - truly maybe - I absolutely loved it, but in a way that scared me too much.
I was seeking in 2012 and during those travel years before. Every little thing held the possibility of an answer, if only I could squeeze enough meaning from it.
I looked for myself in the bottom of every cup of cacao or wine, in the beat of every drum, in the tilt of my body in every dance, in the chew of every magic mushroom, in every new and ‘esoteric’ experience I said yes to. I stripped naked in front of other women in a goddess workshop with a hungry desire to find myself stripped naked with myself once and for all.
I just wanted to see something clearly, and I wanted that something to be me.
I ached for some force that would look through my eyes, deeply enough to reveal myself to myself. And I did have an odyssey of experiences that year.
I did meet a teacher, who I initially ran away from, due to the intensity of his gaze, and the sense that he could see through me. Maybe, I wasn't ready for what I'd asked for. He wanted me to sit still. He wanted me to call off the search.
I did move through emotional layers and physical layers and mental layers and touch a core that was mine and undiscovered. I did get listened to, allowed myself to be seen and heard in ways I never had before. I revealed every childish notion within me and every wisp of desire and want.
I did crack into my own piñata and find more than just me there. I did crack through layers of illusion and protection, and disowning and deflection.
I did find a connection that is wholly greater than me. I found that I am always it - and I, we - have access to it and dance with it all the time. I forget at times, again and again. I fall into slumber. But the current is always visible and visceral if only I open my eyes. If I’m not busy swimming inside of my contracted perspective, inside of my too small story.
I remember the day in 2012 when my teacher reflected back to me that it was one hell of a metaphor I'd come to Guatemala with, the wish to have my piñata cracked open, but that's what I'd ordered up from the universe.
He'd swung the metaphorical bat a couple of times when it came to our discussions, and I’d considered him an asshole.
That day, he apologized for doing so, and wished that I would no longer invite self-domination into my journey. He also wished that when I shared, as he suspected I would, I could do so without brandishing the bat.
It had never occurred to me that with my craving for my piñata to be cracked open, I was actually wishing for the right bat to appear and a strong enough force to wield it upon me.
I had focused on the reward, not the means by which my request was being made. I hadn't wished only to open. I'd asked to be cracked open. I'd wrapped my desire to feel more alive in a metaphor of violence and pain.
I remember a friend suggested my metaphor could have been the melting of ice cream. I could have wished for the hard shell coating to melt away to get to the creamy and rich center. She was right. That was a different metaphor, entirely. It was one of surrender. It was one of allowing the temperature of things to do their work as the warmth came into the day.
Before this one more waking moment, I had never realized I'd internalized the cultural paradigm of domination in my own spiritual journey. I'd also applied it to relationships with many parts of my life. I’d never realized that doing so was itself an obstacle to anything I sought, and an obstacle to seeing what was already within.
I'd never realized that my seeking - my desire to be different, better, more, validated, improved, authentic, to not know pain, to figure myself out, to understand fully, to progress - was the inherent molecular making of this piñata shell itself that kept me from the joy of my own sweet center.
I’m still waking up to that, all the time.
I’m a creative woman. I can take anything if I wish and make it about self-domination. Writing, community, family, relationships, name it - I can spend my time in striving for the things I think I have to do or need to be and that can be the energy with which I move through a moment, a day, an interaction or a project.
I can "better" myself into submission in service to grasp at some outcome or sense of enoughness. This very determination has so often been the source of my disconnection from my own sweet center. By grasping, I have been known to lose all touch with myself and my source of creativity and joy.
The very idea of the journey to that sweetness we ache for is often what is holding us back from tasting it here and right now, alive within us and all around us.
But I’m a creative woman. I can allow anything to be about the art of joyful participation. I can dance with who I already am, and the energies that are alive and vivid with me, from the center of my highest joy. I can allow my aliveness in this moment, this day, this conversation, this interaction or this project to be "the thing" itself.
That’s because for each of us, and my goddess (yes) is it true for women, the journey is not about finding what will unfold us or crack us open or reveal to us who we really are or finally set us free. It's about realizing we are the journey, we are already the encompassed whole, the departure and the return. We are the circle.
Right now, it’s inside of us. The journey is not to go out there and find it, or to allow it to be reflected to us from some external mirror, although mirrors can help.
The journey is simply to see it. This here. This now. This me. This sweet surrendered. This beautiful and bewildering and blessed and breathing whole.