About five years ago, I had a panic attack in Grand Central Station in New York City. I had never experienced one in my life and have not had one since. I had missed my train and was running around trying to find Jack, my husband, but couldn't move. I was paralyzed by the fear that something terrible was going to happen to me and the thousands of other people traveling in and out at top speed of this quintessential transportation hub. I thought the world was going to implode on top of me and that I would never make it out.
That was the moment we decided to move out of the city. First to upstate NY and now to the Berkshires, Massachusetts. Many aspects of my life changed when we moved. My brain and body literally had to detox from the constant stimulation and noise that we expertly trained ourselves to tune out. Another thing was feeling like I was starting to belong to a community. I connected to women in my area through a monthly new moon circle, I stopped to talk to people and look them in the eye, and I kept finding that friendship circles overlapped.
Not only did I realize that I could truly connect with my human allies, but the Earth and all its living beings started to become a part of my daily life and community too. I began to get to know individual animals and plants, the red squirrel that lives in the cedar tree, the jewelweed glimmering defense against poison ivy. I think that all these things are possible in a city too, its just of matter of speaking the language.
This weekend I was in NYC and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and realized how much my literacy of the world has changed after 5 years of marriage to my husband, almost 3 years since becoming a mom and 2 years of focused and structured immersion in learning the language of nature. I had a base understanding of what it meant to be in nature during my summers as a child in Switzerland and frequent trips to the country my parents forced on me. However, as I walked the planks of the bridge, the East River below, flowing in parallel unison with the road traffic, I was suddenly aware of the nature that is always all around us, but really within us all. And its really about listening to our hearts and our bodies, especially when a panic attack calls you in!
I no longer speak the same language,
As I traverse this rambling bridge.
I cannot understand the discordant pace,
My heart listens to another space.
In that place, my ears tune to the source,
But I have written this already of course.
For my birth into this dream,
Is one and the same unconscious stream.
Beaming rays of light I am now able to catch,
Thunder and flowers rolling along each scratch.
A cure to the city which brought me to panic,
And into my soul the wind flies manic.
I can no longer hear the same song,
My feet on this earth, they belong.
And yet no matter where I walk or what I say,
It's the sun I carry inside that makes me stay.