You may have heard already, but the wilderness northwest of Fort Collins is burning again, 14,000 acres so far, 0% contained, structures burnt, people and animals evacuated from their homes. It started as 2 acres, quickly grew to 200-300, then 5000, and 8000 by the time we went to bed, growing to 14,000 during the night. Just last week, because of other wildfires, the Poudre River ran black with soot and smelled burnt. Today, the sky is brown and there is ash falling. All day, I have felt so sad.
While I was out watering, after our morning walk, I found this Dragonfly clinging to one of my dead roses. They don’t normally stay still for as long as it did, so something must have been wrong, but it was so amazing, the blue and brown, the shimmer and wingspan. And then, on one of my newly blooming gifted plants, a fat bumblebee, similarly still, but beautiful. I wondered if they were somehow dazed by the smoke from the fire.
You know how I get stuck on a song sometimes? Last week it was I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz. This weekend it’s been Wide Awake by Katy Perry. I like her a lot, and I won’t apologize for it–just as I adore Pink and Kelly Clarkson, and refuse to feel any shame for it. In plenty of other ways, I have sophisticated musical taste, but there are some songs, some artists that I love without reason or justification–they are simply honest, uncomplicated, real, and I feel their work on the level of my guts, in the pit of my stomach.
When I listen to Wide Awake, I think about how Katy believed in something and it turned out to be wrong, and how bad that feels. You put your faith and energy and love into a situation, and it ends up breaking your heart.
That’s sad, but the grief that follows the mistake, the misstep, the wrong move, the misunderstanding can be precious, can gift you with a clarity impossible through other means. You are hurt, broken, but suddenly wide awake. You know how things are, who you are, and you find you are stronger than you thought, and that you are able to let go of the dream, the promise, the future and the past, the pain, the blame, the guilt, you are able to let go of all of it.
Susan Piver, in her book The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, writes “The heart that is broken has been broken open.” My experience shows this to be true, that the brokenness makes the cracks that let the light in, and being broken, your heart becomes tender and soft in a way it wasn’t before. You become a warrior with a broken heart, the gentlest and most powerful. You are wide awake.
P.S. Kind and gentle reader, if you are like me and get dizzy or carsick easily, don’t try to watch this video. Things are moving too fast, so maybe just listen instead.