Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Friday, April 7, 2017

Stay Soft

I had a teacher years ago who told me to try to stop seeking, even as it came quite naturally to me to do so. I knew what she meant, actually. She was one of my yoga teachers and she always saw some part of me that was seeing the aim, the regret, the things I hoped to repair, the things in me I wanted so much to tear apart and renovate. In me, she saw the hope of these things. In me, she saw that it would happen by seeking out a new way of being.

Back then, I prayed that I would find a way to be soft. I didn’t know how to soften in my poses. I was always going at them like a ferocious bull. I was acknowledged for being strong, but I wondered what it would feel like to be soft.


Five surgeries and many life experiences later, my inner landscape has instructed me well.

I booked a 7- hour flight yesterday and made sure that the ticket was refundable, should I change my mind. Well, change my mind, I did. What happened for me was something deeply unexpected.

It wasn’t like a bride ripping off a wedding dress screaming, “Get me out of this!” No. But it was dramatic.

I experienced a torrential storm of grief. Purchasing that ticket was not a ticket to saying "yes" to something. It was the deepest reminder that I wouldn’t be leaving my most beloved companion ever again.

I wouldn’t have to leave him with anyone. I wouldn’t be flying away from him. And I wouldn’t be coming back to him.

I knew that when I booked the flight, the irony was that there was this very freedom: I didn’t have to worry about my boy. I didn’t have to worry about him worrying about his mama. Missing me. Wondering if I would ever return home again. Waiting by every window in the house. Feeling into his own loss of who he had to try to be without me. I knew that.

But this was something else.

The tears just came. And they didn’t stop. Who I am on the other side of this loss is rather monumental. And I have to move with it.

Slower. Softer.

Pieces of me have been re-emerging from what Alfie opened in me. They come quietly and they are offered from tenderness both outward and back in.

I am kinder to myself. And more patient. I am more spacious with others.

But I still wasn’t ready to sail away.

I face it every day. And it’s hard. But there is something about this particular claim of freedom in the world that is just heartbreaking. The dismantling of this “us” that must deepen in real terms even as it can never be severed.

And as the inevitabilities of life come, I, like so many, face each “first” in its raw uncertainty without any idea who I will be on the other side of it.  And finding your way means you’ve done so without him. But…

I think more and more, it is beginning to mean the opposite. That’s how it feels inside. Where my inside now looks more like my outside.


Monday night will be Passover. A time when we symbolically free ourselves from any enslavement. I feel enslaved when I veer off track from listening to myself. So that is what I chose. I canceled the flight. I’m going to listen to what comes next. And when I am ready to fly away from him, I will.


There’s something else. Psalm’s death really hit me hard. It stirred not only the deep loss of what we all lost in losing her, and feeling into all of the nuances of that, but it stirred places in me that I see clearer. I see how my own history of experiencing abuse created a pattern of continued violence, a pattern of being violated, a pattern of loss.

And I see all of the strength and tenderness it takes to break free.

I didn’t need to get on a plane to correct for any of this.

Sometimes the hardest and most important thing of all is to sit right where you are. And see what comes.

So this is me… finding a new way. And by the grace of life, it’s a softer one.

Jill Bacharach