“This then is life,/Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions/How curious! how real!/Underfoot the divine soil, overhead the sun.”
– Walt Whitman
One year ago it was Easter week and Chris and I were vacationing in southern Spain. I remember waking up there on my thirtieth birthday and looking out over the Strait of Gibraltar toward Africa in the distance. I watched the sky turned from purple to pink and finally blue.
People had lived in this area since antiquity and yet it seemed lush and wild, able to withstand the force of thousands of years of human inhabitation without notice or complaint. The rocky cliffs registered our presence with ruins that were already half subsumed. We were only a few of so many waves that would simply rise and fall in an endless pulsing rhythm on the shore.
It was once thought that this spot marked the end of the world, that passing through the strait would lead a traveler off the edge of the earth and into mythical realms, to Purgatory or Atlantis. And in some sense, for me, it was a jumping off point. I felt a swell there in my chest compelling me to live to finally let go of fears and anxieties that I had about work and the future and to simply let myself be.
Now at 31 I can look back over the year and recognize the creative energy that took root that morning at the edge of the world. Since then, I have moved three times, from Berlin to St. Louis to Austin, written two chapters of my fledgling dissertation, and, the biggest jump of all, I had a daughter who is transforming me into someone quite unexpectedly real, the mother I once doubted I could be.
You have probably had similar moments when the world seemed to suddenly offer you support and insight. When and where did they occur for you?