Today my teacher said: Imagine a long line of suitors each bringing you some version of your heart’s desire. Let them present their offerings to you, one after another. See what you discover.
I didn’t want to play this game. My heart’s desire is not something one person might offer another, not something you can hold in your hand, not something that comes in versions.
But maybe that was the point. Maybe I need to begin dreaming up tangibles. Maybe I wouldn’t get so stuck in the clouds if I did, so riddle me this you infinite eager suitors: Show me what I will make. Of all the writing projects swimming in my pool just now, which should I pursue and how will it turn out?
I lit my candle, said my prayers, tucked my feet up under me and began to dream. And this is what I dreamed…
The Wellspring takes my face in her hands and kisses me. Her kiss is like a drink of cool water. I reside in the Wellspring and she resides in me. I could stay here, resting in her golden light, but there is something that needs doing, there are people waiting. Not suitors of course but wise women, all sitting patiently in the grass, all wearing saris, a rainbow queue snaking over the hill and into the trees.
The bright silks make my heart glad. This is so much better than suitors. The wellspring drapes me in a sari too, the color of sunshine, with undertones of orange and red, but in the main, bright yellow. She touches open the pin-prick star in my forehead and the other one in my chest. She touches open a new star at my throat, the palest aqua blue, and two more dangling from my ears, to remind me that good telling is suspended in listening.
I take my seat. I am ready.
The first woman in the queue comes forward and hands me a glossy covered hardback book, dark blues and blacks. The book falls open in my hands and an elaborate cardboard confection rises out of it. “A popup book? Seriously?”
The woman is grinning and nodding her head. “Sacred Geometry,” she beams. She thinks it’s wonderful. I think it’s ridiculous.
The next in line hands me a small gumball machine capsule filled with shredded paper and a small gemstone. I reject this one as well, and remind everyone that we are looking for writing projects. WRITING projects please.
Next up hands me a small paperback book. It is my manuscript “Asking Directions”. It has a compass on the cover, circled by a snake. The next version of the book shows a girl leaning up against the shoulder of a big brown bear. The next shows a hint of wing, the trace of a face, a star shining through it all and below in the bottom right corner, a splayed-leg frog with delicate wet feet.
Next in line isn’t a sari’d woman, it is the Buffalo Man. He hands me a version of the book that has removable cards. I pull one out and tuck it in under my silks. I realize how badly I want people to be able to take what I write and wear it close to their skin, like a tattoo, an ointment, a fragrance.
A very small very old creature steps up next. She has no version of anything to show me. She reaches up and lays her hand on my chest and my heart blooms out into a flower, long thin white petals surrounding a yellow core.
And that’s it, my heart’s desire, everything I wanted. I drop everything I’d held in my hands. “Has it nothing to do with writing at all then?” I ask.
The old one turns the question back on me asking, “What part does writing play in your journey to this blooming?”
“It is the path, the map, the disentanglement. Writing is the practice.”
The old one rests her hands on me in blessing. She says, “Every day there are knots to untangle. Every day you learn to see newly. Every day you learn to speak true.”
And then it was done.
Sometimes you get what you want even when you think it’s a secret.