I accidentally felt happy. For days and weeks after the visceral, physical breaking out of the cocoon I was bound up in, a feeling kept flitting in my side view. Brief and effervescent, blue and bright and entertaining. What was this? It was familiar and fleeting and then swooped back up and out and I laughed, a lot. Smiling in my kitchen alone, at the sun in the window I realized this was happy.

It was so long since I felt something similar to this—so many shedding skins ago, that I kept quiet. I didn’t want to shoot back into a caterpillar skin or reincarnate into trying and testing again if I spoke it out loud.

A few weeks ago I went to D.C. on a work trip, flying into air I used to be afraid of, settled in with a movie and few hours of silent shuttling sky, sitting in tandem quiet with a kind-souled fellow traveler. I wish I could explain what happened then, maybe someday there will be words for what it is when two people who have both found themselves as butterflies find the same draft of air. For now it is enough to know that while the cocoon may feel lonely, newly winged flight is not.

I spent the next five days waiting on couches in hotel libraries, trying on hats and wandering new streets, running to keep warm and crying from the cold. I came home and talked on the phone, met people in stores and smiled, sipped soup and felt full, bought bread and coffee creamer and wore warm socks on frigid nights.

I lived. And until then I thought what I was doing before was living, but it wasn’t. It was leaning toward what I thought would feel more, look better, seem easier somehow. I was waiting to live until living felt nicer. If I could go back and try it again, faster, better, would I? No. I had moments of great through every minute of my life as a caterpillar and cocoon. I had family and love and friends and a life that held me while I found my way to this. I hold it in my hands like a cup of warm tea, look across the steam and see sugared sunlight fall through leaves, see the shadow cast of light in an afternoon room, and I know that this life is magnificent.

It is magnificent.


“Letting go is a death to holding on.”


When we have stayed still longer than is comfortable, when the chafe of life wears a ringing in our ears from listening too hard, too focused. When we have sat on our hands instead of deciding, as if the decision is out there, something external pulling it into existence, always a few steps ahead, the carrot chase of it a constant question. When we have asked and asked, when will it be time, the answer is, ‘when you let go’.

Letting go let’s go of the one who holds on. The one who tries one more way, studies one more skill, thinks about how to work this better, figure it out, succeed. It’s letting go of the one who talks it out, who brings it to trusted friends and mentors, who thinks that hanging on means being there when the secret is revealed, the thing that solves it all.

Here is the secret; move when life moves you, stop listening to anything except the song singing you forward. Stand up. Know it is not out there, it is right here, and the time is when you say it is.

We have never wanted to go to bed before the show ends, we want to see how it turns out. We have believed the show is being written for us, a cliffhanger of what is coming, and we don’t want to miss it, as if the prize only given to those in attendance.

To chase the carrot on the end of the illusory stick, to wait for an ending written by another storyteller, is to be forever focused on something that does not belong to you. It was never yours, it was just trying to get you to live poised and hungry.

Letting go gives you hands free to till and plant and harvest, to be green from pulling weeds, not white from holding still.


North Rim, Grand Canyon circa 1992

30 years ago my friend Kris and I left our classes at BYU to go on a road trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument three hours away. We started the trip with cassette tapes falling off the roof of the car where we left them as we packed our Birkenstock sandals, hers real, mine fake, our shorts and t shirts and no real idea of where we were going. All we knew was we were driving, singing to George Michael, watching the Utah landscape shift from brown to green to red, our blinking eyes changing the scenes like a classic view finder toy.

I don’t remember everything about that road trip, a brief memory of the place we intended to go, the rock formations beautiful and stunning and not enough. We drove south, and ended up at the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

I was fearless as I sat on the edge for that picture, adventurous when we climbed into a rock building with no windows and posed for more, the setting sun lighting the last picture I have of us, sitting up against a boulder, together, sated and suntanned on this meandering trip.

We had a flat tire, a stay at a very dingy motel, rolling the tire down the street to be repaired in a town I no longer remember its name—and all the while pictures of us laughing.

South Rim, Grand Canyon 2022

Last week driving alone from Utah to Sedona I saw a sign for the south rim, 25 miles off the route, and I took it, the ghost of that adventurer who sang and laughed nudging me to take the right in that round-about. I thought I was going to find fearlessness there, enlightenment, the vista that would take my breath away, taking away my gathered up anxieties and wished for antidotes.

As the road started to climb I was terrified, each mile forward, deeper and deeper into a panic of what do I do, how do I get out of this? There was no way to turn around, and I could see the canyon out of the corner of my eye, breathing heavily I kept driving, no choice to go right or left, I turned into a look out, so that I could drive back down. The view above was beautiful I guess, for someone who could see it. I could not. I was ungrounded, wind blown and even looked around at the people walking on that dirt on the edge wondering if someone could drive me back down.

I found my way back to level ground, cursing myself for the road I had taken. Questioning what I believed would happen when I got there. Knowing I was not ever going to find the freedom I had looked for, it was not for me, the giving up angry and vindictive and final.

And then, many graces and gifts over the next six days, spent in an infinity of women, led me back. Sedona, the place I was meant to go, that would be meaningful for me, surprised me open.

South Rim, Grand Canyon. 6 days later.

Another day I will write about the cross hanging around my neck, the one I chose because it has a circle in it, never realizing what that would mean as I returned to this place, 6 days and 30 years later, my friend Kris replaced in the car by other strong and trusted women, meandering, no idea where we were going, but seeing and being seen all along the way.

I am fearless in this picture. Adventurous, together and sated. All the way home, we laughed.


Which part do I own? Which question, sent, now belongs to me? What narrow pathway is mine to navigate, simply because someone else did not?

There is a time when we believe a question becomes a command, that the act of sending on a sentence, with a lilt at the end, is the hook that will grab, catch and net you into changing your focus from what you were doing, to what someone else is needing.

Did this happen when we were toddlers, our all important ‘no’ dismissed, discouraged and disciplined? Was it when we were disappearing teens, our rooms blockaded and walled with music and posters, the emerging from that cocoon a time to ask for a favor, an errand, easier to ask then to know what someone else is experiencing, feeling.

Perhaps now, we do the same, jump to answer a rope of questions instead of asking one. My one question is this: What would happen if we took the hook and gently tossed it back into the air, the filament of need floating back to the one who cast it, who already knows what to do, and can do it?

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if someone wasn’t there to catch the question, who would take up the flag of figuring it out, and run it to the end of the field? By answering, we take away that goal, that touchdown, that win.

The part I own is to answer my own question and not take the field.