I opened my eyes, stretched in my sleeping bag, and looked around. After a few moments, I recognized where I was and realized that I still wasn’t. I still wasn’t much of anywhere or much of anyone.” (from Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks)

These are the first three lines of a book that I wrote on a crisp fall morning seven years ago. These are the first three lines of a story I lived many mornings of my life what seems not so long ago. This is the broken world we all have such easy access to. How can the first thought we wake up with be so alienating, so painful, so grave? I still wake up with that same pit in my stomach some mornings. I don’t know if I’ll ever not know this feeling or if my memory will be cleansed of this kind of suffering. Just now, I’m soothing a pit from my stomach with a hot cup of chai tea.

My black cat Gretchen sits on my desk next to the keyboard purring. She wishes she could be in my lap pushing her full weight through her back into my belly, kneading my thighs, and forcefully jamming my arm off the keyboard, but she’s not. She reminds me of my commitment to embracing the void, to being courageous in the face of not knowing. There is no turning back now. Her overbearing presence makes that clear.

On the island, the fears were so tangible and immediate. I really was alone. Now the fears are like smoke that slips through my fingers. My vision is clouded and the air smells odd, but I am surrounded by people, civilization and the busyness of life. This morning as I prepare myself for another day, the day of the release of my book Gracious Wild, I go back to these first lines of the story for guidance. They help me remember the raw, sobering truth that we never really know who is out there and what is coming, that our minds can play fabulous tricks on us to make up fantastic fears, and the very best we can do is get brave, really brave. In being brave I learn over and over again that we are both inconsequential to the course of the universe and of utmost importance. The ego cannot grasp this truth, but the humble soul can. Imagining myself alone on an island brings me back to my fear, but also to my humble soul.

Today I pulled a beautiful card from the deck “Osho Zen Tarot” named “Creativity.” I’d like to share a quote:

Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative. If you have something growing out of it within you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine… The important thing is to be open to what wants to be expressed through you. Remember that we don’t posses our creations; they do not belong to us. True creativity arises from a union with the divine, with the mystical and the unknowable. Then it is both a joy for the creator and a blessing to others.

May this book be a blessing to the world and to you the reader. May you find healing in the pages. May Graccia and Thalia and all who gave their lives to this story touch your heart. This is the blessing I offer to you and the service I am in to the creator.