Of Rabbits and Roosters

Acupuncturist Dianne Connelly once wrote “All sickness is homesickness. All healing is homecoming. Sharing moves me homeward.” If I had five seconds to identify a guiding ethos for my life, these words would tide me over until I could find my own. When I am sick, whether of heart, mind, body, or spirit, it is always because I am not at home within myself. When I find my way back, I feel better, and when I share the story, the sickness leaves, having imparted the lesson it came to teach. After this year, I don’t just feel this, I know it. I know it real hard.

This past year almost took me out. All the way. The crucible of trying to get my word darlings published, the years-long strain of using all of my meager resources to do so, and the surprisingly hollow satisfaction once the goal was achieved all sat atop a big, deep iceberg. This glacial mountain held strata of family stress, old wounds, and searing psycho-spiritual growing pains. The iceberg scoured the ocean floor of my heart more times than I thought I could endure. When I thought it was over, I got a little tattoo on my wrist to commemorate the year life almost took me out. It turns out the tattoo was more of a premonition that the worst was yet to come, and come it did. Then I stopped breathing.

I have another acupuncturist guru in my life, the wise and wonderful Brooke Moen, who gave me a Chinese astrology chart reading for my birthday last year, about a third of the way in to my personal Waterloo. The upshot was, I am a Wood Rabbit, the most yin of yin. My nature is all about homes and burrows, family and comfort, sex and love, but my destiny doesn’t give a shit about rabbits. My destiny demands a fire-breathing dragon, a fearless tiger, a confident rooster. My inner rabbit twitched an ear in recognition as Brooke spoke. It ain’t easy being a fire-breathing bunny.

As winter set in, I found a temporary burrow in Burlington, VT for the winter, hoping for solitude broken only by the visitors of peace, calm, and clarity. Here was a house. A comfy bed, a kitchen for cooking, and a bathtub for soaking. Here was safe.  But about a month in, I developed a deep, guttural, gut-clenching cough that raked my throat and threatened to burst the veins in my neck. My breathing became shallow and labored, even while laying on the couch reading a book. I would brace my hands on my knees like a sprinter, fixing my muscles of respiration to help things along, but I looked like what I was– an ailing dragonbunny choking on smoke; a roosterbunny choking on her crow.

Actually, the prevailing opinion amongst the medical professionals I consulted was a bad reaction to mold and mildew. Before even discovering this, my body began seeking its cure. Every chance I got, I drove towards the snow-capped mountains and took myself for hikes, forcing alpine air into my lungs to purge the invading spores. Sometimes I feared I might keel over, wheezing and clutching at elusive oxygen molecules like a geriatric with emphysema rather than a fit, dedicated hiker. It was humbling, healing, and as Diane Connelly would say, it was homing.

As Spring came and the question of “What next?” clamored louder, I felt the old siren song of semester work asking to fill the looming gap between summer and winter, when editing commitments would come calling. “But all I want is a home!” the Wood Rabbit squeaked indignantly. “I want a warm bed, a warm body to share it with, and I want to make some baby bunnies, dammit!” But as my boots cracked the brittle Spring ice melting along the trails and the strength returned to my lungs, the bunny knew the truth and so did I. Home was under my feet, bed was anywhere I laid my head, and sometimes the best thing you can share with another warm body is your story.

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