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Unmaking My Deal with the Devil

Resistance looks for any opening, any little wavering sign that you still want entanglement.

Returning home to Washington, interrupting my journey, was the first step.

I was out to beat that Devil, Resistance.

I had to be willing to pay a price for my freedom – in money, in time, in complete dedication and no equivocation, in patience and persistence and prayer.

A refugee now, in my own city, my house rented to a lovely couple with a toddler, the front porch project an unfinished mess, I felt myself wavering again, rethinking, regretting, upsetting. Gratefully, I found refuge at the home of some kind old friends. And there, in their neat and tidy Foggy Bottom rowhouse, despite the thunderstorms that knocked out the internet, and parking restrictions that sucked me into the mire of DC’s new permitting system, I got down to the business of untangling.

I consulted with lawyers and historic renovation experts, contacted local officials, wrote painstaking justification letters demanding fair treatment, contemplated legal action, and got lots of advice from friends.

All of this busywork, it turns out, was more entanglement.

I had to go lower, still. The nightmares got darker: in one, I rode a train that traveled in endless circles; tourists boarded and departed freely, joyfully, but the conductor would not let me off. I was destined to ride the loop forever.

By day, I got to where I could not walk a block, could not stand at the sink to wash dishes or brush my teeth, my back so gnarled up with stress and consternation, the weight of right actions bearing down on my shoulders. I certainly could not make it out the door for my daily yoga hikes, a routine I’d begun in Rhinecliff and had proudly kept up for over 50 days. (

Now I had to improvise, rolling out of bed, each morning, positioning my body in child’s pose, bowing my head to the floor, and relinquishing my fate to the Goddesses and Gods.

If I was serious about freedom and simplicity, my intentions had to be crystal clear; my actions had to follow.

Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu God of obstacles – he puts them up, and he also removes them.

My biggest obstacle was me.

I had to get out of my own way.

I had to acknowledge my mistakes and forgive my humanness.

I had to let go of the need to be right, of my ingrained desire for justice.

I had to write letters of truce and checks of reckoning and sign them with love and grace, kissing the envelopes as I dropped them in the mailbox.

The simplicity and freedom I’d claimed for myself a year ago was meant to be in service of the muse, in service of completion of my book, in service of a creative life. But in all the drama and distraction over the past weeks and months, I had not been able to compose three creative words.

Writing these posts was only possible because I began to pay my dues.

The Gods and Goddesses could see this and have rewarded me.

As my hand moves across the page, and words become sentences become paragraphs, I relax into my chair, the back pain subsides from a 9 to a 5.

I’m back home, in my body, home in the basement apartment of my Park Road rowhouse, back at base camp where I have a chance to start the journey anew, the Devil, for the moment, in retreat.

Coming soon, what happens at Base Camp...


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