This week on Daily Burn (my virtual workout subscription) the crew was talking about presence and how to be more present. Of course tons of people said they need to put down their phones while having dinner with their families, ice skating, juggling. You know.
I’ve been present to my feelings. Oh so present. And I’ve been present to letting go. This whole year has been a lesson in ice skating while juggling — you’ve got to let something go or you’re going to fall or drop everything.
I am gifting my old green Guild acoustic-electric guitar to my niece Julia. She had asked me where I got it after she stayed at my house while I was away and a little Google search showed that you really can’t find this specific guitar anymore. So I told her I’d bring it to her the next time I traveled to New Jersey to visit.
Brent brought the case up from the basement and I opened it and checked the little compartment inside to find a piece of paper printed with some lines from Hedwig and the Angry Inch as well as handwritten words and chords to “Ziggy Stardust” that my ex (and friend) Wil had written. I had forgotten we had tried out for the show together at Harvard and he played my guitar. Neither of us made the show. One of us got called back and I can’t remember which one of us that was.
Sliding the guitar into the soft maroon interior of the case dislodged a wave of grief in me so deep I did the old barf-cry. I described it later as losing my shit, but I didn’t really lose my shit. I found my shit, if anything. And I had been irritable all day, so I knew I was due for a cry.
How I got that guitar was a touch of magic. Wil told me, “I saw this guitar you are going to want.” And the next time we were at Sam Ash together I saw this beautiful, curvaceous emerald guitar with a cutaway and I rushed toward it.
“I have to have this guitar,” I said.
“That’s the one,” he said.
So as I knelt down to put her in the case all of this stuff came flooding in. That guitar represented possibility to me. I wrote so many songs on it. Nancy took Polaroids of me in my mom’s sparkly black gown playing that guitar in her old house. I was getting ready to put a demo tape together and the world felt open. And now I was literally closing the case on that guitar and all it represented, it felt like.
I called my sister Nancy to get her opinion on it and she called me back later after I was already feeling better, eating pizza and watching Die Hard with Brent. She said sometimes it’s the most loving thing to give something you really care about to someone you love. I agreed. So I packed up the guitar in the car and brought it down for Julia. I’m glad she will have it. Especially this year after she lost her father and I lost mine.
It’s funny how our feelings-systems work. After doing Erin Telford’s breathwork course I am far more in touch with mine and am sometimes surprised at how intense my tears can be. But, as my friend Sara said in response to my sharing the depth of my grief with her, “You don’t die from grief.” It might feel like it sometimes, though.
“Let go or be dragged,” they say. They’re right. The old possibilities might have closed but there are always new ones. So I am present for my thirst for possibility and looking toward whatever that might be. I trust life will surprise me with something. And I’ll be present for it.
Are you letting go? Feeling oh-so-present? Let me know how it's going if you feel like it. And if this holiday is a lesson in juggling while ice skating and weeping know that you are not alone.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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