Sever All Illusions
By Lindsey Scharmyn
Analog, concentric, electric, wisdom
Growing up without a home and sometimes without food, truly without any real stability, can send you into cycles of the same constant, lifelong lack and scarcity – or it can fast-track you into procuring everything you ever wanted and making god-damn sure you never live through the horror again.
I chose the latter.
My life held trauma and recovery from the shattered remnants of that childhood for decades, but no matter what other darknesses I lived through and grew from, I never stopped working myself nearly to death in order to create the life I had never had.
I got straight A’s in school, went to college during high school, eventually graduated with my masters, and grabbed the lifestyle most people aim for: a husband, a house, and a steady career. The path was not as straight as it sounds here, but it was always headed in that same direction and, eventually, I hit the target dead center.
The house I had always wanted had an ancient plum tree forty feet tall that rained down riches on us each spring. It had the cutest 1940’s craftsman style anyone could envision. The people before us had curated the most gorgeous garden beds full of a million fragrant flowers and herbs.
I could not have been happier.
Decades of grindstone-shining my path straight through granite cliffs paid off in the Mazda parked out front, the decadent eating-out I treated myself to multiple times a week, and the picture-perfect blue house with the red door, covered in plums and flowers in the emerald, manicured grass lawn on the hill.
I’d been at the current job for five years. I’d been with my man for three. He was truly good in his heart and soul and he loved me. I loved him. I’d only been with complete assholes, abusive remnants of a childhood still healing, before him. He represented the package of my life, come to fruition: I was stable, happy, established. I was loved, safe, and well in every way.
So why did an emptiness hang around everything I did?
Why was I constantly itching to be done with it all?
Why did I dream of doing anything but my job, anywhere but where I was? Why did I want to just leave it all behind and start something new? Every morning, I awoke, made a green-smoothie, drove the back road to work, put in my time, drove home, watched a pointless show, went to bed, and then did it all again.
It began to gnaw at me. Every day was the same and all of it good, all of it easy, all of it comfortable…but I began to realize there was a feeling inside that could no longer remain silent: I absolutely HATED my life.
All the boxes were checked. The list had been crossed off in totality. There was nothing left to accomplish. I served my community and countless children in my job. I made people’s lives better. I hiked in verdant, wooded mountains. I had everything I had ever told myself I wanted.
But, at the same time, I didn’t want anyof it.
I started in on my partner, “Let’s move to Savannah and open a book store. Let’s sell all our stuff and move into an RV and travel the country and then settle anywhere at all and open a little coffee shop. Let’s GO.”
The empty stare already told me the end of the story in the first moment I saw it.
I didn’t accept that ending for much longer.
It was a month at least before I realized that no amount of describing the possible adventure or the joy of creating our shop together, somewhere lost in the rural or backwater spaces of the US, could ever convince him. He had only just finally found his own calling. He had barely finagled himself into the dream job that had sat so far out of reach for so much of his life, so unlikely. He had found his place and he was happy. How could I want to ruin that?
I couldn’t even understand myself, so I went to the church of the high mountain trails to pray.
A soggy wandering through an ocean of forest, high up in the Cascade mountains brought me to a waterfall where I was called to wander beyond the viewing platform, into the moss-covered boulders and behind the bushes – where no one went.
I climbed and followed a soft cawing from my heart, a death bell that flew to my soul’s ears and told me that each step outside of the normal path for visiting hikers was one in which I moved ever closer to the truth. I listened. I worried I would get lost off the path and never return, but that was only my conscious thoughts…my deeper knowing held my hand the whole way.
There soon came a smaller, separate waterfall I had never seen. I marveled at its untouched beauty, as pristine as it was unknown. Moving to take a seat, I surged and propelled once more beyond where I would have stopped. This ineffable force kept pushing me further. I moved awkwardly across the waterway to sit, instead, on the far side from where I had stood.
Seated now, feet planted firmly on a mossy rock, cold air sliding down my cheeks and bare hands, an image caught my eye and set my blood to frozen chill at its completely alien placement and unlikely existence.
A hunting knife lay just before me, on a rock I could never have seen except from exactly where I sat, from exactly the angle at which I stared.
Very little can surprise me, after a long life of exceptional strangeness and endless journeys through the less trodden spaces of earth, but surprise was the least of my responses.
Shock kept me glued to the knife for many minutes while I wondered: who could have put this here? Why did they leave it open? How did my soul know to guide me to this exact spot? But most of all, how – HOW? – could it possibly be the exactsame knife in the exactsame, open position, on a completely similar rock by an utterly dissimilar waterway?
Just there, by the shore, on a rock, open but not completely, bent as though to close but unfinished, on a soggy day, in the high mountain…
I had been here before.
Two years prior, toward the beginning of our relationship.
We had found the joy of drinking far too much and far too often, together. We had drunk so much, the previous night, that I could barely drive, that day. I had pulled off because we were missing some of the most beautiful territory known to man, blearily passing through while barely holding on to our consciousness. I pulled off and forced my pounding head and bloated, groggy body to walk along the shore of this windy, cold-saturated lakeside. I had walked and walked, trying to stop hating myself for consistently drinking so much that I couldn’t even enjoy the pristine natural beauty that flowed all around me, as though life were effortless when we all knew it was anything but.
Open. Half-closed, forgotten on this rock in the middle of nowhere on the shores of an empty lake in an empty forest high up in the mountain.
And here it was again. At a waterfall, hundreds of miles and two years away. The same brand, the same color, the same style, in the same position, in the same place that was not the same place.
But wasn’t I in the same place?
Hadn’t I still continued to miss the beauty and the splendor of every day in order to drink a smoothie and pretend to be healthy? Hadn’t I propelled myself along the road with bleary head and heart just so I could arrive somewhere finally instead of enjoying the moments themselves?
My heart may have stopped beating, but it had started burning.
Deep breaths brought the truth in: I came here for a reason, I was guided to this spot for this experience, nothing was an accident.
But I couldn’t understand the message. Why a knife? What did it mean? How could it matter?
So, I asked the waterfall, still pouring its sparkling waters all around me, holding me in closeness as I reeled a million directions at once: “What does it mean? What am I supposed to do?”
And the answer whispered into my deepest self from everywhere and nowhere at once, as the waterfall answered: “Cut it all off. Sever it. Leave it behind. Find yourself amidst the freedom.”
It took many hours of sitting with the waterfall to let myself understand and really believewhat I had been shown and told. But, once I heard the message, really let it seep into my bones, nothing could have ever been more clear.
The hardest part was telling my partner I was leaving. That I loved him dearly and always would and that our paths no longer aimed in the same direction. That pain was brutal. Because it wasn’t just that I was going to sell my house and my car, quit my job, and go roaming aimlessly in order to find out where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do, it was that I was never coming back.
Severing: it doesn’t mean hitting the pause button, it means rewinding and re-recording over the tape itself.
When I told them I was leaving, my coworkers asked me why I would choose to be homeless. I laughed so hard, both at their misunderstanding and at the irony – because, in a way, they were right! I had run so hard and fast from homelessness for my whole life, and here I was jumping head first into it!
Still, when I finally pulled away from that final sale and the tearful goodbyes and my family believing I was having a mental breakdown and throwing my life away in a final fit of insanity, nothing could have felt better. And nothing could have felt further from the horror of instability and homelessness I had run from my whole life. I was not running from something, anymore. I was running toward something. There was no horror, only hope and a knowing that reality lay in wait, somewhere out there.
I had no real plan. I had no real goals. I had a handful of friends I hoped to visit along a path I chose each day as I set out. And I had something more precious than any of that freedom I had created for myself: I had me.
And what else is finally finding yourself within your life, where you had been waiting all along, except finally coming home?
I had been homeless all along, truly. It was only in severing everything I had built up in illusion of what and who I was that I could find the only home that would ever matter: the one inside.
See, I had never actually had that before. I had a vision and a goal. I had a commitment and a mold to fill. I had a checklist of items to acquire and situations to experience. And, when I had accomplished all that and held all those things, I realized they meant nothingif I had never, not for one moment in my life, lived only for myself, in line with myhighest truth, without any encumbrance.
Just like the wind and water held my soul and called to me from the hidden parts of the forest and lakes, life knew where I was going long before I did. I had many adventures in my van all over the North American continent, all of them stories for another time, because the most important adventure and path I took was the one that brought me to my new home, to the lost piece of my soul somehow hidden away inside another human who was so very improbable to find, yet somehow was found.
And here I sit, a world away but just next door to where I always had been, a whole new person though I was never anyone but me, in a whole new life even as it looks nearly the same as the one I had before.
But there’s one big difference: I listen to myself more clearly, follow the path my soul laid out for me long before I knew it consciously, and have no lists to check off, not ever again. Now, I only have the moment to fulfill by being fully in it, right here, right now.
Nothing could be better – this is real freedom. Trust yourself, come join me. Come home.
“4-armed Mask Guy” and “Hobo Hot Air Balloon” are both Johnny Larson’s art: johnnylarson.com
“Wolf Waterfall” is Jaems Murphy’s: https://www.facebook.com/jaemsmurphy
Lindsey Scharmyn is a lifelong educator and healer as well as a wanderer between worlds. As a Board Certified master teacher, she eventually saw the system as irredeemable, and now works to create new systems for education, sharing, learning, spiritual growth and renewal. With decades in tarot reading, Lindsey also now serves clients with Guidance Sessions to connect with source messaging. Lindsey creates and shares orgone art and pendants, has authored fictional novels and poetry as channeled art, and cannot wait to connect with you through her show and podcast, Rogue Ways. Email: email@example.com || Visit: http://www.rogueways.org