schirin oeding

under a peregrine star

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Breaking Up | Breaking Open


I’ve always enjoyed the small details of life. My favorite place is the forest floor in springtime: spring beauties, hepatica, ramps, fiddleheads, trillium, wild ginger in flower, dappled sunlight on emerging green. Those are the things that make my heart sing. I like vast views, too, but I’m always more apt to drop down, smell the rotting leaves that hug the earth, dig my hand into the organic matter, see the bugs and worms at work there, the mushrooms that enchant the soil. In life, though, sometimes, this causes confusion. The “big picture” gets lost somewhere up above, details begin to dominate, and the little things start to become disconnected from the landscape that houses them. I recently broke up with a person I was head over heels in love with, and entangled with. The breaking up, the deconstruction of our relationship, was a landscape opening up around me, and, in a sense, swallowing me. Looking up was, is, scary. It means placing myself; recognizing where I am, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I searched for minute details, saving graces, the little things that grow along the wayside and make the journey beautiful—trying to avoid seeing the vastness ahead of me. I found those little things, of course I did, but the more I looked down at them (or rather back at them) the more this vastness beckoned to me.

In the introduction to his book Portrait of My Body, Philip Lopate asks the questions that for a long time stopped me from starting this blog, “What gives me the right to assume my life is worth taking so seriously? Is it arrogance? Self-centeredness? Yes… but not entirely. We must remember that most writers have only their own story to tell. In my case, I can also report better through my eyes what the world looks like than by pretending omniscience. I want to record how the world comes at me […].” In my search for the courage to really be where I am, to put aside escapism and to rewrite my grand dreams, I am daring myself to share some of the stories that seem, to me, to be the least public of them all. Please take what you like from them. I think of this as an exercise in spontaneous storytelling, not a foray into autobiographical perfection.

In this new beginning, there are still a million questions that keep me turning my head back. There are a million answers, or maybe (probably) more, none of which are as satisfying as taking a deep breath and looking forward. There are still plenty of things that go bump in the night—but there are also stars, and the moon, to light the way. Rob Brezsny, whose Free Will Astrology I enjoy weekly, planted an idea in my mind many years ago. “The universe,” he writes, “is conspiring to shower you with blessings.” What an audacious thing to say! And is it true? There are certainly enough instances when it doesn’t seem so, enough times when things seem to be heading so stubbornly in the opposite direction that it is easy, almost obligatory, to laugh at his pronouncement. And yet. I believe he is right. Counting my blessings, even when I rely on someone else to sit me down and do it for me, has a way of putting me in my place (the place where I happily look out, up, and all around me to see that I am, in fact, in a good and beautiful place). Looking up, lately, I have been shocked by the many blessings that I have received. What I have received has reminded me to plan and dream and simultaneously plant myself firmly in the earth of this place.

Here are some things that have pleased me to no end lately. Things that have tickled me pink, and made my heart pitter-pattern. Things that have caused me to jump with glee and awe.

A dear friend of mine, who lives a bit too far away for my liking, has decided to tie the proverbial knot. I am so absolutely thrilled for the two of them—I can’t even put words to it. And what is more, I am bursting with pride, as they have asked me to officiate at their wedding. Love, love, love! What an honour (and responsibility…).

While the above is surely number ONE, there are a few more things, too. Lucky me! Another blessing is that I live in a city that, as it greens with spring and new life, is full of beautiful surprises. I’ve been reluctant to find steady ground here, having had the idea that I wouldn’t be here for very long, and that planting my feet wasn’t really “worth my while.” That’s something I am committing to changing. No matter how long I stay here, I want to feel close to this place, get a sense of its people and its stories. Yesterday, a bike ride revealed a long, verdant corridor of uncharted pathway, echoing the river. A desire path created not by the city but by people who wanted to walk or bike there. On one side, the river; on the other a forested slope, thick with spring ephemerals (like a flood of white trillium).

I am also, still, beyond excited and filled with happy anticipation for the six weeks I get to spend at the Omega Institute this summer… Being able to go there and take a course for six weeks is an unbelievable, unexpected gift.

There are plenty of other things to say, here. I’ll leave it at this for now, and spend a minute basking in the universe’s conspiratorial bounty. A thought for you, too—something that a friend gave me a number of years ago, written on a card that lives in my wallet.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,

our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant,

gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”


who are you not to be?



I get to go back here this summer…