It’s been a long time since I shared my words across the ether.
For many reasons, I could explain, as some are justifiably solid. I needed space, time, solitude and perspective in order to heal and grow. However, others are sounding off as incoherent alibis that never sound worthy of giving up on a dream. So I’ll spare you the excuses.
I still want to write. I don’t know what, where, how or why I want to write, but even as I strip away layer upon layer of my conditioned identity, “writer” remains somehow engaged to my essence.
The month of February allowed me to explore writing in a new way. The night of the full moon I committed to 30 days of writing for 30 minutes each day. I created the ’30 in 30 Writeathon’ with a list of 30 topics, one designated to each day. Half of the topics were in regards to myself, my own beliefs and experiences, while the other half focused on others and the external world. The commitment was a challenge, to say the least, but a valuable one which has affirmed this already undeniable knowing…
I am in love with the written word and it is through this medium that I want to share myself with the world. And so I will.
Day One of my Writeathon may be a solid place to start, as it seems mannerly to re-introduce myself after my disappearance. And so I will.
Day 1: “Describe yourself as you are right now. Write a personal bio.”
Any standard bio, I suppose, would start with a name, job title, a place of origin, cultural or nationalistic traits, some monologue on the journey that has gotten one to where they are now. But what if I was to say that at this point in time I feel unknown, undefined, undeveloped? How would one go about describing their current status from such a place?
I could begin with my name, as given to me at birth, Ana Mari Arruabarrena Russell. I believe it was chosen for its bilingual flexibility, Ana Mari, itself deemed an outdated name in its region of origin. It’s most often paired with housewives who have already seen their fantasy of numerous grandchildren come alive. Though commonplace, it’s a universally misspoken name, Anna Marie, Anne Mary, which again gives the impression that I was born two generations too late. Most people refer to me as Ana these days, and in the Spanish speaking countries I work we experience the same difficulties in confused identities as most Sarahs or Jessicas do. There are others who affectionately call me Anita, Anamai, Analein… names which warm my heart and allow me to feel slightly identified. Bringing me to a point, that in some strange way I do not feel as though I am an Arruabarrena, nor a Russell (unrelated to family ties). I am not Ana nor Ana Mari, nor any combination of the four. As of now, I feel as though I have no name I can confidently use to claim my work.
I will say though, there are two things I love about my name:
1. Mari is the supreme Goddess of Basque mythology. And she is a bad ass.
2. My initials spell AMAR which means “to love” in Spanish, an infinitive I am honored to represent.
Identity has somewhat transcended mundane labels in my world, I am a woman though am aware of the value of the masculine traits within me. And my definition of what it means to be a woman is constantly evolving as I question my beliefs. I am just embarking on my third decade, yet I feel younger and more vibrant than I did in my twenties. I am Basque, and I am American, but there is little very little nationalistic attachment that remains. I most deeply feel I am a child of this planet, gratefully in possession of two passports that allow me to exercise that birthright in these times of walled borders. I do, and may always carry the Basque culture and heritage deeply in my heart, with the understanding that without these roots a piece of my humanity would be lost. I’m also grateful for the entertaining repertoire of pop music my American upbringing has instilled in my subconscious. And thus, I honor and admire the attachment of others to their own culture, in fact, I am intrigued and slightly envious of it. However, there is no longer a fight left within me to defend the ideology or beliefs of said cultures.
In regards to the job title… we will leave that mess for another day. When cleaning out spaces things tend to get dirtier before progress is visible, correct? Let’s save ourselves some time and not unpack this heap, as there are always other matters to focus on.
What I think is apparent in such reflections are at least two things: one, I have made a habit of reflecting on my existence, and two, I am confused. This was a state that I would have liked to transcend in adolescence and through my early twenties, the era of rebellion and “figuring things out”, but in that time I instead chose to follow a more beaten path, one in which I was often guided by signs. And by signs don’t mean the mystical universal language Coelho so beautifully articulates, but rather the regulatory signs you will find on any urbanized district. I obeyed the “stops” the “yields” the reds and the go’s to the best of my ability, and would proudly say I managed to talk my way out of a ticket each time I was pulled over in violation.
It’s been a couple of years since I left those urban streets though, and in that time I have walked many an unbeaten path. I have cleansed my body of the toxicity of the past, then re-polluted it when I didn’t know what to do with my new-found vitality. I have spent extended periods of time in a state of fear and paranoia, been overtaken by self-doubt, wasted a lot of money, and given my heart and power completely and unconditionally to under-qualified human beings, who neither knew what to do with it, nor were aware it was even happening.
Many a dark swamp I have met. Yet I have managed to find the resources and determination to work my way back out into the sunshine. And in those moments I feel with certainty that I’ve made the right choice in moving to the jungle, that I am much better suited for mystery than for tradition. The longer I stay away, the harder it is to go back. I have learned to use a figurative and literal machete (and am very slowly gaining proficiency) as I walked my way through dense and confusing wilderness in order to come to this point… as I am “right now”. Almost 32, not married, not in love (at least in the traditional sense!), no children or dogs to account for… only a stronger understanding of what it means to love myself and how that relates to a true connection with God… or Universal Energy, or Dhamma, or Spirit (you see, names are an issue for me).
I am healing and I am healed. I am exploring consciousness and human potential. I am understanding addiction, I am noticing my attachment to certainty, I am finding a seat of humility to decipher the power struggles within and around me. I am healing my mind, body, spirit and emotions so that I may thrive in this life. Because in the deepest part of myself I know that this is our birthright. I dream of a world in which we all know who we are, unencumbered by a paradigm that does not serve our highest potential. I understand now that what I have chosen is a luxury that few have the determination or privilege to explore. And as (or when) the doubt in my choices dissipates, I begin to find how blessed I am to have this opportunity to question life itself.