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Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Swan feather in river

Today I stumbled upon four pure white swans on the Clark Fork River Delta

Grey clouds toped the deep blues and purples of the distant North Idaho mountains

Towering evergreen and bare cottonwood trees lined the snowy banks

My presence startled them

They took off from the emerald turquoise water into the sky

and I could swear someone was shining a stage light on them

the way they were illuminated

against the winter sky

Their wings hit the river's surface with such force

clapping their heavy bodies into flight

The four white lights circled tree tops and then were gone

A single feather was left behind

Gently swirling with the current

The feather followed me as I walked higher up on a bank paralleling the river

After awhile I hiked back down to the water to collect my kayak and paddle on

I turned up river and there was the feather

Drifting into the snowy pebbled shore where I stood

I picked it up

and ran it across my cheek


Strength in grace

Touched by the sky and the river

Last night I had crawled back into my mind and dissociated from my body

and let my old life run me

I woke up full of shame

I had taken the kayak out to clear my mind and come back to me

The softness of the river feather on my skin was what I needed

It opened me up like a patch of blue sky

An image from the day before came back to me

The dad carrying the child with the shiny swollen bald head

and deep jagged surgical scar inscribed from ear to ear

That image took me right back to my own shiny bald 8 year old head

and the toxicity

of chemicals

of environment

that I got lost in

Leukemia, a cancer of the blood, is about the brutal killing of inspiration


of the water maps of our bodies

of the blood vessels of life

of joy

These two words have been showing up a lot in my life recently: restriction and flow

Holding on and letting go

There's this disconnect between the story I've told and the recognition that the same body I inhabit now is the one that I inhabited then.

How do I accept it and let it go at the same time?

Holding the story in my heart is profoundly different than holding it in my head.

Maybe it's in the acceptance that I finally let it go.

My relationship with my body has been 90% taking.

What I gave it has been a transaction, not love, compassion, or understanding.

I was so desperate in my own skin as a kid for connection and pleasure that I self-soothed the shit out of it, to a destructive degree.

And I didn't have the tools yet to know anything different

I stored messages of not belonging and not being lovable

and normalized a home environment that contaminated me and shut down every emotion I experienced

even too much joy

was too much

My parents did the best they knew how to do. They didn't have any tools or guidance themselves.

But what I had learned is that life is a box

filled with the weight of a heavy boulder

and edges that define me

not a river

bending and curving

channeling in deep gorges

and expanding into the meanderings of least resistance

The cool thing about these awarenesses of the life that was

is that now I have a choice for the life that is

To continue being the weight of the boulder

or the river

Theres a reason I touched the gently swirling feather and not the birds in flight today

Surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the waters


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