I can see myself, sitting and crying on the beach. I am 24 years old, unemployed, married, and flailing in life. I am lost.
Thanks to my husband we have disposable income, though, and I have realized the joys of combing the self-help shelves and coming away with a stack of books.
I have discovered SARK who gives me permission to nap.
I have discovered Sarah Ban Breathnacht who feeds my desire to live a life of my own choosing.
I have discovered Jennifer Louden who has taught me the practice of retreat.
I had always been more comfortable hanging out with guys. I had trouble with female friendships. They didn’t seem to stick, always breaking my heart. Even my beloved sister left the family, causing me to doubt my worth for years.
And I was lonely. My husband worked long, compulsive hours at work. I who had never spent a night alone until I was 21 years old, suddenly had hours and hours of solitude.
I longed for companionship. I longed for intimate, abiding relationships – ones that wouldn’t threaten my marriage, like the friendships with men did.
And so I cried. I sobbed on that beach, acknowledging this self-loathing and this chasm of longing inside of me – neither of which I knew how to address.
At that moment a swan appeared.
I had never seen swans in the wild before. Maybe it was the DDT of the 80s and their comeback. Maybe I just wasn’t very observant. But in all my visits to Caumsett State Park I had never seen swans.
Unfamiliar as I was, I thought it was magic that a swan should be there, late winter, calming gliding across the water.
I wracked my brain for anything I knew about Swan’s animal wisdom. All I found was an old Hans Christian Anderson story called “The Ugly Duckling.”
Little does he know that he is a swan.
He emerges from a long winter of isolation and is recognized by his kindred spirits, the beautiful swans, who take him as their own.
It was the perfect analogy of my own life, and it was there on the water floating by as if by magic and seemingly contrary to Nature, right there in front of me.
I was an ugly duckling, and it was awful. All the years of being bullied in HS, the years of depression, the years of feeling like an oddball because I collected crystals and adored dragons. It was absolutely awful.
That ugly duckling found a place of belonging, and therefore I could find a place of belonging. I could somehow find my tribe.
And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know how to make that happen. I didn’t know how a swan could show up on a beach on the North Shore of Long Island and yet, there it was.
I was - and still am - firmly convinced that the Universe set it there for me to receive that gift of hope. I had hope that in the same Providential way I was shown the swan, I would also be shown how to get from the place I was to the life I so desperately longed to live.
That’s the beach I’ll be going back to on Leap Day when I do my Wishes on the Water Ritual. That’s the beach where I’ll be setting my little origami boat on the waves, my dream written lovingly inside. That’s where I hope your big dream will be, too.
And I have no doubt that there will be swans.
He was both the pain of his current reality…and the promise of his desired future.
Just as I was, that day 20 years ago on the beach.
Just as your dream is.
And just as I discovered on that day on the beach 20 years ago, you do not have to know how to get from your current reality to your desired outcome.
All you need is a show of faith.
Commit to it, and the Universe will take care of showing you the way.
And that’s what my ritual is all about – I’m stating my commitment to my dream, my precious wish of being published.
It’s me saying “I don’t know how to get there, but I’m willing to be shown. Because, I really, really want this. I’ve despaired of ever having it but I’ve got faith that somehow, some way, this can be a reality.”
I know you’ve got a dream like that, too.
Something precious to you, something you long for so deeply it brings you to tears. Something that maybe you’ve despaired of ever making a reality. Something that you don’t have any idea of how to make it happen.
This is your chance for a show of faith.
Pay from the heart, tell me your wish, and I’ll set it free on the gently lapping shore of that magical beach. Hopefully with the blessing of swans.