Two women who row with a different club kindly helped my husband and me with our boats and oars at a regatta recently, when we didn’t have anyone else from our own club there, and we were in a big rush because our single and double races were scheduled very close together.

We decided to buy gift baskets to show our appreciation, with apples and other fruit, which we gave to them when we saw them again at another regatta this past weekend.

While I was sitting at my desk on a workday morning, with gift baskets and other cheerful things on my mind, I heard a sad little voice in my thoughts, far away in the distance.

“I was in pain for a long time.”

The voice definitely belonged to Queenie, my troubled younger self who had been wandering around in my thoughts for the past few years, wailing that she was always in pain. Something was different this time, however. I realized after a moment that she was using the past tense, which indicated more emotional distance and capacity for self-reflection. Queenie, it seemed, was finally starting to grow up.

Because I already had gift baskets on my mind, I decided to pop in and visit Queenie in the imaginary village of Channelwood, bringing a virtual basket of goodies with me.

Photo of gift basket wrapped in plastic with purple ribbons.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

It was a chilly autumn night when I arrived. A sliver of moon didn’t give me much light to navigate the narrow little walkway that led to Queenie’s tiny house. I held onto the railing, which was slightly damp, with one hand and the gift basket with the other.

Up ahead, the inviting glow of candlelight seeped through the curtains. I arrived at the door and knocked, feeling just a bit silly about being so formal with a character who, after all, existed only inside my head. Still, considering all of Queenie’s fears and insecurities, I thought it best to respect her personal space.

She came to the door wearing a robe over a nightdress, with her hair wet and tightly braided. Maybe she had been caught outside in the same rain that had left the railing damp. If so, I thought she probably was comfortable by now. A firepot blazed cheerfully in a corner, warming the room, and apple-scented candles in sconces brightened it further.

“Goodies for you,” I said, holding up the basket.

Queenie stepped aside to let me enter. “Thanks. Is today a special occasion?”

I was about to say “Not really,” because it wasn’t a holiday or other notable event on the calendar. Then I thought about it and decided that today really was special because Queenie looked so much better.

“Yes, it’s always special when friends get together and have a good day.”

Queenie had to smile at that. “I’m reminded of Winnie the Pooh.”

“There’s a lot of wisdom in Pooh Bear’s fuzzy little head,” I agreed, standing just inside the door.

“I would offer you a honey jar, but we don’t have any here,” Queenie informed me. “We did find some wild honeybees not far from here, though, and Sara has been thinking that she might take up beekeeping.”

“That’s ambitious of her,” I said. “Don’t worry about offering me any food; I wasn’t planning to stay for very long. I can see that you’re getting ready for bed, and I wouldn’t want to disrupt your evening. I just wanted to wish you a good night.”

As the scene faded and I came back to my present-day life, I still could feel the warmth of Queenie’s cozy little house all around me.

On Friday after work I started feeling gloomy, as if there had been many times when nothing would go as I wanted it, despite my efforts. To cheer myself up, I got a cup of vanilla caramel tea, and then I sat down to relax for a little while. The gloom didn’t seem inclined to go away, though.

Hmm… maybe the present-day me wasn’t the one who needed cheering up.

I visualized an old-fashioned tea service that had two settings in a floral pattern, a basket with a loaf of hot bread wrapped in a white cloth napkin, and a jar of apple butter. Then I pictured all of that sitting invitingly on a wooden outdoor table in the imaginary long-ago village of Channelwood, and I looked around for my often-troubled younger self Queenie.

Tea set for two with floral pattern.

At first I didn’t see her, but then I heard a grunt not far away. Turning around, I saw Queenie in thick cotton gloves, busily cutting up a small tree that had fallen across a nearby path. She had sawdust all over her gingham dress, her bonnet was askew, and a ferocious scowl made plain what sort of day she was having.

Then she saw me and tried to get her face arranged in better order. “You know I didn’t mean it,” she said, before I had even greeted her.

“No accusations here,” I told her mildly, with a nod toward the table. “I’ve just brought some tea.”

A severed branch fell to the ground with a thunk. Queenie put down her saw and took off the sap-stained gloves, not looking much happier as she did so.

“It’s not fair, at all,” she complained, throwing the gloves into a pile of branches, “that when I have a bad day, which of course I didn’t want, you show up to remind me that I’m also making my future selves miserable. Why should I have to be responsible for what goes on in your life? It’s hard enough to deal with my own feelings, without having to worry about yours too.”

A cool breeze blew in from the cliffs above the beach, smelling of salt and washed-up seaweed. It set the leaves to rustling and carried the cry of a lone gull, high and plaintive.

I started to say something, thought better of it, and instead picked up the teapot and poured for both of us.

“Actually, you’re right,” I acknowledged, after a minute or so. “And, you are doing much better when it comes to recognizing and expressing your feelings. You knew exactly what was bothering you just now, and you were able to put it into words and explain it to me clearly.”

Queenie sat down across from me, looking somewhat mollified, and took a slice of bread from the basket.

“Well, I couldn’t say much before I came here, you know,” she told me, still sounding a bit defensive. “I would’ve been laughed at or yelled at—or both—if I talked about my feelings. Besides, it didn’t seem like anyone cared.”

“I’m not here to blame you for how you handled things before,” I reassured her, as I put some bread on my plate and took a sip of tea. “All I wanted to do was cheer you up a little, if I could. What made today such a bad day?”

“That tree.” Queenie gestured toward the fallen wreckage in frustration. “I cut firewood all the time, of course, now that I live here in a small village. And usually I don’t mind, but that tree was one of my favorites. It had lovely blossoms in the spring. I pruned it carefully, expecting that it would look even better next year; but we had a storm last night, and now the tree is gone and all the work I did was wasted.”

“But when you pruned it,” I pointed out, “those branches were used for firewood too, right? Or maybe some of them went to the compost heap, if they were small. So you did get something useful out of your work.”

“Well, yes, sort of,” Queenie said grudgingly, “but we always have plenty of compost, and firewood can be found all over. So it was mostly a waste.”

“The tree isn’t completely gone either.” I glanced toward the jagged remains of the trunk. “It still has a few small branches around the base, and next spring there will be more growth from the roots. Give it a few years, and it will be full of blossoms again.”

Spreading another slice of bread, Queenie looked skeptical, but she didn’t say anything else. The gold necklace that I had given her two years ago glinted in the sunlight.

“And of course it’s not fair,” I continued, “to blame the tree for making you have a bad day, when it didn’t want to have one.”

That finally drew a smile—if only a small one—from Queenie, as she poured more tea.

Yesterday morning, I was sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee when, somewhere far away in a dimly lit corner of my mind, I heard a familiar voice lamenting her woes. She was immediately recognizable as the unhappy past self that I had nicknamed Drama-Queenie a few years ago, before I decided to be nicer to her in an imaginary conversation on this blog.

“I am always in pain. I am always in pain,” she wailed. “I’m so very tired. Everything is so hard. I am always in pain!”

Where her outburst might have come from wasn’t as obvious as her identity. As far as I knew, I’d gotten things reasonably well sorted with Queenie (as I had renamed her, somewhat more kindly) when I told her that she was free to begin a new life in the make-believe village of Channelwood in the 1890s.

Evidently, things hadn’t gone as planned. Although Queenie had said she was happy in the village with her new friends, now she was back inside my head again, sounding worse than ever. She reminded me of a zombie with her mindless wailing, or a sleepwalker in the throes of a very bad nightmare.

Hmmm…

After giving more thought to the nightmare scenario, I pictured myself appearing in Queenie’s tiny house in Channelwood very late at night. Yes, there she was, definitely asleep in a long, old-fashioned nightgown. I couldn’t see much because the curtains were drawn and she had blown out the candle on the nightstand before going to sleep, but there was enough moonlight seeping in through the curtains to show a heap of covers on the floor. She had thrown them completely off with all her thrashing.

“Wake up, Queenie, honey,” I said. “You’re having a nightmare. It’s not real. You’re safe here now, remember?”

Her eyes snapped open, and she recoiled toward the wall as if expecting to be attacked at any moment. “I wasn’t ever safe anywhere. They called me nasty names, and acted like they hated me, and laughed at me whenever I made even the smallest mistake, and, and…”

Queenie burst into sobs and covered her face with her hands. Not wanting to say the wrong thing, I quietly picked up the covers from the floor and put them back on the bed.

“And don’t try to tell me it wasn’t really that bad,” she shouted, letting her hands fall to her sides and clenching them into fists. “Because it was bad, it was, and nobody has any right to say it wasn’t really!”

Taking a step toward the window, which had no glass, I pulled back the curtains. Moonlight streamed into the room. The night breeze was filled with the peaceful scents of pine trees and the nearby ocean.

Full moon over a rocky cove with pines.

(Image by Millie Walker)

“I didn’t say that it wasn’t really bad,” I clarified, after taking a deep breath of the lovely fresh air. “What I said was that it’s not real in the here and now. Maybe we can’t undo things that happened in the past, but we do have choices going forward. Listen to the waves breaking over the rocks, Queenie, and to the wind moving through the trees. Life is calling to you.”

Queenie paced back and forth several times, her bare feet padding relentlessly over the thick rug. Finally she stopped at the far end of the room and looked back at me.

“I’ve tried, you know,” she said. “Ever since I came here to Channelwood. Telling myself it was a safe place, everything was all right, I didn’t have to worry, and all that bad stuff was in the past and very far away. But it wasn’t—it wasn’t gone at all. No matter what I do, or how I try, nothing ever goes away. It’s not fair to say I haven’t done enough.”

“The mind has its own cadence, its own natural flow—rather like the wind and the waves,” I told her, as a gust set the curtains fluttering. “Often we can’t control what shows up in our thoughts. In fact, the reason I’m here right now having this conversation with you is because when you get upset, that disturbs my thoughts, and I can’t just switch you off. So, it would be ridiculous for me to say that you haven’t done enough, wouldn’t it?”

“Okay, I guess that’s fair,” Queenie said, giving me a tentative smile. “I’ll try harder not to mess up your thoughts, but I can’t make any promises.”

“No worries.” I smiled back. “If you have any more trouble sleeping, just let me know, and I’ll bring you a nice hot cup of cocoa.”

December 5, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One day last week I found myself thinking about a time, many years ago, when I got stressed beyond my tolerance. It wasn’t easy to believe things would get better. After a while, everything worked out reasonably well; but I still feel as if I have that stressed-out past self worrying endlessly in the back of my mind.

Trying to cheer her up, I invited her to spend some time in my imaginary village of Channelwood. As soon as she materialized in one of the village’s tiny houses, though, it was obvious that there would be no uplifting conversation taking place. Younger-Me didn’t even seem to notice my presence as she sat on the bed with her arms wrapped tightly around herself, staring blankly out the window at a gentle rain while birds chirped and twittered in the trees.

“I’m cold, so very cold—I am always so cold,” she kept repeating.

The air temperature in this scenario wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; I was imagining a pleasant breeze from the window. Regardless, my past self didn’t seem to be talking about the actual surroundings, but rather about feeling that the world was a cold, inhospitable place in general.

What could I say to that? No words came to mind. Instead, I thought of a blanket I keep in my living room, which was a gift from my mother-in-law. I like it for staying comfy on the couch, especially on these long December nights.

Blanket with floral pattern on couch. 

I pictured myself wrapping the blanket around my younger self’s shoulders and telling her, “It’s all right. Everything will be okay,” just as if I were comforting a distressed toddler in need of a nap.

She still didn’t look at me or say anything in response. Instead, the scene ended abruptly when she faded out of it. For the next few days, I turned it over in my mind looking for profound life lessons, but didn’t come up with anything that would qualify as new or perceptive. I finally decided that its meaning might be as simple as just acknowledging the fact that, sometimes, we all need a little more warmth.

After spending so much time this year rowing with my husband and traveling to regattas, it feels sad to look outside and see frost on the grass in the morning, while the boats sit empty until warmer weather returns. But, on the other hand, it’s not realistic to be on the go forever. Although it would be nice to have unlimited energy for fun activities, sometimes what’s needed is to relax and not be in a rush.

My subconscious mind drove home that message on Monday morning with no subtlety whatsoever, before I fully woke up. An unexpected thought came into my head without any filtering. “Thank God it’s Monday,” my half-asleep brain informed me. “It’s just an ordinary workday, and there’s no need to go anywhere.”

That left me considering how I might do a better job of balancing travel and adventures against the need to rest and replenish my energy. Even though this wasn’t something that happened long ago, I decided on Tuesday evening that a make-believe conversation in one of the tiny houses of Channelwood, the imaginary village where I send my stressed-out past selves for a restful vacation, could give me some insight.

I pictured my half-asleep Monday morning self sitting on the bed next to me. The scenario reminded me of a dorm room because the only other place to sit was a desk chair. Outside a narrow window, a cliff fell sharply away to the ocean, and I heard the surf and seagulls clearly.

Cliff with trees and shrubs dropping away to the ocean.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)


I couldn’t manage to compose any useful dialogue, though. Monday-Morning-Before-Coffee-Me was not lucid enough to put more than a few words together, and just looked like she wanted to go back to sleep. And to be honest, I didn’t think of any good questions to ask her before I was dozing off too.

It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise in imagination, though, because the idea of a dorm room left me dreaming that I was back in college. I wanted to eat a leisurely pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, but my husband (who was, of course, my boyfriend then) was telling me to hurry up and grab something quick.

In real life, he generally doesn’t try to rush me when I am eating breakfast because he knows I hate that. So I interpreted the dream-image as referring not to him in particular, but to whatever might put me in a rush.

As for the pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, I decided that was my subconscious mind’s advice for enjoying a more restful life; and I made banana pancakes with real maple syrup. Yum, that left me feeling better!

August 16, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Monday seemed like a melancholy day, without much good reason for it. Dark thunderstorms and cooler temperatures have been rolling through the area for days, making it feel as if we’ve already lost the warmth of summer; and I was bothered at times by memories of past foolish acts when I was younger. Of course, those things didn’t matter much even at the time, and they’re all totally unimportant now; but they just tend to stick around as little irritants in the mind—rather like burrs, or maybe sand and grit in shoes.

So when I went to bed Monday night, I decided that I would benefit from a calming visit to my imaginary Channelwood Sanatorium for troubled past selves, as described in several of my Younger Self posts. I generally picture two of Channelwood’s tiny homes as being kept available for my use. They’re both about the same in dimensions and furnishings, about 100 square feet and containing a bed that converts to a daybed, a nightstand, a small desk, and a dresser/wardrobe unit that has a mirror with an ornate pewter frame hanging above the dresser section.

The only difference is that they are located on opposite ends of the village. One is deep in the forest, while the other is close to the beach. Depending on which I choose, when I get in bed I’ll set my clock radio to play either an ocean soundtrack or a rainforest with tropical birds singing.

Tropical bird on branch in rainforest.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I started to feel better after listening to the rain and birdsong through my imaginary window on Monday, and then it occurred to me that perhaps all those annoying past incidents needed was a few good laughs to take the sting out of them. After all, it really was very silly that I still felt bothered by insignificant stuff that happened 30 or 40 years ago. Some of the people there at the time probably weren’t even alive now.

Although that last sentence looks like a morbid thought when put into written words, it briefly struck me as hilarious in my half-asleep brain. I pictured myself telling them, “Hey, guess what, you guys are dead now! Ha, ha, wasn’t it silly, all the ridiculous stuff that we used to think mattered?”

Then a few of their disembodied voices joined in the laughter. “Yeah, we’ve been dead for years! We’re all jolly ghosts now! Ho, ho, being human was so absurd! Can you believe we ever imagined any of that nonsense was important? What a hoot!”

We all laughed raucously together for a minute or two, while the birds went on singing and a cool, refreshing rainforest breeze blew through the tiny house’s open windows.

“Thanks for dropping by, you guys,” I finally said, just a little more seriously. “You’ve really cheered me up.”

“No problem, glad to oblige,” one of the ghosts promptly replied. “Hey, it gets kind of boring sometimes, being dead and all that.”

I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night. Although I went to bed at a reasonable hour, it seemed like I had already been lying awake for a very long time when a parade of my younger selves began showing up, one after another. They were all very distressed, crying about how unfairly they’d been treated on some long-ago occasion, even though they had done all that reasonably could be expected.

For a while, I did my best to comfort them with imaginary hugs, reassure them it wasn’t their fault, and sing them to sleep; but they just kept on coming. I tossed and turned, now completely miserable myself. I felt like I would never get any sleep no matter what I did, and then I’d have to drag myself out of bed for work.

Long after midnight, I got up to drink some water. I felt parched, like there wasn’t enough water in the world, even though in fact I’d had plenty to drink on Sunday. After lying back down, I couldn’t get comfortable because however I turned, my body seemed full of aches and pains, battered and worn down by many years of stress. Then the younger selves started in again with their litany of woes. It was all so unfair. I felt responsible for comforting them, almost like I was their mom; but who was going to comfort me?

This was definitely not just an ordinary night of “the blues.” There were so many layers of blues piling on top of each other, it felt like I was lost and doomed to wander forever in a deep blue wilderness.

Blue night clouds in Oregon wilderness.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Then I saw daylight behind my closed eyes. My first thought was that I must have gotten at least an hour of sleep. I carefully got out of bed, anticipating that something would hurt; but there was no pain anywhere. I felt healthy, refreshed, and full of energy. How could that be?

I got a cupful of water, picked up my mobile phone, and opened the Fitbit app in which I log my daily water intake. One feature of the Fitbit wristband is that it senses when the wearer is sleeping. The app showed that I had slept for a normal eight hours, with only a few minutes awake when I got up in the night for water.

Only then did I realize that I had just been dreaming. The achy, sleepless “me” who had become old, tired, resentful, and worn down from many years of taking on too much responsibility and complaining about life’s unfairness was not really me at all. Rather, she was a very literal manifestation of a wake-up call from Spirit, showing the natural consequences of such feelings.

I went into Monday morning with much gratitude, as if I had reached the end of my life and then, through miraculous grace, had been given a chance to start over.

I’ve been getting outdoors almost every day in the warm weather, rowing and bicycling. Although that’s fun and good for fitness, both my blog and my yard are starting to feel kind of neglected. I keep meaning to sit down and write a post or a story, but then I wander off and do something else instead. My flower garden is full of thistles that grew back after I weeded last month, when I meant to put down fresh mulch but never got around to it. Thistles can be pretty in nature when they’re blooming in a field, but I would like them much better if they would stay there.

Thistles blooming in a field.

(photo credit: publicdomainpictures.net)

If anyone happens to find my responsible grown-up self, please let me know. I’m really not sure what became of her. After all those blog posts I wrote about imaginary conversations with my younger selves, I’m beginning to wonder if I turned loose an inner child who just wants to go out and play all the time.

While it’s probably about time I lightened up a little on those self-imposed To-Do list entries, I haven’t yet gotten comfortable with the empty places where they used to be. I feel as if I might wake up one morning, with only a vague memory of strange thumping noises in a dream, and discover a mindspace like a half-empty attic where a gleeful Younger-Me has tossed dusty old boxes and furniture out the window to make room for a hopscotch grid on the floorboards, decorated in all the colors of the sidewalk chalk bucket.

I got outdoors a lot over the long weekend—rowing and bicycling, and the hot weather was just right for the swimming pool. My daughter and her husband came down from Cleveland to visit. Their Labradoodle puppy still hasn’t quite figured out how to walk up the pool steps, but at least he has discovered that he can stand on the bottom step and leap out of the pool.

There wasn’t really much time for blogging, which was okay until an annoying self-critical part of my subconscious began to draw unfavorable comparisons to my creative output in the past. Maybe you’ve lost your mojo, it suggested nastily. You haven’t written much in months. What happened to the days when stories just popped into your head all the time, no matter how busy you were?

At first I tried to dismiss the voice, but then I started wondering—did I really have that much more creative energy in the past? Maybe this was just selective memory playing tricks on me, highlighting times when my younger self bubbled over with new stories, while skipping over the mundane stuff. How would I know?

Then it occurred to me that an imaginary visit with one of my younger selves might help me find an answer to that question. I decided to call her Butterfly because there was a time, many years ago, when I pictured one as my animal spirit guide, carefree and flitting easily from one place to another.

I tried to construct a mental image of this younger self sitting comfortably with a pen and notepad in hand, busily scribbling away. She had her own ideas about that, however. The comfy chair stayed empty; and when Butterfly finally showed up in my mindspace, she was pedaling cheerfully along on a three-speed bike from the 1970s, with her bell-bottom jeans rolled up so they wouldn’t catch and rip on the chain.

I was riding next to her in the same workout clothes I wore on Sunday in the park, on my Made-in-the-USA fifteen-speed Huffy bicycle from 1994. It still works just fine, as does my husband’s matching bike. (Over the weekend he upgraded both bikes with nice modern carbon-fiber water bottle holders, which, needless to say, is the only bit of carbon fiber to be found anywhere on them—but, at least now they’re not 100% ancient.)

Photo of Meg Evans on an old Huffy bicycle

“Hello,” I said to my younger self, as we rode slowly along a quiet, shaded path in the park. The fast-paced real world seemed very far away.

“Hi,” replied Butterfly in a distracted tone, just before stopping her bike in the grass beside the path and exclaiming, “Ooh, look at the pretty flowers!”

I stopped next to her, and yes, the flowers were pretty—wild roses and honeysuckle all tangled together like a bright, living curtain that swayed gently in the breeze.

“If I had my phone with me,” I said, talking more to myself than to my companion, “and this was a real place, I’d take a picture of these flowers for a blog post.”

Butterfly turned to face me, frowning slightly, as if she thought I’d said something very peculiar indeed. She inquired, “Don’t you ever do anything just to do it?”

Now it was my turn to feel perplexed. “Well, of course I do. I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors this spring. But lately I’ve been feeling like I haven’t had as much creative energy as usual—so, I thought I’d ask you about that. How do you manage distractions and stay creative?”

“Manage distractions?” she repeated blankly, as if I’d been speaking in a foreign language. Then, apparently losing interest in the flowers, she hopped back on her bike and pedaled briskly away, leaving me to catch up with her.

Wondering what I’d said to confuse her, I tried rephrasing the question. “I meant, how do you stay creative when you have a lot of things happening that distract you?”

“Well, usually they’re all different things, aren’t they?” Slowing down for a moment as we rode through a bumpy spot of dried mud, Butterfly raised her left hand in a vague gesture that seemed to include trees, grass, a squirrel, and some cottonwood fluff drifting softly to the ground. “And creativity has to do with fitting a lot of different things together in ways that make sense in the story, right? So, distractions should never be a problem, in themselves. If they aren’t naturally coming together into stories that make sense, then maybe the question to ask is: What other random thoughts have been wandering into the picture?”

After we rounded a curve, a straight, level pathway stretched before us, cool and pleasant in the shade of the overhanging trees. All I could hear was the chirping of the birds and the humming of our wheels.

“You know,” I said finally, “that way of looking at it does kind of make some sense.”

Butterfly, whose attention now seemed to be focused mainly on a woodchuck munching clover on the other side of the path, didn’t answer; but I thought I saw a little smile forming as she glanced away from me.

February 14, 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I started noticing an odd feeling around the middle of January. My heartbeat seemed like it had somehow gotten faster, although my pulse rate had not in fact changed and, as far as I could tell, there were no actual physical issues. As best I can describe it, my heart felt like it was knocking impatiently on my ribcage and demanding attention. I assumed this was some kind of midlife weirdness and would go away after a while.

When it still hadn’t gone away by last night, I was left wondering what sort of attention my heart might want. So I tried to relax as best I could when I got in bed, with meditation and Reiki. That wasn’t as relaxing as it ordinarily would have been. No matter where I put my hands in the Reiki positions, my heart felt like it was trying to beat its way out through my fingertips. I had no clue how there might be a message in that.

I finally just said to myself—okay, at this moment I don’t understand what my heart wants to tell me, but that is all right because I trust that my body and subconscious mind are working for my best interests and know how to communicate.

Some time passed, and I was just about to fall asleep when a thought came to mind—was there something that had hurt my heart?

All of a sudden, a furious younger self popped up from the depths of my subconscious and began yelling. “You BET there were things that hurt my heart! LOTS of them! And I’m not going to pretend that they never happened or didn’t matter because they really DID, and they were WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!”

As she went on shrieking about all the things that had been so very wrong, I felt some kind of trapped energy rising up from my heart, like dark shadows passing through my ribcage. When they stopped, it felt like I had a heap of dry, brittle weeds and twigs sitting on top of my chest.

Landscape with dry, brown weeds.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

My angry younger self faded away, but I still had to find something to do with the imaginary dead weeds. Should I visualize myself putting them in the backyard or taking them out with the trash? No, neither of those options felt right; and although my younger self’s grievances came from a time when I lived in a different house, the backyard there didn’t seem suitable for disposing of my virtual yard waste, either.

Then it occurred to me that some time had gone by since I last visited the imaginary village of Channelwood. Surely it would have a compost heap; after all, Ella and the other girls always kept everything very tidy. That would allow me to dump my old emotional weeds in a place that wasn’t associated with anywhere I had been in real life.

I pictured myself materializing next to Channelwood’s outbuildings. Yup, there was the compost heap, not far from a shed where farm implements were stored. I scattered the dry weeds and twigs on top, and then I got a pitchfork from the shed and turned the compost over a few times, until I couldn’t see them anymore.

Just before I finished, Ella walked by on a path not far away. She was accustomed to my unpredictable comings and goings by now, and she simply raised a hand in greeting before she moved out of sight.

After that I fell asleep; and when I woke up this morning, my heart felt completely normal. Everything from last night was clear in my mind, with one exception—I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what past events had made my younger self so upset. When I sat down to write this post later in the day, I still had no recollection of what they were. So I guess they must’ve gotten composted!