Process of Illumination

Vancouver: My “Step-City”

Yes, I managed to paint while in Vancouver! This is of my sister, Rory.  Yes, I managed to paint while in Vancouver! This is of my sister, Rory.

As I fly over the mountains, on my way back home to Toronto, it occurs to me that Vancouver and I have a complicated relationship. On one hand, it feels like home and yet there is something about being there that is slightly unsettling. I noticed it yesterday after my sister, whose apartment I was staying in, had left for NYC the night before. I had come to Vancouver to attend her Passover seder on Monday night and spend a few days with her, which was really, really lovely. After she had left and I was on my own, I noticed that I was beginning to feel increasingly vulnerable. Taking into account the astrological influences at present… full moon/lunar eclipse of April 15, cardinal grand cross on April 23/24 and a solar eclipse on its way on April 29… it’s not surprising that things are being stirred up and, as my day unfolded yesterday, I began to wonder if there was a possible theme for my discomfort.

I started my day feeling pretty emotional and, looking back, I suppose I can attribute it to a couple of things. First, I had been having some frustrating exchanges with my former husband and I was quite irritated. Second, I had a tentative plan, later on, to meet someone for a drink/coffee whom I didn’t know very well. My friends tell me that it was likely a “date”, but I honestly have no idea. I’ve had so little post-relationship experience with dating that I don’t know how to even determine what is and isn’t a “date” and, to be honest, I’d rather not even try. It feels like so much pressure and it makes me want to avoid it completely. Third, I noticed that the one person I wished I could talk to about how I was feeling was my ex-boyfriend.

Nevertheless, I had a couple of meetings scheduled that morning so I didn’t really have time to connect any dots and I was relieved to be somewhat distracted for the first part of the day.

After my second meeting, which happened to be with an editor/publisher who is advising me about my plans to write a book, I was feeling better and ready to explore. My possible “date” had canceled by then, so I knew I had the rest of the day to myself. I managed to get some great suggestions from my sister and her Facebook friends about where I could go to be amongst my “hippie people” and write. I had taken my laptop with me with the intention of finding a cool café to sit in and write my blog and process whatever it was that was making me feel so unsettled.  It was a rainy day, and the locations that were recommended to me were all about an hour’s walk from where I was, so I decided to start walking in search of good coffee, unique atmosphere and wifi. Just in case I could not find anything close by, I set my GPS to guide me toward one of the neighbourhoods that was recommended by my sister and her friends. “If worse comes to worst”, I thought, “I’ll just hop in a taxi” and, with that, I put my headphones in and started off.

I walked and walked, guided by my GPS, looking for something that resembled Rooster Coffee House in Toronto but was not satisfied. The more I walked, the harder it rained and I started to look for taxis but had no luck. Unfortunately, the route that the GPS had chosen was not particularly interesting or scenic and, at times, it went through some pretty sketchy areas. At one point, I actually thought I was on a ramp heading onto the highway. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a fun walk and I was getting pretty frustrated and discouraged. I was so looking forward to having a great cup of coffee in a cool place and with zero taxis available, I had no option but to keep walking toward my set destination of “hippieville” and did my best to make it more pleasurable by listening to Snatam along the way.

Right around the time I was passing what smelled like a meat rendering plant, I stopped into a greasy taco joint to take a break from the fumes and use the washroom. When I pulled out my phone to check how much farther it was to my destination, I realized that my glasses were not in my pocket. “Shit…I must have dropped them enroute”. Now, I had a dilemma. I need my glasses to read everything.

At this point, I had been walking for almost an hour and my destination was still 20 minutes away. Should I retrace my steps and try to find them or should I just abandon them and keep going?

Needless to say, this only served to deflate me even further. I still hadn’t had a chance to figure out why I was feeling so vulnerable in the first place and now I was wet, tired, it was getting late and I still hadn’t found a good place for coffee! It already felt like I had wasted most of the afternoon walking through the most unattractive parts of the city and now I was faced with the possibility of going over that same territory all over again. Grrrr.

Begrudgingly, I abandoned the plan to make it to my desired destination and decided to retrace my steps in the hopes that I had dropped my glasses only a few blocks away. What’s odd about that is that my glasses were actually so old and scratched that I have been planning to replace them for months and I was quite looking forward to choosing a new pair of frames. It should have been a pretty easy choice to just leave them, buy a set of readers on my way and continue on to my destination but something made be go back and look for them. Strangely, I really wanted them back.

As I headed back along the familiar route, eyes to the ground, I just wanted to cry. Whatever had been brewing inside me earlier that day was now bubbling to the surface and it was time to find out what my unconscious mind/the universe wanted to show me. I let myself feel the emotion as it came up and moved through me and, as I did, I began to take notice of the symbolism that the events of this day were offering me as clues toward a greater insight.

I kept walking, searching and thinking for about 30 more minutes until I suddenly realized that the landmarks were no longer familiar. I must have missed a turn somewhere and since I had erased my GPS, I couldn’t access the original route I had taken. I looked around but didn’t recognize anything that would help get me back on track. “That’s it, I guess. Search is over” and I decided to call it a day and go home.

As I lifted my head, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. No… it wasn’t my glasses… I was on a street I hadn’t been on before… but it was a sign in the window of the oddest, coolest little vintage furniture shop/general store that said: “proudly serving Stumptown coffee”.

Wow! Talk about hitting the jackpot. (If you don’t know Stumptown, it’s awesome)

I went in, ordered an americano, sat down and sighed.

“Of course”, I said to myself. “The minute I stop searching, I stumble upon exactly what I’ve been looking for.”

But that wasn’t completely it. There was still the issue of my glasses. I couldn’t stay and write, or even browse through all the cool stuff they had, because I couldn’t see anything. The fact that I had to lose my glasses and re-trace my steps in order to make this discovery was significant to what I was supposed to learn from this. I couldn’t wait to get a pair of glasses so I could look up the symbolism and figure out what the hell this all meant!

In the next block, I found a drug store and bought a pair of five-dollar readers. By now, it was after 5:00. I was tired and getting hungry and I wanted to get home to write but I was not relishing the idea of having to walk the rest of the way in the (now torrential) rain. Just then, as I was waiting for the traffic light to change, a taxi pulled up right in front of me.  I could not believe it! I was saved! Surely, something had “shifted” as soon as the search for my glasses was over. But, what?

I hopped in the cab and headed straight to a Ramen restaurant up the street from my sister’s house. The ramen was delicious.

When I got home, I soaked in a hot bath while I listened to my April “Moon Sign” reading from Jonathan Cainer. I figured it might help explain what I had experienced. As I listened, I could not believe my ears.

Here’s the gist of what he said:

He was talking about how being “systematic” as a means of resolving difficulties or getting to the bottom of a matter can be problematic because, unless you are 100% scrupulous and examine it from every possible angle, you may look at something and be too hasty to say “that won’t work”, “that’s too difficult”,  “that’s something I’d better move on from”, etc… and then, once you’ve moved on from it, you don’t go back to it because you’ve decided, in your haste to move forward, that it didn’t contain any possibility. But what if it did? And what if you get to the end of the line and you’ve been systematic all along and you haven’t found anything suitable? Do you go back and start at the other end, all over again or do you give up? Or, better still, do you go on an instinct and revisit some of the options you’ve already dismissed?

In the reading, Jonathan says: “Something within you now feels drawn toward a particular set of possibilities. It doesn’t seem very logical and it involves, to some extent, going over territory which, it would appear, you have covered and which you have made certain choices about. You have ruled out these things. You’ve said ‘no, that’s not going to work, it’s no good, I’ve looked at that. There isn’t anything for me in there and if there was, I’d have to do far too much in order to make it work’. Maybe. Or maybe you weren’t looking closely enough. Or maybe you weren’t being systematic enough. Sometimes we have blind spots or mental blockages and we can’t quite bring ourselves to fully see what a situation contains so we imagine what we can’t see and then we tell ourselves what we think it is. But you won’t actually know unless you go back and look. You have to look in a particular area now where it seems like a dead end has been reached, where it seems like you have already said ‘no, goodbye to that, I’ve already been there and I’m going somewhere else’… but you must double back. Don’t just go marching forward because your pride won’t let you go backwards or because you’d look silly wasting your time revisiting something that you once thought was best left alone. You won’t look silly if you’re right and something inside you knows that it’s well worth re-investigating something in particular. You have tremendous potential for good fortune right now but in order to maximize that, it involves re-investigating a ‘closed case’.”

I know, right?

So, what is this thing I’m supposed to re-investigate? Well I’m still figuring that out.

As soon as I got out of the tub, I made a list of the symbolism of yesterday’s themes, hoping that it would give me a clue as to what my emotions (and Jonathan Cainer) were trying to point me towards.

Here’s what I came up with:

a)    Traveling to Vancouver, this time, was about cultivating a connection with a different part of my family (my sister), embracing traditions that belong to her and emancipating myself from one of my perceived “roles”. In this case, the role of matriarch.

b)    Meeting with the editor/publisher is a huge (and incredibly scary) step toward owning my unique voice through writing a book, fulfilling a dream and living my purpose, both personally and professionally.

c)    The destination I was heading to in “hippietown” symbolized exploring new things, doing something I love while expressing my creativity and fulfilling my purpose… but it was also serving as a bit of distraction. I did not “need” to go to a cool café to write my blog, but I was feeling a bit lonely and vulnerable, so I wanted to be in a place where I could feel comforted.

d)    Walking symbolizes the journey we are on. The GPS route I took felt barren, lonely and sometimes unsafe. Even though I wanted to avoid the discomfort and wasted time of walking in the rain, I had no choice but to endure it because there were no taxis available, no “knight in shining armour” to rescue me.

e)    Rain symbolizes forgiveness and grace. Falling rain is also a metaphor for tears, crying, sadness, cleansing. Alternatively, rain symbolizes fertility and renewal. If you get wet from the rain, then it indicates a cleansing from your troubles and problems.

f)    Glasses symbolize needing a clearer view on a situation. There may have been a misunderstanding or a situation that was misperceived and needs to be clarified. (Amazing, considering what Jonathan Cainer said.)

g)    The frustrating exchanges with my former husband, the cancelled “date” and my wanting to talk to my ex-boyfriend all symbolize my various relationships with men. It’s what, I think, triggered my melancholy in the first place, so maybe my male relationships are something I need to re-investigate. It’s likely that this is also related to my biological father, who is from Vancouver and is where my “complicated” relationship with the city began.

h)    The significance of the April astrological occurrences is that they will be the catalyst which leads to the birth of something remarkable in our world. Like any birth, it will be painful but its all part of the journey.

i)    Passover symbolizes our release from bondage and suffering and moving toward renewal.

j)     It just occurred to me that today is Good Friday. Easter symbolizes death and resurrection.

As you can see, I don’t have all the answers yet but I’m letting it all come together as it needs to.

It’s late, so I’ll finish up for now, but I will say this:

In terms of my complicated relationship with Vancouver, I think that’s because it’s a place I could have grown up in, but didn’t. It could have been my home, but it wasn’t. My biological father and his family are all from there. My sister was born and raised there. For those reasons, it has a strange influence over me. I have loved it there and I have hated it there. Yesterday was not the first time I have experienced profound transformation while walking through it’s streets and yet, I have kept my distance. You could say that, if Toronto is my “biological” city, Vancouver feels like my “step-city”.

Maybe Vancouver also symbolizes a possibility that never was. A missed opportunity. A road not taken.