Divine Moments of Madness… part 2

The sound of her own laughter delighted her heart. Glancing around to see if any locals were staring at this mad foreigner made her realize just how dark it was. She couldn’t see a thing beyond the distant street lamp ahead and the faintest outline of the paved path beneath the wheels of her bicycle. The street lamp gave her enough light to see the curve of the path ahead. To either side of the path were trees, and just past the trees to the right was a foreboding shadow rising above the tree tops. It was towards this shape that the path curved, and it was towards this curve she was headed. It was the realization of exactly where she was and what she was doing that caused the laughter. She was riding a bike. She never rode bikes. She hadn’t been on a bike since she was 13 years old and her brother pulled a stool out from under her as she went to sit on it, causing her to crack her tailbone on the hard kitchen floor. She was alone. She never went anywhere alone, at least not at home. As a divorced woman in her late thirties the fear of living the rest of her life alone was all too real. Surrounding herself with constant activities and friends to avoid sitting home alone was a coping mechanism that’d been working pretty well since the divorce 5 years earlier. Yet here she was… on a bike, alone, at night, in… Thailand?!?!

The laughter grew louder and she suddenly had the urge to let go of the handlebars. Feeling the wind through her hair was wild. Never before had she experienced such inexplicable joy at the turn of her decisions that brought her to this point. How in the world did she get here? She was careening down a forest path at night in a foreign country where she spoke only the words “hello” and “thank you” in the native tongue. All alone. Surely the park was closed by now, but that looming shape rising out of the night over the trees was drawing her in. She just had to see it, this ancient temple ruins in the Khmer style more known in Cambodia than Thailand. The dark silhouette against the night sky was hauntingly beautiful. Graceful curves and dark edges, soft arches and sharp points. Contrasts that played with her eyes in the dark light.

Contrasts and contradictions. She was a free spirit who loved to follow rules. She was a people pleaser filled with stubbornness. “If I want to do something I’m just going to do it. I don’t care if someone else doesn’t like it” and “I need everyone to like me” were frequently uttered within moments of each other in her counseling sessions. She was a dancer who constantly displayed enough clumsiness to break every wine glass in her kitchen, and an organizational check-list guru who locked herself out of her apartment on a monthly basis. Life was lived in these moments of seeming contradiction. Is it possible to hold both softness and sharpness in the same emotion, both freedom and slavery with the same thought? The ancient temple shapes seemed to echo the wildness caught in her spirit with these “in betweens.” If life didn’t have to be this or that, but rather could be both and… what if? The madness of it called her on down the dark path, fear and joy, both and… Embracing her contradictions and abandoning herself all at the same time. This was it. This was life. Just this one moment.

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