The year I was sixteen,
on a hot summer’s day
I was initiated
into my body
anointed by a raging wall of white water, kissed ever-so-lightly by my own mortality.
I was changed.
The person I thought I was – a quiet, bookish, girl who loved listening to feminist folk music – was left swirling in the eddies of the Ottawa River, where I went whitewater rafting for the first time. She was still with me, in some way, but she was also more. She was capable. Capable of surviving the most ferocious elements; arms paddling hard, eyes wide and knees tucked as I was tossed down the river.
She was brave.
She was fierce.
She could do just about fucking anything.
That day on the river was a rite of passage for me and my relationship with my body and with the earth, although I didn’t know it at the time.
But the knowledge that I had the courage to face that powerful white water,
that my body had the wisdom to wind its way down the river,
alchemized into a belief that I could do something like that
– something brave, something challenging, something I thought I couldn’t do –
again and again and again.
on that river
my confidence was birthed
as was a woman who sought evidence of that confidence
over and over again
on mountains and across oceans
until it ran through her veins.
But little did I know,
– by earth and water, sky and tree –
– into the woman I was and would come to be –
had already begun, in a quieter, softer way.
It was born, if I remember right, on the banks of the river that edged the town where I grew up
on a rock where I perched and noticed, for the first time, that my eyes were the same colour as the water rushing past,
and I saw my own beauty.
It flourished on the long walks I took
in a giant park in the coastal town to which I fled as soon as I was old enough to be able
the place where I went looking for home again – and found it in the way the sunlight sparkled off of navyblue waters – when I felt unsteady and unsure in my newfound independence.
The trees and the ocean were my home again
when I traversed that other rite of passage many women do
and it was with my baby’s breath condensing on my chest, my lips brushing her gossamer hair and my hands reverently touching her small toes, peeking out of the carrier
that I began to make sense of who I was
Though I have had many homes
it is here
in on under with between betwixt
that I know I am always home.
it is here
in relationship with
– sand, snow, sparkle, heron, branch, wind –
that I have found myself
over and over again.
And in a world that seems hell-bent on pulling me – all of us, really – away
seeking beauty and success and fulfillment and answers
Showing us, over and over again
that we are not good enough not pretty enough not thin enough not rich enough not popular enough not enough not enough not enough not enough
there is always abundance. Death always becomes life again, and life is sure to be recycled too, and there are no mirrors, out here, but just the way rushing water feels on tired feet and the way sunshine changes everything.
And that, to me
feels like a revolution: a place where me and All The Women can find our bodies and our hearts and our bare feet again