Every Seventeen Years

Yesterday I consulted a soul coach; today I’m wondering about cycles, and how they hold my purpose.

Seventeen years ago, I took a bus from New York City’s Port Authority to Hendersonville, North Carolina, to visit Zendik Farm. As far as I knew, Zendik was merely the next stop on my tour of intentional communities; what I sought was deep intimacy, with an extended family. Well, I sort of got that (along with a load of other stuff), and sort of didn’t. Five years after arriving, I left.

In 2008, in suburban Chicago, I witnessed a world of cicadas dropping from trees, giving birth. They do this every seventeen years.

This past spring, I took a bus from New York City to Asheville, North Carolina (the bus no longer stops in Hendersonville), for a two-month stay at Earthaven (twenty-three miles, by the shortest path, from the former Zendik Farm). While there, I read an article in a local paper about a cluster of cicadas doing an explosive round of breeding in a band of nearby states. Yes, I thought, I am a cicada, in my seventeenth year.

To what, then, am I giving birth? To a new version of myself, ready to share my heart again, this time drawing on the wisdom gained when I first dropped, wings flapping, to fertile yet hostile ground.

I know, now, that when I’m feeling annihilated I must fight, or run; I know, now, the difference between begging for belonging and absorbing familial love.

I joined Zendik because I had a dream; when Zendik and I failed each other, I packed that dream up and hid it in the highest, darkest corner of my closet, where I would never just happen across it. It took me years to heal. It took me years to consider being willing to share a kitchen and bathroom again. It took me years to complete my book, step away from my desk, choose my next adventure. I’ve been a monk, maybe, toiling for a decade at a manuscript illuminating the dark corner where I’d stashed my dream.

If you liked this post, you’ll love my memoir, Mating in Captivity, in which my twenty-two-year old self enters a cult with a radical take on sex and relationships. Learn more here.

5 thoughts on “Every Seventeen Years

  1. Finally, after all your throat-clearing, I like something you’ve said. YEs, this monkish business you and I have been engaged in. Your book and mine… with Zendik as the fulcrum. They stare at one another across this lacuna you believe is ocean and I believe is shore.

    Maybe one of us will shove off after all…

    “Give me an utter wreck if wreck I do… better to sink in boundless deeps than float on vulgar shoals” – goddamn Melville

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