August 30th, 2021
Protect Your Circle
The attached picture is of a painting, Protect Your Circle, done by the artist (and my cousin), Deborah Hance Wage. She painted it during the Spring of 2020 when Covid was raging, no one knew much of anything, authorities were saying stupid and contagious things, and my husband was quarantined behind closed doors while his lungs crackled and his blood oxygen hovered around 88% for 14 days. When Protect Your Circle went up for sale on Deb’s website, I knew I had to have it.
I am especially sensitive to our circles being undervalued or being compromised from within or from without. So many hazardous uncertainties swirl around us on a daily basis, but especially during these last two years we all have been tested. There’s the constant negotiation with other souls, the fear of failure, the obliteration of future plans, the distrust of others, the pain of physical struggle and emotional loss, the loneliness we have learned to live with or blamed on other people.
I come home to my circle that secures me halfway between here and there, a stopping place where I do not perform to earn love, a holding place where weakness is a matter of context until it gets to be about logistics and then I am lifted up and away from my weakness.
I come home to the place where I extended my arms around my children until their breaths synched with mine, until they were calmed and settled with their bodies surrounded by the protective circle of my own body.
I come home to the place where we felt our children’s need to be simultaneously challenged and protected, where they tested all of their gorgeous strengths and serious weaknesses without questioning whether we could contain them, without fear that our boundaries were not secure, without questioning that we could be the two people in this world to whom they could give a glimpse of the intensity of their needs.
I come home to the place where our kids found method upon method to test the boundaries of our circle, to see how far it extended, to discover how well it would hold, to see where we began and they ended.
There’s a myth that this kind of connection, this kind of circle is DNA based or biological. While it is rooted in the body, it’s not DNA. It’s physiological. Circles of protection are physiological emerging from the delicate dance that we have performed even on days when our circle was open and gaping and we were raw and selfish and unseeing. The circle folds itself around the continuous mental adjustments of our actions and our intentions the same way that my son learned to use a really sharp knife with me holding a hand in his, directing the blade safely, surrounded by the protective circle of our bodies pressed together providing moment to moment feedback; the same way he is learning that the best way to overcome challenging circumstances, distrust, and deep pain is by taking small tangible steps bolstered by connection.
We make our own circles because the world operates without any rules and in the telling of the stories of the world there can’t be any rules. Stories have got to go where they need to go. This isn’t always where I’d want them to go, but this is us in the circles we make. We step outside of our circles, we come, we go, and we come back again, but this is only because our circles secure us halfway between here and there.
We are surrounded by a barrage of words and events that don’t seem to have any meaning on their own, but anything shaped by human hands and inspired by the human heart has a purpose and in a very real way this purpose is the meaning. We make our own circles of protection.
Protect your circle. And visit Deb's website for other inspired works of art. www.deborahwage.com
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This is a collection of biting and maybe poignant essays posted out of chronological order and written entirely as a coping mechanism through this stupid and contagious mess we've gotten ourselves into.