At this point, Kris asks me to describe how I feel, but I can't come up with the right words. All I can formulate is an incredible lightness of being, a joy and immense gratitude for all the memories that I already have and a desire to share them with the world through my writing.
The wolf scoffed at this idea, disdainful of the publishing world that is ultimately driven by consumerism, an ideology contrary to my beliefs. The wolf is telling me to let go of my ego, to let go of the idea that once my name is in print at McNally Jackson or the Strand in New York City is when I will have become a writer. I am told to let go of wanting to prove myself to my old friends who so value prestige in long-standing institutions.
We start walking in the woods. It's a cold, crisp night and my hands go slightly numb, but my legs are warm from moving on the soft snow beneath my feet. There are words imprinted in the distant sky, and I realize that I have been striving for success defined by others, defined by demand and consumerism. These words are so far removed from what I really want to write and are not authentic to what I believe. And as that happens, words being streaming out of my chest, words that are unadulterated and true to my heart, and the wolf begins to howl again.
The session ended after about an hour and a half, and I felt completely relieved of my self-imposed pressure and deadline to print something, to print anything even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted.
Was my shamanic journey imaginary or real? I realize now, more than ever, that it is difficult to draw that distinction. After all, when we dream, it feels as real as real life. And the first step to making anything a reality is to imagine it.
In my mind, the journey was an interesting form of therapy that allowed me to exercise my imagination and to really sit with and interpret what my feelings meant.
That me from a few years back on a Friday night would be mortified to so openly write about my anxieties, loneliness, and deepest desires. But if the shamanic journey taught me anything, it is to be more vulnerable and authentic, especially in my writing.