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You crossed my path today with your red-brown-grey coat catching bits of glistening light just as the sun began to bite the darkness.
Coyote, you stopped twice and held my gaze, the first time longer and the second time making me want more of your wild soul lessons, before you trotted off down your path. It happened right as these words crossed my heart: “Sometimes when I am lost, I don’t really want to be found.”
I am you, Dog, trotting into the woods craving solitude and rest. Soul Hunger.
Some say, Coyote, that you are a trickster, but in this case, your pure, raw Spirit looked back at me, stared truth into the ghostly corners of my bones and held me at a distance with purpose. You demanded respect and I accepted the demand.
I thrilled at the desire to chase you all the way down your path, but your respect-claiming eyes said No. You Howled No.
Your independent, swishing tail signaling the final No, No, No, waving goodbye to me in dusk light.
Coyote, you are full of Beauty Wild. Mystery.
In my 44th year, sometime in the Spring, I broke. Sometimes people will say that it is impossible to break, but I did it. I circled around everything that I knew, and found myself standing still, splintered, shattered and bent. Unrecognizable, except for the dark circles under my eyes.
I had been doing a lot of work on healing past wounds, and felt I was making progress in understanding myself, yet all of a sudden, I felt untethered. A burning anger was surfacing. There were so many times that I had not fully expressed how I truly felt, especially in my romantic relationships. Lost. Fire. Truth. Hot words always finds their way out. That fire burning inside had to breathe.
Those words needed to leave my body and find oxygen. I barked. I howled. I screeched.
I was full of judgment for myself and my past choices at the exact same milli-moment that I was also full of great love for myself. This paradox left me feeling very confused and consumed in grief pain. I craved isolation to settle in to the current state of Me. I grieved the past, but I also grieved the part of myself that I was still struggling to access, the part I couldn’t quite find.
The weird part was that this pain felt so desperate and bitter, intermingled with the excitement of the journey ahead. What would that fire inside produce? Where would it take me now?
On one level, I was starting to reclaim my soul, but the arrows on the compass of my life path were pointing backwards and forwards. They were pointing to all directions at once. North felt like West. I was grasping for life in a ferocious battle with emotional death. And all of this was taking place in the wilderness of my soul, a place where no one had yet traveled. Especially not me.
I was sitting among the quiet, breathing, pines in isolation.
Yet there was also something delicious about being lost. And I wanted to stay there.
What remained crystal clear in my memory was the decision that I made at eight years old in the hospital where my father died. Amidst the confusion, deep pain and shock, the wreckage of a life ending too soon and too suddenly, I decided that I would take care of everyone else by being very, very good. I would not cause problems. I could feel the hurt of my family, and I felt it in every cell.
I wanted it to stop, and the only way out was to be very, very good — a good daughter, a good sister, a good student. That first night without him, I could not sleep, convinced that I too would just stop breathing.
My father was amazing. Sometimes, he took up all of the space in the room with his laughter, his fiery soul, his protection and honor of women. So, when you are lucky enough to have experienced that, it is difficult not to feel anger at the general lapse of chivalry in society.
I tried to deny that I was committing the classic relationship patterns, like comparing people to my father or seeking people like my father. A father who at times I felt I barely knew, barely had time with, barely understood myself. But grief is deep. It stands strong against denial. It had wrapped itself around my heart and moved into my veins.
Even my desperate craving for nature, and the messages that I could always find there, did not help to pull me out of the dark. Nature seemed silent too.
I refused to celebrate my 45th birthday.
And at 46, a stark clarity descended upon me that shook my soul to the roots, where it attempted to anchor me into the Earth.
I had now lived longer than my father.
I had spent more days alive on the Earth than he had. Nothing made sense because he would always be older, except now I was older. You would think I would have seen this coming, as the number 45 was etched in my mind, heavy like a metal weight on my heart. I had too many memories of people saying, “He was so young when he died, only 45 years old.” But I had completely missed it.
Even now, it seems so stereotypical, that as my birthdays got closer to 45, I would feel as if I was disintegrating. How could I live longer than him?
Even today, what no one seems to understand is that I am in a pause, and have been there for the past few years. I feel tired of constantly trying to be good, to achieve, to help everyone else. I am worn out. I don’t want to make any decisions. I don’t know how to proceed past 45.
I have been chasing a ghost coyote down a path for a long time, but now I am the pilgrim. I am on the uncharted path.
And so at 46, I saw you, Coyote.
I wanted to follow you. I loved you so from the first minute I saw you running across the grass. Your wild heart going to a place that I could not go, not yet. Maybe you were hunting, maybe you were going home, maybe on the way, your wild-haired coat left your scent against a fur tree.
So I am writing this love letter to you, Coyote, this love letter to a noble, strong, vulnerable, wild, trickster Father Coyote that firmly and gently told me that I have been chasing down the wrong path for far too long, chasing the mystery of him, chasing his ghost for too long.
The Father Coyote that said, “No, you cannot come this way with me, desperate to see what I see, hoping to get a glimpse of the universal knowledge that you seek.” You, Coyote, ordered me to choose my own path right now on that Fall day, when I was just barely 46 years old, when I felt maybe one day older than my eight-year-old self.
In chronological time, my lungs have breathed longer than my father’s ever did, my legs have walked more days, and that makes no sense. None at all. But I know that I am strong, that I am vulnerable, that I am a survivor. And I know that my father is an old soul, my teacher. I believe that he will always be older than me.
Oh, Dear Coyote, we are the same yet we are different. You and my Father are one. I envy your nature, your complete acceptance of where you are right now. I hate to miss the adventures I would find by chasing you down your trail, but I love you for stopping me, for challenging me, and for giving me a message to always seek my own adventures, to live wild and full.
I lust to wander in this life and find myself over and over again.
The Wild-Haired Coyote Girl
MauraCoyneMaura Coyne is a seeker, a dirty wild horse girl, and a lover of the passionate life. She practices hypnotherapy, equine therapy and energy/breathwork to assist others in removing the blocks and obstacles that often prevent them from moving forward on their life path. Teaching others to transmute the heavy and dark challenges that they face, by moving them into the light of creativity, strength and spirit, she is committed to healing herself along the way, and witnessing miracles in Nature. If you are interested in a little soul archaeology of your own, contact her at Wild Goose Farm, named for her patriarchal Coyne ancestral line. She aspires to continue going on wild goose chases for the rest of her time on the planet.