Monday, September 1, 2014

Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves

There's a romance to the road. One of my favorite novels as a teen & to this day is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, where Sal Paradise & Dean Moriarty criss-cross through America, embracing adventure & experiencing the exultant & sometimes healing effects of the "heroic present"—a state of soul that bonafide gypsies know all too well. The heroic present is a quality of life spent cherishing the here & now—the sacredness & beauty of this very moment—for despite our many well-laid plans, it's all we can ever truly possess. This "wanderer's" worldview has always resonated with me, and in fact, is echoed profoundly in my magical new adult romances in the Robbin' Hearts Series, where I write about this simple truth: "There's a little magic & outlaw in all of us—especially when it comes to finding true love . . ."

And quite honestly, I believe it's true.

I think in the back of our minds, each of us knows that we're walking upon this earth for only a short while. We're sojourners, lucky to take in the astounding beauty & grace of this life, so often amazed that we get to experience it at all. We carry the rucksacks of our hopes & dreams over our shoulders, never knowing what day we will die or whether those cherished dreams will come true. All we know is that right now, it's so wondrous—and even magical—that sometimes we have to pause & inhale a deep breath to take it all in.

We're thieves, whether we want to admit it or not—even those of us who work nine-to-five jobs & pay our fair share of taxes. We steal every awe-inspiring moment we can, knowing we only get so many of them. It's what gives meaning to our short stay on this planet—the fact that we can gaze at the clouds, feel the earth beneath our feet, tousle a beautiful child's hair & register his or her smile. Somewhere, in the mystical annals of the cosmos, these moments are stored in that same energy that brings more warm winds & glorious sunsets, more ice-laden winters of such crystalline beauty that it breaks our hearts into a million pieces & leaves us craving for more.

And yeah, I realize that perhaps my heart is more restless than most, because like so many of us whose ancestors immigrated to the United States, I come from a long line of wanderers. My husband likes to jest that "The Reeds never died where they were born." It's a fact—for a centuries, the Reeds were always pressing forward & exploring, searching for new places to taste this life & live out loud. Country to country, coast to coast is how we liked it—no borders or boundaries to hem us in. Is that why one of my first jobs as an adult was riding a mustang horse from Mexico to Canada and back, spending my nights in a gypsy wagon? Or I lived in a tiny attic for many years to work with the homeless & mentally ill in San Francisco? I decorated it with bohemian scarves & a colorful chandelier, loving the way the light struck the flea-market crystals to send vibrant hues swirling like a kaleidoscope through my nook. At night I gazed at the stars from my attic window & was convinced that I owned the whole world.

And I did. Because if I could appreciate it & tuck it into my heart, in a way, the world truly was mine. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant all those years ago when he said "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." We can't actually possess anything; we can only appreciate it for a while. For this reason, the homeless individuals I case managed on the street weren't simply my "wards"—they were my friends. I understood them & they understood me in a unique way that no one else does. We often sat together & marveled at the crazy mixed-up beauty of the world, sharing a smoke & chatting about these myriad enchantments that are so fleeting, yet make our hearts feel whole if we take time to notice them. I remember every conversation—every word—we exchanged, because the harshness & fierce transitoriness of their lives had etched their souls as fine as diamonds. They had a poetic & hypersensitivity to beauty & joy, because tomorrow was never guaranteed. It was a worldview I could relate to, quite frankly, because I was nearly as poor as they were, yet doggedly determined not to let that steal the beauty of life from me.

So blame it on my gypsy soul. But even though I'm more comfortable with my living situation now, I'll never forget the wisdom of the many gypsies, tramps & thieves I've known on my journey. Life is as fleeting as the warm light of a candle. They know this & so do I. If I could offer any encouragement to you today, it's to dare to wander & fall in love with life. Dare to really feel it—all of the good, the bad, and the in between. And like my characters in the Robbin' Hearts Series, dare to celebrate life whenever you can with song, dance & wonderful stories that remind you of just how big your soul has really grown. Because no matter what kind of house we have or dreams we pursue, there's a little magic & outlaw in all of us . . .

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  1. Love this post, Diane...there is a bit of wanderer in all of us...even when we stay in the same place...we travel in our hearts! ;)

  2. I couldn't agree more, Jane! Some of my most interesting expeditions come through the soul journeys of my imagination <3 Thanks for your comment!