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(from Within My Illusions)

Underneath the heavy weight of fear,

The shoulds,

The coulds,

A path that seems unclear;

Beneath the snowy winter of my mind,

Where flowers droop

And petals wilt

In space confined;

A steady chant has quietly begun:

Feed me.

Water me.

Point me toward the sun.


In Texas, it seems like we’ve been through four seasons in the past two weeks. From the snow, ice, and subfreezing temperatures of an historic storm emerged beautiful spring-like days followed by highs in the mid-80’s. Now the sky is gray and misty, and freshly fallen leaves, wilted from too many days under ice, stir in the breeze.

It’s discombobulating.

I’ve always loved the word discombobulate. It’s one of those words that sounds exactly how it feels. I’ve also wondered why no one ever talks about being “combobulated.” Is it even a word? I looked it up and found a definition that I think is pretty wonderful.

combobulate: to pull together in a somewhat mysterious manner, to bring out of a state of confusion or disarray

This definition reminds me of the dreamy way particles in a snow globe settle after it's been shaken. A part of me feels like the week of the storm must have been a dream. Awakening one morning to a winter wonderland and the next to the uncertainty of not knowing when or for how long we would be without power. Ice crystals encrusting every limb, leaf, and berry in the canyon—a forest of glass chiming in the wind. I found myself at times unable to do anything but lie under piles of comforters and stare out the window, as though my mind were trying to make sense of something completely foreign, trying to reconcile this scene with what I have come to expect to see in these trees. How long have I spent studying the patterns of time through life in this little patch of earth that I inhabit? Even without knowing it, these rhythms are etched into my subconscious.

I was musing on the words discombobulate/combobulate during my Poetry Timeout event last week. It occurred to me that perhaps the confusion of discombobulation is an opportunity to invite mystery into our lives, to open to possibilities for how things might come back together in new and unusual ways that we wouldn’t be able to fashion with our logical minds or on our own. Combobulation implies collaboration—with others and with that mysterious force that some people call God, the Divine, Source, or the Universe.

This morning, I saw a bird walking across my deck with a twig in its beak. Building a new nest, I thought. Friends and family ask if things are getting “back to normal.” But to me, “normal” feels like a concept I’ve long since abandoned. We are living in discombobulating times. I'm wondering whether surrendering to the uncertainty of discombobulation can give way to a new sort of freedom, even if it might seem frightening at times.

Wishing you a week of wonder in the mysterious combobulation of life.

With love,


ps - I know many people had major damage because of the storms. If you are either in need of help or in a position to help, Pandemic of Love is a grassroots, volunteer-led and formalized mutual aid community, started by my friend Shelly Tygielski in March of 2020 in response to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related events. The organization has become a global movement. The process is simple: Visit Click either the "I need help" or "I want to help" button, fill out a form, and Pandemic of Love volunteers will create a match.

pps - My next Poetry Timeout will be March 28. You can learn more or register here. You can watch the replay of last week's event here.

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