Evolving / by grace mcgrade


I am afraid of the unknown and yet I have a compulsion towards it. I cannot help but yearn for what waits behind the veil of death, even though the fear of it all spreads up through my skeleton like lightning. I like to go into the woods at night, and call forth spirit, despite my aversion for the cold and the dark. It is almost like I have an overbearing, mystic mother, who prods me in the back until I do the things that ignite and terrify me.

I reinvent myself in order to stay alive, watching my previous identities ferment with intoxicating relief. I have lived nine lives in one. Each new one begins with a bold step into the abyss, sometimes almost certain that I will plummet into destruction. And yet, I emerge, usually wearing a color I didn’t know existed.

My latest transmutation is my favourite.

I have often invoked strong reactions from others, sometimes madly falling in love with strangers, other times collecting enemies quicker than running through  feathers covered in superglue. Part of this is because I have the irresistible tendency to voice truth and opinions no one wants to hear.

A year and a half ago I was living as a model in a bungalow in Los Angeles. My community was a rotating circus of club-goers, social media moguls, artists and actors. A city where everyone wants to be famous- and I think by famous, they want to be loved. There are enough people who want to be famous and not enough that want to heal, or fix anything.

When you are the girl in the magazine, you know that no one actually looks like the girl in the magazine. Including you. It’s all a show, all smoke and mirrors. How lucky I am to have lived behind the curtain. I think if I hadn’t, I might still be trying to emulate an ideal of something that doesn’t actually exist. Aspiring towards the glamor that has been dangled in front of me since birth.

I lived a predominantly nocturnal lifestyle, usually fuelled by some strange combination of kale salad from the whole foods bar, cocaine and self hatred. My friends and I travelled in packs, like coyotes, adorned in vintage and dangling charms. We embarked on violent rampages in midnight ubers down Sunset blvd, frequenting clubs and after parties just to  stare at one another, dance and engage in empty conversations. The rush to find the after party, to ingest more of everything. Only to then to wait for the sun to come up, and in the harsh light of day-even poets in cowboy hats and models in glitter and glossy eyeshadow lose their allure. Empty eyed.

My evenings were intermittently interrupted by castings, where my outsides determined how I could pay my rent. I was the ultimate armchair activist, very articulate when it came to discussing and pin pointing the world’s many problems- but completely immobile in my personal life.  I was suffering from an inner loneliness and dread, a longing for purpose. The only thing that made me feel alive was synchronicity, or doing magic. I longed for evidence that I wasn’t so separate from my surrounding world, even when it seemed to fold in on me. I can’t distinguish whether I was internalizing the woes of the world, or if the world became woeful because I was. What a strange time to be alive, always moving, changing, evolving in nanoseconds. Merging with technology and chemicals, without any real gauge of it's effects. And yet, still moving.  My inability to change anything in my immediate sphere of influence made me feel stagnant and unimportant, and as the political climate brew to a boiling point- so did I.

My rage became palpable, and I converted it into the fuel I needed to get the fuck out of America.

Now I am living in an spiritual ecovillage called Findhorn, in rural Scotland. Findhorn was developed in the 60’s, after a trio of friends began growing miracle sized cabbages through a combination of psychic channelings and communicating with nature spirits. 55 years later, it has blossomed into a village of over 600. It has become a hub for eccentrics, ecodesign, sustainability projects, and inner and outer workshops.It is surrounded by grossly picturesque landscapes and bears an uncanny resemblance Middle Earth.

My favourite thing about living here, is that it feels like a fairy tale. Almost like I am sitting on top of a dimension where everyone is a hobbit, a gnome or a fairy. Sometimes I play with my perception, and look for evidence that they indeed, are. My world view has changed so drastically, I realize that what I was missing can be simplified to three vital things: community, connection to nature, and connection to myself.

I am learning to love myself, and not any of that ‘accept your body, embrace your flaws’ hallmark bullshit- properly love. An undying love, not contingent on anything external. Loving myself enough to find unsuspected reserves of strength in frantic moments, loving myself by gazing into my own eyes and feeling shivers of deep recognition and gratitude. I begin to understand that there is no divide between where god ends and I begin, I am my own passage to the divine, and how ridiculous it is that at this fractal of time, I get to be such a beautifully tangible expression of consciousness. I am my own fairy godmother, my own guru and my own goddess. How sad it is that I ever thought otherwise.

How can I shape the dimensions of my imagined reality, that seems to spill out of me like glossy blood, through the rigid, grey template of our society? Like anyone I want  abundance, splendor, opulence- but in what form? And at what cost? I get bored of things, but never of people. I sometimes wonder how many of my worldly desires have just been regurgitated dreams from television. Tell-a-vision.

It has only just occurred to me that so many of my dreams have been spoon fed to me, that my real dreams do not have to revolve around the accumulation of stuff, but can take an entirely new course, can involve alternative living, falling in love with a group of people, and maybe even fairies.