Wild smell rose fragrant
Soaring free wings not landing
Thoughts dancing freely
Stepping light into dawn
Always in new daze
Pain seeking healing
Reside in arms comforting
Heart beating hopeful
Wild smell rose fragrant
Soaring free wings not landing
Thoughts dancing freely
Stepping light into dawn
Always in new daze
Pain seeking healing
Reside in arms comforting
Heart beating hopeful
In these life’s ragged moments
Empty in the void
Hear the mother hen
Squawking distress heartbreak grief
Skunk’s hunger sated
Loud rolling thunder
Image fading too slowly
Empty weeping arms
Handcuff mothers’ fear
Protecting children dying
More guns men laughing
Peace found within fields
Memory of loving days
Mountain heart endures
Apropos, I suppose, I woke up this morning with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” running through my head. The song appeared on his first album Back to Bedlam (named after a famous psychiatric hospital in England). Of course “bedlam” is descriptive of my anguished frustration and confusion as to “how can this keep happening” — these senseless murders of young children. With the tune playing through my mind as I came out of sleep, I was also well aware of the counterpoise necessary to rebalance myself after giving permission for that one voice to blow off some steam and heed the call to get loud.
I reflect that thirty-plus years ago, when I was 40, I started training in kung fu. At first it was simply a disciplined way to get exercise, but as I moved into the art, it became one of my deepest psychological journeys.
Early in my training, I was tasked with learning a series of moves: a straight punch to the face, an elbow to the chin, and knee to the groin (all with full control because that, in essence, was what we were training to have: control). I performed the move — quite well, I thought — with hardness. “Look at my warrior strength!!” my ego beamed.
My sifu stopped me and said, “Good, but now I want you to do it slowly and softly.” I looked at him, and I said, “Well, I can’t do that. That’s not who I am,” so ingrained in this persona that who “I was” was hard and strong and direct. But he was not going to argue with me; he gave me the choice to do it slowly and softly or to get on the ground and do 50 full-body pushups with my partner kicking me in the stomach on each plank. I kid you not, but without hesitation I dropped to the ground to do that instead of having to be soft.
My sifu, not expecting that to be my choice, stopped me. In essence, the choice changed to “do it soft and slow or end your training.” Because I felt “it” happening, I wanted to argue that I could not do “soft,” and I told to him, “I will cry if I have to do that.” He said, “That’s okay.” I replied, “No, it’s never okay to cry, especially in kung fu.” He chuckled and said, “It’s always okay to cry.”
A higher, wiser Self stepped up beside me (I now recognize it as the Spirt side of Mind/Body/Spirit) and “held” me while I went through that controlled move. And I cried. “Again,” my sifu said. Again, I did it softly and slowly, and I cried more deeply. “Again,” he said. And I sobbed as I touched feeling so scared and vulnerable in allowing myself to be soft. Through the following seven years of training in kung fu, my challenge was to learn to “yield,” to honor my yin energy, to find the balance between the yin and the yang. I achieved Brown Belt rank before arthritic issues at age 47 (probably the physical manifestation of years of hardness) ended my physical training.
Though most people move through life disguised and dressed in one persona (mine at that time was a hardened, closed-off warrior superwoman), if we become aware, we recognize we all have different voices, or selves, within us, each of which needs to be recognized and honored in order to free ourselves. It was during those years of training in kung fu, in my search to rebalance myself, I was privileged to be introduced to a wise woman and practitioner of Voice Dialogue, a process through which a person learns to identify and become aware of these different voices or selves in order to become a more balanced individual. Though far from practiced in the process myself, I recognized its importance in helping me achieve an emotional equipoise in my life.
Back in those days of kung fu, I had to learn to listen to this young, weak child that was never allowed to cry and that had to wear armor to get through life. Not only had that armor ceased to serve me, it had become destructive. Through kung fu — and Voice Dialogue and shamanic work, and eventually meditation — I got in touch with my world of archetypical energies that all serve me when in balance, but also can be destructive or hindering when one outshouts the other.
The Lover’s voice in James Blunt wrote and sang those beautiful songs. “You’re Beautiful” is an incredibly sad song about unrequited love, expressing the intense emotions of James Blunt when he saw his girlfriend with another man and he didn’t do anything about it (in the official video he jumps endlessly off a wall, down, down, down to …?).
Yesterday my Warrior ranted and played the bagpipes and banged on the drums of frustration. This morning, my Priest sat in silent meditation. In the bedlam of our “modern world,” I continue to listen for and await the voice of wisdom and spirit to illuminate the way.
May peace and love find us all and be the loudest voice and the brightest light to show the path forward in the bedlam of our world.
Tap the water table beneath your feet
Roll down the mountains in relief
Feed the ground and clutch the air
Smell the wind that blows so fair.
Ride the oceans, touch its depth
Climb up mountains, feel its breadth
Search deeply through tangled roots
Reach even higher for tree’s fruits
Feel the rain or hear it tap
Or warm by the fire against the coldsnap
Hear the talk of branch on bough
Release all tension in your brow
Yes, it’s cold and gray and dreary
Suffer not for you can be cheery
When wrapped in the songs that nature sings
Bringing all things beautiful on its wings
I’ve been on a road trip the past 10 days, which is why I haven’t been getting to my blog, but my, oh, my, what an adventure! It started simply enough, driving down to see my daughter in Oregon City, then out past Boring to visit my friends in the Columbia Gorge. I rendezvoused with my 35-year-old son in Issaquah, and my granddaughter in Seattle. All and all it was an almost perfect road trip, but nothing to raise a Monkey’s Eyebrow to. So to spice it all up, before I took the ferry home, I decided to mosey off to the back of beyond, do some exploring which turned out to be Nothing that was Boring or Dull.
(Author’s note, in case you don’t get it: All italicized names are real names of towns and street signs, though the distances traveled could only happen in one’s imagination. Also, it is slightly R-rated, so if you’re sensitive, stop near Santa, Idaho — though a slight downgrade from the North Pole — and wait for my next blog post).
As I started following a map and road signage in italics, I felt it was all a Riddle to be solved. Curiosity got the best of me, maybe like Jump Off Joe felt when he met Tom Dick and Harry over by Jackass Butte. Yes, I found Friendship in Book but it was Difficult trying to understand folks pronouncing Zzyzx Road as the way to get to Hell For Certain. In a Pinch, trying to Jot Em Down, the Recluse in Fingringhoe insisted the shortcut was through Weiner Cutoff, Condom, and Clit, but for obvious reasons, I chose to go down to Booger Hole in the opposite direction from Goofy Ridge. Though I found myself briefly at Happy Corner near What Cheer, it was a Tightsqueeze. I experienced a brief Surprise when I drove down Goa Way, finally feeling a bit more Neutral before I realized I had gotten Nowhere.
I got in a Funk because I could not find Money to spend, being so poor I couldn’t even buy a Bread Loaf or Two Eggs. Speeding through Knockemstiff and then Hooker, I stopped briefly in Hopeulikit but there was a Little Snoring in Onacock down Fanny Hands Lane, so once again, I carried on down another street that some Dickshooter named Dingleberry Road which took me directly to Cocking Fuckborough, a town that at least asked visitors to “Please don’t laugh at our village’s funny name.” That was kind of Cool, I thought, but it was no Fluffy Landing when I skidded at Greasy Corner, ending up at Bacon Level near Deadhorse, wondering where that bacon might have come from (but pretty sure why that corner was greasy).
Desperate to return to Paradise but at least try to find Sublimity, I thought I’d go to the Blue Mountains. But I immediately started questioning the morality of the area when I saw Humptulips and Loveladies standing at the edge of Whorehouse Meadows. The morality squad had apparently tried to change the name to Naughty Girl Meadows, but that idea went down the Crapper — which, by the way, was a town that really swirled down the Drain, because — as the story goes — folks in Burns Down convincingly proclaimed themselves more Needy of the services and more Rough and Ready to keep the name, because, though Remote, they were competing with the Intercourse Pretzel Factory over near Ticklenaked Pond. It need not be said that most decent men quickly said Aloha to that whole area, and would Zigzag to avoid Truth or Consequences which would of course result in Gouge Eye in Bitchfield if their women got wind of where they’d been.
Though I had left Boring in search of anything not so Dull, I began to Desire to return to a more Happy Corner. But I found it hard to escape some of the routes, feeling trapped in an endless Bear Dance. It seemed it was all a Sweet Lips Community wherever I turned. Right outside of Tightwad, I entered Ugley. Upon driving down Done Movin’ Lane, only briefly did I think I’d found my exit but realized it wasn’t Goodenough. The sign then told me to drive slowly past Cocks, but possibly I did not drive slow enough because I ended up at Wankers Corner, which was Halfway to Why (which of course at this point I had been thinking Why for quite awhile) where I was so desperately praying to enter Humanville, but, no — Oh Hell no — it turned into a Three-Way with a Dildo, followed by a Failing Plunge to Virgin. At this point, Cut and Shoot was a Hazard though it no longer seemed Peculiar.
I stayed long enough to hear about Blue Ball who clearly stayed too long in Titty-Ho, but he had missed the turn, I’m told, to Idiotville and so arrived Spread Eagle with someone else’s Bastardo where the whole town came out yelping Yeehaw and throwing Rabbit Hash at him like Windpassing, which blew the doors wide open at the Smut Eye Grocery. I knew for sure now that I was in Satan’s Kingdom, which they claimed was simply a state recreation area, but it was actually a Flasher town in Young America. Every town on the map was leading me either to Lizard Lick — or was that Dick Lick Springs or Beaver Lick? Lotsa licking going on everywhere I went is all I know. All I could think was Oh Pity Me. I honestly did, and Whynot? It was a nightmare as I turned down Uncertain Road, past Bucket of Blood Street — a labyrinth, for sure — before I came to No Name. I was beginning to realize I might have arrived at Low Point right off of Middlefart when a Bend took me straight to Asylum.
Now completely in a Panic and wanting to get home, I drove down Bad Root Road to Point No Point where I came to Climax so slowly I almost missed Penistone. Near Crapstone, Embarrassed as I was, I had to use a bathroom but they wouldn’t let me use Pee Pee Creek, so I carried on down A Dog Will Lick His Butt But Won’t Eat A Pickle Road which dead-ended in Accident. There was a toilet in Bathtub Gulch but it wasn’t very clean because the sign said, “Please put toilet paper only in the toilet. Everything else goes in the trash,” and apparently everyone had followed those instructions. I was quite getting desperate to get out of this nightmare when I suddenly arrived in Half.com where there was a sign that said “That Way To Earth.”
Feeling like it had all been a nightmare, I started to see more familiar territory. I passed through Muckanaghederdauhaulia, which I knew translated as Piggery Between Two Expanses of Briny Water, so I was confident I was finally coming out of the darkness I had entered. All I’d wanted to do was to escape things that were Dull and Boring, maybe like the bartender who named his town Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä because he wanted to name it a name no one else could use — or misuse like I just have. Thank Dog or the Universe, I thought. Whynot?
Almost home, I passed through A Spring Where Two Buffaloes Were Killed With the Same Shot, aka Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein. From there, I came over the ridge, and I finally breathed in the sweet tranquility of home-sweet-home, though I’ve never been able to pronounce it in all the years I’ve lived there, but its translation brings me Serenity and Comfort, and eases my soul: Saint Mary’s Church in a Hollow of White Hazel Near the Swirling Whirlpool of the Church of Saint Tysilio With a Red Cave — Such a lovely sounding name — Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I think I’ll stick to Boring and Dull after that seemingly immoral trip to Hell’s Canyon.
I found an old journal from 1996 that I haven’t looked at probably since I stowed it away. Old memories. One of the first entries reads: “No one can play the strings of your song. I realize that now. I realize what I keep playing is your laughter. What I keep playing is your love. It’s you I play, not me.” Though I allowed it to be a painful time, I’m glad I recorded its journey where I had allowed myself to “fall in love” with the most unavailable — and truly the most gorgeous — man on the planet.
How did I deal with my pain? Exactly as I always have: I jumped on a plane and flew away, this time to Florida, by myself. These are the thoughts that I recorded in a brand-new journal.
Wind on the mountain
Solitude of the eagle,
Of the hawk.
Everything trying to merge and
Everything trying to separate
Wholeness held in one hand
Loneliness wrapped in love
Love not knowing its own face
Love not seeing, remaining
Undiscovered and unseen.
(I only write poetry when wounded by love.)
A mockingbird sings, looking for love to touch its soul too. I wait for the sunset in Key West. Still thinking of that man. Can’t get into him. Never will. Can’t get away from him. …But I will. The broad arm of a mahogany leans across the second story patio of Mallory Square, giving shade, but my skin is fried by too much sun. I can’t feel its cool brush. There’s a gentle clatter of ceiling fans in an effort to move air that’s too tired to move.
At the Italian Fisherman, another day, I sit on a patio at the water’s edge. I watch garfish and cat fish being circled by one small barracuda while shadows of pelicans pass over. At the table next to me are two fat women who are bitching about work in Minnesota: that they’re not allowed to wear perfume. The light breeze brings to me a strong odor of overpoured perfume clinging to their clothes as if telling their boss, “Fuck you. Smell me now.”
Later, traveling across the Everglades, heading to Clearwater, I notice a man following me in a gold Subaru. When the highway becomes four-lane, he hovers next to me, turning constantly to stare at me. It creeps me out. My imagination runs wild, as I imagine him taking down my license plate, and though it’s a rental, somehow he will find out who rented it, telling the agency some story to get them to give them my address. Damn my imagination. I slow way down, visibly taking out a pencil and paper while I drive, letting him know to beware that I am now taking down HIS license. He finally drives on ahead.
There are Native Americans in the Everglades that still live in — or at least build — thatched huts of bundled cattails — like the one I built for myself in New Zealand — but they put tar paper across the peak. A canal that borders Highway 41 is dotted with fishermen. The shacks might be their fishing shacks. In the distance a charcoal cloud, heavy with rain, hangs above the swamp that extends to the horizon. I learned later that a jet crashed into the Everglades — not within my vision or point in time — but 109 people died. The nose of the plane, the plane itself, was buried 30 feet deep in the muck. If anyone had survived the crash, the alligators were waiting. Salvage was not discussed.
Farther west, I met the green fabric of fields woven into the blue fabric of sky from which (for whatever reason), I weave in a quote by Annie Proulx: “We face up to the awful things because we can’t go around them.” That man — that man that I came to Florida to escape — is with me again, like a needle stuck in an old record. I must face why I am attracted to the emotionally unavailable. I already know why I get on planes and fly away when my heart is hurt.
I’m airport watching now on my way back to the Northwest, leaving behind plastic-fantastic. Key West is a fascinating amusement, but overall I dislike Florida. Sitting at Delta Gate 54A, a 25-year-old, hidden behind sunglasses, tells me: “…I was 17 then. A long time ago. I was a day late. Didn’t matter if I was a dollar short or a day late, my parents would take care of it.” He takes off his glasses to clean them on his shirt and puts them back on. “But now,” he says, “it’s the real world.” Yes, it is, I think.
I glance away and see an old man, with trembling hands, eating a nacho with jalapenos. He drinks water, it shaking in his hand, but suddenly he stands up and moves away from a young woman who’s drinking a beer, changing tables. Then he changes tables again. He’s moving yet again when a long-haired man with a beeper, looking at each beep, distracts me.
Another man, older, without a chin, is standing nearby. He keeps pulling up his overly baggy pants in a way that accentuates his penis and balls. He looks like a child molester. Two indiscreet Native Americans walk by, carrying ceremonial drums. For some reason, the man I’m trying to erase from my heart and mind re-enters, a constant thrump, like the river flowing over rocks and boulders on its way to the sea. Conversations distract me. “Where’s she going to stay?” a man asks. “In the States,” she answers, jutting out her jaw. I didn’t hear the rest as the conversation blurred into a man talking about back surgery to the stranger next to him.
Yes, there are windows opening constantly in the pulse of time. I take it in, like a grouper’s mouth sucking in the unsuspecting dinner. I notice an elegantly dressed woman in colors that accentuate her aged tan and silvered hair. She sits alone, watching also, her hand lazily drooped over the arm of the chair, while mine is scribbling in my journal.
And then she rises, as do I, when boarding is announced.
Today, Earth Day 2022, I sit in quiet calm. The sun is finding its footing through the spreading branches of the alder outside my window. Soon, in weeks, if not days, its footing will fail, almost, as the leaves finish filling out Alder’s headdress and leaving only the tree’s shadow. The cool shade will come soon enough, as the days start to warm, and it will be there that I’ll seek to sit. Quite amazing how the Earth Mother times these things just right. Today, though, the days are still chilly here in the Northwest, and only not yet warm enough to satisfy my thinned frame.
I’m inside right now. There’s a couple small ants coursing across my table in search of a morsel to take back to their nest, always working for the whole, working for their community. I watch them. I’ve always loved ants. As children, when my brothers glued model airplanes together, I glued model ants and bees and other insects.
I just sit in my calm quiet, reflecting on the beauty of this spinning globe, seeing what I see, hearing what I hear, floating on memories of previous times when I slowed enough to absorb this miraculous, mysterious, spellbinding creation spinning through a universe so vast. I too forget to appreciate it.
From where I sit, I can hear the lyrics of a bird’s song, something so enchanting, fascinating, that they can make such trills and whistles and clicks with barely opening their mouths, some sort of unseen process delivering such extraordinary music.
New leaves are budding. Most noticeably to me are the droops of maple flowers that burst open, shooting outwards their new opposing leaves and to its sides draping corymbs of pentamerous flowers. It’s true, I cheated to find these wonderful words. “Pentamerous” sounds very amorous.
Almost mirroring the color of the salmon berry blossoms, there’s a young quince tree on the property with magenta blossoms, sharing too-close of space with a young lilac that will flower by the time the quince ends its blossoming. All the while, the grass is growing after a long winter and will continue to grow tall enough to wave to the world in the wind – to reveal the invisibility of a wind we feel but is only revealed in its waving, symbiotic relationship with the trees and fields to say, “Now do you see me?”
A vision I only hold in my mind’s eye, at this moment: I revisit the sun’s rays as it glistens and dances on a smooth glassy warm southern ocean. From there, I’m immediately transported to a deep pool I came across wandering in the countryside outside of Oslo, Norway. It too was glassy, but dark, almost black in the shade of trees but more so from years of autumn leaves dropping into its waters, rotting. The newest contributions, oranges and reds and burnt peach colored leaves, lay on the water’s edge of that gladed pond. If I were to step into its darkness, my toes would squish and sink into the silkiest of mucky mud, though I know I’d also feel the sticks and twigs that had not yet rotted. I’m touching the circle and exchange of life. The changes that never cease.
Water skeeters shoot across the still surface, taking me to my childhood, where I was forever wondering how do they walk on water? Magic water walkers. And turtles — that I visit again only in my imagination in this moment because I never seem to see them living in the Northwest, but there in my mind they sit on logs, sometimes in a row, and yet I’ve never seen how they manage to climb up out of the water onto those round logs with their cumbersome shells. The frogs speak, more so as evening nears, but occasionally allowing me to catch them almost hidden, sitting on lily pads or the edge of a reed. They have magic feet too. The pond frogs then rush me to Hawai’i where I hear the coming evening burst into the loud coquies choir.
Back in the gladed forest floor, I’m drawn to the beauty of a rotting log and all the activity going on. Home to grubs and ants and beetles and fungi, left alone, they devour the log, allowing it to fall back to its children’s roots, nourishing its offspring, like a breast given to a child. Those logs are often called nurse logs for a reason.
Bees buzz by, working away, harvesting nectar and loading pollen onto their legs until they’re almost too heavy to take off and fly back to their hive, where in some magical transformation, they turn the nectar into honey for the workers and royal jelly to feed their queen, to feed their brood. I’m witness to a community working together.
I’ll avoid exploring the science behind their magic, for that would take me away from the moment. Instead, I’ll return to the meadow that is out my window, and I’ll just sit. In peace. I’ll still the cacophony of my endless parade of thoughts, and I’ll just be in this moment, removed from man’s world that’s happening out there somewhere, a world that has forgotten to stop and observe and receive this beauty. Instead, I will bring it all into my core and hold it, seeing it as the world I wish to live in, created in my mind’s eye, the place I can return to and visit in those moments most needed.
And I’ll invite the world to join me and walk out into this beauty!
Happy Earth Day, Mother Earth.
First thing each morning, I put on my clothes — no, that’s not true. First, after I jump out of bed, I scurry quickly five feet down to turn on my little heater in my van in which I live, and as that heat quickly changes the temperature from 39 to a passable 64, then I put on my clothes, often the same ones I wore the day before, but-for clean underwear and socks. I put on a saucepan of water to boil for my coffee while I grind my half cup of beans and put them in the French press, and then, a never-fail ritual, I turn on my laptop and check my emails.
I have five email addresses created for different reasons. They’re like different clothes I put on, or different hats worn for different occasions.
The first email I opened was a weekly post on CaringBridge, updating a friend’s journey with cancer. This week, five weeks after her treatment began, she is completely bald. She posed in the window of the camera lens in her baldness and in a colorful head wrap, trying on her new looks that she’ll wear for awhile.
She also shared a picture of her granddaughter’s sixth birthday, the Great Unicorn Gathering. With sparkles in her eyes and a smile, she, her granddaughter, was standing by a table of colorful cakes and cupcakes, also dressed in their own headdresses of white-“haired” frosted chocolate cupcakes, drizzled with something looking like strawberry syrup, and a round single-layer cake mounded with fresh raspberries and sliced almonds.
In her CaringBridge entry, my friend writes about the joy of her granddaughter’s little party. Also, she makes a comment about a “challenging” nurse she’d had to contend with during her last chemo appointment. Something that’s so special about my friend is her compassion and understanding of others. This is often reflected, I think, in her filter and her ability to think before she speaks, making her the go-to school counselor for hundreds of children, and a dear person who has shouldered maybe too many of her friends’ secrets and woes. I too have taken my problems to her, where she’s listened deeply, and then asked those questions of me wherein the answers rested. A miracle worker, she is, revealing the one constant of life: the beauty of love and caring.
These are the thoughts I have as I look at these images she’s shared reflected in these window frames: her bald pate, her colorful head wrap. She emanates a beauty from within that overshadows any of the guises of clothes and hairdos she’s worn over the years.
She also wrote of the tears she cried as a friend shaved off the last tufts of hair that had clung to her head like flood-torn branches on a river’s edge, life’s river. But her current still runs strong and clear, and if obstacles appear, she is held safely by her husband and surrounded with the closest and most loving friends to help her remove those rocks and boulders or to portage her around, over, or through them. The love she’s given is returning thousandfold.
She is and always has been the most beautiful woman I’ve had the privilege to share my life with. Just as I get used to my thinning hair that’s come with aging, just as she watched her husband’s hair turn from dark to white (both of which were slow processes that slipped in through the cracks of time, while hers came upon her so quickly), she will get used to not having hair for a while. It’s just a different guise — or disguise — she’s trying on, while her beauty shines even brighter.
Right now, she’s the beauty of an acorn without its top hat, shiny and smooth. We already know — all of us who love her — that within that shiny, beautiful seed is a great, strong tree, burgeoning with life, strength, and love which is, after all, the beauty that always has and always will shine forth.
She is the clear-flowing river. All the rest is just window dressing.
You know who you are, and I love you.
The ocean is a deep womb, holding and nurturing all life in her depths. I know this, for she held me close for years as I sailed upon her waters towards a horizon that I have yet to reach. Dancing with her on several small boats, I moved across her face, pushed by the winds that coursed across her surface, forever aware that beneath her surface, there is this great calm. She could be as still as a breathless day, her great fluid mass not moving at all but for the pull of the moon or winds that passed over her, stirring her, changing her moods, changing her texture.
Those winds, like life, pushed her waters to rise up into mountains, up which we rode in our little boats, after which we’d plunge down into her valleys, not unlike a surfer on the mammoth waves of Nazare or Jaws. There were many days, too, where the winds were but a tickle on her cheek, a feather brushing across its mirror-smooth waters, leaving her to lay still, quiet, truly pacified. There were days that seemed to never end as we sat in her doldrums, looking deeply into her depths. (Doldrums, by the way, are not sad; they are deep and still.) We followed the Bible rays of the sun down, down as far as they reached until they no longer reflected the blue sky above. She gave us night waltzes too where the dancers were like feetless ballerinas, lighting her up in a mesmerizing phosphorescent dance on the darkest of nights with the only music being the lap and lisp of water against our hull.
She is the giver of life, from which we all on land once came. Flying fish often emerged from her watery womb, landing on our decks. Playful dolphins swam with us for hours or gave us a front-row seat to the circle of life of which we all participate in one way or another. This particular show of life taking life was witnessed in a squall line that churned the water, attracting a school of small fish which attracted a school of tuna, which attracted a mile-long line of porpoises that had come to feast and have their fill. Life giving life.
If one is lazy or tired or not observant, great moments of friendship pass by in the night. A whale of unknown species joined us one chilly night. Outlined by a phosphorescent glow the length of our 45-foot boat, she traveled only feet from our hull, exhaling her fishy breath in a calm rhythm. She moved silently, but for those breathy exhales, until the sun began to lighten the sky. I’m sure she knew we were not one of her kind — but kind she knew we were; definitely not a dangerous fishing trawler. She blew a final farewell and disappeared into the depths.
The ocean gave us her bays and shorelines, too, in which she allowed us to drop anchors into her lesser depths, to stay awhile, where we watched a wedding of sorts as she kissed the shore and caressed the sands. And, yes, crashed against rocks and headlands. In anger? No. It was just the wind that appeared to be moving her, stirring her. She never resisted as the storms and currents played across her. In her calm depth, she let them pass, as we, in meditation, let our thoughts pass, remaining calm deep down, just simply allowing the wind to speak its voice. It is both her deep calm and her changing moods or moving currents that have given me life’s lessons and nurtured my soul. Blessed Mother Ocean, thank you.
These days I no longer sail on her surface but when I stand on the shores, on the cliffs, and see her endless reach beyond the horizon, the places where the albatross fly, I return to her embrace, the love she shared with me, the peace she revealed, a gift deeply held, even in what I perceive as her most tumultuous moments. Or mine.
I leave you with this, a beautiful song that is also a gift from the sea. I know because I hear it in the words and in the tune. Several years ago, staying a few days at Cabinas Sol y Mar in Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, a man named Bob Tobin, a musician, was in the cabin next to us. He came there each year for three or four weeks. He asked if he could serenade us. Like the whale that traveled with us all night, why would anyone turn away from a beautiful gift. This song speaks to me just as the ocean does. Enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exbx6OCZOlw (The song itself starts at 1:35)
May you all remember the sky you were born under, and the sea that gave you life.
Pieces of wood lay on the table, having been carved by the hands of a man who had nothing to do but search for his creativity. I saw the boxes of spoons he carved, over 200 at least. Only a few were smooth and finished and usable for scooping, stirring, lifting foods from one vessel to another. He played with the grains where the centers swirled, that declared:
“Yes, once I was a tree and this is my lineage. Now that I’m reduced to being a spoon, let me remind you of how old I had grown before some man came and cut me to the ground, chipping my skin away like a scalped native, and then slicing me into lengths, just pieces of my original grand height so I am no longer that marvel I’d been, a holder of tributaries and vessels, pulling nutrients from the darkness below and taking the Sun and Air into my head-strong leaves, mixing it all as only the greatest magician can.
“I was a magician and now I’m a half-finished spoon sitting in another wooden box, made up of pieces of my brothers and sisters, sitting on a hard cement floor. Cement! Even my boxed brothers and sisters can no longer touch the Earth for if they could, we have other friends that would so kindly begin the funereal process of bringing us home, of breaking down our fibers by whatever magic they know, with fungus and insects all working their magic together that we might — just might have a proper burial, in which I, and my siblings, could feed the offspring of life.
“And yet for what — why — I wonder now, because it is a great authoritarian dictator that rules over us, who has determined our existence: where we should live, how we should live — in rows of mirrored trees, all the same age with no variety — without the voices made when the wind wiggles the wide leaves of the maples or the sharp needles of the spruce, the quaking of the aspens, joined by the rasping of errant branches rubbing against its neighbors. Yes, I am sad and hurting and I wonder is this all there is now?
“The voice of my ancestors no longer speaks its stories through the mycelium and root systems which have been plowed over, ripped to nothingness, ripped to silence and stilled forever. I am a spoon now. Only a spoon, made and designed to serve my master. Even in this box with my other broken brothers and sisters, our souls are so diminished that we stand in the same stillness as the land on which we were raised. Our voices are silent. Silent. But for the crackling of the forest fires.
“Some say this has become our battle cry. We would rather burn in the fires than suffer the continued destruction of our homes, replaced by words like sustainable forestry, though in truth it’s the jailing of our souls only to be chipped and cut and splintered and mashed to make paper to wipe our master’s ass, for paper on which they write their perceived goals and purposes with no regard for us.
“There was a time — I was young then but I remember — when people first lived and walked amongst us as one. We shared ourselves freely, giving our back for clothes or roofs, our leaves and fruit for food. Those days are no more. I am a spoon. I serve. I serve up food to feed the monster who destroyed my family.”