Ebb as Flow

When I lived in Maine where seasons merged at nature’s whim, I was often devastated by the sudden and profound advent of the equinox. In thirty-two sets of seasons, I can honestly say I was never fully prepared. Perhaps as a result of my birth and upbringing on warmer shores, I lacked the intuitive sensitivity to tinges of morning frost. Too energized by the thin air and wafts of wood smoke in my nostrils; too enthralled by the variety of wildlife scurrying about, readying for the inevitable. Too enchanted with the labors of loons launching overhead, furiously flapping wings to offset the density of solid bones, their lilting cries piercing the stillness of morning. Often and one time too many, I was too distracted by beauty to repair to the warmth of hearth and home; just another sack full of leaves, one more armload thrown on the brush pile, ignoring the frigid hand of impending winter wrapping itself sinuously around the back of my bare neck.

Keeping pace with nature’s rhythms seems easier when living close to the heart of the land. Observing birds on the wing seems coded in my DNA. Gazing as a vista of landscape changes hues sets off a chain of invisible events as image hits retina. Just because I might not be aware of this happening does not make it any less stupendous. If I consider the million sensory impressions assaulting my body every day, there is no filter that can effectively cancel them all. And even if that were possible, I would not wish it into being. Changed and charged currents waft on breezes tinged with a still-damp winterchill. Dogs pick up their ears, cock their heads. The full-time simplicity of their lives grants them a necessary rhythm in acutely attuning to minutiae.

Life on Hawaii island may be simpler in many ways, but thirty-two years of syncing my body to the rhythm of four distinct seasons and it doesn’t easily give up the memory. I must fight this laconic feeling, this sense of endings, or I must flow with it as my ancestors have for generations, before the advent of technology which keeps us well wired but ill-grounded. Perhaps I shall leverage this leaden feeling to anchor myself more fully to the planet. Perhaps I will, with a certain muster of grace, embrace the warmth of this Hawaiian winter like a wraith gaining a bye on life; one final round before yielding to the great Unknown.

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Love, Actually?

Today I took a notion to look up love in the thesaurus; to investigate, inquire, elucidate, and perhaps pontificate on the kinds and qualities and misappropriations and justifications for using this word for a feeling. After all, it’s such a very big word. It’s so all-encompassing in fact, that these are the synonyms I discovered, some which are repetitive:

adoration, very strong liking, adulation, affection, allegiance, amity, amorousness, amour, appreciation, ardency, ardor, attachment, cherishing, crush, delight, devotedness, devotion, emotion, enchantment, enjoyment, fervor, fidelity, flame, fondness, friendship, hankering, idolatry, inclination, infatuation, involvement, like, lust, mad for, partiality, passion, piety, rapture, regard, relish, respect, sentiment, soft spot, taste, tenderness, weakness, worship, yearning, zeal

adore, like very much, admire, adulate, be attached to, be captivated by, be crazy about, be enamored of, be enchanted by, be fascinated with, be fond of, be in love with, canonize, care for, cherish, choose, deify, delight in, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, fancy, glorify, go for, gone on, have affection for, have it bad, hold dear, hold high, idolize, long for, lose one’s heart to, prefer, prize, put on pedestal, think the world of, thrive with, treasure, venerate, wild for, worship

Good grief, no wonder we might be confused!

Just as there is no manual that can assure we will be good enough parents, there is nothing that assures us success in intimate relationships, despite our best efforts or whether or not we’ve had adequate role models. There are too many variables in each human life to account for simplistic reductions.

If we attune to the din of an ever-present media (and heaven knows it has a very loud and persuasive voice), aren’t we all but doomed? This medium would largely have us believe in a romantic ideal. If we learn about relationship from script however, isn’t failure almost certain? How could one remain in touch with anything remotely close to who and what, in essence, we truly are? One might, for example, discover oneself compromised until the person that once was, that individual drawn to another in order to share this thing called love, becomes a shadow of what once was genuinely, unequivocally and delightfully unique. Resentment might cloud vision on both sides, as a future attempted as a couple crumbles to cinder.

If one expects another to fulfill an epitome, isn’t disappointment fairly certain? It takes a great deal of energy to hold oneself equal to another’s illusion. And there is no room for power plays when we seek equal footing; no room for pedestals in a long-term relationship. Living in close proximity to another helps clarify both one’s highest and basest qualities. Accepting this while being open and willing to grow with these painful realizations – along with the support and loving acceptance of another – can help both mature in unexpected ways.

What would we do, how would we present ourselves if tomorrow we and a lover parted? Would we go back to school, dye our hair green, get a full body tattoo or the job we always wanted? If the life we are living and the life we dream of radically diverge, we may have lost touch with the essence referred to earlier. Yet the person with the power to get life back on track lies within. If I live fully and make choices as though my life matters both independently as well as in relationship (meanwhile allowing the same freedom for my beloved), I am likely to enjoy and sustain a successful union. This seems to require many adjustments over time, and conciliation can be tricky. It cannot succeed with me losing myself to the needs and/or demands of another. It does require, however, that I learn to dance, and occasionally toes get stepped on in the process. I can groan in pain or realize the minor missteps. Sometimes both realizations occur simultaneously and it’s a split-second decision as to which is more important. However as I practice, I get better at knowing where these metaphoric toes are, both mine as well as my partner’s. As my significant other does the same, we deepen in love and understanding.

Of course nothing can be reduced to simple platitudes when it comes to human interaction. Yet it still seems that expectations regarding the nature of love, itself somehow requires the other to transport one into fantasy. And although this might be a welcome respite from time to time, I don’t believe it can sustain over the long term. While it can be dessert, the main meal or daily sustenance comes from consistently holding one another in a space of deep friendship and caring, of sharing a life best lived together. If it does not, consider the blessings inherent in solitude.

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Sapid

Do you ever wish things were other than they are? I sometimes indulge in fantastical ruminating more than I’d like, and should know better. Some days are so fraught with challenges, I must force myself to look outside and acknowledge that the day is simply a day; a sun rises and sets, expanses of field go green and brown in their turn, the celestial-hued ocean bucks and rolls. Fish swim, birds fly.

If I suffer from the delusion that I can force outer circumstances to adapt to my whimsical notion of how they ought to be, it’s clearly a choice. Liberation from the pain of this false knowing is likewise self generated. All my education, age and experience have brought me back to the most facile of conclusions, Tomorrow is another day. (Have I really spent nearly sixty years developing my mental faculties in order to simply return to childhood platitudes?) Yet if my mind keeps gnawing at the same sapid bone, a nighttime’s slumber relaxes the jaw enough that I must at least let it drop for a spell. Upon awakening and the gods willing, I might forget where I left it long enough to garner a bit of perspective.

Thrill is more enviable than defeat, though it is surely the latter which has honed my character, granted me the reserves of strength with which I am presently endowed. Experience enough adversity and one gleans awareness that it will eventually be overcome. After a lifetime of people pleasing and other dubious adventures, I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. Now that there is consistency down to my bones, I can resonate back to myself like a finely struck cello. A realization fans out before me like a flashlight slicing its beam through the dark of a country evening; there is rhythm and purpose in these cycles of ups and downs. No matter what the locus on life’s timeline, there is point to counterpoint. The dots simply shift to other maps as I venture along.

I may not ever possess a conclusive answer to the meaning of life, but if there is a holy grail, I suspect it’s something most primary school kids understand: to have fun while learning; to take breaks on the playground; to carve one’s initials into the tree of life.DSCN2911.JPG – Version 2