Where on earth do I belong? I have taken up space on this orb for nearly seventy years, many of these spent in utter confusion, lost to myself, leaving many others to wonder, who is this being? As if I, myself held the answers, aware of my motivations, I did not;
And I get it, perhaps I am not solitary in these musings, perhaps it is a product of age and experience, duration in a life spent with memories, reflections, condensation of thirty- five years of living in the Maine woods, a home my heart returns to endlessly, though those days are gone forever;
Even if I could return, I would not, desecrated forests, polluted waters where once I swam and floated without human observation, contemplating the brilliance of streaming light from heavenly bodies not yet emerging into view, swimming with loons, their young paddling behind parents, my future not something I contemplated, rather encountered often haltingly, day by day, headlong and too often blindly as if rushing into blackness, life happening to me, instead of crafting it, shaping it into a thing of my own choosing;
And now I sit, watching clouds gather, listening to birds and the distant thump of a garbage truck going about its run, collecting refuse we cannot use, all the detritus left as a product of living in the twenty-first century, too many people, how has it come to this where, despite wilderness surrounding me, my thoughts drift constantly to the unnecessary waste, not only refuse, but resentments, pain of those growing up, not knowing years in human form are precious and short, building castle walls of separation, unforgiveness, and it will be gone without warning to all of us, in the blinking eyes left to observe what once seemed an endless, open, uncluttered road of possibilities.
I realize what it is, this gift I am given,
it is enough, the wisdom of the word, when for others it is the peace of prayer; where to sit in meditation with this restless energy seems futile, not indigenous to the personality, and so I walk, cycle, move, contemplating flow;
One axis brings healing, profound from the intention up, the other holds the created universe, such as humans are capable of manifesting into being, in peaceful hands, fashioning useful things of lasting worth, and that gift is likewise enough;
One holds relationships higher than the value of self, whilst another overturns the moneylenders in the temple, and yet another holds visions far beyond what most are able to perceive;
Let it shine, let it stream through the fingers that type the words, let the roots settle and not strangle, tending always the ground of our fertile, living, dying existence, from one paradigm to the next.
I woke up this morning and Got It, I mean, kinesthetically in-my-bones to-my-soul Got It. All was perfect, the heaviness the damp brought about was gone, and in its place, an incredible lightness of being;
Of course the mind stepped in to save the day, or so it thought, to analyze, compose, order this new awareness, as it were, to card catalog it under A for anomaly, or perhaps label it enlightenment, something it thought it had defined but clearly had no idea, No Idea. For this had little to do with that, leaving the mind floundering, as it were, on the shoals of its lonely self importance;
But you Can be useful, I said whilst mopping its tired, beaten brow, but give it a break just now, I am content; as something deeper recalled the voice of Dorothy, I have traveled all the way to Oz, seen the Wizard, cringed in fear at the flying monkeys, All This Way! Only to discover, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!
I get that fear is genuine. We have just emerged from two years of it gripping not just people, but countries and the global community as we reacted to news of a pandemic. It became a real test of character and an opportunity to reflect on how we receive information. Are we plugged into media for our news, or are we trusting our inner compass, our guidance, our instincts? Who are we, and what are we made of? Are we so afraid that, in the belief that we are keeping ourselves and others safe, we became as schoolyard bullies? But this post is not about ‘that.’ It is about how aware we are of our own fear, and how we manage it, or at its worst manifestation, how we allow it to control our lives.
Fear is the instinct these bodies were equipped with in order to ensure the perpetuation of our species. All creatures possess it, each to their kind. We react, and the difference between a human reaction and an animal’s is complex. All reside here on this planet, and just because we can eliminate another’s life due to our fear of it doesn’t make it right. Yet many do not even ask critical questions of themselves, though I am quite certain Indigenous people did, and many still do.
Late yesterday afternoon, I was drawn to sit on the steps leading to our front garden area. Daylight was waning, clouds were billowing and amassing as they do this time of year, and after hours in the hot sun giving the bigger trees a deep drink in the midsummer heat, those steps were calling me. As I settled onto the flagstone, something obviated itself in the corner of my vision. My body reacted for a flash, no longer, a visceral startle response, and I did not make more of it, did not escalate it into fight or flight panic. I realize we all have control over this escalation, yet many are like one of those cars that goes from zero to sixty in six seconds. Instinct, fear, panic, reaction. Humans are, as I say, perhaps the most complex species. We are so confused with undefined and unconscious fears that we have driven thousands of unique and beautiful species of animals from this earth.
I realized I had a visitor. Well, hello, friend, I said in a quiet voice. The visitor looked at me with similar curiosity, no doubt, and we sat in silence and allowed one another time and space to adjust. We are both creatures who like our space, I mused, not that dissimilar or unusual in that respect. And yes, this small one possesses the power to kill, as do I. It doesn’t have to define this moment, or any other. After a bit longer, the rattler pulled its head back, not to strike, but to redirect its body into a turn, and it glided off toward the rock wall, making its way slowly, as do I when in new surroundings, as s/he settled under a low-lying shrub for what I suspected was the evening.
Earlier in the day, our dogs were in their large enclosure, and they would not stop barking. Last time this happened, a large bull snake had decided their hay bed was a nice cool place to spend the day. Chris emerged from his shop, and I from the house, as we walked to their yard to determine what was agitating them. As we approached, we heard a rattle. If you have never heard this sound, it is pretty unusual, and unique to the species that claims it. I am small, and I am just as afraid of you as you are of me! Please give me space to determine my next move! There s/he was, curled up in Peanut’s hay bed, eyes bright, rattle erect and vibrating. We released the dogs to relocate to the house, and I spent a moment communicating to the snake that it needed to find another place to hang out. An hour later, I checked and it was gone. Later that evening, I believe it was the same creature who met me in the garden.
This morning, Peanut was again uneasy. Chris walked around the corner of the house and came upon the rattler and a mouse, clinging to the rock wall above it. We had been setting traps and checking all the minute places where rodents might gain access to the inner walls of the house in exactly this corner. Nature knows we abhor killing when there are other options, and now this. I don’t believe I am imagining that the snake appeared as our rodent trap, providing her/him food whilst eliminating some of our rodent issues. Last year, we had rodents chewing wires under the hoods of our vehicles. A prairie rattler, same variety as the one I speak of here, took up residence under a pile of stacked lumber.
I know some might fear snakes, spiders, jellyfish, whatever. All I am asking is that people explore the origin of these fears, and consider the options of peaceful coexistence on a planet already in crisis due to the care-less actions of our species. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
From the dark ocean to the lighter skies of New Mexico, Mother Earth remains my focus, my love, my joy;
It took awhile to learn different soils, rich loam to clay and sand, mysterious deep sea waters to high altitude desert, cradled by Ponderosa and piñon forests, and yes, a river runs through it, though not like it used to, this is dry country, interspersed by monsoon rains, brittle brown landscape highlighted with hues of verdant green now looking more like New England in the summer as I plant, now trees, shrubs, now a greenhouse garden so that we might sustain ourselves on bitter greens throughout long cold winters;
A friend I met years ago in Hawai’i told me, upon discovering our intent to move from the islands to the Southwest years ago and sensing my distress at not being on or near big bodies of water for the first time in my life, don’t worry! In New Mexico, the ocean is the sky! And how that comes to be true, I cannot begin to convey; more and different varieties of clouds than anywhere I have been, sweeping and sliding through crystal azure heavens, and even in midwinter as temps dip down below freezing night and morning, at mid-day under the brilliance of stark sunlight, it is easy to peel back the layers and work in shirt sleeves;
And if I have learned nothing else in this blessed life, it is that, given time, any place putting me close to the ground of this alluring planet is sacred, and if its spirit has been damaged, it takes little time and care to reveal its essence, once again.
Have you ever heard something fall under water, the dull scrape of a fishing weight onto granite rock, the drag, fisherman on the surface, oblivious to you hiding, suspended alongside dull mossy green bass, still and not struggling between crevasses of boulders, tumbled by time into that glacial abyss; now tugging his thin nylon line free, only to break calm waters to cast again, this time perhaps successfully;
The shafts of brilliant sunlight as they pierce the shimmering pond, how they illuminate that same boulder, glint of metal on stone, almost too startling for limited vision, breath taken in order to descend, lungs now burning, foolish gill-less fish, unable to remain submerged indefinitely;
And now I rest under the bluest sky, breathing in, exhaling that thin mountain air without effort, cracking of beaks breaking seed or the snoring of dogs, discerning sounds as if in command of my own destiny, which, as we know, is as indistinct a fabrication as those distant lakeside conjurings.
There is a pause, before the rosy light of evening blinks her last, as fragile hummingbirds cease their whirling dance around feeders and the incessant cackle of jays, the waterfall trilling of blackbirds, retreat to the deep arms of the forest as night creatures emerge from hiding to seek sustenance;
Can they comprehend, these young progeny, how invisible luminous threads connect us, one to the other, in the busyness of the everyday, illusions that prop up economies, small dramas of striving toward loves we sustain patiently without question, the push and pull drawing them toward consciousness or away from the light?
Coyotes howl in the distance, owls softly hoot in snags across the road, insects scurry about seeking their own forms of shelter and it is so simple, these rhythms of the cosmos, the silent grinding whirl of planets in orbit, moon and sun taking turn in the daily business of living, the opening and closing of days and lifetimes.
The longing to be loved is profound,
the soul sings life into being,
a journey not yet taken, yet once
in progress, so often reprising
experience already inked and dried,
fading on paper not meant to last;
The manuscript is not complete,
we are all unfinished works
in the making, and repeating
what once was
brooks little space for a new
unmanifest destiny of envisioning
all we may dream into being
by dint of our own acts and visions;
Be wary of casting others into molds
too snug to allow for expansion,
human proclivity of those seeking
sentience whilst ignoring the limiting
tendency to love with condition
merely what is befitting,
rather than embracing
with wholehearted acceptance
the splendor of a liberated co-creation.
I would rather die laughing,
even if I am the butt of the joke;
Life has too many twists and turns
and not enough levity, yet not
for lack of instances that might
provoke hoots of delight;
I remember in college
there was a gal who wanted
to write about serious things,
death, sex, loss, pain, using humor
and I thought it tasteless, seemed
no respect accorded the suffering,
probing issues too sensitive
and personal, and I would likely
feel the same today;
Yet there are always small things
one notices if observant,
the funny way the dog stalks
his companion’s food dish
once he’s cleaned out his own,
she with lips pulled back in a snarl
the way she dreams sometimes,
if he dares to feign interest;
the lowing cows on their way
to the river for a drink, sounding
like a group of drunken college
frat boys after a night of indulging;
the angle of that massive tilted pine
across the street, as if caught
doing something it ought not,
pointing directly down our road;
There is no need to contribute
to another’s angst for a laugh,
the strange way an old man
with a bad hip walks, the overly
made-up woman trying to impress;
surely there is enough humor
in the everyday, my own blunders,
say, and if that’s what it takes
to spark a chuckle of recognition,
let it be me; oh, please,
let it be me.
We are all moving on to the next level, just as he did after coming through walls, us sitting at our kitchen table, pleading eyes confused, conflicted;
Nobody spoke of suicide in that place, yet there he was, and I had to ask another neighbor if she knew what had happened;
I remember passing by a lone figure walking a small white dog, and sometimes I thought it a woman, sometimes a man; ahh, this being was mahu, a two spirited one, yin and yang that might have merged into a lovely ebony and ivory symbol, while instead, his Japanese parents felt only shame, and so freedom was sought by moving to a large east coast city where those of like kind could seek a life free from judgments that bound them in ties far too snug to house the beauty of their souls;
Distressed parents conspired somehow to bring their son back, yet back to what? A life in this tiny town with its own ideas of how firstborn sons should act? Instead in despair, they found their son hanging limp from a rope in the garage, imagine;
When his spirit came to us, it was with a desire to find a way to transition between this world and the next, and so we envisioned a beautiful beanstalk, glistening ivy green with heart-shaped leaves, its sinuous vines a strong rope without obligation of gravity, and it grew and branched out, carrying this dear one into a magical realm where harmony might prevail, higher, further from the suffering of simply living with yearnings his broken family could never comprehend.