The Constant Gardener

We contain it in consciousness;

Remember, so we do not forget,

and get on with our lives

or risk drowning in despair.

 

Each day pregnant with unknowing,

we risk all by walking out the door;

mingling with the masses

or digging in the soil.

Even there, shards of glass,

old metal and pottery

percolate to the surface,

surprising skin, unprepared.

 

Planting over and around the damage;

creating beauty is what I know –

Hands taking over

where the head leaves off;

Mind quiets down.

 

Mulching the surface,

softening soil to contain

life-giving moisture;

inviting breakdown,

the flowering of vitality.

 

What is this delicate balance,

how can the human spirit hold

a lifetime of soaking up

splendor that bursts the heart open;

joy in creating – then sorrow,

regret; the shame

in what our species is capable.

 

How do we sleep at night, cradled

in the knowing, the awareness

that we are doing our part;

contributing to the betterment

of a world in the throes of transformation?

 

Sowing seeds of loving kindness,

I garden.

 

 

seed

Storylines

9093980-chubby-cat-coughed-up-a-hairball

How long can one exist on just a story? I think some people live out the entirety of their days in the thrall of fabrication. And many don’t realize it until it is too late.

I remember My Story. It began in the distant past, and I coughed it up and out like a nasty hairball – a reflexive and seemingly necessary act at the time – resulting in an unpalatable mess plopped directly in my path for all the world to see. I had to side-step it, just to forge on with a tiny bit of progress.

Recognizing something is a huge help in preventing its future recurrence.

Once I observed My Story for what it was, not only could I strive for greater authenticity, but I could detect the affliction in others. Another leap and I sailed beyond judgment into the waiting arms of compassion; not only for others, but for the once-mired illusory self I’d been dragging around all those years.

cat

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wish more of us sought to understand what we fear, instead of seeking to eliminate the causes of our distress. I’ve lived long enough to know that if we remove our triggers, new ones will invariably appear. It’s like those little pop-up figures in a shooting gallery: as we knock them down, they simply return, again and again, to bedevil us. Pema Chodron is a great teacher of sitting with discomfort rather than fleeing from it; certainly rather than attempting to do harm to what we find repellent.

Though I find it irrational, many are terrorized by things that creep and crawl and especially slither. And though my eldest sister used to place butterflies and big juicy green grasshoppers atop my frightened head as a child, I overcame that initial repulsion and grew up in wonderment at all of earth’s creatures.

Recently West Hawaii Today ran an AP story detailing the aerial release of thousands of poisoned mice proposed to eliminate snakes that seem to be overrunning Guam. Heaven forbid these reptiles might wriggle into a tight cargo space on a plane headed for Hawaii – we can only imagine what might befall our population of already-endangered birds; indeed, a valid concern. Recent history embarrasses, however, with the profusion of mongoose, originally brought in to eliminate rats escaped from the ships of early explorers. (Feel free to conjure up images of a host of lean and shivering European rodents, fleeing Captain Cook’s ship, kissing the fertile island ground strewn with the carcasses of rotting fruit wherever they went!) These weasel-cunning critters were quite out of luck on that intended score, however, as rats are nocturnal and mongoose – well – let’s just say they sleep peacefully at night so that they might awaken anew to decimate any bird, egg or smallish hapless creature in their path. (So much for human ingenuity and intervention.) Few snakes would stand a chance in their presence.

I don’t know where the answers lie anymore. I used to think I understood a few, but now realize I must have been delusional. Now I question everything: the wisdom in sacrificing thousands of innocent rodents intended to kill further numbers of essentially nonvenemous snakes; the assertion that we are more highly evolved than most other species; the endless blood for oil shed ‘round the world; the miraculous human mind. Considering what it requires to silence my own at will, I often wonder if it’s a greater adversary than ally. Though I might well be mistaken.

Brown-tree-snake-(1)

The Great Levelers

426396m-aj-wej-wej

None of us is any more special than another. No matter what we think of ourselves. We’d all do well to remember this, right down to our bones.

Death is the great leveler, as is physical nakedness. If we all kept death in our sights while thoroughly embracing life; if we all had to walk around naked, save in the coldest weather – what a very different world this would be! It would both reveal our extreme vulnerability as well as exposing our obvious flaws. A dose of humility is always a good thing.

Too often we compare ourselves to others, believing another’s road is easier, crisper, clearer than our own. Or we base our precious human connections on things another can give us, be it time, money or shelter. This approach is inauthentic, a fabrication of a mind in turmoil as it seeks to discover peace and comfort.

Well Met

Strange fruit –

shape and husks like the mottled

purple-white breasts

of small dying birds,

scattered on asphalt.

Running together,

life and death

in the avenue.

DSCN1302

That we choose one

over the other –

fight like cancer to linger

in this place –

affirms daily the experiment.

To validate, rather than destroy –

whether with arms, words

or intention –

the inviolate

right of our fellows

to share space on

this spinning playground;

promotes delight

in earthly pleasures

on nature’s own terms.

Thoughts on 12/12/12

I used to believe in portals, back in my New Age days. But I was getting too far ‘out there,’ needing instead to be more present to everyday life here on this fabulous earth. It was crucial that I began trusting my body as an instrument that could inform me in this life while keeping an ear to the ground of my spirit, in order to maintain both a level of consciousness as well as optimal health as my body aged.

We just bought a sweet old plantation house, tucked further into the lush vegetation most people picture when they think of Hawaii. For the past seven years, we lived on Kohala’s considerable “dry side.” And though the views were unparalleled, it was hard growing tropical plants and sustaining fruit trees without irrigation (and even then, plants stuttered along, awaiting the rains). Drought was the condition, more often than not. Now as I approach civilization from our home, I crest a hill where large trees arch over the road, creating an almost perfect circle, what I’ve come to think of as a portal. Back into the magic I return, and none too soon, as it turns out.

Today marks an end of times, according to the ancient Mayan calendar. A date with three double figures will not return until 1/1/2100, which none of us will see in this lifetime, save a few infants toddling around who haven’t a clue that there might be a significant moment erupting toward the end of their own current span of human existence. And it does seem momentous. The Mayans interpret this uncommon event as a time of  ushering in a new cycle of evolution for planet Earth, for humanity and even the cosmos. Mayan elders say that the essence of the calendar’s termination is to inform the modern world to be ready for transformation. The warning signs are out there, for the Doubting Thomases among us: hurricanes, floods, zany weather patterns as well as human behavior – all these have always been with us, but in current times, it’s as if things are accelerated. It’s as if people are running around with fire torching their heels.

In addition to the Mayans, others across the world including Buddhists, Taoists, and the Hopi and Vedic traditions predict a ‘Golden Age’ or ‘Satyug’ in their calendars for today, as well. December 2012 could be a remarkable spiritual event and a pivotal shift in the collective consciousness of the planet. And I, for one, am going to quietly celebrate.

 

Mayan-Calendar

Fast Forward

A lot can happen in twenty years.

When I was fifteen and not even dreaming about computers and iPhones, my most vivid memory was an awkwardness in every step and feeling fat in a sea of Twiggies. My greatest concern was not in fully grasping chemistry’s periodic table; rather, what if the young man I was interested in didn’t know I existed? I never saw my beloved Beatles in concert, but soon worked at a radio station where I met just about everyone else. Growing up with the rich and famous meant entertainers usually failed to impress beyond the initial aura that a certain level of success engenders. And rather than dragging me into a decadent lifestyle, these frivolous distractions simply provided a balm to assuage the unsettling atmosphere of a crumbling home life.

At thirty-five, I had moved far from suburban Southern California to the woods and waters of Maine. Mother to two young children and enmeshed in a doomed marriage to their father, I learned how to live simply, in harmony with the land and close to nature’s bones. Possessing a mane of long wavy auburn hair, I was distressed by provincial attitudes and sudden acne flareups. Change was impending, however – of a magnitude I could never have predicted. My very soul was being uprooted from the concrete and asphalt of the city and transplanted into its natural environs, though I had no point of reference to mark the passing of a life I was leaving behind. A longtime business orientation began shifting with my awakening spirit as a fundamentalist background cracked wide open to reveal a unified view of the cosmos. I had no frame of reference for anything that was transpiring, and whiled away innumerable days with my nose buried in Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, mumbling affirmations in the attempt to keep inner demons at bay long enough to step outside the comfort of my familiar.

At fifty-five I launched into menopause. Both daughters were in college, and the cold of the northeast had long affected my health. Having peered into the empty nest to discover a dearth of feathers, I returned to finish my BA at Vermont College while my youngest was still a freshman. After a decade of concurrently conducting a busy consulting practice, hosting a radio show and writing columns for two statewide papers, I did an about-face and moved far across the country to Hawaii Island. Now I was in a different and stronger marriage, but still reeling from years of busy-ness. My girls were with us no longer, so the questions cropped up, fast and furious: Who was I, now or ever? How on earth was I to identify myself, bereft of a career and a recognizable face? What was I going to do with all this free time, miles from any university or economic base that could conceivably support my profession? Meanwhile, my husband had established a career and was happily working. It was up to me now to discover what lay in the silence, what emerged from that place, and then to integrate it into my new life, such as it had become.

Post Script: A dear friend is twenty years my senior. I watch her, hawk-like, as she slowly ambles through her days. I observe what she eats, how she moves; I listen to what she says. I notice her struggle to remember first and last names of people important to her. I feel saddened as her friends die off, one by one. Meanwhile I hike the valleys, swim in the ocean, ride my bicycle. I pause to listen to the quiet, the birdsong, the chuffing of dogs lying in the hot sun. My path unfolds before me like the yellow brick road to Oz. And what I know for certain is that I realize less and less about the miraculous underpinnings of the universe. I used to be confident in answers, but am now refreshing the questions. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up, but for now, I am happy just to be. And strangely, it seems enough.

Miracles and Mundanities

Ever since I’ve had a choice, I’ve lived in the wild. My body, tethered to a mind that wanders, needs constant affirmation of its place in the earthly scheme of things. Without this physical contact, my spirit years too much for that nameless home in the sea of pure consciousness. When I feel like a spring onion bobbing about in primordial soup, earth grounds me to this precious life.

Perhaps the grace in drawing breath is the rare gift of knowing I can be, for a time, differentiated into I. What joy in perceiving the miracle of Other – this dance of light and darkness, variety, color and form! The divine drops into matter to experience itself in a sentient universe, and how thrilling to realize I already have a part in the play!

That I might remember this with every breath, earth herself virtually assures. But the mind grows bored and restless, forgetting and distracting in endless repetition. Thus I choose to live where it’s easier not to overlook the miraculous embedded in the mundane, in a place so beautiful that, should my head stray too far, I can actually hear my heart ticking off minutes of mortality, bringing me back to what is essential in the splendor of sea and sky, in wind rustling branches and hissing through grasses.

If I listen very carefully, I can even hear grains of soil separating themselves, and I experience the alchemy of temporality to my borrowed bones. I know what is real and what is merely a figment of my forgetfulness.