It Matters

There – I was – carrying the purple starfish into the ocean.

I spotted it on the shore. Unusual, to have a starfish exposed out of the water’s reach like that. Underneath the bright rigid carcass were hundreds of its little soft white legs, still.

Suddenly, I was marching into the waves with a half-dead starfish in my hand. The water splashing up onto my legs in an action with no other foreseen possibility to it.

Mid-stride, I saw myself as that woman – the woman in the image that I love, that a beloved friend, Kaycee, created. I got the print from her when we met by the river to go on a long walk – when my life had rerouted and I asked her how she handled her own unexpected rerouting of life in previous years.

“Find what lights you on fire,” she said, “and do that.”

She also said wine, and a lot of yoga.

The collage is a fable, a story, of a woman standing on the edge of the ocean among the starfish. It matters to this Starfish.

It is also a story that my mother shared with me a decade ago.

My mother told the tale of a person walking on the beach, and seeing all these baby turtles washed upon the shore. The person started picking up the beings one-by-one, and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone witnessed this and asked the person – “Why are you doing this? There is too many of them to matter.” The person picked up a turtle, threw it into the ocean, and replied, “Well, it mattered to that one.”

Kaycee’s image traveled with me to different homes, different rooms, different writing spaces. It is still with me, the windswept woman on a blue beach surrounded by red starfish.

And now, here I am, marching into the water with a half-dead starfish in my hand, trying to throw it beyond the breakers.

That woman, in that moment, when memory becomes truth; she had already lived it a million times before.

“It matters to this Starfish”

Because it mattered.

 

 

Video Games and Enlightenment

After a minimal (yet invested) experience in my youth of playing Donkey Kong and Mario Kart on my older brother’s Super Nintendo – I noticed a few parallels between video gaming and the progression of life:

Check Points

On a recent revisitation of a place I once loved when I was there the first time – a nature reserve – a very new feeling happened.

The GPS took me somewhere unfamiliar, but it was determined to be correct. Where was that visitor center? And the tall grasses that wind into beautiful trails? Rather, it was a country road that went past farms and an empty cattle corral.

Driving to a point to turn around, a series of dogs in varying sizes came out to greet me with barks. And then there was Kathy J –

I asked her where the reserve was, and she said it was right here, her arms stretched wide. Quite the backyard, she said. You can park next to the cattle corral, and the hike into town is beautiful.

I thanked her, and parked next to the wood fence, and walked into what must be the backside of the reserve. I hiked to the top of the hill. Looked up, saw the sky, and I felt –

an exactness of a pushpin being inserted into a map. Immediately to the ground. There – she did it. She made it to the right place at the right time (both seemingly random). Check point. She will not have to experience all that terrain again, in the next time.

Thank you.

 

Bosses

At the end of each level, we encounter the Boss – big, bad, and mean. We use our skills learned thus far to combat and defeat the Boss. Often, it takes a few times. So we lose, then go back to the beginning of the level, jump around and learn and reach the boss again, only to gather more skills on how to react and respond in order to move forward.

This seems to be like our efforts to step out of our patterns (such that those in relationship bring to light). We go through the journey, then reach that moment when we are fighting or something is triggered when we can do something different, or calculate from the skills we have gained in our past experiences. If we don’t “defeat” the Boss, then we go back and start again, always learning more as we move forward, and always working on this path until it is ready to change.

 

Leveling Up

A handful of years ago, at a Yoga Nidra class at Esalen Institute, I reached a new state of consciousness.

It lasted for about 20 minutes after the class. I walked through the garden, heard people talking, saw the colors. Accepted everything with no discussion in the head. It was a belonging of life to the body and senses, with everything aligned.

Later, I realized this was a sort of “Leveling Up” for me.

In the sense that, there are times when we experience something that completely changes our understanding or being. Something where we know what is possible, and the world will never really be the same for us again.

It is like after completing a level on a video game, and then continuing to the next. It is a new landscape, new perspective, new experience – we are excited to see this unfamiliar space and meet it with excitement. And then, it becomes familiar as we live it, and we keep learning, and keep leveling up when the time is right.

 

 

Construction

A first house that I bought, three months before the word “pandemic” became official, is snuggled into a street filled with 1980 ranch-style homes. It is one of the first streets on the east side of Bend, now surrounded by new subdivisions and a park, which used to be a nursery for pine trees managed by the Forest Service.

Drive half a mile down the street, and there are still barns and horses and goats and tractors on the road. Thank goodness for that.

There is also construction. Both ends of the street are being turned into two-lane roundabouts to help manage traffic. The large machines vibrate in constant rhythm between 8 am – 5 pm, but ceases on the evenings and weekends.

I go for walks in the evening during this quiet to the former nursery, and pass through the zones of construction and the closed sidewalks. Over the dirt tire treks and stilled orange machinery, paused in repose and stillness.

Looking into the pits of where there will be sewers, I see below the Earth into the layers of large rocks. I had no idea.

It changes each day, what is happening, but for now I can stand in the middle of the soon-to-be-made roundabout, now a layer of flat gravel above strata of rock thousands of years old, holding us up, looking at the mountain view, with nothing at all moving around me other than the clouds above.

It reminds me of the times when I was young, going to the construction site with my parents when they were building the house. All the space between the bones to see the trees and the sky and such a breath of foundation.

It is the making. The silence, the quiet, the stillness, before we all start going in circles again.

 

A Path

The day after Halloween, I tried to find a new walking route: Larkspur Trail.

Driving around, road construction blocked my way to the senior center, where the path supposedly starts. I wound my way to Pilot Butte instead, where the trail ends.

I still couldn’t find it. So, I started wandering around the criss-crossing dirt tracks along the lower part of the butte, until finding an asphalt path to follow.

The grass vibrated in the breeze, like notes coming off a page. I felt sticks and soft Juniper branches and squished dried berries between my fingertips, and I looked into the sky. I saw bark peeling and felt the sun and wind and saw life, and felt it.

I sat on a rock for awhile.

          

I turned around and followed the asphalt path back, coming across a sign near the parking lot “Larkspur Trail.” I found it, although unexpectedly and from the backside. I was where I had wanted to be, and didn’t even know it.

Sometimes we can’t get to the path, until we are coming back from where we started.

It’s as confusing as it feels, until you recognize that this path is exactly where you are supposed to be, whether it is Larkspur Trail or not.

Then it all becomes completely clear.

 

*(See The Head and The Heart, Rivers and Roads)

Dualities Cont.

Ok, you guys ready to go deep with me? Because we are going to Hell.

But first, let’s go to Heaven.

***

I was praying, asking God to reveal his word to me (this is a long story that deals with a family bible, a lock of hair, books of spells and poems – but also a sign for me to stay and hear the word of God).

So, I finally asked.

Underneath my eyelids, I saw typed words flash.

and

and then (yes, I kind of chuckled at this one)

and then there was light. And it was good.

I ran to my bible and opened to Genesis:

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The bible opens with a duality. In fact, creation was made in duality. Water and land, light and dark, sun and moon, man and woman.

Those who know me, likely know that duality and contrast is something that has been in my conscious the last handful of years (Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same and Middle Ground). It continues to dig deeper within me, because it is my creation, and its existence is how I am whole.

Finding the edge, sitting on the cliff, is where I am now. Not jumping off, and not running away, but sitting on this edge and getting to know it. This is where we often find one another, ready to jump or turn back.

Where the dualities meet – that edge – is the “in between” and steadiness I will be exploring my whole life. It is where the ocean meets the sand, where the sky meets the horizon, where I meet the divine.

**

Ok – now to Hell.

Right and wrong, control and no control, choice and no choice are concepts that have been swirling around in me lately like the Barn Raising Dance in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

So, I sat down on the cliff’s edge and checked it out.

Right. Ah, yes, being right and doing the right thing. It’s like skipping through a field of flowers. But, you are always running, always moving, always looking back. There is somehow an element of hurt here. Always worried about continuing to do the right thing and afraid of doing something wrong.

And then you do. You do something wrong and are sucked into the netherworld of fire and blame. There is the vision of what you want – just out of reach – but you can never do the right thing to get it. You can never get what you want and you are doing everything wrong and it is your fault.

That is Hell.

**

In America, I think the definition of success is getting what you want. Here, you are conditioned that you can have ANYTHING you want, and if you get it, then you are successful and you will be happy. (Go Anthropology degree!) But, I choose not to live like that anymore. Want, need, keep, have, get, control. That is my hell on earth.

Which brings us to control and no control. I’m hoping this will wrap up the blog post nicely, but I am not quite sure at this point.

I control because I am afraid. So if I get what I want and try to control it, then it will stay how I want it and I will be doing things right and that will make me worthy of having what I have and everything will stay good (so really, it goes back to worth).

If I don’t take action, if I don’t take control to get what I want, then I am not worthy because I am being passive.

What bullshit. The words even contort around each other in confusion and force and pain.

So, where is the edge between control and no control?

I might have to jump off the cliff a few more times before I find it. But, it’s how we learn to fly. Or, it’s how we learn to sit at the edge. Again, and again, and again. I am just so grateful that I can even see the edge.

THIS IS WATER (If you have not seen this, I would highly recommend it. Or, even if you have, please watch it again.)

Edges into Infinity

 

and then there was light. And it was good. 

A Place Beneath The Surface

Bikram yoga once saved my life. I got really into it, practicing the 26 postures nearly every day in a 106-degree room, and for an hour and a half my mind stopped. I took advanced courses with Bikram himself. Then, everything changed.

I moved to Hawaii. Without a car, there was little opportunity to go to the nearest studio half an island away. I told this to one of my yoga teachers before I left. She said:

“It’s ok, something new that you need will come to you.”

And it did, in the form of scuba diving.

Scuba diving saved me, too. Dropping beneath the waves into a still presence, moving with the surge, and becoming familiar with a world that I didn’t know to be possible.

Then that changed. Scuba diving was also meant to leave my life in its frequency and intensity after returning to the mainland – I didn’t need it like I used to, but I couldn’t recognize it at the time.

Instead of appreciating how it changed the way I moved through the everyday world, I held onto needing the activity to solidify my identity. I started making expectations and goals and demands – I need to dive at least once a month or twice a year, or something like that. When I hung on, it didn’t make room for change, and it ended up hurting other things instead.

I still carry what yoga and diving gave me. They taught me stillness and beauty, showing me a place to drop down beneath the waves. It doesn’t have to be in the yoga studio, or under the water’s surface – it can be at any moment.

It is not so important for me to force doing these activities anymore, but rather to love them whenever they occasionally pop into my momentary life. It’s one of things I wish I had known earlier, but could never have.

I recently got a job that will take up many of my evenings, including the nights of my coveted meditation classes. There is change again in the air, but now, I can recognize it, and open instead of close to it.

What space, what room, to see what will come next. It’s actually rather exciting.

Belonging

 

Holy shit, snow is white.

Snow is white.

This is where my more logical friends, who call my Pollyanna, will say that I’m going a little crazy.

 

Why didn’t the coast guard save the hippie?

He was too far out, maan.

 

Come, take a swim with me.

**

Trees are rooted. They dance, they bleed, some of their wounds never heal, rings of age define their growth. They are life, and life happens around them, and through and on them, too.

**

Snow falls on them, like it falls on the wild brown grass and the stocky sagebrush. Like it falls on the road, and the person walking on the side of the street, and the car driving through time.

It is white.

I hate winter. I started hating winter my freshman year of college in Vermont. When my first boyfriend dumped me for another girl, and I was trying to fit in, and it was -20 every day for a month, and the cold air seeped through my dorm room windows every day, and I couldn’t find belonging no matter where I reached – not at the kegger parties, nor singing to Disturbed with my roommate, nor the snowshoeing excursions, nor the classrooms where everyone had a hand up – not in any places where I thought I belonged.

**

White is my favorite color.

I stood on a bridge arching over a river a few weeks ago. There was ice, and snow, and a searingly cold breeze. I felt my skin prickle and – look at that – I felt. It wasn’t cold or unbearable or painful or thought. It was, just, … felt.

I love white because it is empty and full. It is a duality. It contains everything and nothing.

It is any possibility; it is no different than this moment; it is reality.

**

Every (this) moment is different.

Every (this) moment is beautiful.

Every (this) moment is infinite.

**

Look at that: Today, I love winter. 

**

Holy shit,

snow is white.

 

Snow is white.

 

 

Border Crossings

Crossing borders can be uncertain. You might find a used condom under a bed in a hotel on the Ethiopia/Kenya border, or you might not almost be let into Syria because you put ‘news assistant’ on the customs form (thank you, stranger, who somehow convinced the custom officials to let me in after an hour of discussion. The official ripped up the form and instructed me to put “secretary” on it instead).

Or, it might be reaching your hands to the windshield and yelling “First to Missouri!” or “First to Washington!” in triumph as the car passes over an invisible line.

There are liminal periods and transitioning places and collaboration around borders too, such as the town Kanorado on the edge of Kansas and Colorado, or Calexico near California and Mexico.

We all know borders are arbitrary, constructed to create order over open lands and along rivers.

Our internal borders are arbitrary too, ones that we build from our past to identify ourselves and categorize our lives.

But, they are there for a reason. Perhaps it is so we can cross them.

Something Taken

A few weeks ago, my laptop was stolen. Someone had busted the back window of my parents’ new car, reaching in to efficiently search and retrieve my laptop.

Surprisingly, it was ok.

No, I did not password protect my computer (which I suggest to everyone now as a reminder). I lost five years of my writing, of academic work, of work work, of deeply personal journals, and a digital lifetime of photographs. Yes, I had backups, so all was not lost.

Just a computer,

to someone who needed it more than I. And, to someone who might find something in there that they need, too.

Because the universe works exactly as it does. Thank you.

Dirty Thirty

On the last day of my thirtieth year…hmmm…I woke up, dealt with insurance, took Big Dog on a walk, dealt with insurance again (then again), heard the thunder, cried with it, made a Yumm Bowl lunch, went to the store, went to David’s Bridal to pick up a bridesmaid dress, and now I sit here – writing.

Around the days celebrating our birth, we can feel reflective – what composed the last year, what emerging intentions we might have for this new beginning. Lest we forget, there are always new beginnings.

So this last year – thirty – was an amazing year. It wasn’t the easily AMAAAZING year that we sometimes have, but it was true and enlightening and funny and hard.

The fall bulged with colors on our street – red and green and yellow – mixed with sweat and the fading sound of cicadas.

Thirty, for me, culminated in a Midwest winter with North Winds and crazy amounts of snow. It slapped me in the face – wake up – she said – I did this so you don’t have any distractions, so you can face what you need to face in exposed cold.

And I did, and I still am.

The ice gave way to spring – to green everywhere. Then twisters (change) and fireflies (magic) and wheat (acceptance).

If anything, on the even of turning thirty-one, this last year was a year. It was a big year.