I am an astronaut, rocketing into the universe of self honesty. If you have a good heart then you, through honesty might be headed towards a system full of lufeand color. For me, with my wretchedness, my tortured heart, my brain on judgemental overdrive, honesty is a rocket which propells me away from human connection into the empty vacuum. I ride it anyway, because it is the only path with heart that I know.
As I wrote “It’s not time for reconstruction, it’s time for something new” I had no idea what was to come.
I had steeled myself to wandering along, content in my strangeness and risk the unknown dangers of the river currents without a pal by my side or a soul knowing where I was, this is my life and I will live it to full.
Right as I sink into this, a strange person shows up. This kindred spirit who discovers my secret hiding cave, who seems to know me already, talks from her heart and sees mine. She dives and spears fish on a single breath of air, but also owns and knows how to use a steange device for breathing under the surface of the water. The day before she arrived I read about being like water. She is like water. She is fluid in movement, in mind. She is honest to herself and so also to others in a way I have not met before in the young folk, and rarely see in the old. We explore together, swim together, talk of the world and it’s parts.
But this is not about her. This is about doors opening. About what I recently wrote: that the old is ash and it’s time for something new. About the seed planted in me a year ago:
“I am open to whatever is next”
We can focus on the flower, or what grows the flower. Seed needs soil, sun, and water. Of the three, water speaks most to life: water breaks rock to fines, foundation of soil. Water transports the essence of life, suspends it, fills it. Without sun we can still find life. Without soil we still have life. Without water there is nothing. No consciousness. This is water.
As a child my parents taught me to swim. I took to it and liked it. I was skinny and got cold quickly. I feared the deep water which hid the unknown. I was weak and tired easily and dreaded the thought of my head slipping under, water filling my lungs, taking me down into oblivion. I dreamed of being in car wrecks in water, trapped and drowning. I dreamed of boats sinking and being lost amidst to waves. I grew up tentative around water. Enjoying it but keeping my distance from its greater risks.
I saw pictures of divers, with those magical things that allowed them to breathe underwater. I knew it to be real but in my mind it was like a super power, not something ever attainable, the realm of fantasy. What’s more it was a fantasy of something I dreaded. I did not dream of being one of them.
Mountains and forests and deserts captivated my heart. But somewhere in there my parents bought me these fins for my feet. Swift and powerful they made me. Able to stay up with ease. And goggles to see under, into that inky abyss, or wonders closer, rocks and fish. I went under just a bit. The pressure hurting my ears and turning me to the surface with even a shallow dive.
Years passed on, and decades. I braved water with love, enjoyment and fear. I held my breath and swam just beneath the surface for as long as I could. I paddled long thin boats alone over waves taller than myself. I taught myself to sail, with memories and love of my father as my guide. Down rapids with friends, walked on thin ice, used an axe to cut deep into thick ice, hauling out wide blocks, stcking them like a ring of standing stones, to fade with the turning of the season as the stone rings crumble with eons. I paddled ice bergs around frozen alpine lakes, falling in, struggling out with cold stiffining my limbs. I danced with water woth love and fear, and never did I go more than my height below the surface, never under more than a brief moment.
A seed does not sprout as soon as water hits it. It must germinate. I held my nose and pushed air into it lightly until I felt it in my ears. I do not recall how I learned this. That was the moment water hit a seed in me. I dove down in a clear cenote, holding my nose and blowing lightly as I went down. Deep I went! The pressure, the waning light, the water holding my body more gentle than any lover. I hurried back to the surface for breath. I learned to calm my breathing and stay under longer. I explored crystal waters and saw the bubble blower divers below me. My lover and I moved to the coast: hot and dry land, warm ocean, filthy streets, flies and restaurants, little fresh water. I volunteered in a dive shop and learned how to use the tanks and mouth pieces. Learned of the dangers of breathing underwater.
One day, when I had learned enough, the shop owner took me beneath the surface. Fear. My mind and body reject it. I breath rapidly, with all the panic of the untrained facing death. He takes me up. I steady and calm. We go down again. I cant equize my ears, we go up. We go down slow. I equalize the whole way. We sit a shallow depth beneath that magical boder between sea and sky. I calm. The world before me is so alien, so different I don’t know how to receive it. Fish and eels and other amazing creatures move by us. We move through the water like a zeppelin moves through air: slow and gentle, somewhat cumbersome in the equipment. We return to the surface. I get very sick. My lover and I fight badly. I take medicine and recover somewhat, still weak I go under again into the alien world I had such a strange relationship with. Back on the surface I feel awkward, uncomfortable. I get approved to operate the equipment without a teacher. I relapse and became even sicker. We left to the city, for better doctors, better medicine. My time on coast a memory tangled with fondness and torment and disease. My time under the suface colored by this, and like a dream, something that happened but still not even a dream that this could be part of my life, a vacation novelty.
Gestation. All that has come to pass in the past three years, the suffering, the light, the loss, the music, the friends, crystal waters flowing over granite, swimming and diving in the pools with memory of the dream. The loss. The losss. The mad loneliness and longing. The road trip, old friends and healing old wounds. Finding the desert again, the rocks, my body climbing the cliffs beyond earthly reason. The desert dried me out. It worked it’s medicine. I returned to the land of my second birth: the land of rivers and mountains and fish and elk, my cave. I begin diving in the big river. Holding my breath and watching fish as curiois of me as i them. Many bass, flat-round. Trout super skittish. One strange fish like a silver angel. A tail of one, massive, mostly obscured in the gloom. I harvest and eat the mussels. I think of spearing the fish but don’t know the tools. I fall in love with a new life, not fair to say beneath, but certainly on the other side of that boundary of water and air.
On the other side of that boundary I can turn and face the shimmering “surface” floating perfectly, looking at the sky as if it were down and the center of the earth up. I let a heavy rock cary me deep into the gloomy depths of the river where the pressure squeezes my lungs until my body sinks under its own weight, and explore underwater cliffs and alcoves, followed be the beautiful curious bass. On this other side side of that boundary I forget the woman named after the line of sea and sky. The pain washes away. Be like water. I fall in love again, not to a human soul but with everything on the wet side of the boundary. I stay away from the larger currents, unsure of my ability and aware of my lungs. I think of partners in adventure. Of safety with friends, of the bubbke blower divers who stay under for many many breaths.
Old dreams are done: lived and died. I dream new dreams, never before dared. I become ready for whatever is next. I become ok with the alone-ness.
And then she shows up. The flower. If I was still a conceited man, believing the universe revolves around me, I would think her the answer to prayer. We each have our path, and sometimes strange trails cross. Somtimes the person who walks that trail seems like a soul you’ve known before. I can’t her tell her story, but her path crossing mine opens up a grand door, and I have a choice. I can continue as before, or I can walk through. I deliberate.
Deliberate for to long and doors close. I embark on a trek to purchase one of those magical apparati. I cover hundreds of miles in only a few days and return to her and this river land, and we cross that boundary.
Award. With thick second skins to keep us warm and tanks and hoses and mouth pieces we probe the opposite side. The second hand equipment acts funny at first. I learn it’s peculiar ways. Ears equalize. Bodies go into the mysterious gloom, find the bottom, explore nooks and crannies for a time not measureable, for the mind it is not distracted. I am wholly present with the water. The water. Surrounding, suspending, embracing. Be like water. It’s like flying in my dreams, only better: there is no thought of falling.
Limitations of fleah and machines we return to the air side. The beautiful canyon and sky. My heart floating, Suspend in the Mystery as my body was on the wet side of the boundary. This woman’s presence is part of that mystery. We are not lovers, but friends for sure, partners in adventure. I am grateful for Rose, for her opening the door, and it’s water.
I don’t know what’s to come. As a human I fear the unknown. But one thing is known:
I am falling in love with Water.
To react always in fear is to never jump, to never risk, to be as unchanging in life as one is in death. When do we jump? We must decide if the stakes are too great, if failure is high, if failure spells the same death as never risking at all.
I realized today that some old fears were warranted. That through the eyes of a beloved I was seen only as a story in one’s mind, not the self I explore and reinvent. I am so grateful that I did not jump into that pool, into that life where I am unknown and unable to express. A life of emotional and piritual confinement where those parts of the self suffocate and die. I would like to say I avoided this risk by choice, but the world played it’s own hand also. Life since has been hard and heart wrenching. But, like climbing a mountain the hard is valuable in it’s own experience, regardless of whether one obtains the summit.
Is it an oxymoron? So much of my spirituality revolves around deep agnosticism: that beliefs are inherently limiting, reducing the infinite to something bound to our tiny understanding.
I also put seeds in earth, add water and keep in the sun. I believe in gardening as a pragmatic practice but also as a spiritual practice: to cultivate live into somthing vibrant and flourishing.
Can one be an agnostic gardener? Put intention into life and tend it until it blossoms? If we don’t choose this what exists in it’s place?
Everything up until now is ashes. I could lay down and choke, or I could go find water.
As a kid I believed in this idea of apocalypse: a grand catastrophe laying the old structures and systems to waste, making space for survivors to build something new.
Self fulfilling prophecy. The apocalypse of my own life, community, friends, lovers, home. I live in a post-apocalyptic world of my own design.
It’s not time for reconstruction, it’s time for something new.
I think of San Miguel Allende and Boulder Colorado. I think of non-profits and climbing walls, the people we hope to serve, the people who are vehicles for what we want, the people who are in the way. I think of closeness and dreams and honesty. I think of smells and feelings and shiny eyes. I think of freedom, and what it could mean to be both free and in love. A day without your ghost in my head would be a welcome vacation.
I am angry. But that’s not right, for I am not my anger, anger is a phenomenon that is part of my current and fleeting experience. I have anger is more apt in english. Anger is something I currently poses. Yes, this is it, and I have a great deal welling up inside me, hot and putrid and poisonous. I would love to continue to pretend that I am angry at the world, at all it’s terrors, but I know I am much more selfish than that: I want to continue hiding in the illusion that I am angry at the world because what it doesn’t offer me, what it denies me, but this illusion is now thin and whispy, something I claw at to hang onto but it slips through my fingers, it doesn’t work anymore. I am angry at myself. Angry that I did all the stagnant poisonous tjings I did. Angry for believing my own poisonous ideas about the world and how this belief has led me to sabotage so much that the world did offer me. Angry that I do not have more curiosity for others, that I have more compassion for thise who would destroy man than love me, as I am more inclined to destroy myself than love myself! Angry that I see it this way right now, that I do not celebrate the love and compassion I have found but still despair and hate the brokenness I have afflicted onto my own life and the world around me. Angry that I wish to win an argument supporting pacifism and compassion! My concieted irony! I know the path is to have compassion for myself, to understand that anger stems from somthing else, yada yada, but right now what I feel is anger towards myself, poisonous and hot. I was taught for so long that I should not be angry, have, feel, show anger, but today to hell with opression of experience! I will be real with it!