Archives for the month of: October, 2012

I wish I could say that this elegant creature with the gorgeous gams was me, but it is actually my friend, Cynthia, photographed by her husband, James. She and Maz certainly win the contest for lithe beauty, don’t they?

As you know, I am most prone to revelation when walking on my beautiful beach in Long Point.  I call it my beach because, now that the visitors have vacated the premises for another year, this stretch of sand is solitary in its beauty, and as I stride along its length, I laugh with the universe in gratitude for this oasis which I own without ever having had to pay a cent towards a mortgage.

Yesterday, the air was filled with the cacophonous caws of a myriad of birds — they looked like starlings — perching in the ancient trees just up from the water’s edge.  They were making a tremendous racket, and every ten seconds or so, they would suddenly swarm from one tree to another nearby, spending several moments mid-air:  fleetly flitting up and down, east and west, all in the most delightful exhibition of synchronized flying available to the human eye.

There have been times on the beach when perhaps a dozen hawks have soared above my head with what seems a perilously narrow margin of clearance, and the tantalizing mixture of wonder and fear at the proximity of these large birds of prey has been exhilarating, to say the least.

But these starlings, if that’s what they were, provided a mystery, and an inspiration.

I suppose I could have cast myself as Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s classic film, and seen danger, but instead, I chose to perceive the perfect unity of the birds, which must have numbered in the many hundreds.

There are times when, like lemmings, we simply follow our fellows into oblivion.  We allow the pundits of agri-business and pharma-business and those who claim that climate change is all nonsense to seduce us into a zombie-like acceptance of the ever worsening status quo without really thinking for ourselves.

But then, there are other times when our membership in a larger tribe reflects a gathering energy created by individuals linked by similar values and a common purpose, and a releasing of that energy into the world.

The flock has more power than it realizes.  Are you concerned about the dangers of GMOs  — genetically modified corn and soybeans, for example?  You have the power to subvert this system by refusing to buy the many products which contain them.  Disturbed by the growing reports of potential links between overuse of vaccinations and a variety of ailments?  Through the miracle of the internet you have the power to research this subject and make an informed choice regarding what is right for you and your family.  Unhappy with the rumblings of ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak water’ as well as the menace of climate change always there lurking behind the sunshine?  You can choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem.

The tribe of those who are flocking together with the common goal of simple, yet abundant, living; a sustainable lifestyle; and a return to proper stewardship of this planet is growing.  We are beginning to swarm from tree to tree, uttering a raucous invitation to join us., and there is little time to waste.

You have the choice to stay on the ground, or to spread your wings.  The tribe is waiting for you, here in the air.

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the different way we perceive beginnings and endings.

It seems to me that beginnings are greeted with joy, quite possibly in anticipation of what is to come, while endings are often seen as a sort of failure, a death, something grim and poignant in its inevitability.

And this puzzles me, because so many of our journeys in life are circular:  after following a path of exploration, we arrive back where we started, only, as Eliot so rightly said, to know the place for the first time.  We have been changed by the journey, we’ve learned and grown and hurt and laughed and cried.  We’ve lived.  And yet, this experience often seems to have little value in comparison to the inexorable sense of sadness and defeat at an ‘ending.’

Take our reaction to babies, for example.  They arrive into this world, blinking and wailing after a squashing, squeezing trip down a sort of internal water slide, red from the exertion, wrinkled and covered in goo, their skulls often compressed into very odd shapes.  Yet they’re instantly proclaimed ‘beautiful,’ their birth heralded with all the adoration due a dauphin, no matter how humble their situation.  I was just such an infant, and I’m sure my mother kissed my chubby belly and proclaimed my fat thighs to be the quintessence of loveliness.

Strangely, as I grew older, those same fat thighs and near identical chubby belly began to attract something other than praise!  But I digress …

The wrinkles on a baby are part of their charm, but, in our society, the wrinkles on the old are viewed as part and parcel of an unavoidable decay.

The Japanese have a term, ‘nagare,’ which refers to the natural flowing back of life and energy to its source:  a birthing-growing-decaying cycle which is a joy to behold in all its stages.  I see it all around me in the natural world.  I saw it on the beach not long ago when I came across this natural sculpture, half buried in the sand … a delicate, intricate jigsaw of line and circle and tone, made no less beautiful because it was once a living thing.

The spirit (or life force if you prefer) of this creature has departed … gone, I like to believe, back to its source … and its physical form is following suit.

Rather than viewing this as putrefaction, I see its beauty.  I hope the day will come when I see this beauty in the endings of all the things and creatures I love, but I believe this will require more enlightenment than I currently possess.

But then, I have faith that this enlightenment will return.  As a baby, I blithely accepted the cavalcade of the world’s business, as those who cared for me came and went, tending to my needs, caressing me with love and baby powder.  As I grow older, and yet older, finally returning to the source of my life, I trust I will embrace that perfect acceptance once more.

I will regard my wrinkles, and yes, even my chubby belly, and hopefully see the beauty of a journey well-taken, from beginning to middle to ending.  Something to be appreciated, and remembered, and finally released.