Finally I have meditated
stillness is a ruse.
Everything riding this
rotund blue dervish
is in constant motion.
What the honeysuckle-infused breeze
asks of us
is not contemplative passivity,
But an active surrender to the possibility
of being moved.
~ Jamie K Reaser
I’m feeling good today. Grateful after a week of weepies sparked by a cop-cam video of a young unarmed Black man gunned down. The sight of his body hammered by bullets off camera. The sound of a dozen shots resounding, pushing a burst of despair from my center. I want to inject right here I’m an easy cry. Anything that reaches in, touches or moves me – good, bad, sweet, sad, pictures or words – a spark. And this string of release was indeed note-worthy. Stopped only when imagined mold spores blew from our leaky ceiling because a professionally installed hose that forced air into rain-drenched cavities fell out, and my mind fell on threats to our carefully tended health. Helplessness. The meltdown that followed constrained proportion to the things I held. Not long ago a movie got me going. A predictable film with beautiful cinematography, likable characters. In it a writer talks about imagination. About how a character showed up, saved his life. I wept with recognition, continued nonstop until what I knew would happen, did. And a sound escaped, rasped my throat like a tiny gasp. I’ve learned to pay attention to such experiences. The first time I understood them I was a single mother with little support sitting through a second viewing of The Black Stallion. I saw how the loss, vulnerability, aloneness onscreen swirled inside me, too. Realized in watching I could safely feel myself.
There’s a taco place a few blocks away. Sun blazes over the length of the alley I cut down to get there. The path always seems longer than the block it is. I notice I have a ritual when I turn in. I pause, look the full distance, note the three smooth parking pads that wing off the uneven brick street. And I measure my progress as I pass them with a silent count ‘two more; one more.’ Feel I’ve traveled a far distance when I reach the trees at the parking lot. But on my way back I watch my feet, only occasionally lift my gaze to birdsong, voices behind fences. Two weeks ago I emerged so quickly from the alley I was sure I’d crossed my own street, was on the next ahead. Disoriented, I stood a moment before the landmark cottage with yellow trim, FL folk-art yard decoration and bloodroot colored slated fence registered. And in that space between confusion and recognition, I knew I’d passed thru a dimensional warp. The distance so short, the time so quick down that alley. And it came to me that’s how we get to something a long way off. Focus on what’s before us. Attend with presence the steps getting there.
I spent my tear-streaked week writing chapter summaries for an agent. Last time I did this was 12,000 words and years ago, when I had another agent. That time easy, loosely done because I did it for me. This time, grueling tedium. The word ‘willing’ on my lips each step of the way. Five weeks earlier I’d held another sort of willingness while doing edits. I didn’t ask while editing how to say something. I asked what did the work want to say. Issue or solution. Pain or triumph. The question ‘where’ in the spectrum of dichotomy of presence. Seems willingness and the steps getting us somewhere may run this way, too.
A dream: The man, age thirties or forties, flings his toddler out a window. I see her hair, its fine texture, curls, see her creamy skin as she tumbles in the beginning of her descent down what I know are many, many floors. A dream instant replay she grabs the sill, he breaks her hold so she tumbles away again, the arc wide like a dance. Horrible dream, I say as my eyes open. Thinking now on that arc thru the air, I wonder if perhaps she found wings. And I go back to The Black Stallion, a gorgeous film. For the first time watch the trailer. So corny, it begins, “If you want to believe in magic, in beauty, in friendship, and freedom. . .” And I say, Why, yes. Yes, I do. The heart of what I create for the world. Sometimes with tears. A good heart for offerings, don’t you think?
Another small journey to mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
A Secret: Deep water holds fascination for me, and a deep fear I faced last year in Hawaii. Swimming in the ocean where it goes down 5,000 ft..
A Favorite: A stunningly orchestrated film.
Photo: Kurt Arrigo