good things

downsized_0421031331My little metronome goes beep beep beep, and my feet keep time with it. It’s the perfect cadence, and everything just works. I feel like I could just go and go and go. Why oh why have I not been running? It is my fix. I missed it and didn’t know it. I forgot how things click into place while I’m running.

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Ai Weiwei bicycles installation

And other good things. The IMA – Indianapolis Museum of Art. The giant fountain out front, Robert Indiana’s LOVE, and Ai Weiwei’s According to what? exhibition.

 

I was taken by surprise to be moved by “Straight,” but then, how can one not be moved by that?

And you can’t help but be amazed by the artist’s abilities. He works in wood, or marble, or rebar, or tea, or ancient pottery, or chairs, or bicycles. He seems to know what to do with them, and how to do it. And always burdened with his message. How does one get that? Is it just being unafraid? Is it not feeling barriers?  The photography made me feel the same way. Here this fellow is out of focus, but I’m good with it, it tells the story.

Robert Irwin's Light and Space at the IMA
Robert Irwin’s Light and Space at the IMA

And then there’s the things he says. Like

“For artists and intellectuals, what is most needed is to be clear about social responsibility, because that’s what most people automatically give up. Just to protect yourself as an individual is very political. You don’t have to march on Tiananmen, but you have to be clear-minded, to find your own means of self expression.”

Watching for stars tonight, but, aha, not exactly in the country anymore I’ve discovered.

beyond that

IMG_7990It’s kinda crazy that I have to pick up and move and start a new job in a new place and not know anyone at all in order to find out that everything is exactly the same. And so, one finds themselves looking beyond the edges of the damned magnifying glass that’s been poised for too damned long over just ahem themselves. Because that, after all, would be the common thread. It was me there, and it is still me here.

IMG_7987So time to move on. Enlarge the scope of things, as it were. Who knows what’s true on Wikipedia, but I like to think that it’s an Einstein thing, this notion of somehow giving yourself over to something larger than yourself. At the very least, “widen your circle of compassion,” eh?

IMG_8001I am still not sure what form this is all going to take. I’m just going with it.

rendezvous

I know you’re there.

I wish I could be to you all that you are to me. You are wise. You are safe. You are more than enough. You are full of untarnished love. You are rock solid, forgiving, accepting. You are unconditional. You love the question. You encompass. You have a smile inside.

I know you do.

I am glad I am in this place. My world is cracking, like an egg. It hurts, but it feels good, too. It’s dangerous. Everything is unfolding. This is a beginning, it’s a step. Everything is different, but it’s all the same. My eyes are opening. You are there.

I could fail at this. If I do, though, it’s just because there’s another step to take. I think I will do okay, but there’s still another step coming. I can feel it. These are all big steps. You are on my path because you are a big step soul. You are my partner in this. You get it.

But surprise. I now understand that I am on your path. For a reason. Wow.

And so, yes.

march eight two thousand one

We had named it long before we ever set eyes on it. To the boys it was a certainty; to me it was just a dream. Then, one day we drove by at 55 miles per hour. It was AW who turned the car around, drove up to it, and knew it for what it was. It was our place, our dream, our hope, A’s harbor, and J’s low-tech farm. To AW, it was perhaps unfettered messing about with old cars. It was every invention the boys had ever imagined. To me it was … open windows in the summer, birds wheeling overhead, space, time, freedom, paint on canvas, love.

And to all of us it was a delightful, unfolding mystery. We had no idea at the start of it all what a mystery it was. The house itself was at once a naked statement and a truly guarded secret. The past it held was hidden from us, but tempted us and drew us in. The land and its relationships, its actions, seemed so apparent from the road as we drove past, but proved to be a complex puzzle and, in a way, one that couldn’t be solved – though that was the daily battle.

Now, though still new to this life, we are immersed in it. We find that after all the other paths we walked down, and there were many, this one is new and it’s fresh and it’s a little scary.

One day, as the windows of my bedroom blinked without opinion upon me poised silently on my knees, I heard two words. My heart paces a little now as I think of it.

I am still wondering about those words. I’ve waited a while to comply, but comply I must. Halfway will not do the job.

Pray. Write. It almost frightens me to say it.

Pray. Write.

The prayers flowed, but the ink would not. Write. Write about what? Why should I write? What do I have to say? What, may I ask, do You have to say? There are many messages I could send with my pen. Unfortunately, it has been my conviction that the truths I’ve arrived at would just drift off into space rather than explode with effect on my targets.

Perhaps, though, it is possible that a finger is poised near the veil, ready to lift it off and let one see. I suppose that means I should be very careful about my target and my intent. I think I know, however, that it is not my intent at all here. And not knowing or understanding the will of that intent, but in humility and fear, I will write with love, out of love. Perhaps I may even find that it is I who wears the veil.

Writing is a journey in itself.

Words discovered hand-written on the two sides of a single page buried in what appeared to be a new notebook, the one I took with me to start my new job.

Pray. Write.

waves in the dark

I lay alone in this embracing bed, listening to the steady, relentless pacing of the waves. They come no matter what. Lake Michigan, deep and dark, mysterious and intimate, speaks to me beyond the safety of my gable room. In the dark, I get up to stand at the window. I can see the night-lit waves, the white of the rollers driving, completely unstoppable,  to the shore, pushed by a not-taking-no-for-an-answer wind.

The winter cold, the wind, the night. It changes nothing. You just navigate it.

I feel my hand on the helm, my body both tired and alert, cold all through. Almost frightened, but comfortable just the same, trusting in the dark – my compass, the sails, the rudder, the charts, my self. The boat just goes. I feel the cold wind on my face. I ache. I scan the dark, all I see and feel is the rolling of those waves. My eye watches the fill of the sail, the cockpit lifts me up, we slide and skid along as the night black water presses us up, up and then dishes us out for just a moment before the next push. The water hisses.

We are all alone here, me and the low light of the compass, in this vast, mysterious plane of constant motion. I have what I need. I am alive.

Trust.

on the road

IMG_7279I nervously but happily wend my way down I-75, south, heading into Ohio. I have a couple of ramps and a box of straps stowed in the back of the pickup, lent to me by my buddy just before I left town. I’m on a mission, and it gives me a sense of confidence where I have often had little.

I stop for gas in a place strange to me. Hopping out of the truck, I realize I don’t need a jacket and there is no snow anywhere.

I negotiate the winding multi-lane pathway that is Dayton, and then just south of there, roll off on the exit and head for the truck stop.

Sure enough, there he is. My son stands larger than life, clad neck to foot in a yellow jumpsuit near his motorcycle. He has ridden it up from south Florida. It was one cold trip, and I can easily see the cold is not out of him. He has the Florida tan, but his young face is grizzled with the ride.

His numerous bags and various pieces of equipment are spread out in a long line next to the bike. He  arrived about 15 minutes ahead of me, and used the time to unload the bike while he tried to warm up. There is his tent, his camp stove, bags of tools, helmet, gloves. An umbrella. I guess you just never know when you’re going to need an umbrella.

I pull up with the truck and jump out to get him inside my arms. This whole cross country motorcycle thing is hard on a mom, you know. And here it is winter, and no one sees motorcycles on a good day, much less when no one really expects to see one at all.

People are looking at the small spectacle of his journey. One gnarly aging man hovers close, drawn into the experience as if by a magnet. He sports a smile, a work jacket that lets me know his name is John, and a black cap that announces that his boss is Jesus.

We set the ramps up, and between my son and John, the big bike is easily rolled up into the back of my pickup and set at an angle to fit. The box of straps is broken open, and the bike is tied down. I go in to the truck stop to fuel up with coffee, and then we head north to Michigan where we are expecting rain and freezing rain after the heavy snows we have lately received. Our new friend John gives us a happy nod as we pull out.

And then there’s about 5 hours of unadulterated one-on-one time, learning again who this amazing person is, who he is becoming. It’s both honest and brash, and gentle and tentative as we tread into each other’s lives again.

He puts his favorite CD’s in, and points out his favorite songs. He revels in the warmth of the truck after the many hours of frigid riding he’s been doing. He’s excited about where the road’s going. And so am I.

What a gift. I am startled when I look at him, to see the adult in his face at the same time I can still see the child. What a gift to have this opportunity to discover him again where he’s at on life’s road – to see him and share in this very moment. I am continually astounded and privileged to be witness to the unfolding of my children – to glimpse the soul inside of them. Simply amazing.

free to leave

printsThe snow stole in overnight and neatly laid down about a half a foot of snow all over everything. The wind followed, shaping drifts and rearranging the landscape. It carried on through the morning.

I looked out my window, and I could see my neighbor out in his unplowed driveway. He had his red pickup truck with the camper on it. For weeks now, that camper has been sitting by itself in the driveway.

Henry bought both the truck and the camper not all that long ago so that he could execute his plan to get out of here. The dream was to get to Florida, and to set up there and just live simply in his little camper, go fishing, that sort of thing. He figured he could make a living diving, because he had training in some kind of diving work.

It was an angry dream. He’s been hell bent on it for at least a few years.

Divorced I don’t know when, Henry moved in some years ago with his daughter and his motorcycle. He always laughed, and always smiled, and always swaggered. He worked hard, and commuted long to make things go. When someone hit a deer in front of my place and left it in the ditch, he was all over the fresh kill. He threw parties in the summer, where he did all the cooking, laughing all the while his motorcycle buddies drank beer and ate up.

When Henry’s daughter was about 16, she started hanging out with boys. Then, she started telling lies, and spending overnights somewhere else. When she turned 18, she up and moved out to live with her boyfriend. And Henry was just finally done.

That’s when he started trying to escape. First, he moved into a rented trailer inside a pole barn near his work during the winter, so he didn’t have to commute all the time. The commute was like an hour and a half.

Then, he got a boat. It was a power boat with a name like Happy Hooker, and the plan was to live on it. Which he did for one summer, again at a place closer to work.

But underneath it, he was still just angry. He told me there was nothing here and why would you stay. There are no jobs. And you can’t sell a house around here, so maybe he’d just board it up and leave, don’t you know. And women, well, he was just done with them. Still, it took him a few years, a lot of disappointment, and a relentless childlike hope, to get him out in that driveway yesterday.

He didn’t say goodbye. I knew when I saw him out there in all that snow, checking and doublechecking, making trips inside the house and back to the camper. He was finally Florida-bound.

He must have quit his job and his long commute, and finally said what the hell. And I don’t know who it was, but a woman hopped into the passenger seat. Maybe in the end it wasn’t desperation in the driver’s seat after all.

The red truck backed out through all the swirling snow, and left. Could be all the anger’s just sitting in the driveway, left for the wind to do its work on it. I hope so.

Happy trails, Henry.

dreams return

dreamdo
handwriting practice, 8 yrs., J.

Today as I drove along, lost in my own thoughts, humming to music on the radio, it suddenly occurred to me that I really could dream again, that parts of me were indeed  beginning to engage on dream thoughts. I am delighted.

My dream thoughts are still murky, but I see trends.

Reading the log of my long-ago journey triggered all sorts of things for me. I had completely forgotten that I had taken the guitar, and played it, on the trip. I had totally forgotten that I used to easily understand the MAFORs and the Beaufort scale. That I routinely considered ebb and flow and riptides when planning a day’s journey. All the blue whales, humpbacks, belugas, pods of pilot whales that I had seen, the jet swooshing down the Saguenay, the bells I heard that made me cry below St. Anne de Beaupre. That I had seen Perce Rock from the sea.

I looked at images of Perce Rock online. I had a memory of it, but I was still astonished to realize I had seen it up close, from the sea. And, indeed, that day, in my log I noted my strange feelings about it – the realization that I was truly on an intrepid, mysterious adventure. As if all the ruggedness, the challenges, the unknowns had somehow escaped my notice until that day.

It would be kind of cool to see Perce Rock again.  Yeah, so there are places I want to go. And there are things I’d like to do.

Yes, the beginnings of dreams again. At last.

whales, waterspouts, wind

IMG_7237
chart with course and fixes marked on it
IMG_7240
from the log, down in Lake Erie
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from the log, off the coast of Nova Scotia north of Owl’s Head

So with all this sorting and packing, I am discovering all sorts of little treasures, lost memories, happy mementos. Yesterday, I chanced upon the only remaining pages of the log I kept many, many years ago when I set out on a long sailing journey, double-handing a wooden yawl. It made me happy to see it.

 

 

For some reason, all that remains are some copied pages of the log, spanning about three months of time. The log picks up at Harbor Island heading into the North Channel at the top of Lake Huron and covers the trip to Owl’s Head Bay on the Atlantic coast of  Nova Scotia, via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The rest of the log, and the originals, are gone.

The rest of the log covered the rest of the trip, from Owl’s Head Bay all the way down the Atlantic coast to the Bahamas, then sojourning there for a few months before returning up the coast to the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. Those pages are forever gone, deliberately burnt in a fire long ago. Wish I had them now, though, because the incredible memories are getting fuzzy.

pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor
pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor

 

Anyway….. Fun to find these pages. I can see as I leaf through them how I grew comfortable with the cruising life, and how I enjoyed every damned day no matter the weather or the difficulties. Whales, waterspouts, wind, tides, locks, storms, mountains, fog, freighters, submerged rocks, cities, isolation, birds, people – it’s all there.

I was very alive, very aware. The whole point was the journey. It still is.