It’s 3 am and I’m up with a case of heartburn so bad it feels like a heart attack. I’d blame the blackened red fish I ate for this wretched agony but it’s not that. Nor can I blame the Sazerac that complimented it. No, this is borne of frayed nerves and fear.
It is my last night here in The Mansion, an 1850’s monstrosity of a home in the heart of Mobile, and I am afraid. Afraid that I will always be scurrying to catch up. Afraid that I will never realize the person I am trying so hard to become. Afraid of the journey ahead of me.
Tomorrow, today, just a few hours from now, I will begin the long drive North. 1,800 miles back to the oilfield. Again. Stupid mouse to cheese trap. I have beaten the odds for a dozen years and managed to get the cheese before the trap clamped down on me. One day it will break my back and I’ll stare with glazed eyes at the molding cheese and wonder why I kept coming back for more.
I wish I could roll over and hold you close to soothe my nerves but the bed is empty. It is always empty. There has never been a woman in this bed.
That thought makes the heartburn worse so I throw the blankets back and scramble to the bathroom, sure that I’ll soon lose that excellent meal. The surge subsides before I get there but I’ve had enough nights like this in the last week to know it’s just a small reprieve so I down a handful of antacids to head off the inevitable follow up.
This is not the norm for me. I have been in situations that were far more stressful without suffering any kind of physiological effect.
So why now?
Writing, for me, has become a form of therapy. Visual meditation. A way to explore the thoughts that constantly ebb and flow with a life all their own. So I sit down and begin to write, casting my net with each stab at the keyboard until I snag that one random image that defines what it is I am feeling.
In this case it is the image of the empty bed and what I am feeling is lonely. No, not lonely. Alone.
Big surprise. You’d think I would have caught that as I wrote the cryptic poetry I posted earlier. I guess it was too obvious. So I read the poem again, something I really should do at least a few times before publishing. Write once, edit a hundred times. That, I’ve been told, is the set rule of writing. I should probably try it. The poem is horrid. It has potential, but it really is horrid. All over the map. I don’t recommend reading it. But it tells me what I need to know; I am never alone.
Right now there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people all over the planet feeling exactly the same thing I am feeling.
I close my eyes, slow my breath, and reach out to them. To assure them they are not alone, to let them know that they are loved, that I am here with them and in doing so I offer those same things to my Self and receive them from others and those thoughts, or the combination of those thoughts and the antacids (credit where credit is due), begin to slow the burn and the frayed edges of my nerves begin to mend.
Still, I wish I could get back into that bed and hold you close.
Photo by Josh Applegate
I often hear the voice of the Divine and find wisdom in unexpected sources. An overheard conversation between a couple in passing. A single line of something I’m reading or a song I’m listening to. The way someone might shoo a mosquito off the shoulder of a complete stranger without their knowing.
Or the old black man with the foul mouth and the fixed smile who writes my load tickets on the dock where I load my truck. He is a lifetime docker, worn and broken. His hard life shows on his face.
We are talking about the long haul I am about to make. The rate I make on this haul is minimal. I am enthusiastic about neither prospect.
Okay, I’m bitching about it.
He just laughs, stops what he is doing, looks me in the eyes and says “Take your time, enjoy the scenery, look at those azaleas, watch the birds and the trees, it pays the same either way, you might as well enjoy it.”
That’s my advice. Those are my words coming from his mouth. I am stopped cold. My frustration dissipates. The Universe has spoken directly to me through this man and I am grateful.
The message received, I take a deep breath and smile with this gift and continue on my way. Taking my time. Enjoying the scenery. The day passes peacefully.
The Universe is always talking to us. Telling us to be patient. To breathe. Telling us it cares. That we are loved.
Image: “Finding” by Mario S Nevado
We all have them:
Days when we want to save the world
Days when we want to see it burn
Days when the lightness in our heart can lift us to the skies
Days when it’s so heavy that the weight threatens to sink us to the core of the earth where we’d gladly lose ourselves in that molten hell
Days when the sun shines and lights our way
Days when the sunshine hurts our eyes and makes us wish we were invisible
Days of love and joy
Days of suffering and pain
We have very little control over the events of our days and sometimes simple things can trigger either incredible happiness or intense sorrow.
What we can control is how we deal with those events. The more aware I am of this and the more I practice mindfulness and meditation the more awake I become and the more better my days are. But its not a cure, it’s a practice. A practice that never ends.
I hope you have a more better day too but if this turns out to be one of “those” days then remember; we all have them. They pass.
And remember to breathe.
Image: “Deep” by Mario S Nevado
do I see the world
distorted by the lens of my past
in colors of jade
like looking through
a dusty kaleidoscope
my mind fitting the broken pieces
in ways that suit
I would guess
I close my eyes
and see from within
my vain attempts
to correlate the data of my past
with cloudy visions of the future
based on incomplete analysis of the present
influenced by experience
interpreted through illusion
borne from misunderstanding
and think to myself
“No wonder I stumble”
A running stream
Or placid lake
As much an ocean
Or a single drop of rain
From the same source
The same water
Life is all about discovery.
When we are born we discover the most amazing things: the world develops before our very eyes and as we grow it expands as if we, ourselves, are the gods that create it moment by moment.
In our teens we discover complex emotions that threaten our very existence: rage, pain, immense joy and sadness, and, for the very first time, even though we may not recognize it for what it is, Love.
We go through school being taught pointless rhetoric: math, science, history. All the while being taught none of those things that could lead us to deeper paths; mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion. Those are supposed to be taught by our parents. Parents who never learned those things either.
Learn them. They will lead you farther than you imagine.
Later still, we discover that we wished we had learned more of those worthless ideas. Paid closer attention. What was that formula for finding the volume of a circle again? That will come in handy later. I promise you that. So pay attention if you can. But there’s more.
We discover the value of money. Of friendship and of hard work and of possession. We go into the world discovering fine food, good company, bright lights.
Too often people don’t make it past those last discoveries. They base their lives on the hedonistic values of life: a big house, a nice car, good clothes, physical pleasure. Discovery ends. Life has been explored and all that it offers has been found.
Discovery continues despite that belief. Our friends die. Our loved ones leave us. Our investments fail us. We discover loss, suffering, disappointment.
Those discoveries become empty. Meaningless. Superficial. Life becomes meaningless. Emotions become an intolerable consequence. A side effect of life.
If we are insightful, or have a fortunate predilection for it, or have a loved one willing to force our awareness, or we are just plain lucky, or unlucky, we push deeper. Struggle harder to find meaning.
Our path of discovery narrows to two distinct paths: inward or outward.
The outward path leads us to medical discovery. To miracle cures. To pills that end our suffering. To gurus and healers and shaman. The path can branch over and over from here but it always leads us to the discovery of the inward path though very very few can make that transition.
If you find yourself at that transitional fork in your path I hope, I truly hope, you find your way to the inward path. Reach into that place and you will find a hand willing to lead you farther than you ever imagined. I promise you that.
The inward path leads us to ever deeper discovery: understanding, self love, honesty, acceptance, awareness, unity, Love. True Love.
Discoveries that lead us to higher planes of existence. Planes where loss and suffering are accepted as simply a part of life and where the value of a single breath, drawn long and slow while listening to and feeling the beat of our own miraculous heart connect us to the very soul of the Universe, is beyond measure.
What we discover there can never be fully expressed in words but in that place are experiences outside the realm of comprehension and yet understood as if we were once again children creating, moment by moment, the very fabric of our own distinct, yet combined, reality.
My wish for you is this:
Continue your journey. Never cease in your struggle of discovery, because even further beyond that point lay infinity: a point of chaotic generation and regeneration of life where the distance between infancy and eons are but fractions of moments of the life of a single drop of moisture on a spiders web and all that we have discovered between birth and true life, the life that always awaits, that bekons and welcomes all, are a single reflection on the surface of that dew that shimmers a while before dropping into an endless ocean that rises as mist to condense on the web over and over again.
In that chaos of constant re-creation resides the Divine where She rests on this, the Seventh Day, with arms wide and welcome, to bring us into Her embrace.
It is a place of constant discovery and awe and wonder where a word as simple and complex as “Love” or “Gratitude” can define our very existence.
Though I tend to speak of it in terms of enlightenment and higher planes of consciousness it is not some mythical place reached only through lifetimes of deep meditation and study. It does not require the use of psychoactive compounds or healers or teachers.
It is here.
It is Now.
It awaits your discovery.
Close your eyes and breathe.
Image: “Infinity” by Tue Bengsston
There is a place
are as solid as a tangerine
and just as sweet
Where the warm breeze
on an autumn noon
cools salty skin
with the whispered voice of nymphs
Where the sound of the owl
blends with the melody of trees
and laughing children
like a chorus
Where the scent of wild lavender
and ancient oaks
that stretch beyond the endless horizon
can be tasted on the air
Where the senses are so keen
that the march of an ant
is heard above the roar of a plane
the breath of a bird
becomes a song
the beating hearts
and working legs
of a caterpillar
tap out staccato beats
as it crunches on a leaf
Where the passing of time
is controlled by will
to keep the sun and moon
It is a place
where the touch of my lover
is like the hand of God herself
and her kisses
are each a blessing
I am in that place
Image: “Lucid” by Ozan Vural
I don’t understand
Though I will try
But it really doesn’t matter
Because I accept
That there are things
I can not change
Who have no desire to
Image: “Acceptance” by Jyou Jo
Not in a way defined
by philosophy memorized
Not through some blind faith
all I’ve read
in the Heart of Love
and the arms of my Beloved
keep me in this place
where all that exists
is what I allow
is the only influence
Image: “Neptune” by Justin Morrison