I look at the gap in this blog – no entries for months -and I reflect on the reasons.
I note how artwork, a major nourishing and centering force in my life, has been lacking. I remember with regret, the occasions with family and friends that I turned down, the exciting cultural events (and there are many in Los Angeles) that my date book reminded me about, and which I never attended, because I was tired, used up, overworked.
But because I believed in the cause of the organization for whom I worked I took on what I was asked to, regardless. People expected that of me and were shocked and disappointed if I said I couldn’t take on anything more.
I don’t know if you believe in messengers from – well, we will call it the Universe – but I recently had one. His name is Frank, he is a chef and a personal assistant to someone else – and, even more important to this story, he is from Guyana.
We met at a pleasant Los Angeles garden party for a show of sculptures by a Jamaican artist. It seems that most of the people there were West Indian and the atmosphere they created reminded me of social events when I lived in Guyana. There was an ease, a conviviality, a friendly interest and an acceptance of just who you are, that opened a crack in the door to who I used to be.
A few months and many conversations later and my daughter and I were on our way to meet Frank and his group on a journey to Guyana to celebrate the Jubilee of Independence. Most of the group were either from Guyana or connected in an important way. We went to parties in the capital, met artists, flew in a bush plane over the jungle to visit waterfalls, travelled by boat across wide rivers, kayaked the dark waters of the interior; one night in a 4 star hotel, the next in a thatched hut on stilts. I was deeply immersed in the journey, a journey to my childhood, to the land that I grew up loving.
I rediscovered all the things that I thought were figments of my imagination and had dismissed as such: both the gifts of the culture which included an easy enjoyment of life regardless of the circumstances, a welcoming of friends of friends and a readiness to laugh with them; a recognition of the value of each person for themselves (and not how useful that person could be – or not) and also the way time was held. There is always enough time to do things with people, kind things, enjoyable things.
I stood on the overlook before the 800-foot single drop waterfall that I had always longed to see. It is the source of great power and the stuff of myths. In that place where the world seemed untouched by human hand, I felt the return of optimism, a innate knowledge of nature. Most of all I learned that the wildness in me had not, as I feared for so many years, died (as Jack London described “The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.” )
In that frame of reference I began to see what kind of life I had carved for myself – or more accurately had allowed to be carved for me in California.
On my return, I walked out into my garden. My poor neglected garden! There I saw that the peach tree had broken down under the weight of its fruit. I regretted that I had not made enough time to tend to it and prevent its damage. I was also struck by the metaphor of the tree unable to carry the weight of its own fruit as a metaphor for the life I had been leading.
And so I now know that I need to write this blog for myself –as much as anyone—to remind me to design my own roadmap for aging. A roadmap that leads me to what I need so I enjoy living and have time to notice when I feel happy – or sad – or appreciative — and all those feelings that have been pushed down.
Want to share this fragment of a poem by David Whyte
……I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then, as I had before
Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages in a great book
Waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far-off things
Seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
Of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air.
(Songs for Coming Home 1999 – Many Rivers Press, Langley WA)