Blue Sky by the great 8 (FCC)
“I am now writing to test my theory that there is consolation in expression.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Journal, 9 May 1926
Monday, early evening. Sunny and hot.
Not sleeping so well again, and not really sure why. I had been gradually trying to move my body clock back so that I was falling asleep earlier so that I could get up earlier, but since the road trip to Ohio, I haven’t been able to fall asleep before 2:30 in the morning.
Who knows the whys or hows of my body . . .
We had a very nice time Saturday night, even though no one was quite sure where we were supposed to be gathering, and when Ann and her family showed up at the beach house, and no one was there. We were pretty sure that we had said the beach house and not Ann’s deck, but we all sat around on the deck at the beach house and waited for the Germans to turn up somewhere . . .
Everything turned out nicely, though, and as a bonus, we did not have to contend with my ex as he didn’t show on Saturday. Just kind of a laid back Saturday night, lots of conversation. I got the bright idea that we should have a Trivial Pursuit contest this coming Saturday as we used to do that all of the time in the old days. Patrick is a killer on history and geography, but I kick his butt in literature and the arts, so it’s usually a raucous game.
Tomorrow is Busch Gardens day, and it’s a big group this year: Corey, Alexis, Phillip, Hannah, Lucas (Hannah’s boyfriend), Eamonn, Brett, and Em. I get to stay home and have the house to myself, so everyone is quite looking forward to Tuesday. I used to love to go to Busch Gardens, but as I can no longer ride the roller coasters (because of the back issues), I prefer not to go. So they can go and spend the day riding and eating and milling through crowds, and I can spend the day in quiet with the dogs. Works out well for everyone, except for possibly Corey, who has a car full of people this year.
“The last few days, what one notices more than anything is the blue. Blue sky, blue mountains—all is a heavenly blueness! And clouds of all kinds—wings, soft white clouds, almost hard little golden islands, great mock-mountains. The gold deepens on the slopes. In fact, in sober fact, it is perfection. But the late evening is the time of times. Then, with that unearthly beauty before one, it is not hard to realise how far one has to go. To write something that will be worthy of that rising moon, that pale light.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, Journal, 16 October 1921
The other day I was in the pool by myself, and it was one of those rare summer days in which it was not too hot; the sky was a clear blue, and only a few wispy cirrus clouds dotted the sky above me. I watched dragonflies dance around the drooping heads of the sunflowers, and a lone, vibrant Cardinal sat in the oak tree.
No one within earshot was running yard equipment, and there were no sounds echoing from the park. It was lovely. I floated around and just took in the simple beauty that surrounded me. Tillie and Shakes were resting on the ladder after playing ball, and I had left my phone inside.
I stayed out well past 5 p.m., and as the sun dipped, and the air became slightly cooler, I did some yoga stretches in the water. My face was turned to the sun, and my eyelids were closed. A slight breeze touched my cheeks. It’s the closest I’ve come to meditating in a very long time. It’s hard to describe accurately the sense of peace that can be achieved through such simplicity, but that is truly what I felt: at peace with myself and with the world.
When I was an undergraduate, I used to go sailing with a friend of mine who owned a catamaran. I would get on the trapeze and hang off the side of the boat as one of the hulls was in the air. I remember closing my eyes and just letting the wind and the sky envelope my face. That was my favorite part about sailing: coming as close as possible to hanging in the air. That’s the feeling that I recaptured the other day.
I used to think that I would like to go sky diving, to feel that freedom of falling through the air. I’ve never gotten over the yearning to do so, but I just don’t think that they let people with bad backs hurtle themselves out of planes, no matter how many release forms they sign.
“You still don’t understand? Throw the emptiness in
your arms out into that space we breathe; maybe birds
will feel the air thinning as they fly deeper into themselves.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, “The First Elegy” in Duino Elegies, trans. A. Poulin, Jr.
I must admit that I’m still feeling a bit melancholy, not sad necessarily. It’s just that tug, that feeling around the edges of my heart, as if there is a thought out there that I cannot quite grasp, that slips by me far too quickly to catch.
Does that make sense?
Do not ask me to define it as that would be impossible. It’s not the creepy sensation that one gets when staring in the mirror and then suddenly sees something out of the corner of the eye. On the contrary, it is a tender sensation, that I am being embraced by the earth itself, that I am communing with something ineffable yet exquisitely intense. It is the feeling that I am beginning to discern a larger pattern of which I am a minor part.
I know this sensation as well as I know myself. It makes an appearance without warning, and then it can progress either one of two ways: It can portend an oncoming storm in my soul, or it can evolve into a time of deeper introspection. I believe this time it will be the latter rather than the former as I am feeling calm rather than disquiet. Still, it’s a bit unsettling.
There is nothing for it but to wait to see how things play out.
“To write, now, only to make known that one day I ceased to exist; that everything around me turned blue, an immense space for the flight of an eagle whose powerful wings forever beat goodbye to the world.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from Le Livre de l’hospitalité, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop
Even as I sit here in my desk’s new location, the late afternoon sun is coming through the window and painting my lashes. If I lean back and close my eyes halfway, I can see those dandelion-like sparks that come from refraction and reflection. It’s how I’m typing at the moment, having no need to look at the keys (Thank you Ms. Magnuson for teaching me my way around a keyboard a million years ago).
In the background, Earlimart’s song “It’s Okay to Think About Ending” is playing with sound bytes from television’s “House” interspersed with the music. It’s a lovely song that is not about ending. Rather, it’s about choosing to stay in the moment, which is where I currently find myself—I’m enjoying the moment and have no desire to go forward or backward. Sometimes just being is enough.
Unfortunately, because life so often intrudes upon moments of such beauty, most of us do not recognize them for what they are, and they slip past us without ever materializing. We become so entrenched in all of the worries, all of the petty grievances, all of the setbacks and brick walls that we forget to look past, even for a moment. We lose so much as a result.
I include myself in this we as I know that I am just as guilty as anyone else. I think too much about the what ifs and the why nots, and I forget about that thing called possibilities. I do not seize, carpe, if you will. Yet in spite of how myopic I can become, something within me churns to the surface and causes me to pause, to stop and look around, to notice that the only sound is birdsong, that the only movement is gossamer dragonfly wings.
“If the soul and the ego were objects we could look at, the soul would be a translucent heart beating.” ~ George Condo
We grow older, and we forget things. We forget the wonder of discovering something for the first time as young children do. Put a three-year-old outside in the fresh grass, and she will stare at everything; she will touch everything; she will notice everything: the blades of grass, the petals on a flower, the butterflies, the wind in the leaves. Everything is new and wonderful and unsullied.
We grow older, and we do not notice the most obvious. We walk from our doors to our vehicles, and we do not see anything between the two. Does the Rose of Sharon have new blooms? Is that a new garden spider’s web between the sunflower stems? How long has it been there? The morning dew hangs on the finely wrought pattern and shimmers in the early light.
We grow older, and we become like the insects that become caught in the web: we do not struggle against our fate. We simply wait for fate to come to us. And it always does.
When do we cross that border between wonder and resignation? When do we reach the apex and begin the slide downward? When do we stop seeing?
When I was a young teen, I first read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I will admit that it is the first book that I ever stole from a library. I had to have it, and of course, Amazon did not exist then, nor did large bookstores. But the point is this: I read “Song of the Open Road,” and today I still remember some of the lines that touched me so deeply the first time I saw them on the page:
All seems beautiful to me,
and this (all of stanza 15, which, admittedly, I do not know by heart completely):
Just remember: It is possible for all to still seem beautiful to us.
More later. Peace.
Music by Earlimart, “It’s Okay to Think About Ending” (and yes, this is a repeat, but it seemed apropos)