“I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.” ~ Edward Gorey

cc by-nc-nd Bruno Monginoux www.photo-paysage.com & www.landscape-photo.net
Paris in the Fog
by Bruno Monginoux (cc)

                   

“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.” ~ Bill Bryson, from Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

Saturday, late afternoon. Overcast and 50 degrees.

Well, guess what. No, really. Go on. Guess who has come to visit me again . . . My old friend Insomnia. Got to sleep somewhere around 5:30 this morning only to be awakened a few minutes later by Tillie the Lab who deemed it time to go out. When I was finally able to roll out of bed, my head felt as it if was contained in a vise. Still sitting here squinting, so I’m not sure how far I’ll actually get today.

Hot shower and lots of steam loosened the tightness a bit, but not enough for full relief.

Early Morning Fog, Audubon Park by Paul Couroux CC
Early Morning Fog, Audubon Park
by Paul Couroux (cc)

So I’ve been pondering some odd things lately, like life, in general and my life here, specifically. Quality of life, as in how would I describe the quality of my life. And more specifically, temperament of life, as in how would I define the essence of my life.

For one thing, Corey asked me how I can stand it not to have left the house in weeks, and I really had to think about that. On the one hand, it bothers me a great deal, much more than it did say two years ago. I miss getting in the Rodeo and driving. I miss seeing Olivia on a regular basis, but do I miss those things enough to cross the threshold to venture into the open air, the wide world beyond my doors?

I’m not sure. I know that’s a cop-out answer, but for now, it will have to do.

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” ~ Donald Miller, from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Two days ago I had big plans to take Tillie for a walk, only to find it raining when I looked outside. I’m not made of the kind of stuff to begin a regimen in the rain, at least not a walking regimen. So that’s on hold, and unfortunately, I may have already lost the momentum. Sad, really.

But these things lead me to my real question: Am I a boring person? I know that I certainly wasn’t boring when I was younger. And I also know that growing older does not necessitate a move into boring land. So what gives?

Chicago Fog at Night by Emily Barney FCC
Chicago Fog at Night
by Emily Barney (FCC)

Have I lost that ineffable spark, that je ne sais quoi that made me the kind of person around whom people gathered. I’m not talking about popularity, the kind that makes everyone want to be your friend, as I was never that person. But I remember those days during which I always had a circle of friends, and we were doing—talking, arguing, laughing, pontificating, whatever. And we seemed to end up in my car or in my office or at my table.

I’m not sure if I am describing this accurately, so let me back up here. I was never ever mainstream, never ever the girl who attracted all the boys because I was pretty and sweet, never ever the Homecoming Queen. Instead, I was interesting, which is such a nothing vapid word, really. Mysterious, maybe? One of my former teachers wrote something about me being the woman of mystery. I liked that. It fit.

So where has that woman gone?

“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.” ~ Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes”

Has that woman become so sedentary, so sedate, so tedious? Am I now just humdrum?

It pains me even to consider this, but I think that I must. And if the answer is yes, what do I do? Do I do anything? Do I simply keep this to myself and hope that no one else notices? Surely other people have noticed, say, my family, my spouse? Am I the last to know?

Manhattan Bridge in Fog by merlune FCC
Manhattan Bridge in Fog
by merlune (FCC)

Is this just a phase?

Or, and she pauses here for dramatic effect, is it life that’s boring and not me? Are we both boring? Am I bored with life? Is life bored with me?

I have to tell you that until a couple of days ago, I really didn’t think of myself as boring, nor did I believe that I lead a boring life, but now, I have to admit that perhaps both are true: I am boring, and my life is boring. Of course, I must also admit that this is how a racing mind works, tricking itself into believing things that may or may not be true.

Let’s back up, once again. I know that there are many things that I want to do; many, many things that I want to see; many, many, many places that I want to experience. The bucket list, remember? I also know that on any given day, I have many, many things to say, to share, to impart. So perhaps I now find myself in one of those valleys, one of those expected but unwelcome forays into—shudder—normalcy, and because it is normalcy, I am thoroughly at sea . . .

“There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.” ~ Kurt Cobain

I know that my children must find me boring. After all, what do I do, really? Do I go out and greet the day with a smile and open arms? Hardly. Do I saunter about, full of self-assurance and charisma? Once upon a time maybe. Do I sit around in black yoga pants and white cotton sweaters and pour my life out onto a screen for anyone to see?

Yep. That would be me. Is this boring? Admittedly, some days it really is, but more days than not, it isn’t.

Flight in Fog by Christmatos FCC
Flight in Fog
by Christmatos (FCC)

I think we get bored with life when we are hating life, and there were many times in the past when I hated life, hated my life, but this isn’t one of those time. I do not hate life. I do wish that some things were different, that, for instance, I were sitting in my office pretending to work but instead writing this blog, that I had on real clothes, that I had people in the offices next to me, some of whom I liked and others of whom I detested. You know, real life.

If I could change just one thing, just one, it would be that I still had a career. But wait. If I were smart (and we know that there are many times in which I am not), should I not embrace the freedom of not having a career and all that is entailed by the supposed free time? Of course I should. But one thing they don’t tell you is that freedom is so much more interesting when you have money.

“We must never, ever be boring.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters

By money, I don’t mean rich. I just mean enough money to go places, see things. Enough money to sit in a coffee shop and read a book.

So I suppose what this lull boils down to is the essence of my life at present: Our income has been cut quite a bit, we are in the post-holiday monetary slump, Corey is between hitches, our utilities are in jeopardy. Oh, and add one other thing: I’ve been stretching out my anti-depressant to make it last until payday. That little detail there.

Bodiam Castle in the Fog by Dean Thorpe FCC
Bodiam Castle (UK) in the Fog
by Dean Thorpe (FCC)
*replaced to include watermark on original

But all of that aside, one thing I have never ever wanted to be is boring. I have never wanted to bore those around me, but I think that I am, and this concerns me. How do I fix this? I’m going to have to ponder this whole thing a bit more, preferably once the headache is gone, and I’m not squinting, and my serotonin levels are back to what they need to be.

Perhaps I should just trash this entire post, but because I like to keep just about everything, I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to put it out there so that I can share my boringness with the world.

I think that I need some dragons to slay. Heh.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ane Brun, “The Light From One”

                   

Walking North

No matter how I turn
the magnificent light follows.
Background to my sadness.

No matter how I lift my heart
my shadow creeps in wait behind.
Background to my joy.

No matter how fast I run
a stillness without thought is where I end.

No matter how long I sit
there is a river of motion I must rejoin.

And when I can’t hold my head up
it always falls in the lap of one
who has just opened.

When I finally free myself of burden
there is always someone’s heavy head
landing in my arms.

The reasons of the heart
are leaves in wind.
Stand up tall and everything
will nest in you.

We all lose and we all gain.
Dark crowds the light.
Light fills the pain.

It is a conversation with no end
a dance with no steps
a song with no words
a reason too big for any mind.

No matter how I turn
the magnificence follows.

~ Mark Nepo

“They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.” ~ Donald Miller

“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Close-up Detail of van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

                   

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday early evening. Sunny, high 80’s.

Blue Waiting by nalo.soul (FCC)

Absolutely beautiful today. Not too hot. The perfect day to float around the pool for a few hours. Yesterday I gave Alfie and Shakes baths while we were outside, and today I did Tillie. After my relaxing time in the pool, I came into the house and did a bit of cleaning, the floors, the bathroom, some glass. I was a sweaty, smelly mess when I finished. Time to bathe myself.

Last night Corey had his last session of his introductory class. He’s so glad that it’s over. Frankly, I feel that the class is a complete waste of time for people who have been out of high school for a while. It’s the kind of class that would actually be good as a seminar for graduating seniors who are college bound to help them determine what fields they might want to pursue in college. Other than that, I think that it’s just plain silly.

My mom dropped by with some fresh cherries this afternoon. I adore fresh cherries. I can eat an entire bag by myself. I have determined that I must have fresh fruit in my diet, and if not that, then at least yogurt. It’s that sense of something fresh to clean the palette. So far my attempts to eat healthier are working: I’m drinking a lot more water and a lot less Pepsi. I’m trying to stay away from bread and chips. Just cannot give up the gummi bears, but I limit my daily consumption.

Frankly, in the summer I could live on fresh vegetables from the garden and Edy’s fruit bars. Our eggplant and bell pepper plants have died, victims of the extreme heat. Corey has a huge crop of sunflowers, but they are all droopy, not standing straight like last year’s crop. This year he planted seeds from last year’s crop, so the stems weren’t as thick. Perhaps next year they will be stronger and more upright.

“Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame.” ~ Cornelia Funke

Captain on the Bridge by Jens Lumm (FCC)

I’m so glad the last heat wave finally broke. My head feels a bit better, and obviously (as witnessed by the cleaning), I have more energy.

WordPress has launched several new themes, and I was actually considering changing my theme, but none of the new ones quite felt right. So I settled for changing my header picture to something more in keeping with summer. I rather like the image that I found. Let me know if you notice and what you think about my selection.

I had very strange dreams last night. One was a bit on the sci-fi side as it involved being able to breathe and live beneath the water. Kind of cool, actually. I probably had that particular dream because Corey and I watched “Torchwood” before going to sleep last night. “Torchwood,” which is an offshoot of “Dr. Who,” was a series on BBC. Then I heard that they were going to do a new version. Well, Russell Davies (from “Dr. Who”) is involved in the reboot, but it’s on Starz and only has two of the original cast.

I’m not entirely certain that I like the new version. The old show was very much in the same vein as “Dr. Who,” with aliens, and strange occurrences. The cast had chemistry, and there were references to the doctor. The new show deals with one main event, and I keep thinking in the back of my mind that the doctor should be involved in this threat to earth.

I suppose as with most things, in this, too, I’m a purist. I’ll keep watching, mostly because I love John Barrowman as Capt. Jack Harkness, and I’m also quite fond of Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper. But I miss Owen and Ianto. Oh well . . . can’t have everything.

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Blue Flood by ecstaticist (FCC)

The Fitzgerald quote above is one of my all-time favorites. Just beautiful writing. Truly incomparable.

So speaking of my mom, I’ve planted the idea in Eamonn’s head that he  might want to consider moving in with his Oma. Of all the grandkids, Eamonn would probably get along with her the best, and I know that I would certainly feel better if someone were living there full time. There’s plenty of room, and Eamonn is only home at night. I think that it could work.

We’ll see what happens with that.

It’s not that I don’t want him here, because I love seeing him all of the time, but it’s more that he would have plenty of room over there, and someone would be around at night if something happens to Mom, like another emergency. Of course, it’s a decision that they would both have to favor, so who knows what will happen.

I only know that if Eamonn is going to stay here, we have to do something about the garbage bags full of clothes, and he has to stay home long enough to move furniture.

Other than that, not a lot happening on the home front. We’re waiting for some expected funds so that we can get the work on the truck finished, and the Rodeo needs a few (more) things. I’d like to be able to send for my Uncle Ely’s Explorer in the fall as Brett will be driving the Rodeo. Of course, he needs to take his driving test, which doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of his list of things to do.

I remember that as soon as Eamonn was of age to get his driver’s permit, he wanted to take the test, and then he psyched himself out so badly that he failed the test a couple of times and had to retake it. My children are all so different. Of course, once Brett has his license, we’ll have to add him to the car insurance, which is not going to be cheap—that’s for certain.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness” ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Great Blue Heron at Sunset on Captiva Island, FL, by Jujuba (Pixdaus)

I had a lovely telephone conversation with someone the other day in which the person with whom I was speaking told me that she found my last post quite inspiring. Apparently, she had been having a really hard time at work lately, and she was feeling down. She said that my post gave her the mental boost to keep going, that it reminded her that life’s annoyances are only temporary.

I thought that that was such a lovely thing to say. I had been a bit concerned of late that my stats aren’t surpassing 1,000 hits a day like they used to, but comments like that and many others that I receive from regular readers help me to keep things in perspective.

I may not have millions of hits, but I have a lovely little support group that reads me regularly and comments when possible. If I can cheer someone with my tongue-in-cheek irreverence, or if I can inspire someone with my collection of quotes and images, then that’s what makes this blog relevant, not the numbers.

Coming from my last position in which the numbers were the end all and be all of how well I was doing my job, it is far too easy to get caught up in the statistics and to forget that the numbers are actually people. And it’s the people for whom I write, the people who I consider when choosing subjects, the people I think about when trying to decide on the post’s theme, or the selection of content.

And if I haven’t said it lately: You guys are the best. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Let me close with the following:

From my favorite Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis:

Vincent: Hold my hand, Doctor. Try to see what I see. We’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world. Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is in fact deep blue. And over there! Lighter blue. [the starscape slowly transforms into The Starry Night] And blowing through the blueness and the blackness, the winds swirling through the air. And there shining, burning, bursting through, the stars! Can you see how they roll their light? Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.

Doctor: I’ve seen many things, my friend, but you’re right: nothing quite as wonderful as the things you see.

More later. Peace.

Looking for a song by Blue October to go with my blue theme and found this beautiful one: “Congratulations”

                   

Devotions of a Painter

Cool sinuosities, waved banners of light,
Unfurl, remesh, and round upon themselves
In a continuing turmoil of benign
Cross-purposes, effortlessly as fish,
On the dark underside of the foot-bridge,
Cast upward against pewter-weathered planks.
Weeds flatten with the current. Dragonflies
Poise like blue needles, steady in mid-air,
For some decisive, swift inoculation.
The world repeats itself in ragged swatches
Among the lily-pads, but understated,
When observed from this selected vantage point,
A human height above the water-level,
As the shore shelves heavily over its reflection,
Its timid, leaf-strewn comment on itself.
It’s midday in midsummer. Pitiless heat.
Not so much air in motion as to flutter
The frail, bright onion tissue of a poppy.
I am an elderly man in a straw hat
Who has set himself the task of praising God
For all this welter by setting out my paints
And getting as much truth as can be managed
Onto a small flat canvas. Constable
Claimed he had never seen anything ugly,
And would have known each crushed jewel in the pigments
Of these oily golds and greens, enamelled browns
That recall the glittering eyes and backs of frogs.
The sun dispenses its immense loose change,
Squandered on blossoms, ripples, mud, wet stones.
I am enamored of the pale chalk dust
Of the moth’s wing, and the dark moldering gold
Of rust, the corrupted treasures of this world.
Against the Gospel let my brush declare:
“These are the anaglyphs and gleams of love.”

~ Anthony Hecht, from The Transparent Man

“Blue as the evening sky, blue as cranesbill flowers, blue as the lips of drowned men and the heart of a blaze burning with too hot a flame.” ~ Cornelia Funke

“Iris,” by George Lawrence Bulleid (date unknown, watercolor)

    

“Blue oblivion, largely lit, smiled and smiled at me.” ~ William R. Benet
Blue Flowers by bencrowe (Flckr Creative Commons)

What a strange, strange day. I slept about an hour during the night, then another hour around 8 this morning. The migraine began around 4 a.m., creeping behind my eyes then gradually exploding in my head.

I tried to go back to sleep but became distracted in trying to find a replacement cpu cooling fan for my computer. Had a fruitless conversation with an HP representative who told me that he couldn’t tell me how much the part would be unless I bought a new service contract or a new computer . . . Right . . .

Slept again from about 2 to 4 this afternoon. Ah, the rich pageantry of that is my life. The sweet, sweet irony of being me: I need to see my pain doctor to get something to sleep, but I cannot see my pain doctor until I can pay out-of-pocket for a visit since my insurance situation is more convoluted than ever, but we don’t have the money for an out-of-pocket visit, so I will continue to be at the mercy of my insomnia, which exacerbates my migraines, which means that I need to see my pain doctor.

On the other hand, Corey is scheduled for 74 hours this work week. He will be lucky to work half of that. Such is the reality of depending upon boat schedules.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” ~ Jack Kerouac

 So here are some random musings:

  • “We the people” seems to be pretty straightforward. It doesn’t say “we, the white people.” It doesn’t say “we, the rich people.” It doesn’t say “we. the religious people,” and it sure as hell does not say “we, the straight people.
  • Blue Flower by Rev Stan (Flckr Creative Commons)
  • The Dems really need to grow a spine, and it needs to be soon. Being the party of passivity is just as bad as being the party of no.
  • Majority rule does not necessarily equate to the best rule. Often, the majority comes from a place of racism (separate but equal), sexism (women do not need to vote), and fear (all Muslims are terrorists).
  • Tradition does not truth make. For example, a traditional marriage in this country used to be between opposite sexes of the same race. Anything else was seen as straying from the norm. Caucasians married Caucasians, and persons of color married persons of color, and never the twain shall meet. If this tradition had remained unchanged, I never would have been born.
“They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.” ~ Donald Miller

A few tidbits from the outrageous:

  • A woman in Cleveland, Ohio discovered that her husband married another woman by viewing a FaceBook page that featured over 200 photographs from his other wedding. The husband, John France, claims that his marriage to Lynn France was “never valid” so he was not cheating. Whether or not Lynn France already knew about the marriage before the FaceBook discovery as John France claims is moot: He filed married with the IRS . . . My guess is that Lynn France does not want to play Farmville with her husband’s wife.
  • Blue & White Monsoon Season in Arizona, by kevindooley (Flckr Creative Commons)
  • A man in Atlanta,  Georgia called a Wendy’s to complain, not about the food but about the small take in the cash drawer. Seems he wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of his robbery.
  • A woman in Gaithersburg, Maryland was sprayed with human semen. Police have since learned that more people were attacked.  Things that make you cringe and say eww . . .
  • Shanon Marketik, 38, is a former Miss USA who, it seems, has fallen on hard times. So hard that she had to steal over $90 in Oil of Olay beauty products from a Texas Target. I think that it’s all of that aerosol hairspray that pageant queens use: It eats their brains.
  • In Snohomish, Washington, a teen found a wallet beneath the cushions of a couch when he was searching for his cell phone. The wallet, which contained $650, belonged to a woman who had lost the wallet during a 2005 party. The woman was found via FaceBook, so maybe that cancels out the bigamist.
“The touch of an infinite mystery passes over the trivial and the familiar, making it break out into ineffable music . . . The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
 
Monet’s Pool by Ron Jones

    

Some parting words:  

  • I wish that I could peer into the future to see when (if) things will begin to get better. It seems that not only are our lives in perpetual chaos, but so are the lives of so many other people, and so is this country. It’s hard not to be disheartened.
  • Summer storms remind me of my father.
  • I spent yesterday searching online for temporary guardianship forms for Alexis. Her friend Jennifer is not getting better. Actually, she is getting worse. The prognosis is not good, and everyone feels absolutely helpless. None of the five tumors in her head and on her spine are operable. It’s such a sad, sad situation. Please keep good thoughts.
  • How does a young woman reconcile herself to the idea that she may not see her 30th birthday, that she may not see her son reach his teens, that she may never leave the hospital?
  • Situations like Jennifer’s remind me to cherish my children (who are no longer children). Life is so fleeting and unpredictable, much like the nature of water itself, which can appear blue and calm in one moment and then can turn into a churning black in the next. Nothing is certain. The only thing that is forseeable is the unpredictability of fate.

It is now three hours later than when I first began. Outside it is pouring. The words did not come easily today.

More later. Peace.

Eric Clapton Unplugged, “Tears in Heaven”: Beautifully heartbreaking

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.” ~ Norman MacLean

  

           

“Many a time have I merely closed my eyes at the end of yet another troublesome day and soaked my bruised psyche in wild water, rivers remembered and rivers imagined. Rivers course through my dreams, rivers cold and fast, rivers well-known and rivers nameless, rivers that seem like ribbons of blue water twisting through wide valleys, narrow rivers folded in layers of darkening shadows, rivers that have eroded down deep into the mountain’s belly, sculpted the land, peeled back the planet’s history exposing the texture of time itself.” ~ Harry Middleton
Currituck Sound, NC

Sounds of soft rain outside the window, punctuated occasionally by quiet birdsong. Much cooler temperatures. The perfect day to read a book . . . or perhaps not. 

I have been thinking about water—rivers, lakes, oceans. I was reading Janson’s blog today, and he was talking about his affinity for the Atlantic Ocean, how it is so much a part of him. I can relate to that. The Atlantic is my ocean. I have lived on both sides of it. I have seen its brown-green hues to the north and its amazing blues to the south. I have swum in it, floated in it, dived beneath its waves, and traversed it in different crafts. 

I have sat on the shoreline and let the waves roll over my feet, tickled by the froth of receding water. I have watched fiddler crabs scurry away from the waves, and open-beaked pelicans dip below its surface to catch food. 

No matter where I go, I always feel that I am home when I exit the Hampton Tunnel and see the Chesapeake Bay spreading out before me. No other air smells like sea air; no other air feels like the salt-infused spray of sea air. 

“Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills, fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers’ reflections of our lives and experiences are endless.” ~ Tim Palmer
Dark Hollow Falls, Skyline Drive, Virginia

It is no coincidence that when I choose to go somewhere for vacation, it is almost always to a destination that is near water. Even in the foothills of Virginia, I can get the two things I love to see the most: water and mountains. Peaks of Otter in Bedford, Virginia overlooks Abbott Lake. This mountain retreat is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Guests can sit on their porches at sunset and look out on the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

When we go to Skyline Drive, I love most those paths that lead to water, like Dark Hollow Falls, a small natural waterfall. Chincoteague is an island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where Corey and I have spent a few long weekends. A short drive to the south is the Outer Banks, a favorite day-trip to see the dunes of Kitty Hawk where hang gliders try their skills. 

I know that I get my love of the water from my father, whose hometown in the Philippines bordered on a powerful river. My mother is terrified of the water and cannot abide boats. Yet one more way in which they were opposites. 

My father taught me to swim in the Chesapeake Bay. My mother would always worry that I would fall into a sinkhole and drown, which actually does happen. 

But it’s more than just bodies of water. I love rainstorms, thunderstorms. One of my favorite memories of my father was sitting on my parents’ back porch with my dad, both of us silent, just watching the lightning and listening to the rain and thunder.  There is something mystical and magical about water. It holds the power to create and the power to destroy. It nurtures, and it kills. 

“But I also know that in places, the river still runs deep, and though I’ve floated it in these places, it hasn’t revealed itself in such obvious ways. I know that it might be months—years, even—before I understand what it has to teach me. I still need to give myself over to the flow and pattern and rhythm of it to learn its lessons and hear its messages. The river is inside me now, I know, and I need only wait and see where the current takes me, and what lies beneath it.” ~ Jeff Wallach
Mountain Swimming Hole Similar to St. Mary's

I know that I’ve mentioned diving naked into a deep pool of mountain water while hiking on St. Mary’s trail near Steele’s Tavern, Virginia. It was probably one of the most sensuous moments of my life—sensuous, not sensual. All of my senses were heightened: the feel of the cool, clear water on my skin, the way that mountain water has a smell like no other water. It was like being bathed in the water of life. I mean, who knows how old that body of water actually is, when it was formed. 

Water is timeless, which is what is meant by the saying that you can never step into the exact same body of water in the same way because the water has moved, shifted, traveled, and so have you. Neither is the same as at the first meeting. Still, water never seems to forget those who are at home in it. Slipping into a pool of water is completely natural to me; for me, there is nothing to fear. 

The human body is between 55 to 78 percent water. Almost 71 percent of the earth is covered by water. The human brain is 70 percent water, and the lungs are almost 90 percent water. 

Water of life. Water is life. The two are inextricably intertwined. 

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath . . .We get one story, you and I, and one story alone.” ~ Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
Cascades, Virginia

Water has been the source of inspiration for writers, painters, and poets since time began. Claude Monet devoted years of his life to the water and water lilies surrounding his home in Giverny. His water lilies paintings ranged from small to room-sized. The hues and shading in this series are so deep and luminous that it is not hard to imagine seeing what Monet saw. 

Water is infused into every part of our lives: songs (“Cry Me a River”), books (Peace Like a River), poems (“At Blackwater Pond”), movies (Titanic). One of the books that I used to teach in my literature classes was Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. It’s a lovely little book about one woman, Edna Pontellier, and her gradual awakening to life and its possibilities. Throughout the book, Edna undergoes a series of encounters with water that leave her both enervated and rejuvenated. Water and Edna’s relationship to it is the primary liet motif of the novel. 

In one of my favorite movies and books, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the two main characters are destroyed by their all-consuming love. Katherine dies in the desert, but in the last lines that she writes, Katherine speaks of life and death in terms of the senses: “We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.” 

That description has stayed with me for years. The people who have come into and left our lives throughout the years are like rivers of wisdom, each of them teaching us something, not necessarily something we wanted to learn or to face, but some piece of knowledge nevertheless. We swim through the waters of our own experiences, each day, each month, each year, moving with the flow of time, not smoothly but like water over rocks. A force that cannot be stopped.  

“I am one of the searchers . . . We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know—unless it be to share our laughter.” ~ James Kavanaugh 
 
 

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay 

In my life, I have walked beside many waters, tasted the brine and the sweetness. I have sailed atop the water in small 16-foot sailboats and aboard huge ships. I have dived in fearlessly, and I have stood back, content to watch the ebb and flow of the water in its endless movement.  I have decided that when I die, I want to be cremated and to have half of my ashes spread on the Atlantic Ocean, and the other half spread on the foothills of Virginia, the places I have loved the most. 

I do not desire to be planted in the earth, to take up space in some container. I wish to return to the soul of the earth, to the very hollow of existence, to become part of the ever-changing beauty, the evolving mysteries, the eternal rhythm that is the essence of nature, this life, this world. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Great Lake Swimmers, “Mariner’s Song” 

                                                                                                          
At Blackwater Pond
  
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
 
~ Mary Oliver