“In that winter of your exile…”
To live in exile is to take oneself, or be taken out of ones own country and/or ones body voluntarily or involuntarily– I am involuntarily split way from my body and what I know and feel whenever I interact with the dominant culture. I begin to doubt my perceptions; my way of thinking and being in the world on the earth is so foreign to what most people experience.
I am split way from myself, by myself, no doubt due to family history/cultural conditioning/ whatever – but who cares why at this point – and the collective as a whole. This split is becoming worse. I don’t feel as if any of my words or actions matter even though I continue speaking and writing. There aren’t enough of us, I think as I tumble into Breakdown. I keep writing for publication and on my blog to keep myself visible to myself. Writing helps me survive when I am paralyzed with grief over the state of the earth. I do not weep.
During the day I can interrupt this relentless splitting like I did this morning by watching the beady-eyed chickadees flying to and from the feeder, each taking only one seed, while reflecting upon the fact that Chickadees model restraint with respect to taking only what they need. Being present to nature’s doings returns me to wholeness although it pains me to know that in order to survive Climate Change these iconic little birds will be forced to move towards Canada – a frightening thought – at the rate that the human machine continues to destroy northern forests these diminutive black capped balls of feathers will not find home in the north. Chickadees and conifers co-evolved; each needs the other.
If I still prayed I would be praying for rain. It is not just my dug well that is almost empty of life giving water… my inner well is also running dry. This parched Earth and I both need moisture to soften our edges. Lily b, my telepathic bird agrees, commenting with his coos.
Every morning as long as the sun shines in the window, my passionflower plant vibrates her tendrils and then spirals around a string trellis that I strung up. I watch, breathing in and out, to still my impatience. Amazing sight to capture! I take pictures, even as this natural miracle catapults me into “reality” again – Nature – the real world – not the socially constructed monster that we have created (I am beyond exhaustion with respect to my own collusion – perpetuating a system I cannot escape). Plants are almost our oldest teachers having been around for four billion years. “Slow down” is one of their mottos.
Yesterday I bridged the split by raking up dry leaves to put into my newly constructed compost heap. I felt enormous satisfaction knowing that I am generating new life in the process. This morning a few drops of drizzle sent me racing up the hill to the compost to open it for the Cloud People.
Walking through the drought driven forest with its shriveled, insect ridden leaves I entered an oak tree ‘field’, apparently by accident? At present all oak trees seem to be trying to capture my attention – mulled wine, dried crimson, bittersweet orange, fox brown and sun yellow leaves stubbornly stick to wind blown nut bearing canopies, and even the little seedlings still hold onto to a leaf or two. The acorn I planted last spring and nurtured throughout the summer supports one tiny red leaf pointed skyward like a sword. Without rain most trees dropped their leaves early but the oaks hung on. I keep thinking there must be a message for me here. Something about strength and endurance.
With emphysema every breath I take is a gift that has developed new dimensions. Prior to this diagnosis, oxygenated tree laden air, especially after rain, was already a scent I could never get enough of – it carries a quality of sweetness that is indescribable.
I spent four winters in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and there my hunger – my need for both trees and their scent eventually became a driving factor in my return to Maine…Today the perfume of pine, spruce, or balsam bridges the split every time I step out the door, but one uninvited news flash or gun blast, a trip to a store when people are mask-less splits me in half once again.
Written the first day it rained…
When the rains come
boulders fall away.
I soar and dip,
spiral into free fall,
flow with the current.
Sweet scented water
sweeps over me,
transporting a bone weary body
to a quieter shore
but not for long…
An autumn star
rises at dawn.
Swaying trees sing of
‘the season of light.’
Soul beckons kindly.
Thunder strikes –
Machine guns and bombs
shatter cells in my body
annihilating Nature’s resonance.
Split against my will,
I slam back into stone.