In my backyard, I take a few moments to myself after sun sets on Christmas.
I am drawn to the silhouetting branches of a tree and the stars surrounding it and eventually retrieve my camera to play with all the ways I can arrange the composition. I realize again what could be one of the reasons why I am drawn to photography: control.
I, in fact, am moving the stars. Positioning them. I manipulate the light. Later, I can manipulate in even more ways with editing apps.
I have danced with control so many times over the years, I had begun to think I was actually the lead. Control for me, though, never has had anything to do with power, simply the illusion of stabilizing, balancing, the perpetual chaos. Little bits of time. Of moments. Of situations. For survival.
As much as I’ve danced with control, I’ve had affairs with denial. Love-hate relationships. I think denial at times was truly a friend, keeping me afloat. At times, I think a betrayer; I could have stood up in the water that was actually shallow. I could have walked out of the water instead of treading. I could have maybe avoided the future near-drownings.
I am drawn most to putting the star here, cradled between the branches reaching for it.
My Labraheeler has joined me, and I give in to kicking his ball for a bit, then decide to do a few laps around the half acre. He is used to this and follows beside me, jollily carrying his partially deflated mini basketball. We run, silently in companionship.
The weather is simply beautiful, the kind that the soul takes in as the breezy, summer-like night air is inhaled. I trust I know the yard enough to not trip in the growing darkness and trust my pup enough to not cross my path underfoot; I look up to the sky as my blood extra pumps, and all of me feels refreshed, renewed, freed.
This is peace.
The day was merry, and Christmas Eve too. I can’t recall another Christmas in which it truly was. Last year, I wore the smile, made it through, and then was nearly drowned in my after-tears.
I believe in miracles. And in magic. And in love.
I’ve always held fast to faith over the years, but in that hopeful someday kind of way, struggling to not drink in the devil-potions that would make me question and challenge the unfairness of the situations plaguing me. Only a few years ago did I fully recognize miracles, the direct hand of God at work, the Spirit inside me. I had a merry Christmas. We all did. That was a miracle. I’ve always wanted that. I did not think it possible.
I made Christmas magical and happy for my children when they were younger (with the help of my community most years), but I did so under the immense weight of all that being married to an addict-alcoholic adds. Add the strain of being the peacemaker, the glue, and often the leader of my whole family tree. Heavy. Stressful. Masked. Martyr. Superhero. Weighed. Bending. Cracking. Moth-eaten cape. Suffocating. Hiding. Pretending. Pleasing. Holding in. Suppressing. Swallowing. Denying. Lying. Stretched. Thinner. Thinner. Breaking.
A poetic letter to me sent upon a wave and star to reach through time, back to where you are…
This “he” of your fantasies receives your Little Red Balloon and your whispers to be delivered by Moon.
He will continuously clean your mirrors until you see as he does, all of your beauty clearly.
You will weave wedding wildflowers in your hair and feel the wind whip freeingly through the despair.
You will radiate in dresses and feel feminine, barefoot and free upon grass and sand.
Your wavy locks will be teased by the breeze. Your hand outstretched for a companion will receive.
Your heart reopened will be filled to overflowing, exceeding your dreams with God-blessed reality.
Your voice in song will again reach the heavens, your loquaciousness endlessly received with eager anticipation.
That voice in your head and grip around your growth will fall away as he convinces you to love yourself.
Your faith will grow as anticipated; God will see you through as He always has. He knows always what is ahead. He will deliver love if you cut the thread…
You will not give your whole life to this verbally-abusive “man.” Soon you will be filled with enough courage to act. You will come to realize those decades of hurtful words were lies all along; you will come to know your worth.
Who you once long ago hoped instead you were will appear as unwavering truths in every mirror.
Determined to counter the moody clouds others have been attempting to cast onto me, I choose to seek out the sun, spring-infuse myself, dip my soul into the fresh-blooming green,
breathe in the revitalizing April air, let the warming rays seep in through my pores, absorbed more in the whole of the reborn panorama than focused on the details imploring to be explored,
labrador-blue heeler happy for any outdoor adventure, not a hike but a mutually restorative leisurely linger, ahhh…a new season…
Circling back to the start, back to the car, I am not allowed to leave, it seems, until Mother Nature imparts a lesson, whispers words of wisdom through some not-new, refusing-to-be-forgotten leaves from two seasons ago, still here, and starkly so, weathered, fossilized autumn,
a reminder of the past not so easily dismissed; buried or not, it insists on revisits, coming to you if you neglect it, but what we make of what is, that is the endless work or blessing depending on the nature of what was– bright, shiny yellow of yesterday against the conglomerate of rocks, man-manipulated into asphalt, a yellow sickness or stubborn fading sun, either way the marring, tattered edges and holes, do not seem to take the whole, still here despite the winter with a fortitude to witness, to reunite with the green it was itself once.
I see a reminder that we can turn our back on the past and run to spring, but all seasons remain, never really leave, inside us always are the memories, tears of joy and loss, the scars of life; we can embrace it all, co-exist in peace with all that is inside.
I choose to find the positive, even in the stumbling upon the past in my determined celebration of the present moments, all presents indeed, and then I find a smile in the concrete when I see yet another unexpected chapter of a love story, so pure and yet to be complete…
I wonder what those resigned to defeat see. Perception can sting regardless, some things we simply must feel but perspective… that is the key in our control and possession, a powerful tool we can self-weld and self-wield, manipulate, to preserve our internal peace.
Barefoot atop the deep waters, white dress and wild tresses flowing, sunken-ship cemetery of the past beneath, I twirl in this present moment.
The sea is mine as my dance floor, and I skim across to my pick of shores; I explore, I vacation, not searching, just jubilation of losing worries and fears, exaltation of the lightness of the lifting of those stormy years, each moment an eternity to get to the next, each stepping stone sinking with each vine grasped, no beanstalk discovered to bring me to the clouds, only faith each day for decades of a better tomorrow.
That tomorrow is today,
hence the head-raised dance in the sun and in the rain, embracing with wide-opened arms the achievement of having started upon this horizon I only viewed from the beach.
The stepping stones still sink. I just realized the only missing factor was to fully
They were never needed. Self-love was the only key.
I was always worth it. Eventually, I fought for me and this dream.
Dense fog advisory. Dark, early Saturday morning. Mild temperatures. A perfect time to… head to the beach! I make my coffee to go.
I love fog and mist, as I do rain and thunderstorms…something about the mood of this kind of weather invigorates my soul. It is another clue in the discovery of my own inner roots, another clue in the direction to go, to finally arrive at home, that place my soul has always tugged me toward. I have come to co-exist with this spiritual restlessness.
As I make the short drive to the bridge, I am fascinated by the “disappearance” of the familiar land and ocean across the bay, parallel to the road. If I didn’t know it existed, it would seem that this was where the flat earth simply ended, the beyond, inaccessible yet really only veiled by the fog, like El Dorado or Atlantis. But I do know it exists, and I take the bridge into the clouds…
I am obsessed with clouds, so I suppose it is no wonder that the ones reaching down to embrace me call to me. It is a strange sort of adrenaline to me to be on a bridge in a cloud; even though I know by heart what surrounds, it is simply “not there” now, and it is “just me” (why I love early mornings) in this bizarre reality.
I was hoping to experience the phenomenon I’ve only driven by before: when the fog hovers above the bay. That is not the case today, so I am a bit disappointed and walk to the ocean side. My soul is thrilled, though, to immediately see the lone fisherman: it is another clue about my timeless soul, the comforting spiritual connection I feel observing (or reading poems about) fishermen and remote fishing villages. I ponder again if I may be part mermaid after all.
A few steps in, I lose vision, my eyesight becoming foggy itself from the sea mist upon my glasses. I will have to look for treasures and take photos partially blind, but always finding the adventure and the positives, I embrace the challenge. It seems more fitting anyway, to have even blurrier vision in the fog; it doesn’t make much of a difference really. For a bit, though, coffee thermos in hand, I sit in the silky white sand and just exist, me and the lone fisherman, phantoms in the mist… I love the coast on days like this, too early or in unfavorable conditions when I can have the world to myself. The fisherman was here first though, an indigenous ghost representing generations of past fishermen lining the coast and not-lost at sea. When the local residents begin their descent on the paved horizon, I will take my leave and return to my bird sanctuary, the lot that contains my abode, never quite a home, though it’s still my favorite place to retreat to.
I find it senseless to come to the sea if you do not at least dip your feet into the magical waters; I am surprised that the water temperature delivers no jolt of briskness. I let the waves wash over my polish-chipped, never-manicured toes, my capris get soaked…oops, but oh well. I walk for a while in the surf, feeling the gentle ebb and flow, benevolent nudges to and fro, the pull teasing, seemingly luring back into the benevolent parts of the deep; I look at my feet, but no tail is morphing.
Back upon the smooth sand-slate, I stoop low to inspect sea-strewn debris and treasures, and I think the difference is truly in the clichéd eye-of-the-beholder; I always favor the forgotten and discarded. I listen with genuine interest to the stories dripping with lessons of the “broken” shells, let them also feel a touch, too often only stepped around and upon, at best inspected and tossed back, seashell hunters looking for “the perfect” ones, visibly whole, sometimes even shunning all and purchasing faux.
I do hold one of those “perfect” formations, though its plainness probably makes it unseen. What I notice most is our prints, and I compare and ponder the non-insignificance, silent lifelines that brand us, as non-related species of different trees, yet neither with roots. We are both free. Both molded with love from the same Creator. Our prints, non-replicable, keep us entirely unique yet give us away, register as “identity,” though no print-reader can ever know me, as none can know the secrets of the story-keepers of the sea.
I get lost for a while in a different time and place, lost in the intriguing details and textures in the muted colors in the calcified, granulated, and liquified elements about me. The wall of a ripple, individual drops, each frothy bubble that comprise the vast ocean collide and linger on a partial sand dollar, and I think to myself how priceless are the macromoments…
Next, I happen upon the jackpot. Or graveyard. Or castaway club. Or secret congregation. Or paradigm peaceful, diversity-infused community. No fog when viewed up close, no excuse of unjust obstruction of revelation, even preconceived notions rinsed with salt-water solution. It all comes down to perception. Yet what we see…how much of our past experiences still renders us blind, keeps our perspective shrouded?
The large beach tangleballs tossed about I can easily “see” without my glasses on, but it is not until I inspect them up close that I realize what is entangled. I see my past. Debris, skeletons, corpses, clutter that the waves of time have purposely weaved and wrapped up and expelled from the waters in its natural self-cleaning process. In my palm, I can hold it all, after the fact. It seemed so large and heavy at the time I experienced each symbol artifact. Droplets of seawater evidence this present expulsion, not even dry yet. Have I added just now to it with this cleansing morning coastal visit?
I take my time on this walk through nirvana, sand grains sparkling like crushed diamonds, priceless like the partial sand dollar, the dusted-jeweled surface soft as sugar with the clouds kissing the surface of earth. I think I see forever, though nothing is clear. I am thankful that what’s behind me has also disappeared. In this muted moment, I feel the celestial peace.
Perhaps limbo is not what we think, for I wish to be suspended for some time in this world of in-between. In between my past and future, in between reality and dreams, in between the highs and lows, snuggled in between these muted sheets where time itself lullaby-sings through the sound waves of the sea. I half expect to see holy spirits from the past and future; I would not be scared for such an encounter. There is no fear here, no extreme emotions, just the sweet, soothing serenity, the peace I knew existed. I wonder if we can take it back with us, have it emanate from our pores, after walking in the clouds so close to heaven’s door, no bright light in sight upon these non-printed, angel-visited shores.