If sadness is near
Then look out at the beauty
And breathe it all in
As she sat quietly on the bench, she recalled so many times of reflection. Times of stopping, of sitting still to breathe and think of her life. It wasn’t always easy to create these moments, to stop the moving train that was her life, long enough, to simply see what was around her.
These benches were everywhere. Even if people were around, they could cradle her; let her thoughts roll through her mind, easing the turbulence with the help of the surrounding landscape. They were guardians, givers and saviors.
Sometimes she would be present, sometimes drift off to another place. Somehow they were conduits of time travel: as though a space had opened up and she slipped into it and could go forward or back, depending on her mood. Because of this, she walked in places long forgotten, places of lost love or deep pain. The remembering, though, somehow put it in an ethereal plane, so the visitation became moments of healing.
Some places to sit weren’t really benches at all, but still created for her the right second to watch a sunrise. Just the act of seeing one could erase months of chaos in her soul.
She remembers now these sacred vessels and can recall far into childhood how many she has visited. From cities to the middle of nowhere, the times she took to just stop and sit–to contemplate, meditate and be quiet.
And now she wonders: where are all the benches yet to come?
When I was a child, there was an ice-cream that I used to get from the truck that would come to the park near where I lived in NYC. It was the Good Humor truck, for those of you who might remember the familiar jingling of bells as it rolled slowly down the streets so the gathering children could get their 25 cents ready. This particular favorite of mine, was called an Eclair I think, because on the outside it had bits and pieces of nuts and maybe little pieces of chocolate; vanilla ice cream was the next layer which made up the largest part of the pop; but best and most special (and the best part) was the secret hunk of icy fudge-like chocolate inside. It wasn’t very big piece, but it was delicious (or so I recall) and had this particular texture that made it worth the wait.
I was never a kid to just bite into the thing just to get to the middle. I would savor the whole thing to make it last and then take my time with the special part. Funny, because I never had much patience in life–but with treasures, I did. Just like how I never tore into Christmas gifts, but would open them throughout the day…(my kids hated this about me).
Someone who has known me for a long time, when I explained where I am emotionally now and how I am conducting my day-to-day existence, said: that is not you at all! It gave me pause. What is me? Who am I really?
I’ve run most my 60 years in a frenetic and unfocused way; making decisions based on how my mood was or the wind was blowing. It felt like I was making rational choices at the time, but in retrospect, I see now it wasn’t the case at all. Rather I was a sailboat buffeted by the winds trying desperately to steer to the nearest coast. Each shore looked better than the last, but upon reaching them they felt uninhabitable.
Of course this meant those around me were riding those waves too and often were cast overboard. Many drowned, but some found their own lifeboats and floated on to better beaches…thank goodness.
It was nothing intentional. It just happened– it was the way I lived.But there was a part of me that knew it wasn’t working. Seeing the floundering of others hurt me, and my own inability to stand upright on this ever swelling craft was making me ill. At some point the ship must dock–in the deep recesses of my mind I knew this as truth.
So who is really me? I moved away from my comfort and have come to live in a place that is alien and barren to me, a desert devoid of water in which to sail. This was really unconscious on many levels, but I am starting to realize absolutely necessary to answer the question. Many spiritual treks to find ones true self include a time where one goes off on a quest: a solitary walk about or vision quest to discover what is real and what isn’t; what to keep and what to leave behind.
We go through life rather like that Good Humor ice cream pop: multi-layered with secret parts. Sometimes the secret parts are hidden to even to ourselves. There are bits and pieces we cover ourselves with that have rough edges or appeal, but it’s only the outside, a glamour…the part that faces the world at large. Dig deeper and maybe you will get to the soft part: it is white and can be colored by what we take in through the years we live. It protects the true gift: the sweet, central, secret core. This is the one we work for and may not know for years.
I’m stripping down the layers to find that me. I believe that is the real one, not the one that has faced the world so far. That was a mask I was unaware I wore. I believe my friend had it backward…what she knew was not me; what I am discovering now will be the real person I have had buried within. The visions of her were in my head longing to escape, but were trapped by my own shifting cage.
Someday she will be set free and sail for a place, heading into the sunrise. Docking at some distant land, she will know with full awareness and clarity, that all will be good.
Sometimes we focus on
And maybe we make it
Our life flips around
Fish out of water
Gasping for air
We make it crazy
But you can’t throw it back
Cause it’s already brain dead
Take it from here
What do you see?
A dog in the clouds?
It’s not how it started
But it can finish a new way
Drift with them
Changes fall from the sky
You’ve caught them
In your lap
It will seek you
Silently slipping closer
You thought it was one way
But it will lead you
Far far away