I put stock in other forms of consciousness beyond our rational intellect. The last few years have had me actively trying to tap into these, listen to my heart. It’s prompted some discontent, many joys, and much growth as I’ve stumbled forward. Recently discussing possible directions where I might apply myself in the near future, a wise friend suggested I meditate: “Not necessarily just sitting in a room” she encouraged, “wherever works, make room to listen to your inner self to be able to better “hear” what’s in your heart.” She’s not on FB and so barely aware of my recent river rituals (and essays about them). When I mentioned these, she encouraged me to use my time alone on the river as a means to connect to the natural energies there. “Use it as a way to invite your spirit guides in” she said, “immerse yourself in it.” I laughed aloud and then we shared a knowing look when I told her about the river-inspired painting I’d completed only days before, titled “Immersing Within” utterly confirming her insight.
So as the indefinable arc of emotions following that awakening dream struck and still lingered within me this morning, despite the below freezing temps, I made an effort to get out for a walk a bit earlier today. I happily discovered there were still raspberries, some ripe, others emerging, on the stalks in my side yard. I was just stepping out of my yard into the alley when the sky presented this gorgeous visual gift. I soaked it in, but was surprised that within ten minutes (about 500 seconds) the passionate scarlet and glowing ruby tones diminished, leaving just the pearly grays of a “normal” pre-dawn sky.
For whatever reasons, as I strolled toward the river, I felt my heart melting a bit. Perhaps I was moved and made porous by the stunning sight. Or was it a vague yearning to share that view from a familiar point on the block where I’d on occasion walked with that now untouchable friend, our bodies nestled as sweetly close as with anyone in memory? Or maybe I was just feeling worn from my own unresolved career direction, with the added weights of this damn isolation and the dream-induced emotions. I kept moving forward as the bracing wind hit my face. My eyes watered, only partly from the chilled air. I wandered and intentionally chose a different route than normal. I ventured across the broad traffic bridge underneath which I normally begin my floats.
As I paused and glanced absent-mindedly at the river, I noticed the recent freezing nights have added a particular greenish hue to the waters. Maybe because I was open and raw, focused into my heart-space and trying not to step aboard trains of thought, it flashed before my me that a friend’s son (born the same year as mine) had ended his life here a few years ago. I tried to honor the realization, and him and his family, refocused on my breath as I offered up my own confused intentions, and then continued walking the long span.
Again I randomly stopped. I looked over the edge at the dark olive-toned, mysterious and sparkling waters. In that instant, the familiar great blue heron leapt from the near bank below and flew downstream. I breathed deeply and smiled broadly. When I’d stopped earlier it wasn’t visible. I easily could have not stopped again, or stopped further on, or done a dozen different things, but where I chose to look put us within each others’ view and prompted an exchange.
Crossing, I followed the Greenway and felt drawn off the path down to the water’s edge. I stepped over knee-high grasses and through the brush to the rounded rock bank. For a few minutes I simply took in the presence of her flow and feasted on soothing, rippling sounds. I ventured a bit down river and sure enough, encountered the heron again, this time it circled back upstream... I sought (and have) no absolute interpretation; I just took it all in to my heart. There is no denying this river, winding through these familiar neighborhood parts, is interwoven with potent friendships, this community, my own ongoing growth, and somehow, the future path I’ll create.
It may be less conspicuous in my essays, which mostly focus on my sensory experiences, but those who know me personally will recognize I can be pretty linear logic-oriented. I have math teachers and engineers among my siblings and my own son is an engineer. I’ve a natural inclination toward frank objectivity that at times frustrates friends looking only for sympathetic ears. I’m often struggling to balance this with my impassioned sensitivity, and at times deep empathy. Seems I’m blessed and cursed with accepting these seemingly opposite traits. To me they’re conspicuous in my art, as well as my life choices.
Perhaps searching to meld these, I’ve a strong desire to look into the mystical, the un-intellectually knowable, the not (as yet) scientifically identifiable synchronistic stuff we all experience in our lives. To me both rationality and intuition are valid. I see scientifically recognized systems and order as forms of intelligence and consciousness. We (all life, really) exist within these. It makes sense to me the vast energies of this planet’s non-human life, and their interwoven dynamic with the larger forces of the earth (and galaxy beyond) must impact us relatively puny humans, even if we can’t easily articulate how with words or numbers. How could we be unmoved by the waters within which we exist?
As I wandered the river then headed homeward, I pondered it all. The stunning pre-dawn vision, ravishing beauty that lasted only a few hundred seconds. The seemingly timelessly comfortable friendship that blossomed — even though it departed before we could fully appreciate it — and the warm joy it brought me in that time, and the memory of shared hugs it granted that will never diminish. The tragically young life that, beyond all rationality and understanding, needed to return to the Source. The maturing heron patiently waiting in frigid water, my steadfast talisman all year, obliquely leading me to the river in the instant I put out conscious energy for guidance. The comforting, unending flow of this river, whose pulse so often steadies my own. And so many other energies continuously at play in the dynamics of our lives that we can never know or begin to fathom. If there is a simple take-away, it’s a siren call to honor the past, appreciate the unfolding, magical future, and embrace the now. There are delectable raspberries to savor.