Water falls – either river or rain – speak a whole spectrum of the Language of Wet, from soft drip & trickle to pounding slam-hard powerful. I’ve come to believe that all are profoundly healing in the long run – even Tsunami, Hurricane, Cyclone. Sometimes tragically so, painfully so – but real healing is like that.
There are ponds, pools, tiny lakes and great lakes, oceans of deep and old – ever renewing collectors of water. There are aquifers deep and ancient, vast and secret reservoirs of …. memory?
Memory that cools, grounds, sinks and dissolves into something the stars might sing.
I’m thinking about water, and how it feels like a physical and emotional home to me. It is at root a promise of renewal – immerse, let go of air for a moment, alter the pull of gravity, of time; extend the reach and timbre of sound so you feel … lifted, suspended, embraced. Resonant. Dissolved, for a moment.
To rise again into the mantle of gravity, air, task, focal point, verbal articulation, but cleaner, clearer.
Water stands, too, in those places where the amphibians go and humans do not, where toxicity is dissolved. I think of wetlands as precious, timeless places. Perhaps Chronos lives there, listening.
The sound of water falling – rhythmic & repetitive, whether it’s a drip or a roar – is the soundtrack of our days.
There’s an idea that water is a collector of Story – from us, from flora and fauna, from sky and sun. Horrific stories- catastrophic, miraculous, impossible – but also mundane, incidental, apparently unimportant.
I’m going to paint this. We live in times of deep and profound change, all over the planet. No culture, country, community or person can avoid being confronted by this, and by the deep fears we all experience, collectively and privately, in reaction.
I dig into the Brahms E minor cello this morning and find myself swimming strong in a strong river – a great deep and fast and roiling that collects and contains a watershed of stories as it carves it’s way through the land.
Why, Mr. Brahms. It is good to meet you here from across the centuries, far far off the page. Shall we immerse ourselves together?
His piece curves and bends around it’s internal themes, climbs great hills and tumbles from impossible heights. Its landscape demands constant, intense commitment, even and especially in the pianissimo sections where the piano commands the melody line.
There are sections I have not internalized yet, where I am yanked back to the written notes, back into my technical head, back into training my fingers that “this is not contortion – this is easy…”. It’s not easy, but it will be, once I’ve found the technical key and relaxed enough to repeat repeat repeat, repeat. All the while the river flows on, steady and constant – I know I can immerse myself again.
These days on the brink of Spring 2013 seem to be deep with a tectonic level of unrest. Old contracts that were seemingly set in stone are fracturing on their own, or being consciously, sometimes painfully re-negotiated to reflect a new set of boundaries, priorities and shared realities.
It’s both personal and political – US debates (!?!) over gay marriage and civil rights, and indigenous peoples with the profoundly deep roots of Idle No More which support dignity, demand clarity and re-negotiation over native civil rights, and seek to work with respected settler allies to protect the land from the commodity boys in their banking suits.
This river we’re in right now is not like the Brahms’ E minor, no. This river is clogged – with ice, with debris, with garbage collected over miles and years of mutual and self-perpetuated … abuse? Is that the right word?
This is nothing that the natural cycles of the planet can’t handle. It will pass, and this debris will be flushed downstream to the filtering grounds. The spring floods will recede and the landscape will be different – perhaps shockingly so, but there will still be life.
But we humans, with our cultural and personal tectonic shifts – puny in some ways, when you look through say, Commander Chris Hadfield’s eyes. It’s telling, isn’t it, that we need to use terms like ‘the environment’, or ‘our natural resources’ to describe the planet, as though it’s outside of our bodies?
There’s a southeast corner of my house where the fig tree grows new leaves, framed by two windows. The easterly window hosts a christmas cactus with pale apricot blooms and the southerly window an amaryllis with eight deep red bells, just opening now. I can see them unfold as I write. Spring birds are busy outside; our two inside cats are glued to the windowseats, quivering with fascination. A slight spring chill reminds me that my feet are bare.
Over all of this there’s a great, vast, pulsing stillness. I drink it in through my pores, breathe it into my lungs, feel it quiver on my skin.
I’ve had early morning conversation with one of my rarely seen Incredibles, who is now off to work. Two others flop in their beds – they will be vertical, and then verbal, soon.
but hang on – the snow is blowing from left to right through the alleyway behind my head. Horozontal snow is normal in the wilds of greater Kemble where I live, but odd here in this city of 2.6 million. A Toronto adventure lies ahead – in which folks will perhaps be shocked out of their daily sub-routines into something more… accessible? Present?
We are here, for a short time, to float – metaphorically – on a deep urban river in sea kayaks, letting the currents of humanity determine where we will go, and only occasionally choosing paddle-directed routes when compelled by curiosity. I know of no better way to clear my mind of what has been, and then open it to possibility. Maybe a long, deep sleep comes close.
In the next morning’s pause after the early Incredible has left for work I feel a need to name a sub-focus for these 40 hours away – ideas explored several times in conversation with both familiars and strangers. Allow me to summarize these surprisingly intense discussions – with Enzo at the coffee shop who is working his way off the street, with J who is walking with himself in friendship, with F, M & D, who have their antennae out, with the Norwegian-born writer interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC radio who’s really not sure he should have taken the risks he has taken… here goes:
The most difficult thing to do with our lives is to make a positive, functional plan that nourishes ourselves, first. The plan needs to answer an internal passion, utilize natural skills & beloved tools, fan the embers of curiosity and feed back sustaining energy. The idea and what it manifests should have a built-in capacity to serve a larger community – i.e. – someone you have nothing to do with can look at, read or hear your work and say, ‘a-ha. That’s me.’ (or “that’s my aunt.” etc). Or they can pick up what you have made and appreciate it’s design and function as part of their own plan…
Imagine the concept is a well-designed garden shed. The plan becomes the framework. The work that follows is ‘fleshing it out’ – making it functional, accessible, dry, light etc.
It’s so very easy to make everything else more important than this – even and perhaps especially care-giving, groceries, the internet & a trillion things that can be taken personally but are not that important. It’s also very easy to believe that unless your work brings in income, it’s not valid. This is just simply not true. What is true is that if you find the concept, make the plan (custom-sized to fit what you can realistically accomplish) and then persistently apply the work, what you make will sustain you – more than possibly financially, definitely psychologically.
It will also make everyone else around you much happier.
Further to the Theme as discussed :
Once you reach that inner “I’ve Got it!” place, Forward momentum comes naturally. Priorities fall back into an order that makes sense, you will have abundant tolerance for all the silliness of your friends and family and the next task and the next will become crystal clear (as in: If I’m going to do this, then I’ll have to make a functional space for the doing part – done. Then I will need a little money – done. Then I will need this much time – done. Then I will need a deadline – etc).
I believe everyone and every community on this planet should be engaged in some part of this process right now, for the sake of humanity and the ecosystem we are part of.
The alternative is depression, anger, rage and eventually despair. Add guns and greed, and … well. This is what we’re in the process of healing, are we not?