POINTS OF CONNECTIONI've drifted off the map a little bit over here. Been busy doing a whole lot of nothing, nothing more than rearranging. I've been out walking, running, working, dreaming, studying, planning, and sometimes just drifting. Mostly at night.
I never thought I was really one for the pool. I must have liked pools somewhat growing up, considering we were typically found at one in the suburban summertime. All the kids on the family it seemed did time on the neighborhood swim team, but my time seemed to last the longest. Looking back on it, I am not sure why, because it's not like pools appeal to me that much. Especially as I have gotten older, and bathing suits have become less kind to me, and especially when it seems like it always someone else's idea. Usually my kids are the ones dragging me out there, and I go because they want to, meanwhile thinking of all the other things I could be doing, like catching up on my reading or housework, etc.
So I expected that when my kids left with their dad this summer for an extended vacation, I wouldn't be in the pool much. Having a pool in the backyard is a novelty for all of us, but I felt a bit Shania when I saw it for the first time - "that don't impress me much". I didn't think I would find myself in there without someone dragging me to it.
Lately, though, I am have once again realized I had a false idea of things. I have found myself in the pool at least five times more a week than I expected, and it feels really nice to be in there by myself. It feels good to be in there with my love, as well, but sometimes he is a distraction to the best part of pools, I think - the silence that surrounds you underwater. A lot of nights have found me floating under a tableau of silky clouds and stars, alone and unprompted.
When I am out there, I hear nothing but my own thoughts, maybe the gentle sloshing of water. I find it so liberating to lay there without any effort at all....to have the weight of the water and the bouyancy of my chest hold me up. I used to think keeping my toes above water was the trick to floating, but now I see it is only the pulse points of my wrist that need to be exposed to the sky to be able to lay effortless without losing the surface of the water along my sides or my face.
I lay spread-eagled, completely surrendering to nature's glory. The stars seem so far away and mysterious, the clouds so soft and so fast, of delicate design, and the trees bend and dance in the wind. Birds fly from house to fence to power lines, swift moving masters of the air. If we humans control this earth, no one has told the birds yet. I can't help feeling insignificant and small, the way I feel standing before the mountains. "You can ask the mountain," Antje Duvekot sings in Long Way, "but the mountain doesn't care".
The mountains, the stars, the sky, even the birds...been here longer than us, and might outlast us all, if we don't kill them all first.
These are the kind of thoughts I have out there in my very own water-bed, and these thoughts are all connected to other thoughts, thoughts stringing up like leaves on a vine, connected but yet individual.
I think of the water and the earth and the sky and their ever stretching life spans, and I think about what we have done to them. Chemical plants leaking into bays and killing life and the lifestyles that life supported. Oil spills in the Yellowstone River. Strip mining. DDT. Agent Orange. Monsanto. BP. How can individuals even come close to standing against corporate power and pollution, how insignificant is one man up against money and greed and powerful environmental dangers. Fuel dependency, carbon emissions, water shortages. The fate of humanity, the fate of the mountain that doesn't care, the fate of the ocean and even the stars - will they still twinkle if there is no one there to see them?
I think about people. People I love, people who annoy me, people who have come and gone in my life, people I want to see more of and people I am not sure I want to see again. People of my past, people of his past, people of my children's past and future and present. Everywhere in my thoughts, these people appear, and sometimes I push them down because I am not sure I want to think about people, but somehow we can't get away from them. Everywhere and in every thought, there are people. To care about the earth is to care about people, even if people don't always care about the earth.
Thinking about other people is really always as much of a puzzle as say, man's purpose and the fate of this planet. We are more connected that we have ever been before, but we have yet to use this connection to really deepen our understanding of our mutual human condition, at least not in the way I see it. You can Google anyone, or stalk them on Facebook, but it is an ineffectual means of gaining true understanding.
In this documentary we watched recently, Google Me!, this man googled himself and then met several people across the world that shared his last name. We watched most of the movie, then stopped for dinner and discussed the various people, but they seemed so unconnected and dissimiliar. And that is part of what makes life so rich, really - the variety and intensity of individualism. Yet, when we watched the last part after eating, I realized it was the best part - where all these distinct individuals with little in common got together in the same place and had a mutual experience that deepened their understanding of self, others, and maybe the meaning of relationships and family. In that sense, Google, the internet, technology, may be a means for us to advance in some cohesive fashion that allows us to effect positive change on the world.
The movie reminded me of that sense, the sense of disconnection and scattered thoughts, but all streaming down the same mind vine. It reminded me of that sense of floating, arms lifted upward, in silent supplication with the universe, and the sensation that I was like a puppet strung from the sky, connected to the greater dimension and yet tied to this human existence that we all have in common, in which the search for the meaning is still our common destination.