Wednesday, 13 September 2017

like the imprint of a bird in the sky

"Good and bad, happy and sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness, like the imprint of a bird in the sky."
                              -- The Sadhana of Mahamudra

 I have been feeling weighed down and squeezed as if by a too tight girdle.  I have been getting things done, but only just, and without enthusiasm.

My hostas need repotting, my garden needs attention, there are small piles of stuff around our house that need sorting and perhaps discarding.  I still have many hundreds of new photographs on the computer that need editing. And a book to read for book club.

Most of these things would be fun at another time.

This lethargy started when one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with liver cancer.  Just like that, she was told it was incurable. Just like that she texted me with the news, on her way back to the Cowichan Valley from the Victoria hospital. She wouldn't come and sit in our garden that day.

She was 6 years younger than me.

Every day something reminds me of J...the Sweet Autumn clematis that is just beginning to bloom reminds me when she housesat for us and the clematis tumbled over the deck and all around her as she sat reading...the grasses in my garden that I never remember the name of, asking her dozens of times to remind me...walking along Willow's Beach gathering seeds from hollyhocks and storing them in all our various pockets to keep the colours separate. Personal conversations about our lives while sitting in our living room.

While I know that she is no longer living, I still expect her to visit, to phone or to text. To knit me another pair of fabulous socks. To eat chicken soup at our dining room table.

J's passing propelled me to immediately visit another special friend in Steveston.  Sheila was on vacation, a perfect time to grab some time together. We walked along the dykes and took a few small day trips,  just being together and cherishing our love for each other.

It is J's cancer and Sheila's company that made me realize that I primarily want joy and nourishment and love in my life and that I needed to discard those things that were not providing this- small day to day chores not withstanding.

As if from a revelation outside of myself, I realized that our beautiful ocean- front suite at Seaview had become a burden.  I realized that our original idea to move there as we aged was unrealistic and that the responsibilities there had begun to outweigh the pleasure. We listed it for sale almost immediately.

When we purchased our suite in 2013, Seaview Apts became my palette and my canvas.

Creating a contemporary space from a 1951 apartment was a challenge and great fun. From the designing to the actuality, from the choosing of a magnificent piece of quartzite to the simple furnishings to the display of art, it was an artistic experience.

Outside, Brian and I worked together in the overgrown tangle of neglected garden beds to create beautiful new spaces. The gardens began to enhance the beautiful location.

I believe that the places we make reflect who we are.

Through this endeavour, my creative self once again blossomed. Purchasing at Seaview had been a most generous error.*

My immersion into photography began.

We have just returned from a short holiday in Tofino- my place of quiet and peacefulness. While being there hasn't erased my sorrow or appreciably lessened my sense of carrying a heavy load, it has, however, allowed my seeing afresh the magnificence and sanctity and the fragility of the world.

As I walked on the beach, amidst the ever-changing tides, it allowed me to see more clearly that life is a series of changes.  Rumi said that  "All disquiet springs from a search for quiet. And so the best way to cultivate inner peace is to learn to love the way everything keeps changing."   I often forget this.  Tofino helps me remember.

   please click on the photographs to get full-size images

*Isabel Archer’s observation in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady that “one should never regret a generous error”

from Brian Andreas
Story People