Two women sat by the edge of the water the evening of Summer Solstice and watched, as this longest day came to its close. The ball of fire descended behind the mountains and the slow show of change unfolded before them. Sitting in camp chairs with Lake Chapala at their very feet seemed a good slow way of unfolding to one another as well, for they were new friends, curious to learn about one another. Not trying to get to know each other in the midst of a group lunch, ordering and eating and listening and trying to participate in several ongoing conversations at once. These two simply sat, gradually quieted by the transformation of light, separate concerns washed away by the sound of lapping water.
Their easy sharing was at first punctuated by exclamations over boat-billed herons perched on posts in the water, over patterns in the clouds, over the horse galloping by on the beach, over the latest color reflected in the lake. As the beauty of the Solstice sunset extravaganza increased, pauses of astonishment entered their conversation. Between the two who, as writers and as Geminis, were smitten with the word and each accustomed to verbal hijinks, a toleration of silence grew.
Two new to one another, plus the setting of Summer Solstice on the lake, which seemed to be another entity, as if they were three. The offering of the evening itself companioned and tempered their conversation. Not so much muting it as deepening it, from the level of language down to a dialogue of soul. One woman lit sage and smudged herself free of everything but that light, asking the herb and the light to cleanse everything that went before, to bring her fully present to the sun’s performance taking place before her eyes. The other took up the smoking sage and danced with it into the shallows, calling out her own intentions and soul desires.
This was no ordinary evening, no everyday act of nature. This was Summer Solstice herself reciting an extraordinary poem! The earthlings, aware of having the best seats in the house, each felt enormously grateful for being invited to the celebration. For the poem delivered to them by Summer Solstice was one of healing, as all the best poems are. With its melody, with its rhythm, with its cadence, the poem of Summer Solstice sang two who were strangers into friendship.
I’m different than I was when I moved here to Mexico six months ago. Living in the Mexican culture, imbibing Mexican values, I feel easier about everything. I don’t worry so much about how things go. If something planned doesn’t happen, I have confidence that something else will happen, and I’m often more curious than frustrated. If I’m not feeling well, I go to bed willingly and know the things I meant to do can wait. If a shop is closed, I wander about alert for unexpected wonders. When I get irritated about something, like the roofers occupying my patio with tools and tiles, I notice a bit sooner that I’m behaving irritably toward them; I realize they’re just doing their job, I stop taking it out on them, and it occurs to me to offer a bowl of cherries and a liter of fresh coconut water instead.
Besides more patience and acceptance, I feel myself growing in kindness to strangers, not a quality I saw modeled in my youth. So many people smiling at me on the street every day changes my longstanding sense of isolation into one of belonging, which is perhaps the place where kindness is born. In my country of birth, we speak of the kindness of strangers as an uncommon thing, but here it seems a norm. The Mexican mores seem to presume belongingness, and its offspring of kindness. So, wanting more of that in myself, I soften in that direction.
These are behaviors I am cultivating with the help of a culture all around me that supports them. I have never been someone who looks to ‘find herself,’ as I don’t believe there is any permanent entity to ‘find.’ I create and shape who I am on a regular basis deliberately. So I’ve always been a work in progress, but living in Mexico seems to be speeding up the blossoming. Feeling safe, unrushed, and trusting, I wish for you the same.
“Life: not a journey to the grave arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body; rather, a journey to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body wonderfully worn and screaming ‘WOO HOO, what a ride!’”
On my seventieth birthday I claim these words, with a nod to their unknown author for expressing my own intention/desire to live life full out.
Today on my birthday I am immensely grateful
for seventy years in this life, on this spinning wonder at the edge of the Milky Way, for all my rich experiences and adventures and connections. Thank you to my parents for the passion and enthusiasm they bequeathed me. Thank you to my son for being the best thing that ever happened. Thank you to every person who has ever been a friend in my life. I cherish the beauty of earth. Tonight I align myself with her pulsing energy. I give thanks for the past decade’s treasure and I dive headlong into the next decade, trusting myself, trusting life.
First SuperElder gets a running start to pass through the dimensional glass of limiting beliefs. Then she achieves liftoff, suspending her belief in gravity, using branches to extend her wings. The real question is not how she did it, but where she will fly and what she will now do with the new ability.
Far from being “the crazy aunt everyone warned you about”, SuperElder is your body on hope, the stance that what we want is possible. But she’s wearing your Grandma’s outfit, you say? Maybe so. Maybe see Gram in a whole new way. Maybe use new eyes to look at everything.
(This happy photography accident happened when I was manipulating the photo to remove words in the box. That’s one story. Or maybe, SuperElder was there all along and just decided to manifest herself to me, wanting to balance my ponderous posts with one light enough to take flight.)
In “The Place Where we are Right,” Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai tells us that certainty makes for hard and trampled ground, where no flowers can grow and no whispers can be heard; whereas, doubt and loves dig up the ground… like a plow…
The uncertainty principle enshrines a level of fuzziness into quantum physics, unlike Isaac Newton’s clockwork universe where everything follows clear-cut laws, and some scientists suggest that the principle makes parallel universes and selves probable, a possibility that can free and enlarge us.
And from an online magazine called the Uncertainty Club: Uncertainty is our way of threading a path through the infinite multiplicity of life and data, something in fact to trust. We think racism, sexism, and other popular biases are a confused attempt at certainty, and also at a single identity. We also think such attempts are doomed. Which is why taking the path of prejudice makes people so frustrated and angry. In a world busy with telling us what to like, get, think, and do, more not-knowing-for-sure feels like one way to be free.
In my family and my culture, I learned that being seen/receiving love & approval (ie, survival) required my being right—having the right answer, winning the point, proving a claim, speaking correctly, etc. As humanity grows up and we unlearn such certainty, freeing ourselves little by little from its constraints, may it bring a refreshing sense of expansion into our world!