#19 ~ that sense of place
Like many people, I thrive on quiet… Within the quiet is where I divine inspiration and can access my most authentic self. It is hallowed ground, where the ego eventually goes missing, sometimes for hours at a time. Most of us have a special ‘place’… or places… where we can easily release and relax, and can access that deep, deep well within. For some, it is as close as their own home. For others, it is on the other side of the world.
I’ve been blessed with a sense of ‘place’ here at home since I first moved to Nevada City, CA in ’74 and discovered the joys of swimming naked in the Yuba River; a river I wrote about in the very first posting here in The Endless Sea. Mama Yuba… gorgeous and wild, studded with large, soft white granite boulders and emerald pools, cool, crisp and deep.
There’s something so incredibly nourishing and healing about lazing about on sensual rocks emanating the healing heat of the sun, melting stiffness and burning off stagnant energy… and then diving into crystal, swirling, caressing water, Mama Yuba taking all of one’s cares with her, away to the sea. I spent all of my afternoons there in my 20s and many into my 30’s… always with my constant companions, my water-dog lovies, Macushla and Jovi… and Rose and Callie, and then of course my darling daughter Breelyn, who, like so many of the babies born of the ”flower children’ here in Nevada City, was raised in the rivers arms; learning to walk, run, swim and leap from rocks at the Yuba. Learning to be free.
Life grew busy, our daughter and her friends grew, the water dogs left us and farm dogs took their place and the Yuba is now like a distant relative visited only on occasion, the visits always leaving me with that ‘DAMN, why don’t we visit more often?” feeling… because it still is ‘that’ place.
As life broadened and the reach of my heart carried me over the sea to a new menu of culture and color and discovery, I came to know and love many others – but it really wasn’t until I discovered Greece in ’86 that a new sense of place began to develop.
It took awhile. Paul and I, sometimes with Breelyn, sometimes with friends, kept being drawn back to an island in the archipelago of the Sporades in the NW Aegean, and after years of discovery, and then that discovery infiltrating my dreams and my words and then my heart, I finally got it.
THIS is my place.
Like the Yuba back then, THIS is where the ultimate release, relaxation and divinity comes now. But it is more than that. Over years of developing a very intimate relationship with the island of Skiathos – getting to know the people there, the nooks and crannies, the gorgeous, magical places behind the mists, that veil that shields them from the track of the ordinary and the hordes of summer visitors – this has become the place where I feel most alive.
Upon setting foot on this island home I am instantly grounded, settled deep within Mother’s arms. Relief. Respite. It takes a few days to expel the heavy, stagnant air from my being… to let go, to still the crazy making jumble of random thought and anxiety, and the frenetic energy of ordinary life as I know it here, in order to make room for the extraordinary, that lightness that invariably follows.
And then, it starts to trickle in. After being surrounded by the history of the Ancients and their kin, a passionate, lyrical people; after inhaling the culture and stunning colors and sea mist, eating and drinking far too much; watching the sun’s rise, daily, over an otherworldly sea while being serenaded by the waking swifts and gulls and even the occasional fisherman setting out for his morning’s catch… and after days spent at water’s edge, and hours spent bathing in the very healing sea, I empty out the unnecessary and begin fill up with that lightness. In the blushed, or sometimes tempestuous, dawn the words begin to pour out onto the page, tears and laughter flow effortlessly and the spoken word quiets. I go missing from the ordinary world sitting there with toes almost to the water where I AM the gull, the sun, the water, the sandy shore… the dolphins feeding just 20 meters away; the goats, their tinkling bells filling the atmosphere with a delicate music, browsing the verdant hills … and the Eleonora falcon soaring overhead. And comes the quiet. That’s it. Divinity. As my head empties, my heart eases. Priorities shift. It gets no better than that.
What a gift, this place.
I honor it and cherish it and carry it home, within the womb that IS me … and it is me, for as long as I can maintain that calm presence.
After about a month passes, when the sea seems farther way and the hot air of an inland northern California summer dries my skin and hair, and time and life and the world around me threatens again to dry my spirit, feeling as though I might just shatter, I remember that place. It’s inside. What I gestated while there can come to birth again and again if I go deep within and connect with source.
Yes, I know that I am fortunate to be able to go so far away to touch in with that particular beauty. But we’re not famous or wealthy – we have bills and a mortgage and old, broken cars, horses and other critters with feed bills and vet bills. Land to maintain. Just like anyone, we have responsibilities in this ordinary life. We scrimp and save our coins and dollars and block a time out on the calendar a year ahead, sacred time that nothing can touch, give ourselves permission… and go.
I’ve asked this before… but I will ask again. What is your place, your ‘endless sea’? How do you find it, where is it, how does it make youfeel, what do you carry away from it? Does it help you to gather up your strength and enable you to shine your own special light all around you into this troubled world somehow – whether you are a car mechanic, waitress, mother or father, artist, doctor, laborer… What is your place?
I would love to hear from you. Please write it out, leave a comment here so we all can bathe in the light you shine and take our own deep, cooling drink from your vast well.