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#19 ~ that sense of place

August 11, 2012

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.

Early Yuba morning – photo by Kashi Albertson

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.

When times get tough – sing and dance. Greek spirit.

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.

the blessing of the sunrise

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.

kindness – and fish heads …

what to do on a cloudy day

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.

words pour out

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2012 12:12 pm

    Like you, I find my solace and re-energize my spirit on the water. Living in south Florida provided the gift of a warm ocean and soft waves lapping on the shore of hot sand. Traveling throughout the southwest, our family always camped and rested along side a lake. Lake Powell where your boat could meander through narrow passages with 500 ft. of water below and 500 ft. of shear cliffs on either side, taking your breath away … you definitely felt the native spirit calling out in the quiet of this journey. Lake Shasta in the late Spring where the only way to reach your cabin was by boat and you could hear the snorts and breathing of the bears as they swam across the inlet at night. South Lake Tahoe where the smell of the high sierra mountains and the cold, cold waters of the lake in the early morning caused you to breathe deep. And, now, we journey to Westport on the Mendocino coast where the sea is wild, crashing into the shore, and you find yourself in rhythm with the pull … walking the beach at low tide, checking out the sea life, and sleeping in time to the waves rolling in.


  2. Paul kamm permalink
    August 12, 2012 1:04 am

    I am always reminded to breath when I read your words…to take a breath, ooops!! I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to do that. Thanks. I feel the endless sea when I sing. I see the pictures in your post when I sing with you. Hmmmm…I’m breathing again.


    • August 12, 2012 10:15 am

      Kardia’ mou … you, along with the peace and the grace and the marbled waters, are my endless sea. xo


  3. August 12, 2012 11:04 am

    I totally get this, I think I’ve found my place, too, for now….the outer spaciousness and stillness representing the inner peace in heart and mind….blessings for your beautiful post


  4. krassa1 permalink
    August 12, 2012 2:11 pm

    I have just found your beautiful blog about my favourite place, Skiathos. The lovely beaches, the smell of herbs on the mountains, and the presence of God in the monastries. Thoughts of the old Skiathathosians (my spellilng) who lived up in Kastro for generations. Living in England, the first visit was a surprise. The heat as you walk onto the tarmac, the constant sound of cicadas. We’ve been about 17 times, but are relunctant to go back because of the changes, we want to keep our memories, but maybe for our 50th anniversary in 2014 we’ll be tempted again. Glenis


    • August 13, 2012 10:28 am

      Krassa, it’s nice to find another Skiathos lover has found her way here! There’s more about our favorite island in other blog postings here. Meander through and enjoy yourself! Yes there are changes – we’ve seen it change, heartbreaking to see at times, but rest assured, the island still has her heart. If you go for your 50th, consider going in May. The beauty is hard to miss, then!


  5. August 17, 2012 8:37 pm

    When I get the chance, I love to walk along the beach. I’m kind of a border-hoverer. I’m not the one to go in the water, but I love the sound and smell and sight of the sea. I could walk along the beach all day if I could.

    When I was a kid we had a meadow behind a house. Beyond that was woods and a pond. I loved wandering down there, pretending I was on some sort of mythical hunt.

    I still draw from these experiences for my writing. Even though they may be in the past or I can’t go very often, these ‘places’ are always inside me, somewhere.


  6. Jamie Kettenhofen permalink
    August 29, 2012 11:01 am

    Sometimes less is more… my place is under a pine tree on a craggy ridge top looking over desolation in the morning sun… but then I am kind of an old graggy kind of guy.


    • August 29, 2012 5:46 pm

      there is no less or more!! Place is place, and yours is beautiful, Jamie. You were one of the people who, so long ago, taught me how to listen to the beauty of ‘place’ up in the mountains. Priceless.


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