brightness, darkness, lightness, happiness

There’s nothing left to do in my day, the space heater is on and the yellow lamps are burning and my dogs need nothing from me. Outside it’s dusk, the bright fall day turned indistinct and then twilight blue, the damp cold air embracing everything. I ate parsnips and beef cooked in bacon grease and a pile of salad greens, if I lay down right now I’ll fall asleep.

I was thinking earlier, having just arrived home, sitting in my trailer and eating some chocolate, about the difference between the way it feels to be “home” and the way it feels to be “not home”. Both places exist in the same reality, with the same molecules and the same air, and there is no definable difference between them- but when I am tired, and I have been “not home” for a number of hours, walking the leafy streets and riding my bicycle and going in and out of various cubical buildings with their warmed, circulating air- and then I arrive “home”, and step across the threshold that is the busted metal step of my twenty-foot trailer, something magical happens. I am no longer “outside”; I am no longer “not home”. I am no longer plodding the weary paths of life, marking off the miles, scratching things off my lists and watching new lists grow in my hands like magic. I am “home”, and even though the only thing between “home” and “not home” is a piece of plywood and some siding, it feels absolutely different.

I put on sweatpants. I drink a mason jar of water. I stop holding my breath. I turn off most of my brain, and put a kettle on the stove to heat water for dishes. My heartrate has probably slowed.

I’m barefoot.

My dogs immediately curl into donut shapes on the bed, putting themselves into standby mode until they’re needed again.

While the water heats up I lay in my bed on the fuzzy tiger blanket that my dogs love so much, and stare at the copper plate of Pablo Neruda that hangs above my dying maidenhair fern. Potato sidles up next to me and lays against my thigh, but he won’t let me pet his scruffy face because I’ve got some hippie salve on my hands and he doesn’t like the way it smells. I wonder what it would’ve been like to be Pablo Neruda. I wonder if Pablo Neruda ever got tired of being Pablo Neruda. I wonder if Pablo Neruda ever got tired of writing poetry. I think about the things that’ve happened this week that I want to tell my friends about when I see them. That’s the upside of spending so much time alone- you have plenty of time to figure out just exactly what you want to say. I’d like to tell Seamus, for example, about the tripod yorkie that was at Fernhill park today. Cruising around on three legs, lopsided and oblivious. And then there was the squirrel I saw- I had just turned out of my driveway, and was biking away from my house sort of slowly- when a squirrel zipped out into the street, placed a walnut in its big green husk right in front of my bicycle tire, and zipped away again. This all happened in about a half second, and it made me laugh out loud. And this morning, when I was making a batch of chocolate candy, having suddenly become enamored with the alchemy that is dark chocolate, coconut oil, peppermint oil, and honey- and I spilled half the double boiler in the sink. Into the right side of my little avocado-colored enamel sink, the side where the dishes were piled up. I was running late so I left the whole mess, and when I returned this afternoon and pulled the dishes out the chocolate had hardened, and I had a chocolate-covered sink.

I’ve been feeling appreciation lately for the little things. Maybe the tattered prayer flags in the courtyard of my yoga studio are working their magic on me, when I sit on the concrete bench after class and stare at them, steam rising off of me like a plume. I am loved. I let love in. I am kind to myself. Hot yoga is turning out to be a sort of magic in itself, like letting myself be melted down in a double-boiler and reshaped into a calmer, more pliable version of myself. And the way I’ve been eating- mountains of vegetables, browned in bacon grease or floating in chicken stock, mixing bowls of salad. Bacon, steak, roasted chicken. Plantains fried in coconut oil. Pears. And my sleep has been incredible, almost indescribable- ecstatic. Ecstatic sleep. Like when I was a kid and sleep was a magical journey to an enchanted land. The best. All in all, I feel calmer than I’ve felt in as long as I can remember. Maybe ever? Who’s to say. And what is linear time, anyway.

I can’t believe that just a little while ago, I was feeling apprehensive about the wintertime. I’d forgotten that, given the chance, winter can be so good– winter just wants to be good. Winter wants to be like the sweetest twilight, like introspection. Like rest. Why can’t we rest? As westerners, as modern civilization. Why can’t we let ourselves rest.

I came to peace today, while walking my dogs in the autumn sun, with the fact that this winter is going to be very restful for me. I could push myself really hard, I think, if I wanted it bad enough. I could start something hugely ambitious and get really stressed out and make myself really “busy”. I could consume lots of stimulants and tell myself I’m not good enough and set my alarm even on mornings when I don’t need it. If that’s what I wanted. But the problem is that I don’t want that. I don’t want it very much. I only want it a little bit, and not nearly as much as I want a lot of other things. I want, for example, to be in my body. Grounded on the real physical earth. I want to have roots that go down to the bedrock. I want to be as slow as the ocean. I want to be like a boulder at the edge of the sea.

Also, I want to learn how to be a person among people. I want to work to accept the irreconcilable contradictions of the people that I love as givens, instead of as puzzles that can somehow be solved. Also heartbreak, disappointment, disillusionment. Failure on both the microscopic and the macroscopic level. I want to let all of these things inside of my heart. I am the sea, my heart is the sea. The sea can hold everything.

And there is appreciation for how my heart is beating. Wildly. For the people that I love. How fucking lucky I am to know such brilliant stars in a dark and endless universe. How achingly sweet it is. Somehow communicating to those people how special it is that they are, how I can see it, like magic, like seeing the earth from space. That alone is a whole life’s work, the endless repetitions of love that wear down our daydreams of isolation. Like sand and wind wearing canyons away. Knowing what is important. This is what is important.

So that’s what I want, more than anything. To be in the world, to be in my body. And the sweet-dark of wintertime, with its questions and its mysteries, closer now like clusters of stars, seen from a clearing in the forest. Introspection that goes outward as it goes further inward, swirling across the sky like the milky way.



7 thoughts on “brightness, darkness, lightness, happiness

  1. Thank you for your words, and for writing about lovely pups and living in a cozy trailer. I’m currently looking for a little home on wheels. You’ve been an inspiration!

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