Seeking solitude this time of year is like trying to avoid the colors of red and green at Christmas. The end of a school year brings picnics, BBQs, swim parties, the tall dude’s birthday, many co-hangs with The Genius, and then all the assorted encounters as I shop and prepare for picnics, BBQs, birthdays, co-hangs and farewell parties.
It’s social mayhem. I’ve done Limbo, Musical Chairs, wrestled the fifth cookie away from hands that clutched it in a sugar-fueled frenzy, swam laps in my lane while the rest of the pool was teeming with students bidding farewell to another year of youth, all while a little voice says, You’re not in the forest, you’re not in the forest.
Shhhh….pipe down. I know I’m not. I’m in a car, I’m in a store, I’m squeezing in a workout so I don’t freak out, I’m up to my ears in dishes that haven’t been cleaned since the water stopped flowing at The Calmmune. I’m pondering, planning, procrastinating, and partying.
Has anyone seen the forest for the trees?
Since I psychically walked away, all that I left behind has been right on my tail begging to be tended to and understood. My Mom served it up to me like the many miraculous casseroles she’d fashion out of air that somehow fed 10 people.
I saw you walking away, like I’ve seen you do before. Implying that I did it in a huff, or out of frustration.
At first I defended my actions. I had to, Mom. The encounter needed to end. It wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t serving a purpose.
But of course it was.
When I wrote the last post I felt I had it all figured out. I was out of sorts after the conversations with Mr. Jackpot and Mr. Viking, but once I realized that we’re not good at open, honest, thoughtful, compassionate communication with each other in the moment, it seemed simple. We’re just not good at it. So keep the friendships light and easy and avoid creating scenarios where someone’s needs aren’t being met or conversations touch nerves too raw to be prodded. Basically keep it all on the surface, not quite small talk but definitely not large.
Focus instead on getting into the forest alone to explore those big questions that I find most fascinating. I’m exhausted by the 3D, and I just need to move on.
But I couldn’t. For the past 5 days I kept coming back to those two conversations with Mr. Jackpot and Mr. Viking. Having been so certain that I had extracted the right lesson – you’re not going to be able to communicate smoothly with everyone, no need to analyze further, run along – I was confused as to why I was still playing them out, looking for the purpose, even though I had originally thought there wasn’t one.
I tried to write it out but it wasn’t budging. My head felt empty, no words, no thoughts, no epiphanies. With so many distractions, so much keeping me tethered to the ground, I couldn’t get up in the atmosphere where I often get a much clearer view. Snippets of understanding would appear and then vanish before I could grab them and link them together to solve the puzzle.
I tried to walk away but I was being followed.
You can walk away from your own creations, Cleo, but what you create will stay with you until you weave it into your being and allow it to work its magic.
My Mom has always guided me, I just haven’t always listened in the moment. But as I’ve gotten older, and definitely since the Pocket Call, when she speaks I tune in. At first I might think she doesn’t see the whole picture, or I haven’t thoroughly explained the situation, so her guidance is not a direct hit, but within a few days it clicks. Bullseye.
Her reaction to my walk away sent me back to those conversations to seek the reason as to why I created them. She reminded me that I am a creator of my reality. To walk away is to ignore my own creation. That’s like baking a cake and throwing it in the garbage without grabbing a fork and pulling out a steaming hunk to taste what flour and eggs and flavor can become.
I can conclude that we’re just not good communicators and leave it at that, or I can accept that I created those situations and seek the meaning for me. Mr. Jackpot and Mr. Viking can choose to seek the meaning for them.
School’s still in session.
Today’s classes were scrapped for a field trip to Bass Lake. Much has occurred on The Calmmune that I will share soon. My Fairy Godparents have departed for Europe, leaving the kids on the Mesa to keep peace and make merriment. A family has moved into the last vacant house on the property, next to another married couple, completing a circle I didn’t know was being constructed.
The two women are the Two Witches. At varying speeds, we’ve all ridden our brooms to the same conclusion: we are meant to be here, together. I don’t know why, and I’m in no rush to figure it all out, but this gathering of beings is otherworldly. Trust me on it, and be excited for the tales I will tell for I assure you they will be magical. Like today’s field trip.
Bass Lake sits on the coast where the Point Reyes wilderness meets the northern tip of Bolinas, accessible by a wide trail that ascends and dips through groves of Eucalyptus trees and wild orchids, berry bushes and stinging nettle. At points the sunglasses come off so the rocky trail can be seen under the shade of the forest canopy, and at other times the glare from the pitch perfect blue ocean bouncing back to the sun its light reduces sunglasses to a fashion accessory. The trail skims the edges of cliffs, the ocean crashing on a crescent moon sized beach down below. Deep emerald green pine trees climb up the hills, their branches each visible no matter how far away they are, backlit by a blue bubble gum sky, if bubble gum was blue. Swaths of camel colored land snake between the groves of trees making the entire landscape appear as if it was black and white but is now colorized. The greens so rich and so many different shades, the land honey and straw, the sky like blue cotton candy at a county fair.
Then, at the crest of a hill, the brush drops away and to the west is a placid lake a shade of green that makes one think, nuclear meltdown.
Not exactly the kind of color that makes you want to strip off your clothes and dive in, unless you also happen to have a hazmat suit, face mask and an assortment of antidotes for whatever flesh eating disease you are bound to acquire.
One of the witches (I’m playing with names) joined me on the hike. As we prepared to leave The Calmmune she said, Grab your bathing suit!
I’ve wanted to swim in Bass Lake since I first heard about it from my Fairy Godparents, but I needed to warm up to the idea. You can’t see the bottom. It’s cold. And there may be a slight chance of the Bolinas version of the Loch Ness monster, which would for sure take the form of a giant arachnid.
Imagine how fast that thing could swim.
I was a bit deflated after having a conversation with the local surf shop dude about swimming in the ocean off Stinson Beach, a seemingly perfect place to swim ocean laps – long, gentle waves, easy in and easy out.
If you don’t get eaten. He basically said he wouldn’t get in that water without a board to protect his vital organs.
I didn’t have a follow up question.
Then, because sometimes s…tuff has to knock on my door a thousand times to get let in, I realized I could swim in Bass Lake! It’s not a pond but a real lake, although not one that requires a boat to explore it. It qualifies as open water. Maybe a third of a mile long, could be longer. (Judging distance over water is like guessing the distance between two stars for me.) It’s shape that of a wide fluffy cloud drawn with a little hand. It sits below the Palomarin Trail, surrounded by trees that descend right to the water’s edge, their roots plunged in like feet after a long, hot hike.
Across the lake, nestled in a 2-person cove, hangs a rope swing. Beyond it is the ocean, unseen.
The Witch and I took the narrow path off Palomarin Trail into a clearing where we sat on a blanket in the sun to warm our bodies before a refreshing swim. After changing into our suits we walked barefoot down a rocky path that led to a perfect spot to step in and push off. Tree branches thick with leaves bent down to the water, obscuring the view of the lake and the hills that rise right off it.
The Witch pushed off first and was soon out of sight on the other side of leaves. My feet clutched the rocks beneath them. The water was cold, but I’ve been in pools in New England that have been colder. And it certainly wasn’t as cold as the ocean.
In I went. And when I emerged from the trees, the rest of the other million trees stood all around this massive, liquid, glowy green stage like a general admission audience at a theater in the round production, leaving me stunned. I wanted to swim but the urge to float on my back and honor this gorgeous site with my full attention won out.
A butterfly sped across the water and flew right over my face.
The Witch lifted a moth off the water with her finger, letting him dry his wings until he could fly away. He chose to stay so she placed him on her head like a Marin version of a fascinator and swam into the middle of the lake where he eventually took flight.
The water was warm (ish) a foot below the surface, but then turned icy. My body felt like it was swimming in two different places. Both stunningly beautiful. A hiker watched us frolic from the trail up above. Birds called and darted over the water, then returned to the safety of the forest. Our splashes and laughter the only other sounds.
On my back, gazing at a near cloudless sky, gratitude spilling out for the gift of being able to hike to a clean lake and swim in the midst of such natural splendor, I asked for guidance. Help me to pick through the red herrings and find the meaning in my encounters with Mr. Jackpot and Mr. Viking, and my non-encounters with Mr. Wildcard. My initial reaction, that it was nothing more than an inability to effectively communicate, wasn’t cutting it.
Help me see what’s going on here.
I became aware of how everything around me felt so big. So tall. So far away and huge. The lake so wide when in the midst of it. And I felt like a tiny but important part of the scenery. Small in body but expansive in energy. Full of play and spirit. Able to make the trees dance and the clouds stand still. Able to swim through the wind and currents, sending ripples out with my kicks that traveled to the farthest shores.
I lead with my energy.
In some instances, with those I believe I know well, I assume they will share my level of enthusiasm for an idea or opinion on a matter, like I did when I spoke with Mr. Viking about a man neither of us know who I felt was doing something totally cool.
Mr. Viking felt otherwise. As in the exact opposite way. I was unprepared for that because I assumed he’d see it how I saw it.
Is there any other way?
I stopped just shy of insisting he see it my way, but held my ground with such passion that the message was, You’re not getting this. Alpha males don’t really dig that. So our conversation flatlined. All words, no forward progress. No growth.
A missed opportunity.
The encounter with Mr. Viking was a great lesson in how my energy can affect another. How important it is to be aware of the energy I put out and be considerate of its power and affect. Instead of creating an environment where healthy debate could occur, I created one where both of us were defending our personal beliefs in an emotionally charged setting with neither of us really wanting to understand the other’s opinions. I went in assuming he’d share mine and was disappointed in him that he didn’t.
I’ve done this before. I did this with The Genius. Often.
I’m not walking away from Mr. Jackpot or Mr. Viking or Mr. Wildcard. I’m walking away from old ways of being that don’t represent who I am inside today. Who I need to be. I’m shedding habits and patterns and the unseen attachement to who I was as a wife. Some things are easy to shift, easy to let go of, and others require retraining.
Or learning how to do it right for the very first time.
On the hike back from Bass Lake, The Witch and I talked about communication. I peppered her with questions about how she learned to express herself. In the moments of quiet as we climbed a hill or stood still to stare down at the ocean, I saw the beauty in allowing others the space and time to own and communicate their opinions, thoughts, feelings. They are real. They deserve to be heard and not cured. With compassion there need not be a reason to feel offended if an opinion or belief isn’t shared. With honesty, there is respect. An appreciation for our varying points of view.
The deer tells me to venture into the forest to discover my magic in solitude. Perhaps he also means that in the company of another I can remain in the forest while giving them the opportunity to be in the clearing, the space to be.
With all these deer around it should be no surprise that a mountain lion crossed our path.