Until the day I die, and the mysteries of the Universe are unveiled to me, I buy it all. Whatever you want to sell me, I’m buying it. Reincarnation, love at first sight, clowns run the Universe, there is an Oz, vampires, the Kardashians are aliens, a cure for cancer exists, the Universe sends to us numerous, clear signs in an effort to guide us along on our journey…all of them. Bought and paid for.
Especially that last part. Not only do I buy that, I’d buy that at twice the price after returning home from Stinson and casually looking up the animal totem meanings for starfish, sea anemones and sand dollars. I didn’t expect to find much. You’d think by now I’d have learned to expect nothing and be prepared to be wowed. I figured marine life hadn’t received the animal totem treatment. Never assume…
But, before I unravel their messages, let’s take a moment to ponder two things: volleyball and naked men. Pft. Let’s make it one: naked men.
After posting the most recent HGM entry, I realized that I had forgotten the nearly unforgettable while being wrapped up in contrition for failing to remain fully present in Stinson Beach. My mother was grateful I had neglected to include the naked stuff, but many kittens (many, many kittens) were sorely disappointed with me. I can empathize. I’m certain we’re all a little hungry for details such as those
all the time on occasion.
I’m sorry is a powerful phrase. It encourages many things – vulnerability, gratitude, strength, the kindness of strangers.
I’m sorry I forgot to include them in my tale, but perhaps now is the most appropriate time anyway.
Having been told of their existence at the south end of the beach – as if they were migrating mammals – I was on the lookout. Running from one tidal pool to the next, the dudes were focused on sea life while I focused on trying to look like I wasn’t looking. Time and again, we’d round a boulder and I’d expect nakedness only to see sweatshirts and jeans, baja hoodies and clam diggers.
Then I saw them.
The volleyball was on the rock, the Frisbee was being whipped back and forth between two men. A third took pictures of a girl lounging inside a carved out boulder. The light was perfect. They were set way back from the water’s edge, nestled up into the golden cliff. They looked so carefree, so delighted with the day, and so…so totally clothed.
Naked calves. That’s what I got. Woo. Nothing to see here…move along. But I knew for sure it was them. I highly doubt I masked my look of disappointment.
Move along we did, reveling in nature, and wrapping our trip south with my apologies for living in the future thrown to the sky.
It had been a few hours since seeing the not naked guys. I hadn’t thought about them after our first pass. After extracting the dudes from the cave, we emerged from behind boulders, laughing and chasing each other, making our way back north, my atonement freeing me up to be playful again. The clothed ones were still at it, with the two men sailing the Frisbee at each other from thirty yards away. Then they saw me.
And they both immediately stripped naked.
I swear. Eye contact, big smile from them to me. Then, pants off.
All I saw was tan. Well, that’s not ALL I saw. But, I’ve never seen such a consistent tan.
Nor such a clear sign that my apologies were necessary, received and appreciated. I laughed, but trust me – they knew I wasn’t laughing at them. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, to laugh at. Only admiration from this kitten. These dudes were très confident, with reason. And I was über appreciative of the lighthearted display of friskiness. Let’s just say they lifted my spirits considerably.
Then, moments later, the serenely beautiful couple handed me the massive sand dollar. An apology stripped away the awkwardness of the night before; my rewards were swift, the messages sent without delay. But I didn’t decipher them beyond Wow until several days later when I sat at the keys, preparing to write a post, while gently petting my sand dollar.
I fingered the small chip on the lower left edge.
It would be just perfect if not for this ding. This little chip. This…
small gasp…this is my divorce.
This tiny nick is the betrayal that shattered my marriage. And the rest of this perfect sphere with its gentle up-slope in the center, ring upon ring flowing out like small waves, is my life. The nick did not shatter the sand dollar. Nor did the betrayal shatter me. Not this girl. The betrayal became my jumping off point, my trail head. I chose to have that chip, the betrayal, be my sexy scar, the Lauren Becall gap between my front teeth, the crisis that leaves me more complete, more complex, more alive.
I propped my perfect sand dollar up against the wall so I could gaze at her as I searched for the meaning of my encounters with all things marine. (There’s no animal totem card for naked men. I looked. All I got was more naked men, but not nearly as Adonis as those I gazed upon at the beach.) The messages that emerged were so blatant, so wholly suited to my current state of heart, that for a moment I considered the meanings to have been crafted for my eyes only.
“Sand Dollar shows that constant change is expected and there is freedom in this movement. She aids in the stages of metamorphosis and the new stages coming your way. Tests will begin to appear, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.”
Tests. The sand dollar itself, or the shell that remains after its passing, is called a test. My evening at the Sand Dollar was a test. Would I just go with the tide, relax and enjoy myself? Or get swept out to sea on the wings of butterflies jacked up on Red Bulls? Gimme an F, for flat out failure. Laying on the beach with the dudes in the middle of the night, giving myself over to the skies, was a test to see if I could absorb the magic shed by meteors. Or would the magic be shrouded by my fog of woe is me, the lone adult on a most romantic eve? I passed that one, barely, but lost ground upon morning, waking fiercely determined to undermine my beachy state of bliss with expectations unmet, opportunities lost. Forever. Right? Because if it all doesn’t happen right freaking now, it’s never going to happen. I failed the test of patience.
“Sea Anemone will teach how to balance anxiousness with temperance, aware of the ebbing and flowing of communication and relationships…how to keep centered and instill faith of Spirit’s timing, how to discover new doorways and opportunities.”
Spirit’s timing? I was on Cleo time. Now, now and now. I totally bailed on this one taking anxiousness without provocation to a whole new level. Anxiousness, awkwardness, was sucked out of thin air at the Sand Dollar, and chewed like a wad of Bubble Yum. Relentlessly, for hours and hours. Temperance, moderation, was not on the menu. I wanted it all right then and there. At the very least, I wanted a sign that Mr. Wild Card was feeling the same Condor-sized butterflies I was feeling.
Can’t a girl get a sign around here? No, not that sign, this sign. The one I want. The one I pictured in my mind. The sign I expected. The one that said, You are going to date this man. He’s been waiting here for you for far too long. The two of you are going to have a blast together. He’s totally smitten. The fact that you’re old enough to be his babysitter from way back when AND you have two children…well, he finds that absolutely adorable.
“Starfish has amazing regenerative properties with an indication of coming back stronger and more abundant. If Starfish comes to you something in your life may take a year to regenerate, but when it does, it will be better and more abundant.”
It’s been one year since the wheels fell off this kit car of a marriage – all shiny on the outside, masking the inferior engine within, it’s block cracked, a fatal flaw. Without question I am stronger, physically, emotionally and mentally, and more fulfilled and happier than I’ve been in years. The arrival of a platoon of starfish suggests that utopia awaits, if I am patient. Nirvana is just up ahead. If I can forget that it’s there and focus on the now. That completely muffed encounter with Mr. Wild Card? You never know what could happen a year from now.
After finding the writings on the sand dollar and taking some notes, I went outside to watch the moon get pulled west by the sea and the fog snake its way through the trees that cloak the ridge off in the distance. All three signs melted into one as I softened my gaze to pull out stars hiding behind the night.
This is a whole new ballgame, Cleo. The way it was isn’t how it is. You need to adjust. It’s more than understanding that happiness comes from within, that love only follows self-love, that magic remains undercover until you believe it’s happening all around you at all times. Every single way you’ve achieved outcomes in the past no longer works for you in the present.
I thought the betrayal was the game changer. I was wrong. I was on injured reserve. While I rehabbed myself someone went and changed all the rules in the game, just when I was feeling consciously competent. Paying attention to the signs keeps me looking, wanting to see more, to have more revealed to me. But sometimes using my eyes and my ears distracts me from my intuition.
Balance is key. See the signs that are ready to be seen. Listen closely to the words that drift by me. Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t query too deeply. Remain heart blown open, fearless and ready to catch the ball.
Just don’t jump up and down, waving frantically, yelling, “Over here, over here!”
PS: Have you followed me on Twitter? Cuz I kinda think you haven’t, and I’m wondering what I have to do to get you over there. I’m thinking banana costume, ferry, 5:30 on a Friday. Don’t make me.
PPS: A request from a very creative reader/future design goddess – feel free to comment here with your answers or email them to me and I’ll get them to Julie:
Hello HGM Readers, I am Julie Ann Graham, an Artist currently studying at OTIS College of Art and Design. I have been deeply inspired by Cleo Everest’s blog and all of your journeys. I was so deeply moved that I have designed a cocktail dress that I plan to cover in text that consist of comments and quotes Cleo and you have written. Once the dress is sewn together I will cover it in wax, with the wax covering the text completely. The dress is more of a performance piece that a functional garment but my hope is that the more the dress is worn or the more movement made in the dress the more wax will fall off, which will result in more text showing.
My overall concept is that the more the women moves and becomes more comfortable the more she’ll become these words/phrases she aspires to be. So I am asking you, if you could wear the words that inspire you or the words that impact your life somehow, what would they be? If you could say anything to your ex husband or what you really wanted to tell your kids or what advice you would give to someone, what would you say? These are only examples…you can write ANYTHING.
I understand that not all of us can do what Cleo does; putting her feelings out there in such a brave way, but I would love all of you to be apart of my project and use this as an opportunity to have a voice beyond your friends and family.
I wish you all the best and thank you for taking the time in reading this.