year in rear-view

January 3rd, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Last year I took more selfies than in the previous 42 years of my life combined. Just checking out who is there, every day, what is this amalgam of particles at any given moment and how are they/we reflecting light? I wasn’t sure I would come back to this place of wanting to write here, and I had almost chucked it. Then…

About two weeks ago I started writing. Furiously! Like in a fever! Since this came over me I have been pawing at backs of envelopes, half-used legal pads, newly-nested folders on my laptop. If you have seen me in the past two weeks I have most likely asked you for a pen, pencil or paper.

But you haven’t seen me, have you? I haven’t been around. I myself am not privy to my precise location at all times. It is in the looking that one scoots away. Like that old butterscotch candy deep down in your bag, fishing around for it drives it deeper down through the tear in the lining, elusive.

Elusive and a bit sketchy. It has been a year! Everyone is going on about the decade and I am like hey now, can we just pause a bit and digest the year? It was a big bite. Bitter pill, just desserts, and ultimately just what the doctor ordered. Elusive and a bit sketchy.

So what now of me, here, where ever this is? Its time for JUBILEE. If the bags feel too heavy, set them down. If emotions become weapons, trade them for ploughshares. If you’ve been busy counting all the beans, cut it out already and plant them. I’m the one to talk, I’ve spent too long on trying to be seen as right and good. Enough, enough, enough. It matters less what you can give me/what I can give to you, and more what we build here in this time together. Is it peaceful? Is it beautiful? Fun? Does it just generate more transactions or does it build a nest, an ark, a space that grows and holds us all? Is it the ever sketchy and elusive “enough”?

 

baptism

August 11th, 2017 § 5 comments § permalink

Water provides us with a freedom that is the main feature of our life right now. Since we got the boat “done”, the sea is the open highway that stretches out before us.

But our “process water”, what we use for cooking, cleaning, and drinking, is our main limitation. Being the smallest boat out here means that we are less insulated from the environment by infrastructure like water makers and large freshwater tanks, and puts us in the company of how most of the world lives, as it turns out.

Even though it’s the rainy season here in Panama, the last few days have been dry, and local reserves were getting low.

A Guna neighbor, Rauliano, paddled up yesterday and discussed with us a plan to accompany one another to the nearest island with piped freshwater. We would tow his cayuco with our boat, and we could all load up on water. At 8 this morning we were scheduled to go.

Still waking up a bit slowly at 7:30, I knew that we had cloud cover. If the sky is clear, our cabin is fully illuminated fully by 6am. #equatorlife

When I poked my head out, I saw those gravid clouds full of delicious sky water. And then I heard Rauliano running up and down his beach with the signaling conch – honking out a code that relays along the strings of other islands like a radio repeater, each one with their own shell. I don’t claim to know what the shell-horn code means in any detail, but I am sure today the main topic was WATER. Far and wide, off in the distance, the shell horn repeaters said, “water, water, water”.

Now, there is rain that wakes up the Capitan (F), and there is rain that wakes up the XO (me). Rain with changes in wind speed or wind direction will get F out of bed at any time, to stand on deck with a headlamp glaring around with all the other capitans. Instead, I have a humidity alarm in my brain, which is connected to whatever dish pan, snorkling gear, or laundry that is in rotation through the cockpit in a never ending cycle of  rinsing and drying. It’s a ballet, really.

This morning’s soft, warm rain, was of my variety. Big fat drops turn the water around us into a grey static, and mini rivulets take shape all over our deck. Our dinghy, and every container we have get “redded up” and deployed for sweetwater catchment, and I know our 8am appointment has hereby been cancelled.

The visibility among the boats and shore was very low, and so I take the opportunity for a head-to-toe scrub down, with actual shampoo in my hair. I cannot tell you enough, dear reader, what a luxury this is. There are many not-glamorous parts of my current lifestyle, but when I am alone washing my hair in warm rain, I gotta say I’m feeling pretty extra.

At a certain point I hear Rauliano again, now freestyling on the shell horn. His family is scurrying around the island doing the same things as me, setting out containers to catch the rain and giving everything a good scrub. Between honks, he is shouting into the rain thanking God in three languages, and cheering the good fortune of the day. We can just barely make each other out, but we exchange international signs of joy, with gesticulations toward the sky and whatever source up there we happen to feel grateful toward.

The rest of the morning was spent with a second coffee, planning a pasta supper tonight (a water–intensive treat!), and washing ALL THE CLOTHES. Our time is extended again.

dear president

December 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Many of my acquaintances are writing good old fashioned letters lately, to their elected officials. This is for you, dears:

dmpp
ORDER HERE (this is real)

I have diligent friends who generously circulate their hand-crafted call lists and phone scripts, encouraging their circle to support the Water Protectors, watchdog political appointments, and bear witness to the uptick of hate crimes in Trump’s America.  I know some that battle in an online scrum and others who are organizing travel to protests.  For many reasons, I weigh how and where my own energy can be directed.

After swastikas with pro-Trump slogans were spray painted on the Brooklyn playground named after Adam “MCA” Yauch, late member of the Beastie Boys and avowed peace warrior, his former bandmate said the following:

“If you’re able to volunteer, volunteer…if you’re a musician, write that anthem. If you’re a writer, write. Take what you’re good at, and what you truly enjoy, and lend your services to the causes you care most about. ‘Cause we can’t, and we won’t, and we don’t stop.”

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz

This struck me, because I have a hope that my most purposeful work lies ahead, but my next steps are (still) less than clear.

Side note – During the same event, Public Advocate Tish James sang “We Shall Overcome” with the gathered crowd, a mental image that gives me an attack of nostalgia for NYC and makes me wonder if there is a video out there pls?

Right now I watch those individuals and groups who have been doing this thing – those who have been engaged in resistance and will be for the long haul. I admire those who have steadily stoked a fire that fuels their ability to both row and steer.  I was shocked by the election outcome, but I have been even more impacted by those who are making new ways forward.  Specifically, I mean #BlackLivesMatter and #noDAPL, campaigns I view as expressions of pure love for humanity and the earth, respectively. If you try to tell me different, mind you are in for a long conversation with footnotes.

I try to steer clear of echo chambers and instead make eye contact and hear/learn/use people’s names right away. Traveling often makes me feel like my hands are cut off, like I have no pull in a place where people don’t know me. Lately, I’m moving more as a pilgrim, so that every wandering step has more purpose, and every stranger is the next opportunity for exchange.

I am still thinking of what I have to offer in that exchange besides postcards, tho.

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