January 12, 2021
Uncle Jimmy & Aunt Nancy's House, with Caety
in hot water, watching snow birds
In the world of white came a splash of red, flinging itself, darting like a fallen drop of blood to land on a buoying tree branch thin as a spindle.
I couldn’t be sure if I’d ever seen a cardinal before. Probably, and not noticed. The white of the snow made the red of his body all the more daring, all the more theatrical.
The first association that flew into my mind upon my eyes feasting on that photoshop-enhanced kind of red was the blue of a Wyoming bluebird. So blue it can’t seem real.
So we have the blue of the bluebird and the South has the red of the cardinal. I don’t know enough about birds to know if my Wyoming bluebirds come here or these Tennessee cardinals go up near home, and that is okay because I am beginning to see. I am beginning to learn. I am beginning to be willing to be taught the ways of the birds, which are so easy to absorb when you just sit and breathe.
Sitting and breathing was what I was doing as the fat flakes of snow fell all around and melted on the surface of the hot tub.
I began to notice the sprays and sprinkles and avalanches of snow falling off branches here, and then there …. something I would have associated with humans, with a shoulder knocking the snow off a branch or little fingers letting go a snow laden arm for a little head to become covered in the powdery stuff.
I realized it was unseen birds causing these little snow slides. It felt strangely comforting to know animals, too, are part of this perfect serene scene in the way they mess it up and disturb the peace. They swipe the snow off a branch, scream a warning caw that rips open the enveloping blanket of thick white quiet.
We humans are not the only ones having fun and making messes, I thought as I watched two birds bigger than Robbins, with fluffy grey tuxedos and swatches of faded china blue on their wings, hop and herd each other in the protected tree-well kingdom underneath a type of evergreen we don’t have up North, one tree with four or five trunk bodies, the shadow of which had mesmerized me the other night when Caety and I sat in the hot tub and talked for hours.
cause or effect?
There was something else I wanted to tell you, something else that made me want to write.
It was something about reverberations, and how we can mistake the effect for the cause.
How we can think what’s moving is what’s moving when really it’s just the last reverberation of some unseen force.
I was watching a branch — this was before I’d seen my friends, the chubby blue butlers under the tree, or my flying-drop-of-blood cardinal, and I think after I’d had the realization that animals mess up perfect snowy peace scenes, too, bless us all — I could hear a chirp chirp chirp and was watching this branch move and thinking I saw the bird doing it. I stared and stared harder at this shape on the branch that didn’t seem to be moving, exactly, and yet the branch was moving wildly, and I could hear the continuous chirping coming from a place that seemed to be that place on which I was honed in. I kept squinting, and realizing more and more that what I was looking at was surely a leaf, and yet the way it moved made it seem like that body was what moved the branch. My eyes focused, and a shift clicked in my perspective, and I realized what I thought was the bird moving the branch was actually just a leaf moving as a result of the bird moving the branch … a bird I could not see.
I could not see the mover, the instigator; I could only see a consequence, a reverberation, an extension of that mover’s movement, an effect. And I had mistaken it for the cause.
I thought I better write this down because even then in the hot tub it occurred to me this metaphor was very powerful. Probably it had a little something to do with the way life works … with the way we think we are the ones doing the moving, but really we are along for the leafy ride at the end of the branch, waves of motion moving through us …
the personal becomes the impersonal
Just a note to myself: Today it occurred to me how much I wanted to write about Kesia. (Pronounced Key sshhh eeee yaaaa) and Natalie Goldberg popped into my head again. Her stories, her memoirs, were personal, and yet they carried takeaways and ah has! into the Impersonal.
The personal, however made up it might all be, is what makes things real to us humans here, and what adds that flavor that makes us want to eat at all … even if the body is just an illusion, and our souls don’t even need to eat!
Sure, we might find that eventually with enlightenment, and yet, here we are … where there is delicious food.
And can we not become enlightened within the rich, succulent gift of a lemon butter garlic scallop just-made by my eager chef of an Uncle, breaking open in my mouth and reminding me that heaven is indeed here on earth?
synchronicities: the threads that tie the garment together
Let me also tie this in, for I said to Alicia today: synchronicities are just the threads that tie it together as a cohesive story.
Coincidences, associations, those amazements of “wow, I was just talking to a friend about that yesterday, and here I am seeing it in the flesh for the first time! What are the chances?!” ... These are the threads that tie our stories together into a garment we wear and love and have use and meaning for, and we can choose to (and do, whether consciously or unconsciously) make any garment we wish out of them.
These connections represent what makes a good story, and what to pay attention to … here are the metaphors in the physical and the personal that point to the Impersonal lessons we are, as souls, seeking to learn.
Perhaps taking things less personally doesn’t mean to not love and cherish this personal narrative, this human play which seems so real … Rather, it is about paying even closer (objective) attention to the personal in order to tie together the Impersonal takeaways and lessons … to find the Divine in the mundane, to find the Impersonal in the personal, to the find God(dess) in the (wo)man.
And so this is why the details matter; this is why the synchronicities matter. This is why the story matters!
Sure it is just a story, and, here we are! So let us make it a good one!
Let us make our personal life into a gorgeous Pulitzer Prize winning tribute to the Impersonal.
Books are not "real" in the same way life is not "real," and yet, consider how inspirational and life-changing and LESSON-giving a book can be. Consider how a book can teach us something quite real about life.
Well, this life is a book when compared to that which it is trying to reflect or tell or convey, whatever that next dimension is, and on and on forever and ever to infinite dimensions without limit. ... (the road goes on forever, and the party never ends).
the Immortal Power of the mortal
On those notes, I want to thank Savannah. This all ties in with her assertion in regards to a A Course in Miracles that we don’t just brush things off saying, "Oh, it’s just an illusion," when it comes to personal concerns.
Yes, this might be true, (it’s like saying, "it’s just a book," or "it’s just a movie,"), and yet, this is missing the point to a certain degree. Yes, it is just a book, a movie, a story, an illusion, for sure, and yet, these have value because they move us and teach us important lessons about what is real.
Without becoming too attached to and believing that this — our personal story — is all there is, we can still honor and examine and LOVE and celebrate and mourn and express and learn from the personal — from the book, the movie, the illusion — because this is the story God(dess) is writing (reading?!) to remind us of the Larger Story.
We don’t just act like the personal doesn’t matter, or there’s nothing for us to learn there; we acknowledge there is a much Larger, Eternal, Impersonal Reality, and that this smaller/zoomed in, temporal, personal story or narrative we are experiencing and writing and creating … this METAPHOR (as Elizabeth Gilbert’s New Zealand poet friend told her, and she wrote about in Eat, Pray, Love: "God speaks in metaphors") … is still quite meaningful and valuable to us. It is a temporal arrow pointing to the Timeless.
We’ve actually chosen to make our story and experience of it feel utterly real so we cannot miss the meaning and the value and the lessons within it.
(And yet our challenge still is to understand that all this is a reflection, a metaphor, a story; it is not Reality; and simultaneously it is Reality in that it is a reverberation and metaphor and reflection and hologram of it) …
reflections of the Real
If we dismiss our personal story as not mattering at all, we miss the Art.
This is a piece of Art we are creating.
Do you say, "Oh, books and paintings aren’t real, so I’m going to dismiss and ignore them as that’s not real life."
No, for if you did say that, you'd be utterly missing the POINT — that these things POINT to Real Life.
So does our real life here point to REAL LIFE in the higher, timeless, divine dimension(s). Here and now, life is a reflection and a reverberation, a movement of the Unmoving …
We do not ignore the effects. We become curious. We pay attention. We note them and write them down and share them and tell them and connect them. We are like sleuths and curious kiddos following the effects back to the Cause.
At first we think the leaf is what’s moving the tree. Then we realize it’s not and dismiss it completely. Then we realize it’s quite important as it’s giving us a clue to what really is moving the tree.
the meaning of the movie of life
Yesterday as Caety and I watched hundreds of Robbins picking the holly trees in the front yard bare (oh! To see the snow falling and settling on the blood red holly bush berries today! Ah! Like the cardinal’s reflection onto this winter day, holly berry blood red on white…)
... As we stood side by side and watched and watched for more than ten minutes (and Caety said, "I love how they are all coming and going, swooping in, and swooping away with one berry and then going off to eat it, not just sitting there gorging themselves in one place") …
... We both wondered why this was happening today (yesterday) right in front of us, this coincidence, this synchronicity. How did this flock of Robbins feasting on holly berries tie into the thread and narrative of what we needed to learn?
After all, Caety grew up in this house, and in all her 30 years — even if 12 of them hadn’t been spent here, 18 and more had — ... in all those years, she had never seen the migrating Robbins feasting on the winter hollies as they presumably did every year.
Yet perhaps there was only one day — a few hours, even — each year where one could witness the Robbins alighting on their hollies, here in the front yard.
And we were here for it, watching through the steamed window, and wondering what metaphor sought to show itself to us in the symphony of tawny dives in and orange-bellied dips out, beaky brown lips breaking bloody holly sustenance open to fuel their way South.
Perhaps that was all an illusion, just a show, some sort of reflection or projection, the same way these words are on this paper.
No, this life is not the Moon.
And yet, it points to it.