Sitting out on the deck after the sun is down- the light is still in the sky, and I can hear the sound of a very full deer creek below. The rains have been so heavy this year that it’s been called a monsoon… and now 180,000 people have been evacuated due to the potential failing of the Oroville Damn… just 30 miles from here. It’s an event that seems to thematically reflect the world right now, politically and otherwise. Impending catastrophe, a situation potentiating that no one planned for… even after warned. A situation that those in charge simply lacked the imagination to consider…some sort of practiced underestimation of the power of the wild to respond in matching tones to our own practices of destruction… For some reason we lack the capacity to see what we have done by our own efforts, yet panic and awfulize about the equivalent (greater) destructive capacity exercised by the earth. Le sigh.
Here where I sit on the deck over the forest and sunset a moth flies by silhouetted by the last light of day and it strikes me as particularly beautiful as I become present- not with what has been or what is to be, but this delicate precise moment of my life. I’ve never been here before. This age, this stage, this moment in my career, this moment relationally, this understanding, this physical perspective on the land, all of it. So I find myself waking to a new contextual place and feeling my site renewed again- a renewal that often feels like a joyful liberation tinged with sentimentality and deep…. deep gratitude for the gifts of my life. Gifts I’m unable to name in entirety.
My whole life has primarily been lived in dense urban/suburban areas. So now, finding myself here in the foothills looking out at forest and sky, everything is new… the loneliness is different, the quiet is different, the love is different, the sense of fulfillment is different, the sense of responsibility, the world looks different from here… some of it is also the years, where they have taken me. But to return to the company of forest, sky, bugs, wild overfilled river sounds, at the end of the day is such a vastly different cast of friends to reflect on life with.
I think of my friends who passed in the last few years, mostly I think of Amy Cole and Frenchi Delorenzo, who I grew up with and who were my close friends. The truth of their deaths is both real and unreal. I still think of them and can only understand them as alive. And my brain still understands that they are not here in physical form any more. That I will not get to say goodbye, or hug them, or share how crazy the world has become and commiserate. With politics looking like they do the thought crosses my mind that they at least never had to bear the burden that we’re grappling with… but of course all the joys, and the rest of it, is missed too. And I’m sure they would choose to be here today in this mess with all of us.
There is something strange and unreal about the passing of time as it goes on and people drop away. It’s not bad or wrong… for me it just evokes this strange sense of the wild and unexpected impacts of how fate unravels… we’re left here to experience things against the backdrop of what we knew during those formative years- but the reality of those formative years has holes in it too… holes in the shapes of the people who took early exits.
What is real for me in some way feels less real in the face of death…. when realizing that friends who I grew up with will not have known the world in all the ways I will know it before I die it somehow just doesn’t seem as real. We’re living into a future that I doubt Amy or Frenchi, or my grandma, my grandpa, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Julie, Estevan, Bill Borton, or the others could have imagined.
In the midst of all this I only feel a pure sense of delight to be able to feel, to think, and to get to be here. This pure delight is not like being at a party, or laughing at a joke… it is this delicate sparkling kind of delight that is part joy and part bewildered open-hearted humbled delicious grief… some kind of awareness of what cannot be undone about life. That life is beautiful, that we have no control of most of it, that life will be torn away from us, that we are deeply powerful and creative, that we are not promised one damn thing. Not one. And if we’re honest with ourselves we’ll recollect that no one has ever promised us safety, security, perfection, success, love, etc. You and I will do our best to create what we long for, some blend of creature comfort and soul longing… some compromise lived out beneath the changing skies that we will either wisely feel grateful for or foolishly curse until we have been broken open enough to find ourselves grateful for even one more sunrise.