Falling Into Place

September 2017, Truro, MA

Falling Into Place

 

You don’t intend to but you just do. You fall in love. You fall deeply, but not madly, in love. Loving a PLACE produces no madness. Falling in love with a PLACE is blissful, exquisitely somatic and “holy shit” humbling. PLACES don’t court you; they grab you without sizing you up. There is little room for mind, will or volition to get too full of itself; instead you contract (into your smallness) and expand (into your vastness) while being sung to by a muse named Wonder.

Place can root you down into direct sensation so quickly, so thoroughly that before you have time to step back into the world of concept you are deep inside the pink/gold/tangerine sky and seal heads surfacing sunset over Race Point.

There is little lens and (even less if your phone is put down) and there is no desire to relay the stun of it all. You give up on hoarding the experience because beauty, wonder and nature’s multitudes won’t be hoarded. There is just the melting into PLACE and any wistfulness that sneaks through the membrane of the raw moment fades as soon as you own it, name it and see if for what it is. Desire and the desire to grasp.

Waves loosen grasping. Dunes shift it and the light that plays with cloud, sea, sun, and refraction whispers, “You don’t stand a chance; you are not solid,  so let this love you.”

What? Let it love me?

Human to human love is astoundingly strong and complicated. Personality, desire, projection and expectation can’t help but mix to make relationships, of all sorts, fraught.

Love of PLACE is not necessarily fraught with the sword wielding “I, Me, Mine”. Love of PLACE is complex, multi-textured,  layered with both solid and frothy memories but it is not complicated. Complexity and complication are different.

Letting a PLACE love you turns you into a steward. Stewardship is not just doing the right thing by caring for a PLACE; stewardship is the result of being loved by a PLACE. 

‘What, you might say, the ocean, rivers, beach, forest and lake do not- and cannot- love you! What an idiotic human- centric thing to say! “

And my response to this might be:

“Stop thinking like an idiotic, human-centric human and let a PLACE penetrate your being! Be still. Don’t utter a word. Without trying too hard, allow yourself to empty out of yourself. You might tell yourself that you are loving a PLACE but the truth is that the PLACE is loving you.

Do the tidal flats hold any awareness of Donna? No. Do the banks of the Hudson feel my presence? No. Do the elks feeding up on the alpine plains in Rocky Mountain National Park care about me? No.   But the fact is, this all exists and because I am receiving this wondrous beauty, I am experiencing unfettered love. The permeable membrane of this here Donna woman is being embraced in PLACE and it won’t let  me go. And I want to hold it with something that feels less like grasping and more like miles- deep gratitude and protectiveness.

Is Stewardship the result of loving a PLACE or being loved by a PLACE?

What PLACES have held, or hold you? If you want to share a photo or a few words about a PLACE that nourishes you, please contact me. Stay tuned as I move my new project titled: Stewards of Our Land and Seas from inspiration into execution. ~~ Donna ~~~

 

 

 

 

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Swamp Zen

Aside

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Messy, isn’t it? I could place a serene image here but those images are not talking to me right now. This the image that is talking to me. Here’s why:

I’ll start by telling you that I took this photo of my husband’s (Charlie) mud caked legs just after he completed a long and wild ultra race through a rain soaked forest in upstate NY. I remember sitting on a grassy area near the finish line cheering the runners in and thinking that they looked like stoned swamp zombies due to their gazed eyes, slow motion movements and their muted green/gray mud caked skin.

Being the neat freak that I am I thought: ” Glad I have that roll of paper towels in the car.” But as I watched runner after runner find the strength to pull their exhausted spines straight as they crossed the finish line, my thoughts went from ” Glad that’s not me” to “Whoa, this is a testament to human tenacity!”

Charlie sat down at the finish area with the other runners, ate some food, drank some juice and proceeded to slowly clean the mud that covered him from head to toe. Literally. He had mud on his nose, cheeks, hair and in his ears. I watched him. I was more silent that usual ( I usually have a barrage of  questions after he finishes these wild, long races)- I was uncharacteristically quiet because I was taking in his nonchalant, deliberate post run clean up actions. Here’s what I was thinking:

This man, unbeknownst to him, is a kind of unlikely Zen master. Whether running or working at his exacting and demanding job, he unceremoniously places one foot in front of the other without a whole lot of drama or commentary. He knowingly places himself into situations where he moves through unpredictable territory and arrives at an end point with an achy, dehydrated, sweat- soaked, stinky, mosquito bitten body. I’m also thinking of the Zen expression “chop wood, carry water” and I’m thinking that his creed (were he to have one which he would not) might be something like: “chop ego, carry body– carry body deep into the forest and see what happens.”

So, there we are at the finish area where the racers and their support crew are schmoozing and getting the race results. I continue to observe Charlie quietly clean his knee brace and move on to wiping down his legs; and now I’m thinking this:

The coolest people I’ve met have no clue that they are cool- which makes them even cooler. Sometimes masters have no clue that they are masters. They have no interest in calling any attention to themselves. They simply do what they do with their full attention, clean up the messes they make and move on to the next moment- muddy legs and all.