painting by Ronald Dong, husband of Rhiannon's sister, Janet
In the ’90’s I lived in a very small cottage built on stilts at the edge of Tomales Bay in Northern California. Extending out onto the bay was a simple but elegantly long pier, a bit run down, my pathway to the water. The brackish water mixing the influx of the various fresh water creeks; Olema, Lagunitas, Millerton, feeding into the Bay, and the mighty Pacific flowing back and forth on the tides.
I swam eight or so months of the year, until the water went below 65 degrees and I found it painful. For me swimming is the essence of freedom, a bit weightless and these waters in particular were filled with so much life; reeds, fishes large and small, turtles, seaweed, jellyfish, seals, on and on. When water is vibrant like that, swimming in it becomes an immersion into life-force. Liquid life force. So to swim when it was painful took away the pure joy. I would wait for spring.
I loved first thing in the morning swims, mid day in the heat of it all swims, late afternoon swims as the sun lowered over the Inverness Ridge, but the best, the most potent, were the night swims.
Going farther and farther out from the pier until I could barely see the lights of my tiny house, I’d swim. When I was satisfied that I was truly out in the middle, out past good sense, I would lie on my back and watch the sky. I would imagine how safe I was, how dangerous this was, how much I wanted to lie here forever until I became a fish or better yet a seal, and swam out to sea.
The unknown below me in the depths of the water was terrifying, but exceeding that fear was the ecstasy of being part of the wild night, the tidal waters, the ebb and flow of life. If I stayed still enough, I could be invisible, my molecules dispersing.
How incredible to swim back home later and learn I still have legs, I can walk up the ladder onto the pier and reenter my human life.
I feel that when I improvise. That I am part of something huge and full of life. I try my best not to judge but just open wider until I am no longer just me, but a part of creation singing what I can in that moment.
Is it strange to think about this in the middle of this pandemic?
We are out so far from shore. We have so much to lose and yet to lie out here in the midst of all of this panic, separation, inequity, death, and to feel. What I don’t quite know, but feel intensely. The depth of terror, the weightlessness of time, the need to reinvent so we can continue out past what we know, become something else, and/or find our way home to our bodies.
To know how much we need one another and that we are all, all of us, deserving of visions and creative, generous, safe lives created by going deep inside our dreams.
Greed has no place here.
It is spring and nature is showing her generosity everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. Flowers, gardens, trees, mountain streams, desert bloom, warmth, rain, abundance.
Bless the best of what humans can be. Burn away the worst. Begin again.
Over and over again.