I thought people asked themselves, and resolved, the big questions when they are young. But I find myself besieged by things without answers or resolution.
Lately I have found myself apprehending the world in terms of an ever-changing, amazing present. One star goes out; another appears. Someone dies; someone else is born. Since discussing the galaxies i.d.’d by the Hubble a few weeks ago, learning that the universe continues to expand, I have found myself thinking about life and what I can do to participate in it more fully.
Because of my crooked and compromised leg and how I have to rest part of each day, I have to live much of the time in my imagination. I just wrote a memoir about a trip and a long ago love and began a novella. Living in the story, living through the story, comforts and sustains me.
Tonight I spoke with someone about the soul. This topic in particular confounds me. I’m not sure I believe in the soul, an afterlife; I think of humanity as the leaves of the oak tree and the tree itself the collective life force, the nexus of processes and matter that keeps replicating more life. Of the soul, I know nothing, perceive nothing.
So it is that at 61 I marvel at how each of us is an accident of nature; two people got together and nine months later…. Everything that can pair up does. Life is conceived, spawned, spilled forth, hatched, born.
The strange bush with the heart-shaped flowers in front of my door has had its annual run; the flowers have withered and dropped. The hedge-trimmer came and deftly cut everything back, imposing order on all of the rain-fed growth. Tomorrow the lawn crew will come.
We tidy it all up and it grows wildly all over again, spreading dandelion fuzz and tiny seeds everywhere.
I have been thinking of the sea as consummate metaphor for life, because I have been writing of living and loving on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the coast of Italy many years ago. It astounds me that I was ever there;it was a dream then and a diamond of experience I have taken out and examined and tried to bring to life. A dried rose I have tried to reconstitute in water so that it may tell its story.
My thought has been that I can do nothing about the processes of deterioration that are a part of nature and of my own body, nothing but “live into” each moment. When I have these thoughts my heart is open and I am alert.
But there is darkness under the surface of the sea. Secrets, shipwrecks, danger. A summer love gives way to good-bye and the heart drowns.
So it is that I find a melanoma on my arm, and see that I must go in for an exam. I don’t want to do this.
So it is that two days ago, a week after losing a mare to cancer, I find a huge lump on my Golden Retriever’s rib cage. My dog and I live together. We have spent ten years building a relationship. I love her.
Where there was once a hot-burning love affair is now a friendship. So it is that I can spend two hours with someone and then need to pull back, pull into myself, travel a dark road to my nest.
I want to embrace the moment, but I often feel betrayed. I feel marginalized, wronged, cast aside, let down, wounded when I made myself vulnerable.
Do I not need to see myself as I see the rose; I was a bud that unfurled, a bloom opening, giving up my nectar. Then I was windblown, and I began to drop petals, and I died back, into the source. Perhaps the rose feels betrayed by the bee, a blight, a pair of garden shears–betrayed by time, the very thing that gave it being.
And when one must say good night to one’s companion, put the old dog down, who has asked you to do so with her eyes..will grieving then be part of the cycle of life, tears enough for a new sea?
A million questions, as many as stars. That which overarches all temporal tragedy; the great wheel of the universe, continuance, constancy. Death as a dying back into the source, a becoming of loam, feeding, re-incarnating in that which follows.
As I said, many questions.