Thursday, June 18, 2009

An exhortation to a magical life

How Would You Live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head? What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl? What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day -- who knows how, but they do it -- were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

~ Mary Oliver ~

Many thanks to Mary Oliver for providing solace and meaning in the flurry.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vegetable Magnetism

We bought these yesterday at the Produce Patch in Bend. Could they possibly be any more beautiful?

On the advice of PP's proprietor, we broiled them for 5 minutes, coated only in a thin layer of olive oil, and then garnished them with a bit of herbed sea salt.

This is flavor that goes beyond flavor. Garlic spears have a deep, pungent mysteriousness that infiltrates taste bud, sinus, alveoli, neuron... Few times in my life have I held something in my mouth that so permeated my entire being. My cells and I can only moan in response.


In the store, these strange stalks called to me. I didn't know what they were but I was irresistibly attracted to them, the compass needles in all my cells marking true north by their presence. This has happened to me a number of times, always in the presence of immensely fresh produce, and almost always I've been drawn to something with which I was unfamiliar. My kale kick started this way, back on a beautiful day in November at the Portland Farmer's Market. Gigantic, warty, purple veined leaf - I couldn't walk away without buying a bundle, and when I steamed some for myself, for breakfast! of all things, my body threw open all the gates and sucked in some nutrient I'd clearly been missing all my life. And now, any breakfast without a bodacious leafy green just isn't.

I'm grateful for these strange moments of vegetable-oriented intuition, where my body knows what it needs without any help from my bumbling, energy-sucking brain. I feel lucky to have this... nutritional sensitivity? And yet, I wonder if my interpretation of these events isn't too anthropocentric.

Michael Pollan, of The Botany of Desire fame, might wonder whether my attraction to the garlic spears is a function of the stalks benefiting themselves in some self-perpetuating way. I'd like to take that one step further. What if these moments are the universe's way of inviting me to partake in all of its scrumptious brilliance?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting better all the time

These days I am always aware that I'm healing from something, but I don't always know from what.

Gluten intolerance pretty seriously kicked my ass before I knew what was going on; perhaps the process of becoming aware of all the ways my body needed to heal led me to an awareness of the other ways in which I was wounded.

Some are fairly intense - my mom's multiple medical and psychological diagnoses run me (and my sis) through the gamut on a fairly frequent basis. A sense of abandonment is the biggie, there.

Some are pretty trivial, on the outside: the traffic in Portland regularly turned me into a candidate for Tourette's syndrome - somewhat comical to any passenger who knew me more as an empathetic massage therapist than a Type A driver.

And some are old, and so much a part of the fabric of my life that I have no idea who I'd be without them.

Perhaps other gluten intolerant and celiac folks can identify with the feeling that once you'd been off gluten long enough, the mental light bulb clicked back on, and the path back to the life you remembered was illuminated. My body started healing 10 months ago in August. By December, my spirit/psyche/animus reared up and announced that it was leaving Portland, getting the heck out of the city, and going back to a beautiful, slower paced place where it belonged.

And so here we are. I left my massage practice, and now I'm working a very part time job. We live on a small piece of property where the wind and the occasional coyote are all we hear at night. We're 2 miles from the nearest coffee shop, 7 miles from downtown. Sometimes there's nothing to do, so we sit on the porch in the sun, read books, maybe play badminton.

I'm protective of the peace that has descended. In the quiet, I'm aware of the shifting tides of experience, memory, emotion. Floating along I can gently examine parts my life, set them aright. Little bits of healing occur, all the time.

Today I went for a row on Suttle Lake. There were thunderclouds building up in the east, but the lake was calm, glacial green-blue, and quiet. Once I'd packed up and dried off, Siri and I stretched out on a short dock. The lake is so beautiful it's almost shocking. I'm so pleased to now have a life in which I notice these things, and can be filled by them. I'm no longer just a tourist, a dilettante in a life I wish I had. Some part of me that had crinkled and contracted thanks to living in a big city where every view is compromised by buildings, noise, dirt, cracks open and begins to refill with wonder.

Wonder feels so expansive, like it makes more space in me for all of what is and feels good in life. So unlike cynicism...

What would a critical mass of wonder look like?