Mystic Writer

Peeking out to see if there is a real world out there...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Precession



pre┬Ěces┬Ěsion

A slow gyration of the earth's axis around the pole of the ecliptic, caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the sun, moon, and other planets on the earth's equatorial bulge.

I have no fixed course right now. I've had good hours and bad. I feel pulled in all directions. This is good - if I can keep fluid, become comfortable with being uncomfortable as my friend Nicky says, the forces that are most important will manifest themselves.

Spin a top - it will spin and wobble in all directions, but slowly, so slowly, it will tend in the direction of the dominant force.

The path it takes is important. The places it visits will affect the journey and the ultimate destination.

Nicky tells me I need clarity and Corky tells me I need to fully explore the possibilities at this point. I trust both of them and I sense that both of them are right. I nail down the things I know are true and try to stay uncommitted on the rest, try to enjoy what I can and tolerate everything else.

I can tell I'm heading for a period of mental diffraction - I can feel my analytic focus going. I've set the wheels in motion to hire an assistant so my workplace does not suffer because of me.

I realize that action highlights a truth I can nail down. I need to live my life ethically - through this time and throughout my life I need to make decisions I am proud of.

My wife has entered the bargaining stage. She feels she can change to be the person I can love. I want to encourage her to make changes because she has always been terribly unhappy, but I need her to understand she has to make them to meet her own needs, not mine. A tiny part of me is excited about the possibility of staying with my wife but I think it's unlikely. Fluid. The top will visit but probably move on.

I realize I want to try to help her see this as a beginning, that we can celebrate the past we shared and move forward toward a better future as people who have grown by knowing each other. I would really love to have her find happiness and then find someone who can take joy in all the wonderful qualities she has.

TB. ouch. Corky thinks she is an agent of change in my life to help me move forward, but that ultimately she isn't the one for me. I thought that as well when I first started having feelings toward her. It's a common enough phenomenon. It's so easy to seduce yourself, so easy to believe someone is perfect for you when you are looking for an escape.

I won't deny that's impossible, and in fact I will probably come to believe that was the case if nothing comes of my desires to be with TB (as looks likely at the present), but there truly is more.

I've talked with her for many hours now and at the moment I can't think of anything I really disagree with her on. I've never been with anyone for more than 20 minutes where I've felt that way. As anyone who has read this blog knows I'm not exactly typical in what I feel and believe.

I've decided that I'll let her know my feelings when the time is right. I'll try to assure her that my feelings are mine and she has no responsibility for them. I'll try to paint things as a positive. Maybe it will work. Regardless, at least I will be able to let go of TB if that is the way the top spins.

The pictures on this post aren't indicative of anything other than to reassure myself that there will always be beauty and miracles for me. That is a truth that will never change regardless of where the top travels.
Yellow

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Vortex

The clouds piled black on black, mist mountains blocking out the afternoon sun. The weather site had shown no break in the clouds anywhere within hundreds of miles. I once again had a moment of doubt but drove on, the earlier vision of walking in sun still echoing in my head.

Through the rain smeared windshield I saw a line of light in the clouds, far off, and I smiled. I laughed at myself and pretended to scoff at the sureness deep inside that the line was my expected sunlight.

The line disappeared as I drove the last thirty miles and as I was dressing for my hike in the empty parking lot I started ridiculing myself for my earlier surety. An ill defined shadow pooled at my feet as I was lacing my boots, and the sheen of water on tar started to sparkle. The shadow abruptly firmed to blackness and I looked up to a brilliant sun framed in a narrow line of blue sky surrounded by gray masses of clouds.

The trees at the edge of the parking lot were vibrant green in the yellow sunlight and the contrast against the black of the thunderheads pulled the breath from my body. I thought of my camera but then let myself be drawn into the moment, let all thought go to become a part of the pocket universe of light and tree.

The light shifted and the yellow became a little watery but held. I finished dressing and threw on my pack, grabbed my poles and climbed the trail out of the parking lot. The trail wound through terminal moraine and for the most part was wet but not muddy. The trees dripped and the air was heavy - the sun curled weakly through the mists but occasionally strengthened to dramatically highlight a scene.

I ghosted along, unwilling to disturb the magic of the moment, and the miles passed in inner and outer quiet.

If only I could hold that feeling.

This morning I sit in my office. It's quiet here too, but not calm. Tears hover at the edges of my eyes and my heart races. My stomach knots and twists and I feel an odd torquing in my head as if there is a whirlpool in there trying to suck me down.

Long ago I said I would stay in my marriage for the sake of my son, and at the time I believed that. I've examined that proposition over and over, alone and with several of my friends, and I've come to the belief that the lesser evil is for me to separate from my wife.

I talked with my wife the other night and told her with all the kindness I could muster that I don't love her and that I was finding it hard to be around her. She wanted to know the things that were pushing me away so that she could change, and I told her I didn't want her to change, that she was fine the way she was, and that we just were not meant for each other. She didn't seem to hear me and she started probing me for evidence of things that tied us together. I'm trying to be honest and so when asked, I told her I did feel a connection to her when we are having sex.

Predictably, we ended up in a marathon lovemaking session, and I really did feel connected to her while that went on. I always have, but it's not enough.

Strangely, the bad feelings I'm having don't have anything to do with my marriage drama. Over the last six months I have had to unlearn many of my base assumptions about the sanctity of marriage, but I have learned them and I now realize that a divorce isn't the end of the world. In many cases it is a beginning, and I feel that for me this ending of our relationship is a process that I feel relatively comfortable with.

My goal is to end my marriage and to try to do it with as much grace and compassion for my wife and son as I can practically manage. I want to have at least shared custody and will go for full custody if my wife is willing - I doubt she is.

The vortex, the thing that is literally threatening my being, is TB. She seems to be avoiding me, or at least not making any effort to have contact with me. Either case does not bode well and it shakes me to my core. I strongly believe that my feelings are my responsibility and I don't want to burden her with my drama, and so I feel ethically constrained to not afflict her with my needs.

TB has always made me feel stronger and more joyful - for a long time I never considered her as available to me and so I simply appreciated how she made me feel. As I've contemplated ending my marriage I have always been careful to keep TB out of my considerations, except for the fact that TB has taught me that real love exists and I am not serving anyone's interests in staying in a loveless marriage.

It is ironic that at a time I need strength I am letting my fears about TB weaken me rather than using the strength TB has fostered in me. I'm not proud of myself right now.

...

I know how to swim at right angles to this current. I know how to avoid the whirlpool and wait for the next miracle to pull me out...

...

...but right now, right now in this moment, I am scared and in pain, and I can barely see the screen to type through all the tears...

Friday, April 22, 2005

Wing and a prayer



A bit over a week ago I was trying to find some equilibrium, trying to find a point of stability in an emotional landscape that had gone from slowly rising to precipitously descending. I headed for a rock filled park, slowly drawing peace from the stone and cold weeping rain. Thought seeped away and after a while I could walk in simple appreciation of bird song and the textures of rock and pine.

I entered a clearing in the trees to join a grouping of deer. Without leaving my still center I asked one to pay heed, locked eyes with her, and talked of my needs and wishes. I spread out, tried to quell her small fears and help her find peace in this moment, in the muted drizzle of the rain and the gentle whisper of pine needles in the wind. She lowered her head to graze and as I passed beside her I gave her a message to pass on when the time came, then left the clearing to climb a tall hill.

The peak jutted above the tree tops and the wind blew fierce. The gentle rain was transformed into something more demanding and the harshness of the moment filled a need deep within me.

I sat down and folded my legs, sunk into my center and watched the tree branches toss below me. Abruptly the wind gusted then waned and the rain dripped to a halt. A heron flew around the edges of the hill and landed in a tree top nest. Vultures drifted in loose circles enjoying the passing of the rain and small birds started tossing songs to each other.

The feeling of transformation compelled me to form a prayer, let my words tell the world and myself what direction I needed to go. I pressed my hands flat on the stone beside me, tried to pull the rock into me.

"Oh ancient stone, I ask for strength to make it through this time. Let me have the courage to feel things deeply, let me feel pain but rise above it. Let me grow from my experiences as I walk this world. Thank you earth, for all you have given me".

I lifted my hands from the rock, intending to slowly raise them to the air. I meant to say "Oh birds of the air", but what I heard myself say was "Oh great bird of the air".

Immediately upon the word "air" a mature bald eagle flew directly over my right shoulder, probably less than two feet away from my ear. I could hear the air rushing along his feathers and I could see every detail of him. About three feet in front of my face he did one lazy flap of his wings and then he glided off to the horizon, disappearing as he cleared the trees.

Bald eagles don't do that. They don't like people, with good reason.

I had the presence of mind to hold myself in that still place, let the adrenaline feed the joy I had been feeling. I channeled the excitement, let it strengthen my prayer to the air, then water, then sun peeking shyly through the cloud.

I know I have been given something amazing. Maybe it was something big, maybe it was as simple as the message that life is surprising and wonderful, that life rewards those who are actively living.

And maybe it is just this - that twelve days later I can think on that moment and feel immense hope and joy in the rememberance, and that I can share this hope and joy with all who read this...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Riffle



The rain washed sunlight pulls us forward along the newly greened path and the dark night of rain and hard rememberance is receding into the past. Our conversation moves forward and backward in time, pausing on the present to comment on the beauty of the chert outcroppings lining this stream cut valley and the sense of stillness counterpointed by the soft burbling of the stream.

I flirt with the white butterflies, at peace enough not to tell Corky and Henry their significance to me. They flit and flutter and play around me and then suddenly disappear as one, their small message delivered. I laugh to myself and then jump back into the moment.

Another miracle has happened this weekend. We have done the normal guy thing of drinking and eating too much, and we have insulted each other and wisecracked and laughed endlessly, but we have also shared our deepest stories - shared them without thought of protecting ourselves. The level of trust given and received seems boundless, and I feel so utterly rewarded by my friendship with these two.

What a special time! There isn't any reason to expect it won't happen again, and that in itself is a wonderful thing.

I have little fear of my future. Changes are in store but I know I have friends I can trust and rely on, and this peace I feel inside seems to grow a little every day.

How are the rest of you doing? Is anyone else finding miracles?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Right Turn, Clyde

I've realized I'm not able to write the story I started in my last post yet. I'm having trouble getting the significance of the time put into prose - I can see the flow of events in my mind and how the little currents pushed and pulled me, but I can't detail it yet in a way that makes the significant things obvious. I'll go back to it in a while.

I thought things were slowly deepening with TB and I was terribly hurt when she let me know that she intended to move far away in 18 months and as far as I could tell she had never considered how it would affect me. Actually that's not quite true - in retrospect I've realized she thought I would be happy for her, which is a reasonable expectation since it is now obvious she considers me as just a friend. I've always been excited for her whenever she pursues an opportunity for growth, and I'm guessing I hurt her when I reacted in fear rather than support.

Tonight I'll call her and apologize for my fear and let her know I'm happy for her. I've started working on my head to move her out of the romantic category and into the friend category so I can make that statement true. No matter what the reality is, it will be good for me to adopt a more stable stance.

I've gotten wonderful support from my far flung friends Melody, Nicky, and Corky. Melody has been entertaining me and keeping me from sinking, Nicky has been writing beautiful prose about relationships that keeps me hopeful and moving forward, and Corky has made me think about what the realities are as well as providing me with hope for my future. I don't think I can say how deeply I've been affected by your friendships - suffice it to say that I am overwhelmingly grateful.

Tomorrow I'll see Corky for the first time in a year - we both have had monumental changes in our lives and it will be interesting to see how those changes have manifested themselves. Corky, my cousin-in-law Henry, and myself have been going camping spring and fall for many years now and Corky missed his first one last October. I was afraid I would never see him again which made me sad, but events conspired and now our friendship is much stronger than ever. There is a lesson there.

Henry is married to my cousin Reb - it seems like he has been my true friend forever although I think it's closer to 12 years. He and Reb were destined to meet, a story I would like to tell on my blog as an example of the machinations of fate - I'll ask him tomorrow if he minds. Reb and I were probably born identical (well, other than that small little sex thing...) but diverged as our lives progressed. At the base level we still feel largely the same about things and it is obvious to me why Henry and Reb are together.

Henry, Corky, and I start drinking and talking from the moment we converge on our camping spot and we don't stop either until we part a couple days later. There is some 'guy' talk but there is a lot more and I am incredibly excited about the upcoming weekend.

When TB moves away she will be another of my far flung friends. I'm hoping the closeness I feel for her continues and grows, as it has with all the other friends I've talked about in this post.

So, how far away are your closest friends?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Winds of change



August had been cold and I'd already packed away my air conditioner for the winter. Predictably September served up a warm day and as I opened my bedroom window a dry breeze rustled through and I felt a sense of something unfullfilled and an odd hint of anticipation.

It took me by surprise. For eight years I'd raced from office to home and back, never allowing anything unexpected in my life. I chased the feeling, tried to pin it down but it faded and left only a vague restlessness. I went to my computer and tried to get back into coding but I wasn't able to focus.

I got up, wandered into my living room. Gold light filtered through the drapes and called me outside and I grabbed my keys, then threw them back to the table. I needed to walk.

The sun was too bright for my office accustomed eyes, and my feet instantly hurt. I hadn't done this in a very long time. I knew this feeling and didn't want it. I wanted control of my life.

Despite the pain my feet led me through a dense oak forest and out the far side. White butterflies twined round each other, momentarily lighting on purple blossoms then flitting back for another partnering.

The early fall sounds of insect whir and bird song didn't occupy my mind and again I searched for the source of my unrest. I didn't feel unhappy. I liked this monkish life, liked delving into the esetorica of algorithms and coding.

My path curved round and I popped out of a woods near the local grocery store. Following an impulse I went inside and bought a newspaper - Sunday, September 16th, 1990. I walked back to my house, threw the paper on the table and began paging through it, reading stories and finding nothing that addressed the odd feeling. I found the personals and started to read but immediately knew I was not even a little interested in a relationship and so I moved to the jobs section.

A couple of ads piqued my interest and I examined the feeling. I loved my current job but it left me with a lot of free time. Maybe I'd like having a second job? It would be nice to have a little extra money. I typed up a resume and a couple of cover letters and walked back to the grocery store to mail them.

The restless feeling was appeased a little but I still needed something so I bought supplies for a picnic and went back to the private little meadow. I sat and ate quietly, listening to the birds and watching the butterflies. Slowly I noticed the silence in my mind - no thoughts of code to write, no unhappy memories, no music playing. The butterflies floated closer, circling my head and a vagary of the breeze pushed one near enough that I felt a wing kiss my cheek.

Old thoughts of signs and fate bubbled below the surface and I abruptly gathered the remains of my lunch and marched back to my house. Only facts. Life is what it is. It's all explainable and all these feelings are just remnants of memory and poor perception.

Angrily I forced my attention back to the computer screen and slowly let the structure of the code seduce me. My mind flattened, the pleasure of pure thought triumphing over the welter of feeling.

Far out, beyond the horizon, the wind plotted my fate.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Happily humbled



"We can climb that" I commented to Ad's butt as I gazed through the windshield at the wall of rock jutting from the desert.

His reply was muffled as it came from the back seat "I know we can climb it but we don't have time. We need to be in Phoenix to catch a flight tomorrow and it's at least a six hour drive".

He started to get back in the passengers seat and I jacked the brake playfully "I saw a rabbit!". He bounced around a little and glared at my happy smile. "I don't want to climb that!".

"My day to drive" I pronounced and pulled the car up to a faint trail. Ad bounced out, said "I grabbed all the beer" and started up the trail after stopping to look at an old map tacked to a twisted cedar.

I popped the trunk, grabbed my backpack and tried to catch up with Ad. He was moving up the trail fast and I didn't catch him till we'd climbed to the top.

The view was astonishing. South the desert stretched well into Mexico and the sparse vegetation was in bloom. From our height the colors smeared and blotched and looked like an abstract painting on a brick red canvas. To the north the rock folded and dipped in eye confounding complexity.

Ad was finishing a beer "Want one?". "Nope" I replied "We've got a long drive and I don't want a one beer headache". We looked some more and Ad started toward the far side of the rock wall.

"Ad, what are you doing? The car is back that way". "It's a loop trail" he replied and took off heading down. Again he moved fast and I didn't catch him till he was at the bottom.

Ad was looking at the trail ahead as it headed back up the wall. I gave him a look and he said "I need another beer". I watched him drink it and then said "Give me one. I'm going to need it to climb back up - that's got to be 900 feet tall". Ad replied "Not bad, the map said 850. I just drank the last beer".

I glared at him again and started back up the way we'd came. "What are you doing? It's a loop" Ad called as he headed the other way.

I didn't really want to follow him but I also didn't want to have to find the idiot as he wandered the desert so I turned to follow him. He wasn't moving as fast but neither was I and I was starting to feel dehydrated.

The top was a long time in coming and when I arrived Ad was looking straight down. I joined him and looked down the sheer cliff at our car. "Got a parachute?" I asked and then laughed at him "Loop! I'm guessing you didn't notice the topo lines on the map, huh?".

He was embarrassed and didn't say anything as I pulled off my backpack and pulled out a beer I had left over from an earlier hike. I drank it slowly and with relish, took a look in my pack and gave Ad a satisfied smile as I slung it on my back.

The walk back down, then up, then down was painful but wonderfully satisfying as Ad's humbled silence stretched out.

We didn't get to Phoenix till midnight.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The morning after



Last nights hike started eerily enough with brilliant yellow clouds hanging saucerlike over the sandstone canyon.

A strong wind blew but the clouds didn't move, the only change a brightening then darkening of hues as the sun moved farther down the sky.

I hiked a mud slick path, slowly working my way up a sidewall and at the crest pausing to look straight down at a swollen river 100 feet below. The wind moaned an odd sound and I abruptly started back down the cliff. The recent snow melt had turned the trail to gumbo and in the waning light I saw a lone footprint sunk deeply in the mud. Two shells lay lightly in the tread.

I looked to the river but it was at least fifty feet below. I looked up the cliff and it was smooth - no evidence of other embedded shells. The edge of the footprint was still crumbling and there were no other prints on the narrow trail.
Shells high on a cliff
Warily I looked around, then touched the shells to be sure I wasn't imagining things. They were real and I had no explanation.

I hurried down the trail to the river and as I expected the stepping stones were well below the surface of the snowmelt swollen waters. I quickly removed my boots and hiking socks and pulled on a pair of old heavy woolen socks. The water coursed through the wool as I waded and the cold felt good, then painful, and then I was across. On the far side I hurriedly dried my feet, stuffed them back in my boots, and headed up the far cliff.

I stopped at a cantilever of rock jutted far above the tree tops. I flung a handful of sand into the wind and prayed for the quick joining of earth with air, wished on a star, then hurried to my car and drove to my house.

I arrived late in the hopes of an uneventful escape to sleep, but the door opened to an angry wife, and it was only after an eternity that I was allowed release. At the edge of slumber I prayed one last time that my wishes might come true...

Birds outside the window woke me to a bright sunny morn, and I was immediately aware that something was different. The breathing - her breathing was different. I turned and found her there, eyes slowly opening and a smile forming.

"TB!" I stammered "Where... What... Where is...". My little boy slammed through the door and popped into the bed. "Hi Mommy, wanna snuggle". He curled into TB and I shook my head, trying to clear it.

TB reached out and her touch coursed electricity through me - how I'd dreamed of this moment, but I didn't understand what was happening and it robbed me of my joy. She pulled me closer.

My little boy lifted his head and with his wide grin said "Hi Daddy. It's your wish".

Again confusion reigned "My wish buddy? How do you know about my wish? Which wish?..."

His grin widened and he rolled himself into me "You know daddy... The wish that you could tell an April Fools story on your blog..."

















(Sorry, I promise this will be the only fiction of this ilk for a year - I couldn't resist. All the hiking details are true - MW)