A New Beginning in an Old Place

“If you can risk getting lost somewhere along the day you might stumble upon openings that link you to your depths."

A New Beginning in an Old Place

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear

I learn by going where I have to go."

~T. Rothke

What no one knows, and I had forgotten, is that I’ve been drawn to this place for years. This wash-ashore seaboard which hasn’t changed for as long as I can remember, is a comfort to me. I head down to the surf daily, where the water is not going anywhere - neither coming in nor going out - ebb tide. The sea at a standstill. I have been here 2 months now. Still, I fight playing the dilettante. The marksman. My instinct tells me to lie low, to process the grief that is the partner of change. This has been a difficult year for me – losing two dear friends has surely prompted me towards a long overdue and fundamental transformation. And it is my instinct that has offered me the option to take myself away and listen to natures rhythms. And here, there’s no alternative but to simply sit still and listen.

The leaves turn and fall as the natural word prepares for winter, and so do I.

“Was there incense in the air too? It seemed to make her mind split in half, like a husk, and allow a more tender, complacent mind to emerge. The softer, more bruiseable aspect, the private intention, the surrendering self."

I try to tread lightly here - as it has always been the empty spaces I’ve really had to watch out for… they can flood up with feeling before I even realize what’s happening - musical and raw. It is frightening, at times, this space - the quiet solitude. I remind myself daily that the root word in Greek for “alone” means “all one”.

Though, an ever-reluctant student of self care - I wrestle with my circumstance…

“These things do happen.”

“Now is not the time.”

“What is the time?”

“What kind of question is that? Don’t hassle me about time, I’m on the edge of the edge!”

I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.

I have not sought it out, rather, idly awaited it’s appearance in my life.

My ebb tide.

The time is now.

Fuck it’s bloody inopportunity.

“I find. I do not seek.” ~ Picasso

It is certain that being displaced time and again has contributed to a deep inner displacement, so that after a while familiar images and values all but slip away. I do not resist this any longer. Rather work to shut off my mind which too often tempts me into the games of deception I play with myself.


“When one is freshly informed, has a serendipitous experience, one’s mood is changed, ones heart is changed. That is why, taking time to see, hear, be present to images and language that arise from new experiences have the power to change one from one way to another."

~ C.P.Estes

There is so much relief and comfort in sharing truths with a dear friend – being with someone with whom you don’t have to justify everything. I have been so fortunate to have met such incredible people in my life whom I will be forever grateful to, and humbled by. To continue to meet such people is baffling me to a level of utter stupor. Thank you all so much – you have all helped in becoming the person I desire to be – just by being yourselves.

I’ve always had an affinity for magical creatures – and feel as though I’ve been immeasurably blessed by the appearance of one dear old gal who spins out her wisdom, expecting me to catch the vibrations. She has no stake in how I turn out, encourages me to risk and picks me up when I fall flat on my face - and is grateful to do so. Her name is Grace (of fucking course that’s her name). She is 115 and voting left. She is 32 years sober and went to the same high school that I graduated from. She has offered me a place to listen. She has come to understand a few things over the years - shadowy places where vitality is tested and wasted, for one. She has rolled many things around in her able hands and knows how to adjust her aperture.

“Being here is a sound choice dear. People develop in aloneness and are only led to the truth after being disillusioned.”

“It’s very hard.”

“It was for me too. I came here, left friends, a husband and family to deal with matters without interference. Honey – It takes courage and action to create change. You are never free to do as you please when you stay with the familiar. Everything we talk about isn’t worth a dime if we don’t actualize it.”


I suppose I am beginning a time-out season, where it is best to be actively passive, involved in little, aware of much. For starters, I want to take no action. “Pursue that which is not meddlesome”, said Lao Tzu. I like to imagine I am the axis of a wheel, both in and out of relationship, wishing no longer to meddle with the workings of fate but to remain in the hub while the elements do the work. Having taken myself away I am in a frame of mind to wait and see rather than to direct. Living within these rhythms has taught me the dignity of being without motive. As the hands toil, so the spirit is raised above the troubled motions of the mind. Working to forego foolish and wandering ways, while allowing myself to open and the slack to move and grow. The gift is being given a chance to go beyond my perceived limitations. To trust the unknown, and rely on a body I have long been taught to fear.

I am working to understand the nature of my joy – through movement and presence I have glimmers of what it means to be. I am a dancer – and I lose myself without the fluid movement of fearless truth.

“I’m glad you’re getting out of your head and into your body dear. That’s when you learn. Theory doesn’t mean a damn if you don’t try it out.”

“How do you know?”

“You just feel it. Like climbing down a ladder at night – you put your foot down and there’s another rung.”

Well, I put my mind down and there was another meaning…

Such exercises often stir me to unqualified confusion – and I do love a puzzle.

Actually, I am amazed I have survived these new months fairly unscathed. Perhaps it is because I went with the ebb and flow of each situation and encounter – allowing for some give and take, offering and retreating, weaving myself in and out of each new day. It is about intention. Knowing when to open doors and when to close them again. Catch the ocean when the tide rises, and you find yourself amid a force that gets its strength from ebb and flow, that teaches the worth of filling up and emptying. I have somatized this notion, and it bleeds freely now without regard for my uncertainty.

“Blessed are the breathless –

for it is the emptied out who respire on

pure flame."

It can be unsettling, this hemorrhage. I remind myself each time that I want to quit that this is a matter of independence – as well as learning to rise above the past, to honor my ignorance and deal with my occasional arrogance. Having surrendered to a simpler life, I am finding immense wonder in the minutiae. Activities with beginnings, middles and ends spur me on – while having no clear objective dulls my spirit. I have learned in this place how little it takes to get by. How simple life can really be.


“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live your questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Since I am unclear as to my future, I’ve come to dislike inquiries that require I produce logical answers. The future is unknown, and until now something to be worried over. So much fear has controlled my life. And my tendency is to freeze. I’ve been labeled for too long, ‘strong’ and ‘resilient’ – because of this tendency? I wonder - two admirable traits that have been my saving grace and my undoing. “You’ve always been so strong and in control through everything.” It is because of statements like that that I’ve come to flinch when called strong – too often becoming the one everyone counts on to pick up the slack. I have now amended my ‘strength’ to ‘willfulness’…. Just feels more digestible. More of a conscious action. For, as I see it, my ‘strength’ has been simply more of a stony survival stance for as long as I can remember.

“We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance - where even our inablities are having a roast!"


“I don’t want to edit my behavior any more.”

“You won’t. Now that you’ve tasted the other you won’t go backwards. Just let whatever comes flow through you and then away. Everyone is after the same thing, you know. Intimacy. The only way to experience it is to be yourself.”

I am so fortunate to have a friend like Grace who applauds my progress from the sidelines, helping me to see that whatever stage I’m in should be – that receiving and responding are true tidal behaviour. Like the tides that come and go at their will, not ours, we who frequent the shore must be mindful of the oceans law. So it should be with the people in our lives.

Perhaps while exploring this dilemma I should bear in mind my favorite word -“sentipensante”. It was invented by fishermen on the Columbian coast (who must somehow be learned doctors of ethics). It means ‘feeling-thinking’ and is used to define language that speaks the truth. I say we need a word like that in English. And we need to use the hell out of it.


“There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such full sea are we now afloat;

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures."

~Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

They say you either spin out or spin inward

(“they” – the lords of spin, I suppose… dizzy spinsters…)

though it is crucial for me to acknowledge that I am spinning both ways -

a natural born vagrant of this material world

with no regard for physical law, no cooperation at all.

And I work the late hours held by many a fit and failed theoretician

to pinpoint the coordinates of my current space

knowing full well that it is hopeless to ever know the position of any moving object

not to mention that direction is required to define velocity

and I know not where I am headed.

I could calculate a derivative,

approximate a place in time that I may pass through…

but this is, after all, not math.

Still, i struggle to slow and settle into a space -

the momentum

always rendering the moment


“To arrive where you are,

to get there from where you are not,

you must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy."

~ T.S. Elliot

I know that my way is not for everyone. But I believe that when you see the cracks in the facades as opportunities, inspiration erupts as you careen over bumps in the road - to love the enticing magic that flows from situations that other people regard as rough or crooked. “That which is not slightly distorted lacks sensible appeal,” wrote poet Charles Baudelaire, “from which it follows that irregularity that is to say, the unexpected, surprise and astonishment is an essential part and characteristic of beauty.

On sea-shells: The more broken the better – because that way you can see right through to the center…


“All my life through, the very insistence on truth has taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise. It has often meant endangering my life and incurring displeasure of friends.”
- Gandhi

Doesn’t change occur only when we stop living the expected life? All of us free to make our own decisions and equally free to take the consequences. I am somewhat at peace with this. What is always left is to make sure there is no residual guilt and shame. Brush strokes that got away from you to be tidied up, or left as a reminder of the transient nature of truth.

I have felt a touch of hesitation as I’ve begun to turn my back and leave the passion of the pounding surf for calmer ground, even though I know that one cannot live on strong emotion alone. I may hear the waves, after all, from my window. I may see the stars from my bed. I can feel the universe in your notes that rise and fall with my slowly steadying breath…

“We cannot write in water… we cannot carve in water. Water’s nature is to flow and that is how we should treat life… emotion, negative or positive. Do not deny it but always let it flow through and then away."


I have a collection of sea glass.

I realize that these fragments I’ve collected over time were once a part of a whole. Now they are cracked and broken, but time has softened their edges, each becoming new on their own – a nice metaphor for a person who has evolved through various passages, integrating the soft and hard sides of their personality.

I, too, have been humbled and spun

by a wild rolling of oceanic force -

I am grateful to say.

And I, too,

belong now,

on this shore.

“It is easy in the world to live after the worlds opinion;

It is easy in solitude to live after our own;

But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

~ R.W. Emmerson

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