The Watchful Spring

Shorts

 

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Blink, and you might miss it. Spring is in full swing, and what an arch that swing creates. Its momentous motion.  Its vigor. Its desperate lust.

The forest floor crawls with growth. Trilliums blooming in trillions. Bleeding Hearts weeping their lavender colored flowers in hoards. The Mock Orange Vine reaches rapidly above my head and looks down upon me with its orange, trumpeted grin. Flattened ferns from the Winter’s snow emerge, unraveling and crowning the understory with its primordial foliage.

Spring does not wait for the weary. It is the fullness of potential erupting into the calamity of life as the savior of the wandering and lost. It is the aimed arrow that flies true. It is the antithesis of sin. Shame is thrown to the wind, and vitality shimmers in the air, settling on new ground.

The pollinators generate an ambient buzz heard stretched across the valleys. The palatable sweet rain is quenched by roots on high demand, as costly reproductive signals flood those same valleys. The wild dance of Spring leaps, abounding into the longing days. The pace is rattling. Overwhelming the senses. Dizzying the mind.

Blink, and you might miss it.

The Pack and the Past

Shorts

 

I’ve been trying to grapple with the changes that have occurred all through my life while simultaneously trying to catch up with all the changes that occurred during the billions of years that came before me.

It’s a dizzying experience.

Some say knowledge is not discovered. It is remembered. Did someone discover that? Or was it remembered?

When I was a child, I remembered so many more of my dreams. Visions. Then, the swarm of external stimuli ruptured my cognitive world as the modern world I was engrossed in during the 90’s flooded my vision and caught my attention like a moth to light. It was not until in college that I stepped far enough out of this modern entrapment did I begin to have visions again. I went to Hawaiʻi as part of a kind of college abroad program to learn about the field of environmental science. The trip proved to be life-changing. For the 7 weeks our group lived and camped outside, often trekking to the remotest areas on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. My dreams came flooding back, lucid as ever.

As a young male, I was primed for adventure. Leaving the domain of the University campus to explore the terrain of a faraway place was a paramount decision in my awakening. To awake to the vision of the dream is the paradoxical relationship between the temporal world and the infinite. Up until this point, my life seemed to be a one track momentum hurdling me forward. It spun me into an existential crisis. I used to think that I was a late bloomer since I still haven’t really gotten my career off the ground,  but looking back to those days, I realized by stepping laterally off of the known path, I was descending into a calling that would forever be my guide in life.

We still do not understand where the stuff of dreams and visions come from. Those who approach internal imagery with uncertainty are wise in doing so. The humble way is one of discipline and uncertainty, based on the value of respecting that which you do not fully understand. Another paradox. Only by acknowledging one’s lack of understanding does one gain more understanding.

The fact that my dreams returned with such vividness during my winter in Hawaiʻi, I did not understand, but I did understand that it was something worth paying attention to. I recognized to be skeptical of the messages from the world around me, for they were only repeated messages from one mind to the next, lost in a lifeless regurgitation of jumbled words. I learned that to only trust the experiences I had that were deeply moving. The ones that moved across my skin like electricity. That triggered deep memories or lit up my dream world.

I once had a dream, not too long ago, in which I was not human, but a Cheetah. I was fast, agile, and stealthy. But I had no thoughts. It was a strange experience. Both foreign and familiar. Primal. It was a kind of remembering. A kind of returning. I was looking around, orienting myself to this new environment. It was the day, bright as can be, with the wind blowing across plains of grasses. I was hidden in the grass. I looked around, smelling, and caught glimpse of one, then two other cheetahs. I knew them. Somehow I knew this. And then I knew what I was doing. I was hunting. We were hunting.

As we prepared to execute our attack, there abruptly appeared another group of cheetahs. My pack froze in hesitation. So did the other. Caught in uncertainty. What were we supposed to make of this? The tension grew. Tails flicked. It was not worth it. You couldn’t have two separate hunting packs going after the same stock. It just didn’t make sense. We knew it wouldn’t work.

I don’t remember the rest. I don’t know what happened after. Maybe I forgot. Maybe I woke up. But when I did wake up, I remember laying there in amazement. How could I transform into a Cheetah like that? How could my imagination conjure up such an experience? I was not merely watching these Cheetahs. I was one of them. I felt like one. I walked on four legs. I breathed through a snout. I perceived with no thoughts.

It is dreams like this, and other like-visions in my life that have swept me into a world of questions and mystery. As I entered my adulthood and with that the anxiety of surviving on my own, my only solace has been to value everything that has come before, that is, to walk forward in life with uncertainty, and pry deep into the source of matter and meaning.

Perhaps then I will remember, and maybe we all will someday, how to properly live with each other, and all life on this planet. But I don’t think it can be done by telling each other how to properly live. I think we can only tell ourselves that, discovered through our dreams and visions ignited by the deep, deep, primordial past.

 

Within a Single Cigarette

Shorts


My body was feeling uncomfortably tight after sitting on an uncomfortable couch inside an uncomfortable stagnant heat trapped in my house. I stepped outside to enjoy a cigarette and the cool night breeze.

An added bonus were the clear starry skies and my friendly black house cat who sat perched on the ledge of the stone steps leading up to the house. I sat beside her, lit the embers of tobacco and sucked in the smooth soothing smoke.

I looked down at that black cat who looked out down the street at all of the world that she could see. I followed her gaze and peered into her small world she roams at night and day, wondering at the simplicity of her thought, before arching my neck back to stare upon the stars.

Those stars. Those stars I know to be millions of light years away. Some billions. Those stars I know to be massive incandescent gases, some wobbling by effect of much smaller  planets orbiting them. I stared up at those stars and realized I could look at them from so far away, but did not have to live in a world where I wondered what they were.

I knew.

I could imagine with great accuracy what each of those stars actually looked like, because my species, human kind, dared to look beyond our own small world. We dared to look beyond the perseverance of our domain.

We dared to know more than was necessary just to survive.

But at what cost?

Every culture has looked up at the stars. Every person has looked up at the sun and wondered how its light shines upon our form and we are made in its image. Every parent has observed their children grow into their own, separate from them, internalized into the understanding of eternity at last.

Every culture has formed elaborate stories around their findings of the world; of the universe, of their own understanding for our existence – how we came to be, and where are we going.

The society is the father, bringing support and stability to the people. Structure, the backbone to the mechanisms of life. And the mother, she nurtures that life with constant love. And so we observe the grandest phenomenons of our universe take part in all aspects of life. Certain universal truths discovered independently and in different ways from culture to culture.

These truths become encoded into our stories, recordings of our existence; and thus our continued existence is testimony to our pursuit of immortality…. not as individuals, but as a species, as a creature of the earth, and since we cannot survive without the continued existence of our fellow creatures, then it no longer is just a pursuit of one single species.

No.

We are merely the ambassadors of the collective life of this planet. We have been selected (naturally mind you) to be “awakened” to our own self-realization of life, through the very complex and rare evolutionary and physical leap of certain random yet precise DNA mutations to persuade the advantage for a correct patterning of coding that allows our body’s to do what they do today:

observe beyond our present world and wander within the realms of past and future with ease and fluency.

And each culture that has come and gone and united and ripped apart, left behind memories of their greatest humanitarian accomplishments and saddest tragedies, searching for a sign of why we are the way we are.

Why we have been “chosen”.

And every collective identity of culture has struggled with this special feeling, this strange power. And every culture has constructed laws and morals and taboos to help contain this struggle as we, from one generation to the next, one era to the next, unravel the deep mysterious answer to our question: that in someway, this answer, this source for our existence, will somehow reveal to us our purpose and reason to continue on this path, an answer to why we should persevere through the pain and suffering all around us. That it is happening for a reason, that it is only a phase in our efforts to detangle from the confusion we were born into.

Humanity was born, and we were left on our own to find out why.

And now. Now, all these stories, these social codes upheld in every culture, these ways of living based on the necessity for survival, but also based on the pursuit for immortality – to transcend the primal realm of survival, to find a way out, into the bliss of eternity. That we will cheat death, not as an individual, not as a species, but as a representative of Earth.

A hero is born. The Gods await.

My cigarette ends in one last spindle of smoke rising to the heavens and swept away in the strengthening winds and I travel back down from the stars and see my cat still staring down the long road, caught and suspended in the present moment.

“we’re in this together” I say aloud to her as I reach to pet her warm, bony back.

she sinks into my touch and begins to purr as if to say, “Well then don’t fuck it up.”

 

 

 

Lingering Undercurrents

Shorts

Suddenly, optimistically, I plow through spinning thoughts and clench the excitement permeating through my hot skin and jump down off the ledge of the front steps of my house down to where you stand next to the flowering gardenia bush. You draw near to show me a flower, and I inhale the blossom’s scent mixed with your own delight. I linger. You probably notice. you say something about loving flowers and I say something like I know. We’re trying to have a conversation but our bodies’ are shouting for each other so loudly, we can’t really hear the words coming out of our voices.

You hand me the flower from my own yard and I thank you. You smile and walk back to the car where you are about to step in and drive away. But you linger. And I again lean in. You fiddle with your hair and tell me you’ve decided not to cut it. I say I’m happy because I think it is beautiful as it is. You tell me you just need to take care of it, and tell me to feel the ends; how brittle they are. I hold a bunch of your sun-kissed hair in my hands and feel the brittleness, but am not focused on this. I’m focused on my beating heart. I’m focused on the rush of warm blood filling in my cheeks. I’m focused on your perfumed scent, your dark eyes. I’m focused on the constellation of moles along the left side of your nose. I’m focused on this moment knowing its all I’ll get before you enter that truck and drive away.

You step inside, and I close the door for you. Our friend steps into the driver’s seat as our lingering was supported by our waiting for her. The truck reverses and I’m left alone with a lingering scent and an attraction I’m trying so hard to bury and pretend it doesn’t exist because I’m afraid. I’m afraid what it will do, that this life I’ve worked so hard to control will come crumbling apart. I linger in the driveway. As you disappear from sight I linger in my thoughts of you. I linger in the breadths of time now stretching between us. I linger in the passion coursing through my body now settling like the moments after a passing storm.

I strap on my shoes and do the only thing I can imagine doing. I run, hoping that all I felt will seize to exist while at the same time yearning for more and more, like my life woke up and seized me by the shoulders shaking me shouting: carpe amorem!

Rest

Shorts

My brain feels like a boiled egg. I could only sleep in about an hour. The sun has risen, but Hilo remains quiet and asleep. It’s a three day weekend, and the hard workers of the Big Island lay in their beds weighted by the consuming hours of past labors.

My stomach feels messy from all the pizza I ate yesterday, and that’s certainly the same reason my head is sloshing with low frequency pains. I wake up not feeling all that into myself. It comes and goes like the seasons, like the rains, like the planets circling nearby.

The Hilo rain this morning drifts in from the ocean in soft waves. I shuffle around the quiet of the house, make my coffee, and hang upside down on my roommate’s inversion table, trying to release the tension coiled around my spinal column. I contemplate what I’ll try and do today, trying to brush away impending thoughts to be present in the relaxing and restorative day off I have ahead. I just finished another enduring week of work with my summer gig: a team leader for a small group of up and coming young adults passionate about their homeland of Hawai’i. Each week we visit a different site of managed reserve land in which any various conservation project is being implemented through whatever funding has been allocated for that place.

We as a team have been working hard, and I’ve been given the great gift of total trust in leading this group of 17 and 18 year olds – an age in life I remember all too well. An age, in some ways, I myself am still afraid to let go of. That turning point. That severance. Excited to be my own person, but deathly afraid of what sacrifices must be made. Safety. Innocence. Comfort.

The rain thickens and drowns out any sounds of civilization from the city as the Hilo town begins to wake up. I dreamt of Mauna Kea last night and wanting its solitude, but all my waking life seemed to be up there with me.

The summer has come into its fullest and all seems busy with activity during these longer days. My family feels distant along the Pacific coast of North America, and I cringe with homesickness during these soft gentle mornings as I lay outside of their proximity. A normal routine of emotions spill in and I allow them to fill before flushing them back out.

The house cat comes bounding in with the heavy rain on her silky black fur. She cries outside my door and awaits my response, smelling the particles of dust and debris on the floor around my doorway. She stands at the threshold of my room, uncertain if she will enter, or let me be, licking and drying her dampened paws.

Next week I head out to the historical Kuamo’o Battlefield and burial grounds of Pili Kauwela in South Kona. A place of heavy energy I am told. A place with memories of the deaths of not only many people, but a whole philosophy and religion: the ʻAikapu system.

I do not know what next week will bring in its entirety for me or my team, but I anticipate the immersion into a place that will tell a story of an important lesson the struggles Hawaiʻi faced in knowing how to respond to the growing pressures of a Western, Euro-American influence.

 

 

 

The Mythological Pastry

Shorts

The days roll over each other like buttery layers of a croissant, congealed into weeks and months, together like flaking goodness of sweet and fat fused just perfectly imperfect by the blazing oven of creation.

I sat outside the Laundry Express on one of these particularly buttery days trying to use the space between loads as an opportunity for pastry reflection. Three weeks ago I lay curled up on the floorboards of my tent confronting the delicate edge between life and death, not necessarily suicidal per se, but certainly not filled with the will of life either. And now I’m sitting with my legs crossed downtown with damp feet, with one sultry croissant in my hand, wondering how I picked myself up and began to rediscover the source of life; my source for life. The journey to that source certainly is not over, most likely has just begun, but enough time and events and experiences have passed that I can split open that croissant and feel the soft steamy innards against my taste buds and salivate over the digestion of this little package of experience.
My newly acquainted friend slides through the sliding doors of the laundry center and sits down next to me on the firm plastic bench outside. A waft of detergent scent follows her out, mixing and dissipating with the ethanol infused vehicle emissions from a herd of cars passing by us in circles hoping to find an open spot in the parking lot. Laundry Express is one of the most popular destinations in Hilo.

I barely know this woman. I just met her that morning. She just moved into the vacant tent up at our place the night before. We shared coffee and bananas and pineapple for breakfast and somehow with the help of the buzz of caffeine and my nervous energy upon having a new jungle mate, we found ourselves knee deep in one of those conversations that is real hard to find a way out of. Philosophical. Political. Moral. Spiritual. It was messy.

But at the end of it we discovered both of us were in need of washing clothes and my was I relieved to find that out cause I was dead out of clean clothes with a couple more job interviews coming up and no way of getting my heap of possessive attire to town. But she had a car. A Cadillac. I think it was my first time in a Cadillac.

And sitting there on the firm plastic bench surrounded by fumes we also both discovered our passion for writing. She had come to Hawaii originally to hunker down and finally complete a book she’d been writing for 5 years, a collection of over 2,500 pages by now. A bit of a nightmare, if you ask me. I didn’t tell her so, but I did tell her how I so admired her for attempting to write a book, and even such an epic as that. I myself, I said to her, could really only handle writing little blogs, but wished that someday I’d write a book. Something that involves Mars perhaps.

When I asked for the premise of her book she asked if I knew what ‘M Theory’ or “String Theory’ is. I said I had heard of it and she went on to explain the 11 dimensions our universe is made up of and that her book is essentially 11 different stories all intermingled in a structure much like that of this ‘M Theory’.

I got all excited because it reminded me of how classic tales and ancient stories were told in a convoluted ‘more than meets the eye’ type of circular ‘ring theory’ way in which a hidden message could be found in the depths of the structure of how the story itself is told. One of my favorite examples of this is George Lucas’s creation of StarWars which is arguably the greatest modernization of myth to date (you can see what that’s all about here).

And her struggle to complete this story of her’s that seemingly turned into some kind of monstrous monstrosity with its massive accumulation of pages upon pages, weighing down on her pushing her ever so slightly further away from obtaining the ultimate goal of completion reminded me a bit of what my life was feeling like; this life in which I felt this enormity of potential pulsating from every cell and fiber of my being and trying so hard to work on the small things in my life so that I could realize that potential and become this greatness, this grandiose grandness I’ve always felt but could never find… in me.

She said, “I’ve been here for just about a year now and my book has made no progress. And it’s funny, because you know just 8 days ago I was just about ready to give up, and not just on the book, but my life. I couldn’t stop crying. For days, I just cried. And here I am now. I just bought a car and moved to a new place and am picking myself up and I’m okay with where I’m at and in fact I feel like somehow I’ve let go of control a bit and am allowing things to just happen, allowing my days to unfold, just as this book is unfolding. I do my best writing when I don’t really think about what I’m writing. It just comes out, layer upon layer.”

“Like a croissant.”

“What?”

I point to the glazed flakes of what remained of my croissant sprinkled across my lap. “A croissant.”

“Oh. Yea. I guess.”