Fish Out of Water

Yesterday I told my mother over the phone a little bit about how some people have been pretty open with me about my having, er, ‘limited myself’ by making certain choices, and how I not only do not give a fuck, I have it via gut surround sound that I am in the right place, physical and meta-. And my mother said Yes, as a parent you can tell when that’s true. and don’t you think it’s interesting, how the desert is just a big beach? She and my dad live back now at the beachy place where they grew up and I partly did too, they’re really back there, locals again in the little community. My dad just got a sea kayak and was out fishing the other day when a manatee came up and bumped him, said hello, started a little game, those wide black nostrils and eyes squared like the dots on the 4 side of a die, sweet and gray and playful.

Someone told me once that prayer is when you talk to the Universe/God/whatever you call it, and meditation, just real inner quiet, is when you get answers. It sounded crazy at the time. But it’s true. Turns out it’s not even weird either cause the Universe has preinstalled a bad ass sound system deep in your guts. You just have to find the on switch, then you’re good. Home audio. Earth to…Earth!

Here instead of sea swell I have the jagged brown foothills to the south, the cool blue lines of bigger breakers–greater mountains–frozen cresting in every other direction; and over and through and beyond the foothills, the immense, sloping, emptied stage of a long-ago seafloor. Those ancient peoples who took up residency here when it was freshly constructed by fiery and watery forces–you can see how they might have seen it, an immense gated community with monzogranite mansions and mini-malls and cave lounges and plein-air barbecues. I think that these formations call to people now, including me, because we sense we should be swimming, because some ancient cue makes our bodies default back to the belief that gravity is not relevant to us here. People dangling from their thin little lines on the bare flesh-hued faces look cast out, from above or below, it’s impossible to tell. And from what I know of those desert-air swimmers I’ve met, and of myself, that appearance is neither accident nor metaphor. Perhaps it’s deep knowledge of the ancient things, the unwitting wisdom of the earth and of the body and of the two as not-two but as one, that has–since the beginning of time–made us and made for us: fish out of water.

It is all so immense. In so many directions. The infinite large, the infinite small, the infinite toggling between perspectives that makes for a story and a life. Significance and insignificance, self and no-self: which is right? Can there be a combination? (My gut: no.) Such stupid questions. But there can be no other questions until they are answered.

Think of poetry, certain other art, its power to flash the depth of the cosmos through a single thin lens. Taste that depth, those dimensions. Then swallow, blink. Pick up that lens with your hands. Hold it. It’s made of crushed bone, the hollow invisible bones of the ego. Feel with your body how fragile it is. Your tears can blur it; your fist can crush it. Your own sighed words will blow it away, and you can’t not forget to make a wish. It will float for a while as a tiny glass-bottomed boat on the torrent of your love and pain before crashing over the waterfall of your loss. One day, much later, tired and peaceful in another season, you will creep to the tranquil edge of a clear pool and something will glint at you from the pebbly beached rubble. Your fingers will remember and home in and dust off and you will see and feel and remember. But here, in the rainbow-edged light at the bottom of the waterfall which has been tumbling now for billions of gallons of time, you see the lens–still unbroken–for what it is: technology. Craft. A little machine. You will love it a little for that. You will love more the generosity of the unknown soul whose large cloudy individual time congealed one Tuesday into this tiny speck of clarity.

But far clearer than the lens will be the glittering pool, and more faithful to the world and to you the stillnesses and eddies within its bowl. So you skip the lens like a stone and dive in, not for it but after it, and you feel the change of pressure in your body, lighter outside tighter within, and I guess you will fly there, is what will happen, and as you float on your back looking up at the clouds they’ll look down at you too, come quietly down to lie there all around you, that is what they always love to do, and all this will happen while you’re feeling alone, so sad you’re happy or maybe vice versa, and unaware.

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