This past weekend I went back for a visit to the Kootenays. In Nelson on Saturday, I took my brother out for lunch.
Where do you want to go?
What do you want to want to eat?
And onion rings?
Jimmy is bowling this afternoon. I like watching him bowl. He knows when it’s his turn which may seem simple until one of his enthusiastic companions holding a bowling ball is leaping up and down in the way of Jimmy bowling his last ball.
My brother throws/rolls the ball like it’s a discus. It doesn’t matter if all three are gutter balls, or one pin falls, when he turns around his game face is a satisfied expression of getting the job done.
But today is too gorgeous to be inside a dim and noisy bowling alley. And I’ve got monkey mind. Thoughts are whirling; nothing too disturbing but it’s messing me up. I need to hit pause and catch my breath, organize myself. I drive with no destination until the end of Vernon Street. The road veers around a sharp rising mountain of rock, moss and trees, no sidewalk but a woman with a contented smile and partially closed eyes pushes a baby stroller up the hill. This is Nelson.
My first kiss was in the bushes up at Gyro Park. We sat on the bank with Nelson spread out below us. It was sloppy. I doubt the boy owned a tooth brush. Parking beside two vehicles I walk for a bit and find a solitary bench facing the yellow autumn sun. My back settles against the warm wood.
I’ve been reading about meditation. Meditation 15 Minutes To A Stress Free Life by Nathan Farrelly and The Zen Path Through Depression by Philip Martin. I sit and focus on the air filling my lungs, lifting my chest and then breathing out. It makes me yawn and stretch. Fall sunshine is soft against my closed eyes.
Thoughts form and slide by, like fish angling for my hook but a quote I’ve read helps: Thoughts will come but don’t invite them to stay for tea. So, I let them flow by, ignoring the urge to grab onto the merry go round and go for a spin. Nope. I’m going to sit here and let my head rest. And I do. For about 30 seconds.
I hear voices. Automatically my eyes open. An older couple, off to one side, their backs turned are discussing the plants and trees. They admire the varying shades of burnished orange and yellow foliage. In seconds I’m engrossed in one of my favorite pass-times of people watching. After Nicholas died I watched children with an intensity (Oh if wishes came true!) that Ian was unnerved by it and said a person might misconstrue the desperate and hungry look in my eyes.
See how my mind wanders?
I stand up, done with meditating. But I’m better. Really. That few seconds of putting on the brakes and resting my head worked. And it will come easier as I practice. Some of my best creative impulses come after one of these sessions. I absolutely know what I’m now doing. I begin to drive along the north shore beside the Kootenay Lake.
In 1970 my family lived in a trailer park on the lower six mile road. Dad planted a willow tree in our front yard. The trailer eventually melted and has been long gone. Last year I saw that the tree is also gone. My sister and I would swing from its long ropey branches. It hurt more to see the tree gone than the trailer. Who cuts down a tree?
I was nine years old and for seven years rode my bicycle along our north shore back road over the bridges covering the two creeks and to the beach to play in the sand and swim in the icy Kootenay Lake. It’s been 30 plus years since I went to the beach, but my hands turn the wheels onto the leaf covered dirt road, past an entrance that isn’t marked. Thank God because this beach is a secret gem.
It’s all gone. Nothing looks the same nor will it ever be the same. You did your best, tried your hardest, gave your heart but it didn’t matter, all has been lost. The fall was excruciating but the climb back up is torture and terrifying and you doubt you can do it. You’re exhausted and more afraid than you’ve ever been and the temptation to stay down, cover your eyes and coast is intense. Doing nothing is easiest.
But Here is craziness. This landscape is ugly. You don’t like who you must be, who you will become if you stay, if you give up and lie on the dark and grungy bottom. You know people who have quit trying. They are shells. Hard on the outside and bitter on the inside. They take your Joy. You come away from them with a gnawing on your insides. And you know it’s their disease, the worm of despair that has infected them because they forgot they are the only ones who can save themselves.
They ignored the tug that was pulling them to their feet. They continually ignored the survival instinct each one of us has been gifted with so that the voice became smaller and smaller until it. just. went. away.
That same tug is coming from inside of you. The voice in your head tells you to “Get up!” This is your Courage. Your Courage has always been there. You know it: how it feels in your gut, the sound of it inside your heart.
Courage & Hope. You don’t have one without the other.
Remember those times when your Courage pulled you up through tough times? Even though this is the worst of times, and you think there is no way you can live through this, your Courage wants you to survive.
And you WANT to survive. You do. You always have.