You live in illusion and in the appearance of things. There is a Reality. You are the Reality. But you do not know it. If you wake up to that Reality, you will know that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.
Friday, August 17, 2007
An old friend of mine called to see me today. Unexpectedly. We hadn't seen each other for quite a while.
As she entered the black hole of calcutta, one of the residents ambled past and bid her a very polite, semi-coherent "Good morning"through a haze of hair and sleepiness. Even though the clock indicated that it was, indeed, 2.30 in the afternoon. She mumbled, incoherently, back at him. Very fitting response. We continued the arduous trek to the kitchen in search of the cup of tea, without which, no conversation can even be considered. Arriving at the kitchen, we are met by apparition No.2. "Would ye like tea? I've just made a pot... Oh hello" .. and promptly breezed past us to attend to more pressing matters, such as blow-drying her hair. Tea poured, milked and sugared, we settled in to catch up.
"Jaysus", she said, "What ARE you feeding them?"
I looked, rather blankly, at her and said "What do you mean?"
"They're HUGE" she gasped, "the last time I saw them, they weren't THAT big. My God, but they're growing like weeds!"
I smiled. It had been ages sinceI'd heard that expression.
We are a tall breed. So it really should come as no surprise to anyone that the offspring are most definitely not vertically challenged. But then again, I'm used to us. And the fact that we tower over most people.
We went on to regale each other with insights into our lives and the exploits on the roads less travelled. The ones that are covered in weeds. These roads, that are fraught with danger for any unsuspecting, beautiful, wild, growing creation. The danger of annihilation, extermination, all in the name of beauty, order and progress. The rooting out of undesirables. The hidden treasures that lie locked in these paths strewn with God's greenhouse's finest. The simple splendour of it all. The essential role that these misfits play in nature's landscape. The other misfits that are ruining the planet. We went a good way to solving the problems of the world. If we had our way.
Being very polite and well brought up, she enquired about the garden. She marvelled at the lush growth. The variety of shapes, sizes, aromas and colours. The exotic and the mundane. She enthused over the, hitherto unknown, varieties lurking behind the buddha. She expressed surprised disbelief when I told her that the vast majority of my treasures were, in actual fact, weeds. She wondered how I found the time. Not being a gardener herself, she was somewhat impressed. The best kind of visitor one can have.
She stayed for a couple of hours and we laughed uproariously, indulging ourselves in the madness and lunacy that we can both slip into as easily as an old, favourite Tshirt. Having conversed, at length, with the two apparitions, her parting shot to me was "They're 2 fine weeds, you have there ... and all of this without a gardener?"
Which got me thinking.
Dangerous territory, this thinking.
Like all parents, I suspect, we had the the grandest of plans and the highest of ideals when we embarked on the parenting journey. We struggled with the childhood ailments, the temper tantrums, the insecurities, the fluctuating hormones, the major and minor disappointments that we couldn't protect them from. We rejoiced with them in their triumphs over the intricacies of jigsaws, reading, bike riding, sharing, loving and growing. We were torn between loosening the ties that bind and tightening the leash. We did it all to the best of our ability. And, sometimes, we doubted ourselves. A little. Especially, when others were critical of our way. The outsiders nodded their heads knowingly when no.1 son pierced his ear and his tongue and when no.1 daughter dyed her hair a cobalt blue. "Wild" they muttered sagely. "No good will come of that" they whispered. I could hear, again, from the archives of an angst- ridden teenager, the old biddies, who used to remark as I passed by "That one, she's like a weed at the side of the road ... wild, wild, wild ... she'll come to a sticky end".
We suffered the pitying glances and the insufferable patronising with remarkable resilience.
And we continue on the journey, regardless.
We never did feel the need of a gardener.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I've often wondered what makes some places more special than others.
Nearly 30 years ago, during a brief trip home from the wanderings of our youth, GB and I decided to splash out, buy a small plot of land and prepare to down our roots .... a little.
There were few, if any, limitations to our imaginations. There were no arguments about location. The raised eyebrows and questioning looks, the disbelieving comments "why, in God's name do you want to live THERE?" or "you do know, don't you, that you'll be virtually CUT OFF from civilisation?".... There was some serious head nodding and knowing looks passed between the relations and friends .... they skittered down our backs like water off a duck.
We followed our hearts.
To the wild, stony landscape where our souls felt at peace.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to live there on a permanent basis. Opportunities for full-time work, the necessity of having an income, and 4 children conspired against us. But we did manage to build a house of the basic variety, nothing fancy, that protected us from the elements and provided a bolt-hole from the insanity of urban existence. It also provided a much-sought after retreat for the doubting thomases. Every summer, the house was filled with hordes of laughing, crying, cranky, joy-filled children and a motley selection of parents and other adults. We made a conscious decision not to have a TV or a phone or computers of any kind in the house. But we did have running water and electricity and open arms for anyone who wanted to escape and recharge. We were never short of visitors.
When the sun was smiling, the days were filled with expeditions to the seaside to collect crabs, cobblers, feathers, shells and round, smooth stones. Chases in and out of the icy, cold ocean, shiverings and goose bumps. Boisterous games of bulldog and boules in the maze of sand dunes. Panning out on the sand, with desultory conversation, if you liked. Cares and worries on the back boiler. Slowness.
On the not so sunny days, backpacks and "sensible" shoes were donned and we headed for the rocky hills. Amidst loud protests. But not for long. Like puppies, the children scampered off over the rocks, rising many a startled hare from its reveries, in their element running and climbing, laughing and racing and sometimes whingeing and whining. Hours later, we would arrive back, like the Pied Piper, with the exhausted, ravenous creatures that had been protesting so loudly just a few short hours ago. Fed and watered, they went on to regale each other and the non-attending adults, of what so and so did, how high the mountain was, what the goats smelled of, what the hares did when the dogs chased them ...... endless stories ..... and memories.
The days were long and warm. And rainy. And windy. And very wet.
On the very wet days we stayed in. We played cards, scrabble, monopoly, cluedo, made jigsaws, read books, painted masterpieces, cooked a million different types of cake, built dens and secret hideaways in the garden, dressed up, play acted, played charades and had 15 part recitals of every song we could think of. On the third consecutive wet day we HAD to get out. A "Special Treat" trip to a cinema in Galway or a trip to the local Cave was the choice. We didn't have too many of these.
The years have flown past. The children have grown and their parents are off exploring a much more accessible world. We're still here, embracing our treasure.
Back to where we started. With our minds and hearts filled with priceless memories.
Back to the wild, stony place that sings to our spirit.