6AM

The sun is rising now.  Why is it that on the days I arrange to go in to work later, I wake up earlier?  The anticipated joy of sleeping late remains anticipated.  Somehow, I don’t think enjoying a latte in the early morning hours with just the cats and watching the sun rise is equal pay off for not sleeping in….but I could be wrong.  The coffee tastes very good.
 
And perhaps it is just those little joys…a great tasting cup of coffee, a sun rise, a warm cat at your feet, sleeping in, listening to twist and shout on the radio….those things exactly that give the real meaning to our lives.  It is not for others to decide whether our lives have meaning or worth of course, but our culture remains enmessed in external worth.  Still, after all these years what you have determins who you are to yourself and to others.  Perhaps it is a universal aspect of humanity rather than a local north american weirdness.
 
Growing up on the cusp of hippydom I embraced the non-attachment to a certain extent.  Perhaps much more than some ex-patriots from the times that were.  I have given up all my belongings several times in my life, started over with little more than my clothes and a few books and have never given much attention to the little voice inside pushing me to have bigger and better houses, cars, things, things, THINGS!
 
Yet I still have a house – disordered, in need of a paint and a few minor adjustments, but mine – a car – on it’s last legs I am sure each and every day, – furniture – something to sit on, sleep on, read on, and books – ah yes, attachment!  Could I start all over again?  Quite probably.  My real attachment in this life is to people rather than things; the stuff, well, we use it to cushion us from others.
 
The people we cross our paths with – whether for a reason, a season or a lifetime – are our real belongings in life.  Parents, siblings, children – they are the obvious teachers and extensions of our who-ness.  But what of the difficult family at work?  The brief time spent with a terrified mother to explain and reassure her in her fear for her child?  Or the moments taken to talk softly to a crying child and figure out what it is they need?
 
It is so easy to pass through these interactions without really seeing.  So much easier to be irritated, or even upset with the those that seem demanding and controlling than to look through the facade of controls and supports and wires that hold them all together and to see the real behind it all.  To face their fear and pain and to off load it.  A daring move. 
 
And once we have, then what?  Many many years ago I found the world’s pain too much to deal with.  I was hurt by the news on TV, I was bruised by the emotions of others, I was raw from the onslaught of all the anguish swirling around and though human existence.  I retreated into a small circumscribed circle of belonging turning off the TV, refraining from popular movies and the vividness of life.  I needed to learn to bolster my defenses and find the constrast button to turn it all down.  How did I do it?
 
Funny thing, I have no clue, but in the course of learning to mute the world’s pain, I learned to take on more of it without making it mine.  I learned to diminish the vividness of life into managemable little packets of experience and to find that once the damper was in place those experiences of others that were too painful and that cause irritation and upset in me were now a source of connectness and meaning. 
 
I think this is more and more what is needed to be taught and learned as life continues to be vivid, bruising and hurtful.  The new slogan for the new world – Drop out, turn off, tune in and connect.  And the stuff?  Well, quit hidding behind the new chesterfield and take it out to the fire circle.  Plunk yourself down on the cushions and stare into the flames; soon you will find the connections creeping out from around and though your jumble of overgrown defenses. 

A cool wind blowing up through the outhouse

 It’s august again and even with global warming and dire prophecies, a trip to the outhouse once the sun has gone down exposes your nether regions to a chill vacancy.  I try to think of other things besides ‘fluke men’ and hornets nests when so positioned, but a primitive corner of my brain still gibbers in fear.  I’m betting this primitive corner is the reason women always go to the bathroom in pairs.  It’s an evolutionary tactic to ensure survival.  Back before indoor plumbing and locked bathroom doors, little mary the cave woman would have taken her next door pelt neighbour with her to go out and squat over the log….not only to protect her from ‘fluke men’.
 
Vulnerable positions do us good in our cocoon existence.  It gets some adrenalin pumping and heightens our awareness to what is going on around us.  As I sat over empty space ready to bolt and felt the cool wind blow up from below I was also aware of the family outside and the distances we have crossed. 
 
Many family members are unable to attend though choice or desire or habit.  Some others may still be with us though in a less corporeal form.  Or not.   And some will not be with us much longer it seems.  For all those reasons it was deemed a good year to open the time capsule and so, despite another downpour, off trooped a few to dig up the mystery from yesteryear.  There upon opening the capsule was the discovery of wet and rot.  Much was destroyed, faded and still a mystery…..much like the past.  It fades and becomes more unknown with each damp dark year hidden from our light.  A few tiddbits survived to be dried out and replaced into a new and improved capsule with the contents sealed in plastic ziplock bags.  We will see how undegradable they really are!
 
Despite to cooler weather and the usual rain, it seems most had a good time.  John was his usual grumpy grouchy self come sunday morning.  Both karen and Micheal seem better than they have yet been since the death of Brett.  Mum was laughing and discussing her trip with Elsie and looking forward to travelling.  Even Tim was present on both Friday and Saturday, a previously unheard of event!
 
Yes there were some greatly missed.  Dad most prominently was not in his chair under the shade to chat with Nan and Bill.  Brett too gone from the Friday night fire and too much beer.  And the earlier departures…Frances, Al, Bruce and of course the originators of the custom; granma and granpa.
 
And so on another sunny day in August I found myself at the graveyeard again.  This time to show my youngest sister the headstone on dad’s grave and to deposit some new offerings in the vase.  This time we found some cattails and goldenrod to leave.  Dad always loved nature and being outside and as we stood there looking out at the valley the grave faced, there came two doe carefully stepping across the grave yard.  They stopped once or twice to nibble a few blades of grass, then nervously looked around and stepped into the trees on the edge of the ravine.  My sister and I held our breaths and became as still as the gravestones as the deer passed by us.  A few tears welled up in my eyes as my first thought was ‘Dad would have loved this’
 
And too this august, like the suprise deer there comes into our midst another being that Dad would have loved.  Our newest family member, Freya.  Just days old and wise-eyed and smiling like she knows some great secret.  Maybe she does.