‘Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this
As someone long prepared for this to happen
Go firmly to the window, drink it in
Exquisite music Alexandra laughing
Your first commitments tangible again
As someone long prepared for the occasion
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward's explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect’
– Leonard Cohen, from his song Alexandra Leaving
High up in the forest, early morning. No-one else around this high up, so early. Space to breathe. A tender layer of clouds stretching across the flowing hills and mountains of this beautiful city. The forest a shade darker. The leaves a shade greener. Gentle breeze in the leaves playing like contented children, the harmonious murmur soothing in the distance.
I arrive at an intersection of paths after a steep climb. Catch my breath, close my eyes, hear my heart racing. Sense the animal in my body. Something wild, beyond my control. Pumping blood. Breathing in. Breathing out. Grateful to be alive. Hearing the pumping pace slowing down, like a boat arriving in a harbour.
Opening my eyes, looking down the path. In the distance, a lone old man stooping, inspecting something in the bark of a tree. Standing very still. Too still, perhaps. An old man who's not yet lost his curiosity. Not yet so familiar with the world, so knowing that he no longer senses its magic. The literalist in me knows what I'm seeing ‘is not real’. Thankfully he no longer rules my being, my ‘sight’. His heart never was truly open. No space for journeys to unfold.
I start to walk down that path, towards the old man. Sounds of birds in the tall trees, excitedly alive. Wisps of white mistiness through the treetops. A large rock coming into view in the distance. Next to a tree, coloured delicately, precisely, by moss in various hues of greens, whites and browns. Shaping the image, containing the spirit of an old man stooping, inspecting a tree.
So much gratitude to you who taught me: ‘When the medicine woman "sees" a wolf in the grass, she knows it really is a wolf. Even if it turns out the wolf was "just a shrub".’ She asks the wolf why it is here, what it wants from her? What messages it brings? She holds the questions lightly. Carries them in her body. Feels the hefts from the stooping question marks, unanswered, in her heart. As she opens herself to the particular quality of the wolf. Feeling into its emotions, its story. Allowing the answers to come to her, as she opens herself more deeply, to the image. Exactly as it appeared to her.
This is not analysis. It requires an open heart. Paying attention. Lovingly. ‘Listening’. ‘Smelling’ its energy, its moods, its emotions, its stories. Opening to the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the sensations in her body, on her skin, that the image evokes in her. She digests it. Sensations coming and going, like the tides of oceans. Weight and emptiness. The moods emanating from the wolf's eyes. His judgements of her, contained in the way he stares at her. Or at something behind her? Maybe her child. Maybe her death. The meanings flowing from the way the old man stoops, the stiffness in his legs.
Can you open to the magic?
In an infinite universe, the earth hangs nearly one hundred million miles from the sun. But just in that exact spot, so that shifts in the tiny distance between its one pole and its other pole is enough to cause summers and winters. Consider this carefully.... These shifts between poles involve a distance that is a tiny fraction of our distance from the sun. And yet the earth is placed in just that sweet spot where these shifts make the difference between life proliferating and life falling into an icy grip of stagnation.
Or, consider the following. The moon is four hundred times smaller than the sun. And yet, it is placed in that exact position where its visible size from earth is nearly exactly the same as the size of the sun as seen from earth. And magically, every now and then, it passes between the sun and earth, precisely in that spot where it blocks the rays from the sun entirely. The ‘design’ necessary for this to be, is truly astonishing!
The memory of existence
Walking down the path towards the stooping old man. A flux of wind, whispering more insistently. ‘A blink of an eye’. In it I sense a ghostly consciousness swooping through this space, thousands of years ago. Or thousands of years into the future. Witnessing a moment, here in this exact spot, long before or long after the existence of humankind. The rock is still there. Containing the spirit of an old man stooping, inspecting something on the bark. Carrying the image of what once was. Or, will one day be. Even if the moss has long disappeared. As if the rock has memory.
Perhaps existence itself has memory. And its longing imprints itself where it can. Perhaps the rock is no longer, or not yet, there. The space it will one day fill, longing for it to come and fill it up. As if space itself has memory. Fostering the ghostly image of a stooping old man, who longs to be. To make an appearance. Images, like ghosts that once were. Of shapes, alive, even if they aren't yet manifest.
The ones who once knew, noticed the presences in memory. Memory both of what was and will one day be. Acknowledged their aliveness. Their realness. Their longing to be embodied. To live. And to die. Contained in the consciousness, the awareness, of existence itself. And they called the realm where these images dwell, Memoria. It is like an energy field one can learn to experience. That we can sense. And tapping into it, learning to give shape to its presences, lovingly, is the experience called imagination. Sometimes images appear to us. Perhaps because they want something from us. Or when they simply want to say hello. Like a wolf. Or a stooping old man inspecting a tree.
Shape-shifting has always been a preferred language for communication between realms. Our dreams and our fantasies, theatres of their appearance. As are chance events, aka co-incidences, properly called synchronicities. Also illnesses. Including our neuroses. So that working with our dreams, our fantasies, and our illnesses is not about health or achieving our personal ego-goals. Just as understanding the meanings of synchronicity has nothing to do with manifestation of our personal goals, nor even our personal growth. That would be spiritual materialism. A disease rampant in our world today. No, all our ‘inner work’ has but one purpose: to open ourselves to being rooted more deeply in direct experiential awareness of Memoria. In other words, to cultivate imagination.
I make my way out of the forest, again struck by how deeply my being feels nourished. Which holds an interesting paradox, for things that nourish us deeply could be viewed as ‘mood-altering substances’. I drive back out into the world, relishing the sense of a whole day, freshly awaiting me. It is still deliciously early and traffic on this Saturday morning still sparse. I open the sunroof, put on some gentle music, the cool spring air in my hair. And then I notice him. A man, an older man, in brown-green clothes and a long cane in one hand. Looking up, inspecting something in a tree at the side of the road.