One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.
A Life Examined
I pay attention to my life. Some may think too much and it is acceptable for them to interpret my self examination as such. I do scrutinize my attentions. Some aspects of my life get more attention than others. It is like taking a shower, I bathe my entire body but some parts might get more care or a little extra scrubbing. All systems must be subject to occasional review if for no more than to confirm the system and the creator(s) of the system are still in alignment. That system can be political, social, economic, personal, etc.. It still needs to be examined. As in the words of William Blake:
I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s. I will not reason and compare, my business is to create.
When I examine and look back and into my life, everything appears to have followed and is following a path of destiny, experience and chance. Everything is in balance and chaos. The yin and yang. My memories are all from life’s dualities. Life’s moments. Happy/sad, love/loss, joy/sorrow. It is easy to remember the good times, but I am not in denial of the sorrows in my life. Both are real and continue to teach me. In the face of sorrow, I learned to search for some secret joy. in each one.
My first physical memories involved Prospect Village where I lived until I was four. I remember having fun as a kid, I had nothing to compare my life to, so everything was great. So many new adventures like the first time I was stung by a bee. I had let it rest upon my hand, placed my other hand on top, and ran to show my mom. It must not have liked being caged in. And the time my father beat me with the wet towel he was using to wash his car when I rode my tricycle into the street. I did not know then he beat me out of fear for my being hit by a car. The street was just part of the driveway to a three year old and besides as I learned later, you never stop on a downhill ride if you are having fun and I was.
There were twelve attached house to each row. We lived on the end of the row nearest the railroad tracks. This is where I experienced magic for the first time. From the witch who lived in the trunk behind the curtain in the bedroom my brother and I shared, to the sounds of train whistles and bells, magic was always about. No matter how many times mom would open the trunk lid to show me there was no witch inside, I knew the witch would be there to teach and torment me the moment mom left.
There is so much to remember from life which is partially why we are here. To experience and remember. I believe this is why I write, to remember as much as possible, but only those memories which float freely into memory. Like the first time I kissed Debbie Johnson and paid the price for a loose tongue. I have not done that again. There is also the issue of growing older. So much has already been forgotten.
I have no memory of the day before but on November 22, 1963, I was in the 10th grade running through the halls to my last class. It was at the end of the block long Trenton Central high school. My English teacher and a stone cold fox, Ms Kelly, had not heard the news. (I secretly blame her for my fascination with older women.) When I told her President Kennedy had been shot, she grabbed me in her arms and we both hugged each other in total disbelief, but deep down in my young 16 year old loins, I was experiencing a different kind of disbelief. I thought I had gone to heaven. A similar experience occurred on April 04, 1968 while I was a sophomore in college only without Ms Kelly’s embrace.
There are other dates I recall. January 06, 2002 was my mother’s birthday as well as the day I fell in love. We knew each other from the bookstore but had not had contact with one another for over five years. Upon my return to SLO I heard she and Bill were divorced but I had no way to contact her. Then we saw each other from a block away. Moved toward one another as if in a slow action tv spot and embraced for the first time. When we finally looked up, we were standing directly in front of the bookstore where we first met six years previously. I knew in that moment I never wanted to let go of her for as long as I lived. Unfortunately, her life was ended unexpectantly on July 27, 2003. Eighteen months later.
I have for my entire life been detached as much as possible from the outside world and an introvert. Only a few people have understood and accepted me for who I am. My mom was one of them. O’ we had our differences and for a period of time did not even speak, but as we both grew older, and became more open, we reestablished a very loving and caring understanding.
I have my angels and friends. Stan Madson from the Bodhi Tree Bookstore inspired my sense of quiet and meditation. Self examination on a deeper level. Arne Nybak, a California artist, instructed me on how to see during the years I served as his care provider. Joyte, Karen, Lorelli, friends and lovers who will always share my life and love. However, my best friends are books and solitude. My life is blessed not in quantity but in the quality of my friendships. I would not have it any other way.
Outside of people, reading, writing, thinking, and dreaming are strong influences in my life. Philosophy, poetry, and psychology also play important roles in this dream I live. The three “P’s” and a room on my own. The basic necessities for this life I love.
Cuenca Street Art
Random thoughts and experiences while I walk and live to The Roll of the Rio Tomebamba.