Yesterday morning, I went out to the beach before the sun rose, with two small dogs tethered to my arms, and my braids fuzzy from sleeping. I was still wearing the old grey linen dress I had slept in. There were other walkers, sparse in the thin light.
It would be a cloudy morning for a while; The sun would have a lot to burn through when it rose.
I wasn’t much paying attention to the sky, other than to think, as I do throughout the day: “Yes, hello, sky. There you are.”
My older dog shambled along, 1/2 blind but perky enough, periodically relieving himself in the sand. I carried orange bags, a wad of plastic and offage in my hand. My old dog’s younger counterpart, ‘the puppy,’ was almost electric in the early morning, straining and weaving at the end of the leash, wild with the millions of scents that were mashed up and soaked into the beach, coming in from the ocean, hanging in the air itself.
The beach, to her – this young dog, is an entirely new world for which she has not conscious way of conceptualizing, because she is a dog and does not know how big the world is, or that there are oceans across mountains. We were in another world, in the mountains, at the house, and now – two days later – she is here and I wonder if she remembers, in her dog mind, the place where she usually lives. I am almost certain that she does and that she will, in her dog mind, remember the beach after we leave.
She may forget for a while, because we don’t come here often, but then she will remember, when we come back.
This may be my old dog’s last trip to the beach – though it may not be. Either way, thinking of it makes me feel sad, makes me realize that it could be any of our last trips to the beach.
Bah. Maudlin. Nighttime, cigarettes and diet soda, post-cookies and rare television, laughing with children.
I am still at the beach, right now.
I do not want to think about death.
I have been worried about it again, mostly at night, which is when I, and presumably other people, habitually worry about such things – there in the quiet, where I can feel my aches, my own solid mortality.
I had a period of time during which I believed that I did not fear death. I was, incidentally, out of my mind during that little span of months when I was certain that…wait…i just realized something: It wasn’t that I didn’t fear death.
It was that I believed, wholeheartedly, that I would live a long and deeply satisfying life, that I would not die in a way that would cause pain, or wreck lives.
(It, here, meaning the feeling of comfort in a subjective sense of being sort of alright with dying…)
A lot of what I fear in death is the thought of people being sad. I have a personal belief system that what is core in me will – truly – never die, that it cannot. My internal spirit, my holy electricity, my sacred personal attributes in energetic characteristic…well, it will all just fly out of me, and go up into everything else, still carrying me, my patterns and tendencies, frequencies and what not, all that I may have picked up in the experience of what I might call my soul as I inhabited this container, this complex human construction, during this particular little stretch of time…and so, in that way, because I do believe that all elements in earth and space have tendencies and proclivities and that, perhaps, in their mingling and evolution, an intelligence, a will that is constrained only by the boundaries of the physically possible…which, when one thinks about those boundaries, are pretty easy to re-negotiate, given all the different ways the elements and forces of the world may combine and transmutate…well, maybe I could be a well-timed wind, a comforting presence in the night.
Maybe I could soar around with birds, and sing through them…?
Is it crazy to want to be a ghost? I think I like the imagined freedom of it…but, oh, such a terrible thing…to be a force of consciousness, and yet to never be real, to be so whispery, really just a breeze, it was only a breeze. The feeling in the night, an imagination. To try to be good, to protect, to delight, and to watch over, reassure, be a friend…and to end up scaring people, giving them the creeps, making them feel crazy, go crazy…when all you wanted to do was to tell them, “Hello. I’m here.”
(Note: I don’t know if any of this is true. Suffering, sadly, seems to be a part of life…but, undue suffering, exploitative suffering, abused suffering, terrified suffering…those are other matters.)
Terrible, terrible…that anxiety…the flipside of love, because why would we care if we didn’t care?
“Only picture good things. Do not imagine futures that you don’t want.”
Ah, but which you…which you are we talking about? The one that wants to live, desperately to live…or the one that really is a little self-defeating, destructive even, in some ways?
What if it’s all the same?
In any event, I have spent some lovely hours floating with my younger child, listening to my family member’s voices with my ears underwater and the sun making the inside of my head all red and pure light and dark in the cool channels of water that were pulled up from the depths.
I have done a great deal of swimming.
What I wanted to say, before I said all of that, is that this morning – when I went back to the beach, without dogs, there were big machines everywhere and that was what I wanted to say something about, initially…something about capitalism-motivated efficiency and how it wrecks the world.
All this gawking around and feeling the weight of ten poems I wanted to write choking me in my damn throat, with phrases like, “Some of this is totally uninspired,” drifting around in my thoughts, with an air of unapology.
I have a meeting in 20 minutes. This is the first time I have been alone since Friday. I am on vacation. It has, thus far, been fun. We are all committed to this being a good vacation.
My children are seeing a movie right now.
I was just sitting in the sun, thinking about the effort to make oneself immortal, and where such impetus is born in one’s psyche.
All this gawking around, those poems unwritten, the sentence “Make no promises; Tell no lies.” like a stamp for the afternoon, during which I briefly considered, while looking at the ocean between houses, several promises I had made and broken, and wondered who I was to have been so naive…
Who was that person?