There is a wind, a breath, a lingering contrail of energy left behind from all the interactions of nature. Everything is moving towards everything else, blood vessels stretching, rivers running, lungs expanding, roots touching, nerves branching through our fleshy meat. We are nature reaching for the rest of nature. Pathways bend and slither and slide their way through our landscape, through the earth’s landscape, all the same inside and out.
Waterways remind us of the essential truth of change. Rain fills the rivers, to move to the lakes, to evaporate towards the sky to be born again as the water in my tea cup. Liquid becomes ice to become liquid to become gas again. Altering shape is our way of life. We are so much less solid than we think. Our skin loosens just a little everyday.
A snake will die if it can not shed its skin. I am a snake rubbing my snout on the ground, my skin easing. Is it a relief or does it hurt?
I am a newly hatched luna moth, wings still folded and wet. Am I a little scared or mostly invigorated?
I am a fox molting, tufts of hair floating in the wind as I prepare to turn a shock of white for the winter. I think my howl is changing too.
It is said that the sound of the cello is closest in tambour to the human voice.
This must not be the voice of any ordinary human, I think, but one who accepts the ongoing metamorphosis of all things.
For it feels as though the cello knows how to find the edges of our being, its music pushing into the resilient depths of what we are made of. It knows that the impermanence of life holds beauty and grief in a tangled embrace. I imagine the cello’s grunts and moans surfacing from the stomachs of crystal caverns hidden in the earth. Its sound is something dying, something dancing, something flying into a thunderstorm, something birthed from a blackhole.
It is our underworld voice. A place that legitimizes our richest, darkest expression. It is here that I find my life falling apart. Gorgeously disintegrating. The job and people I have worked with for the last twenty years, dissolved. The beautiful home that was my sanctuary, sold. The life I have created, composting now. Even the land that has held me, healed me, says it's time I move on.
It is not often in a life that so much falls apart so quickly, so all in-synch. I am straightening up, my ears perked, listening intently. There is some message coming through. I feel it in the friction, the way I am being worked on by an invisible blacksmith, hammered, heated, and shaped into something else entirely. I glow when held up, undeniable truths gleaming under my paper-thin skin.
What does one do when the cello is playing, when there is a slow dying happening, the promise of rebirth? I have been practicing sitting in the dark, a longing to put a small rock in the cog of my mind to stop its endless turning. I am breathing, realizing how much I don’t breathe. I am breathing after a lifetime of holding my breath. I want to really breathe.
In my waking hours, I have a sudden obsession with freedivers, the control of mind and body they possess to live without oxygen. I dream of freedivers in the ocean blackness, gone to study how to speak in the tongue of blue whales. What happens there in the night-sea, when you are a microscopic dot in the endless loving cosmos?
I dream of bleak, grey landscapes with needle-pointed mountains and snow hidden lakes. Ice floes are cracking, separating, falling apart. I am falling apart. The ice only knows how to change shape. Its voice is a fire crackling, wind chimes tinkling, or sea monsters grunting, stirring. I cautiously encourage this dissolution of the things I think I know. Lets just say, I have had some ideas.
I am convinced that I signed up for this uncertainty. But how much change am I brave enough to invite in? I feel this between the cracks of believing that everything is conspiring. With me? Against me? In the dark my fingers run along the edge of my tolerance for change, the threshold of what I think I can bear.
I dream of faces under the ice peering back at me. They are calm and know how to trust themselves completely. There is no room for error in this unforgiving crush. Do not forget which way is up. There is an unbelievable peace here too, when you know how to give yourself over. I peer out beyond the animal of this sleeping, breathing ice.
People watch from the outside, from their own ecosystems. Friends and family sense the cold and see my skin rubbed raw and it is hard to sit with loss without trying to make it more comfortable. This is our most human instinct. Their worry wants to warm me but they can not know how the cold is also invigorating, life giving. Every dive into this grief cleanses me, restorative only if I let the glacial waters wash over me without trying to capture them. My blood slows under my skin. I have a hibernating bear’s heart. My eyes are open in the crystal clear water. A memory of warmth, a different kind of heat, sustains me.