I converse often on the land here at Windgrove although my daily conversations tend not to be in English; rather, a non-verbal, felt communion with echidnas, wombats, wallabies, eagles and the occasional whale (one seen four days ago). Aren’t we all such strange and wildly beautiful animals, even if a bit batty?
Speaking of which, David Abram’s new book ‘Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology’ has just been released. From his publisher:
The shape-shifting of ravens, the erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in Abram’s investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) is not an exclusive possession of our species, but a lucid quality of the biosphere itself—a quality in which we, along with the oaks and the spiders, steadily participate.
Sitting in their Santa Fe home garden is David Abram and partner Carmen who I visited two months ago. I miss them and our lively discussions on love, gardening, more love, the earth, even more love, the human animal, and, did I forget to mention, a little more talk of love?
To be honest, since returning from my three months of global travels, I have to admit to missing the buzz of being surrounded 24/7 by likable people of mutual respect who carry a love for the earth in their hearts. Not to say that my neighbours here don’t, because they do, it’s just that when travelling I become addicted to the “daily” intense discussions one can have at Schumacher or Esalen or Tassajara or Sprit Rock or Harbin Hot Springs or any number of Berkeley cafes. Here at Windgrove, though, the frequency of human dialogue is far less and its been hard to “slow down” even though my meditative practice asks for this.
And so I am in the process of re-learning why I live where I do and submitting to the conditions my life and my life’s teachings have dealt me. Most of the time this is a smooth, easy re-entry like putting on a well worn glove. Sometimes, though, this submission brings forth an uneasy anxiety, as when I get an email from Thomas Moore and his wife Hari Kirin that reads in part: “we both profoundly appreciate your life and work”.
Make no mistake, a real gratitude for their appreciative words does fill my heart, but a sad, old wound also gets pricked.
“Great”, I moan, “but you two have each other, and David Abram has a partner, and so does Fritjof Capra. Where is my love? Where is the intimacy in my life?”
When this wound opens, I question the worth of what others see as my “profound life and work” and wonder whether or not a simple house with a white picket fence and a loving wife (maybe, even two little kids) would have been a whole lot easier.
Yet….. even as I speak these words, I also know that the black dog of loneliness that “occasionally” stalks me at Windgrove (and I want to emphasize occasionally) is one of the many teachers that have pushed me into awareness. For in truth, I could not be the good teacher I am in England and America if not for the challenges faced at Windgrove where I have chosen, and deliberately so, to live a life on the edge.
This morning, in supposedly cold Tasmania, I photographed my Windgrove home where moments earlier I had basked shirtless on the deck in the soft heat of a winter’s sun. Later, hand weeding my small garden, dark hands loosened and released the composting soil back onto the earth so that it could do its work.
Like a Holy Face
Only as a child am I awake
and able to trusty
that in every fear and every night
I will behold you again.
However often I get lost,
however far my thinking strays,
I know you will be here, right here,
untouched by time.
To me it is as if I were at once
infant, boy, man and more.
I feel that only as it circles
is abundance found.
I thank you, deep power
that works me ever more lightly
in ways I can’t make out.
The day’s labor grows simple now,
and like a holy face
held in my dark hands.
The Book of Hours I, 62
translation — Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows