“To be awake is to be alive.”
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“For many people in modern cultures, the reality of life and aliveness comes most vividly when they’re outdoors experiencing nature. The more unusual and extraordinary the natural sight (waterfalls, mountains, canyons, redwood forests, oceans), the stronger the feeling many people get of spiritual reality.”
—Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
This past weekend I slept, moving through my precious moments minus a palpable connection with the natural world. Like so many of you, I am conscious, truly aware, far less often than I am unconsciousness. Of course that varies for us, the details shifting and changing like the mellifluous music of a Caribbean seashore.
“What do you mean? Were you a zombie,” you might ask, “walking in the Now like the walking dead?”
And I’d be forced, with all humility, to answer yes.
My week and weekend shape-shifted into what appeared to be duplicate days of weekends before. I rise in the early afternoon, from sitting at my desk during the day and all night, toiling away at rolling my creative boulder uphill, trying to make “it” happen. As I toil, my fingers skipping across the keyboard, open books and notebooks and scattered papers and stalked envelopes adorn my desktop. My blinders fit perfectly. I “see” only what I see: manuscripts requiring editing and formatting, lists of things to do, a desk calendar of meticulously written goals and unopened mail.
I am so locked into this picture, until I leap out of bed to step back into it, zombie groomed, like a cut-out doll stitching herself onto the page, so an unseen, little girl’s hand can cut me out anew. Daily.
“So what?” you could say. “I get ‘lost’ in what I’m doing, too, sometimes. What’s wrong with that?”
What’s wrong is I sit at my desk without pause…through a full bladder, a hungrily screaming stomach, stiff limbs, a parched tongue, muscles atrophied and sun spilling through the blinds and pooling at my feet, beckoning and golden, inviting me to walk Stone Mountain and just be. To remember how once not so long ago, I dwelled in balance and awareness and Presence.
When you think you are racing Time to circumvent a disastrous misstep in a future moment, you plunge outside of the Present Moment—voluntarily.
On this past Saturday, I gave thanks for a beloved writing friend, who delicately chided me about opening an e-mail I’d neglected for days. When I finally opened it, I had one day, Saturday, to get to the arts center off Cascade Road and submit three of my books for a December 2011 Book Fair. Ripping and running, I made it! Elated, I returned home to plop right down to this desk, except I knew it wouldn’t be for long. My poetry CD producer would be arriving shortly. We were set to record a poem for my spokenword work-in-progress, “Soft Tsunami.”
Behind the mic, my emotions raw and alive, I loved giving each rendition, delivered over and over, everything I had. Without pause, we discussed and recorded, recorded and collaborated. Finally, my producer and I were proud of what we’d accomplished several hours later.
Satisfied, I closed my office door at 7 P.M.
This was unusual for me. I am rarely satisfied. Nothing is normally “enough.” On other occasions when the recording ended, I ushered my producer out and returned to the writing or editing or planning, rolling up my sleeves for hours more blood, sweat and tears. However, something within, a gentle knowing, praised me, invited me to rest, to relax and to recline across my bed down the hall from my office. And bask in the beauty of the sunset.
Not a bad idea, I thought, considering my curiosity charmed me into putting a Facebook friend’s voice with her text messages. So I bowed to that Inner Voice, lay atop my white feather comforter and pressed her number into my cell.
A compendium of information, she epitomized a great conversationalist! I enjoyed her genial way, engaging wit and wealth of resources she freely shared. Hours waned. As we shared, our love of poetry uppermost in the confab, I noticed, gradually, the sun drifting from the sky, coloring the horizon a resplendent tapestry of layers: blue black, dark blue, navy blue, a dark cornflower blue and, eventually, a burst of saffron orange, where a pot of gold seemed to simmer off in the distance, beyond the apartments behind my condo complex.
The sight celestial, I stared. Awestruck! How did I miss such beauty nightly? Inside, while I listened to a poet verbalize how to make poetry pay the bills, clarifying how to ‘make paper make paper,’ I imagined painting the magnificence of the sunset in words and oils! Somehow, some way, the glory of that moment required its own ink.
But I said not one word about the majesty to which I’d treated myself. I cradled it to my breast, stored it amongst my keepsakes for the moment it would be dropped into one of my books.
With the poet, I shared poetry. Praise. Encounters. Audience reactions. She’d recited throughout the States, Europe and Central America; I’d graced my share of stages in Atlanta. Our revelry interrupted by my beloved writing friend, the one I alluded to earlier, she called to invite me to a party, free admission, her attitude ebullient. I wavered. Suddenly, I wanted to dress up and go. Outside, the hawk howled in the night. Inside, I preened in my vanity mirror and strolled inside my walk-in closet, selected a pair of skinny jeans and flapped them across the foot of my bed.
Then the same gentle nudging returned. Tacitly, it spoke to me, repeating its earlier message. Wordlessly. Sweetly. Encouraged me to return to bed, to slow down and continue admiring the pageantry of the night.
I did. Redialed the poet’s number and resumed our conversation. And continued to marvel at the Divine’s handiwork outside my back, third-floor windows.
The next morning, Sunday morning, about 11 AM, unconscious once more, I walked into my office and opened the blinds. A zombie, and not from sleep, I overlooked the sparkling fabulosity of the early-morning sunshine, the striking mountain-top view of Stone Mountain off in the distance, and plopped down at my desk. The lights of my PC’s screen illuminated the over-sized screen, and I began mechanically editing the manuscript from the day before, softly chiding myself for being away from it that long.
A jagged shard of glass winked in my peripheral vision from the carpet, near my left foot. I frowned. How had that happened? I must be slipping, I precluded, upbraiding myself. Shoeless, my grand babies were always about, in and out of cords snaking to my printer and up to my PC’s speakers. Gingerly, I trashed the glass in a waste basket under my desk, my gaze re-buttonholed to my document.
Then it happened! Again. A feeling rose up inside me, prompting me to “look” at the sun-splashed window. That’s when I saw it. Two holes the size of golf balls in the double-paned glass. My startled gaze fluttered to the white wounded wooden blind, observing for the first time a bullet hole. Disbelieving, for how could it be, I called my sister Glenda and informed her that someone had thrown a rock through my office window.
“Nobody threw no rock that far up!” She practically hurled the words through the phone. And as she spoke, I scrutinized the carpet, wide-eyed, mouth agape.
There…at the foot of my swivel chair…lay the top portion of a bullet! The sight woke me instantly! Only then did I become aware of a spray of glinting bits of glass everywhere: in my cushioned chair, scratching my bottom through my pajamas and Kelly-green robe, sprinkled over my dream board and books resting on the printer’s glass tabletop behind my desk, atop the hardback books and magazines under the window, splayed across the small navy blue and floral sofa on the opposite wall and glass mingled with bits of the wooden blind on the baseboard near the sofa!
Had I been in the room I could have been in the path of the invading missile. Had I not bowed to that gentle knowing I might not have had the blessing of writing this blog. Had I not been Present to Spirit, I would’ve missed the prompting to become one with the natural world, with the omniscient understanding that everything is already all right. That the Divine is ever Present.
That in order to live the golden wonder of this life, I must be awake! I must remember daily that the sole moment in which I access the Divine is the Present Moment, not the past or the future.
Finishing this writing this morning, at 2:19 AM, on Friday, November 11, an arm’s reach away from that Sunday, I understand a bit more of why it took a bullet and a sunset to wake me to the beauty of my existence. My life is so much more than I have reduced it to. Whole slices of life await me! The love of my life! My speaking career! My performances! Blessed opportunities to be Present with family and friends! My travels worldwide! My thresholds to feel and see and appreciate! My desire to love and be loved! The manifestations of my dreams! My inevitable introduction to Oprah, Ellen and Toni!
I want to be Present for it all, and I will experience all of it awake and aware! I will change the world by changing myself. Each day I will rise and witness something of wonder in the world. I will be filled with awe and amazement at the Divine’s golden masterpieces awaiting my exultation. And I will Trust with a child’s exuberance and anticipation, knowing my steps are ordered.
Living a Golden Life
The Golden Goddess