Beyond the surface

Beyond the surface
Dragonflies, big and blue and about the size of hummingbirds
But mute, mysterious, and yet somehow, more real.
There are no red plastic feeders here
Wild and silent and shimmering in the otherwise flat grey light of dawn
Leaving big ripples on the still forest pool
Perfect circles expanding
A bull’s-eye.
It is different here
New and as such, slightly odd.

We are camping beside a large pond with cattails taller than the camper on our truck and lily pads the size of dinner plates skirting the edges. Earlier this morning the largest bull moose I ever saw splashed in through these lilies and swam to the other side, his huge and heavy rack held above the black silk surface in the haze of first light like a burdensome and looming ship crossing a medieval mote.

At our camp site is trash, always an unwelcome site. Local trash. Tell tale signs of broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, shotgun shells and business cards from a shop in the nearest town about a half hour down the mountain. Little pride in their beautiful land. I’ve never understood that. Does it form from a sense of helplessness or ignorance? In any case, I call it a bad sign.

I am looking for signs. Signs that tell me “this is the place.” Home. I’m not finding it and it’s somewhat scary since I am committed to make this move and soon, yet have not figure where this move will take me. And depressing because I keep hoping to find it clear and simple, “Eureka!” there it is, and am disappointed each day as I sit in the back seat of the pickup and look out the side window at the landscape rushing by, hoping something there will call me, tell me I belong here. But I hear nothing beside the rush of the motor and the blaring music of my son and the regular outbursts of silly humor of the three of us telling jokes and stories in our funny and familiar way.

I lose faith in myself and wish I had faith in higher powers. But higher powers haven’t got me where I am. Hard work and a strong sense of daring have. I have no blind faith. My eyes are wide open. I know that will upset some to read. The same few who might admire my life and keep praying to live where and how I have lived. I would like to believe prayers will get you as far as grit but haven’t seen this first hand.

Funny though that I still keep praying, asking for a sign, asking to be put where I belong and do what I can to best serve this beautiful world.

And the truck rumbles on, and another day passes as fast as the view outside the side window, and in a blur I remember the answer but it’s not as clear and comforting as I wish it were.

Make it happen. There is no red carpet laid out for the journey of life. Weave it as you go along. And weave it yourself. All the velvety red ribbon is already inside you. It’s not the place; it is you. All you need to do is get to work and weave the path yourself. Believe in yourself. I’ve heard those words before.

There’s more to it than that. I’m listening for the answers. But I’m learning to listen within.

6 thoughts on “Beyond the surface

  1. Faith isn’t a form of social security, and God doesn’t too often dole handouts. More often He gives strength, even if just for the next step. As the old expression goes, God helps those who help themselves – which includes people who work as hard and as thoughtfully as you do.

    Signs of the illuminated pointing finger type are pretty rare, indeed they aren’t too common even in the Bible. There is no perfect place on earth. But there are places where one thinks, “yes, I can make a living there” and “I can be satisfied living there”. Perhaps the most important thing is to find good people. There are still some about. The answer comes down to an assessment of checks and balances, and sometimes a bit of intuition too. Unfortunately as one gets older, one seeks a longer term solution and notices more of the irritations (such as litter, which annoys me too). That makes it harder, however one also takes the search more seriously. Sometimes too seriously.

    Two other things come to mind right now. One is that you need to push on doors, not just look at them superficially. The other is to think laterally at your skills, aspirations and what brings you happiness. The right answer to your question may not be the first thing that appears in your mind, or necessarily something that you have done before. Up there in the wilderness you will have picked up some surprisingly transferable skills.

    I wish you good fortune and insight on your quest. You WILL find a good place to live and work. However most likely the trail will be unsigned and little trodden so it will be your perseverence, insight and intuition that lead you there.

  2. Funny this post spoke to me so loudly, since we are in the completely opposite place right now. We’re leaving the farm for a new one. I wasn’t looking for a sign; I wasn’t looking to go. When the opportunity arose I was hesitant. There was no clap of thunder, no ah-ha moment, no instant “this-is-the-place-for-me” feeling…

    But over the past couple months a whisper has grown to a veritable shout – the new land is saying “I need you.” It’s bitter sweet saying goodbye to my ancient maple trees, the familiar meadows, the companions of field and forest. However, in being comfortable in where we had rooted, listening to my own inner voice, I had tuned out a broader one… Now it fills me with a greater rhythm and I’m impatient to start the new adventure!

    Good luck – I’m sure it is all going to fall into place for you soon!

  3. I can feel the uncertainty and disappointment in your words and there is so much I want to say. I guess I’ll start with the fact that God made us to have a free will and choices in our life and I really think he likes to allow us to create our own paths and prefers to gently guide us to see them and then help us out when we choose the wrong path but I know occasionally he does give us a big sign which is easier for us at the time. I know sometimes he wants us to work hard for things, like walking around the walls of Jericho 7 times (I think I’m getting the story straight) and then the walls came tumbling down and other times he wants us to be patient and wait for him…

    Meanwhile, I am beginning to really understand why it is hard to find another place that feels like home. This place where I am currently, your home, is a home you and Bob have so wonderfully and lovingly made and something that really can’t be described. And I am understanding more and more each day when you say things like, the mountain doesn’t belong to you. But what I feel is me starting to belong to the mountain. Somehow I am becoming a part of her but it’s not just that, it’s the whole package…I think you know what I mean which is what makes it so hard for you to find a new home. I wish I had the solution…

    • Indeed, the solution will come, probably more in a more pragmatic manner as Julian suggests. Though I’m still open for that lightening bolt, as time is running out. I leave my child in a new home 2000 miles away, and return to a home no longer ours with the dept and stresses still remaining… this was not my “plan.”
      Connection to the land… so simple at times… especiallly on the surface, which is all most will see except in time, time and trauma and toil. It is different to be there through the harshness of winters, in-law battles, births and deaths of colts, stresses of growing debts. Those things aren’t there for you to see, for our guests to experience, for a visitor to stumble upon, we hide them well, that’s been our job, but they ARE real, part of the place, part of us, part of the mountain, part of the relationship that makes it all real, has made it all work, and now changes it all. You see the fair weather, the wonderful horses we have raised and trained, and enjoy the homes we have built… For you, my friend, Karen, I hope they serve as inspiration for you and Ron to someday do the same or similar, find a place you can connect with: blood, sweat and tears, for only then is there true connections, not just admiration of surrounding beauty a feeling of one sided bliss. Then there is connection. You and the land are of one. As long as you feel that way and are willing to give. Connection. And then, only then, can one really understand and accept separation, as I think Maggie is doing now, as she is moving on from a land and home she and her family built and tended and nurtured and at times I know truly slaved over to make it work… how proud I am of her, and excited for the adventures that await her (FANTASTIC, Maggie!!!).

  4. Gin,

    Everything here does serve as an inspiration to me and I know it is the fruit of your labor. That’s what I meant when I said it’s the “whole package”. None of this (except the mountain) would be this way without your blood, sweat and tears. And I do have hope that one day Ron and I will be able to find a place in the mountains, whichever mountains they may be, and make it our own…much like you and Bob will be able to do again, just like you did here.

Thank you for your interest in Gin's writing.

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