Category Archives: Reflections
I am lying on my back on a boulder on the bank of Dinkey Creek. From this position, I see an expansive sky of blue, rung with green treetops. When I sit up, I see a running river splashing over rocks as it makes its way downstream. When I flip over onto my stomach, I see a placid stretch of flat water gently and slowly flowing on its way. When I look across to the other shore, I discover there is a walking trail on that side, and I realize that the gentleman exploring that path is seeing the scene from a totally different perspective.
As I turn my head to the left, I see just the lower half of many tree trunks, a variety of wildflowers and shrubbery growing out of craggy crevices, and an outcropping of boulders. When I turn my head to the right, I see entire tall trees, the creek, more boulders and rocks, and a wall of granite in the near distance. When I look straight ahead, I see those things as well, but also a gravely, sandy trail, ancient sturdy tree roots clinging to the rocky soil, and a fisherman with his gear. Some trees are green and vibrant; many are dead or dying from the stress of drought and bark beetle. Some stretches glimmer in the sunlight; some spaces are in shadow.
I have not gone anywhere. I have not moved from this 3’x 6’ space. I am still where the sun bathed my skin ten minutes ago, but now I am completely in the shadow. To feel that warmth in this new moment, I move upstream and find a fresh place to enjoy the light. Again, I see that this is the same creek, but it has a feast of facets. Each nook, cranny, bend, bow, dip and rise helps to shape and form its journey.
Things look different depending on my vantage point, my collective memory, and my current state of mind. I honor the validity of each perception with wonder at their diversity… and at the same time, I recognize that it’s all really the same… each variation and expression is part of the whole. We are all one, there is only love and light, and there is only the present moment.
When we were on Maui a couple of weeks ago I bought a photograph of a lone turtle in expansive clear waters looking out towards an infinite calm sea. I had been searching for something to put over my headboard ever since I bought some tropical-themed bedroom furniture a few months ago, and this was it. It’s a panoramic shot by the Sweets, well-known Maui photographers whose work was the first of several pieces of Hawaiian art I’ve purchased over many years. I didn’t initially think about the size being nonstandard so that it would require custom framing, which can be expensive.
Since the local independent framer I formerly used is now out of business, I went to the two big box art/craft stores that offer framing to get prices. They play the game of giving it a regular price tag of $800 with a “today only” discount of 60% off, plus another 10% off. The staff is friendly enough, but not particularly helpful or heartful.
Then I remembered another local frame shop that’s right across from my bank. I had worked with them once to find a piece of mat board that I needed to match. It’s owned and operated solely by an experienced, professional, mature couple, and their showroom is large and filled with an array of choices. When I went in, I didn’t have the art with me, but I knew the size and had brought a wood sample for color match. I told Greg I didn’t need a mat, but just the frame and glass, and he said “whatever you want, we are here to help.”
They both set about the shop, pulling options and helping me narrow down the selection. I realized it was a treat for me to feel leisurely rather than hurried, and I enjoyed the service and the conversation. As he was entering info into the computer to bid some samples, I began to tell them more about the Sweets and the Hana gallery where I bought the photo, about my artist friend who also shows at that gallery and her intricate paintings of ocean-smoothed beach stones, about my love of turtles and what they represent to me. Then it occurred to me that I might be boring them or taking too much of their time, so I said “oh, I’m talking so much,” and he said “you’re talking to two of the biggest talkers; please continue.” They both gave me all of their attention and were as immersed in the interaction as I was.
Greg told me the first choice was ridiculously too expensive, and he quoted me an “out the door” price on a couple more. Then he encouraged me to choose the third one, which was the least expensive and would be quick to arrive. I asked if the cost included assembling it all together, and again he assured “of course; we are here to be of service.” He handed me a copy of the sales order, and I asked if he wanted a deposit. “No, just pay me when you pick it up.” That type of trust and accommodation is so rare in today’s world!
After quite a bit of time (all of it enjoyable), I walked out with a receipt totaling twice what I originally thought I might pay, which was about $35 more than another store quoted. But I felt completely pleased with my purchase and uplifted by the experience of working with a craftsman with heart and soul. For the rest of the day, and into today, I am still feeling a warmth and satisfaction that even a 100% off coupon could not replace. And I am joyously looking forward to having a beautiful piece of art hanging over my head nightly, one that was created with passion and beauty and framed with genuine love.
When I head back to the islands in May, I might allow myself to be seduced just one more time by another piece of turtle art… as long as it requires a visit with Greg and Julia at Monterey Custom Framing.
Four years ago Sieg and I began to look at options for selling our ag irrigation business. Three and one-half years ago we engaged a brokerage firm to set that in motion. Eight months ago we began serious discussion with the perfect buyer. Four months ago we entered due diligence… and I must say it was quite diligent! And as of yesterday, we officially released that business into new hands. It’s been a long journey, and there are still logistical matters to finish up, but we have emerged from the tunnel into the light. We are so happy to be moving forward into a new life of freedom, with time to do what we want, when we want.
During these last months, while I was spending countless hours preparing financial reports, in conference calls with accountants, attorneys, and agents, and being scrutinized from head to toe, I visualized my grandchildren and the wonderful sense of pure love and joy that they give me to provide some moments of relief. A few weeks ago I discovered a passage from A Course in Miracles that is featured in Robert Holden’s book Holy Shift!, and I made it my mantra: “Love is one…it never alters with a person or a circumstance.”
Even though I have professed for years to believe that we are all one on a spiritual level, the first day I read that passage in the midst of due diligence angst, I realized that I had not been living it during these times of stress. So, when my human self was buckling from the weight of demands and interrogation, and I felt animosity towards “their” Chicago counsel or “their” junior financial analyst, I began to picture all those people on “the other side” in the same way as my grandchildren. I saw them as glowing, pure light beings, on their right paths, moving through their journeys in this world as we all do.
And it helped, even though I definitely still had moments of frustration with the process of the sale. Once Sieg and I joked that just because we love everyone equally and see us all as one, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to like their behavior! But then again, each time I returned to the message that love “never alters with a person or a circumstance,” I would be more at peace.
Amidst all the intense inquiry, legal maneuvering, dialoguing between attorneys in Chicago and San Francisco, and working with investment bankers from who knows where, we often found ourselves negotiating with ourselves about what is truly important for our happiness. In the end, the deal was consummated when we sat down at the kitchen table to sign the documents with only each other as witnesses.
So what’s next? This morning I picked up Holy Shift! again, turning to a new page for this new stage of my life. The passage I “randomly” selected starts: “Today we practice letting freedom come to make its home with you…”
It’s a new day, and now the California Seascape bluffs are reminiscent of the coast of Scotland. Bagpipes and Scottish drums herald the beginning of another marriage. The weather this morning is cooperating with the charade. It feels like a foggy, remote, northern island coast. Despite a rockin’ blues band playing down on the beach for an event, my imagination conjurs up scenes of a windswept, rugged land halfway around the world.
Again, there is quiet while the couple speaks their words of love. This ceremony is taking much longer than yesterday’s, so I presume they are more traditional, more thoughtful, more expressive. Although the wedding party itself is hidden from view, masked by native coyote bush and a multitude of other shrubs, I can picture the scene. The barely visible top of a decorated arbor assures me that this special spot exists.
While I wait for the recessional music to begin, I gaze out to the ocean and see an array of dolphins jumping high up out of the water, doing what comes naturally. A large group of seabirds flock together floating on the water. The El Nino long predicted for this year has begun; warmer water is turning Monterey Bay into an appetizing destination for a host of sea creatures and their companions, as well as their predators. The unusually high abundance of wildlife (even for a marine sanctuary) has been calling much attention to itself, and the news reports and crowds of people lining the shore are evidence of our human affinity for these amazing beings.
Quite a while passes, and eventually it dawns on me that maybe there is no secret ceremony hidden behind the brush. The reception area remains empty. Perhaps musicians were practicing for an event later in the day. Maybe it was all an illusion. Maybe it doesn’t really matter, because I have been given another opportunity to experience the magic and promise of new beginnings… and that’s precisely why I came to this place.
I am on respite at the beach. Too many months of heavy business details, legal jargon, convoluted communication through third parties, and a chattering monkey mind prompted me to ask a friend for the use of her ocean condo for a two-day getaway. The first night, I slept solid and uninterrupted for 9-1/2 hours. A sure sign that my body – and my psyche – needed a break.
As I sit on the balcony this second evening, reading and enjoying the warmth of an early autumn sun, I look out over the long ocean view. It reminds me of another beautiful scene on the other side of this ocean, a vision from the Hapuna Prince, which sits on a long strand of pristine beach on the Big Island. In both places, soothing sounds and spectacular scenery calm my soul.
Soon I hear music from the point on the bluff: Iz singing his unique version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and again I am reminded of Hawaii. Then I realize that a wedding procession is beginning in step with this song, and I stop to watch and listen.
What is it about a wedding that calls us to feel like we are part of the process and proceedings? What draws us to feel akin to these two humans that have chosen to start a new life together? The promise of creating family, sharing at a deep level, faith, trust, joyous expectations, acceptance, pure love…
Now it is quiet; their vows are being spoken in soft tones. After a few minutes, applause offers congratulations, and the newlyweds parade to the reception area accompanied by a tune that makes me want to get up and dance: “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth… Because I’m happy…Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.”
I remain a silent observer from afar as hugs are exchanged, kisses are bestowed, and laughter is expressed. The small group enjoys food and drinks, each others’ company, and more uplifting music befitting this blissful celebration. The evening continues, with Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston singing “It Takes Two,” and Van Morrison voicing “Bright Side of the Road.” I begin to think I selected this playlist myself… and perhaps on some level I did.
This unknown couple has given themselves an infinite new beginning, and they have given me a welcome dose of hope and inspiration.