From A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki:
So if you understand time as only passing, then you do not understand the time being.
Life is full of stories. Or maybe life is only stories.
I am still on-the-bounce and have little or no hope for the time being of finding the place from which I’ll leave this journey. Things are so economically crazy, it is the hopeful stories I tell myself about finding a home that keep me from being too impatient.
In the meantime: I am presently staying on a place full of spirit—a cabin on 40 acres with a pond just outside the upstairs balcony. The land and the pond are full of life, from the hard-to-see, to the impossible not-to-see, not counting life that can only be seen with instruments, or that which can only be felt.
To the west are an enormous mountains topped with snow. To the east is a wide valley, bordered by another set of very different mountains. The effects of orographic uplift are clear, the rain and snow having fallen mostly on the tops of the western side of the mountain range leaving all to the east dry. However, on these 40 acres alone, there are multiple areas where artesian water pops up and flows where it can go, then disappears back into the earth. And in-between the water’s rise and fall are many rooted beings happily growing.
The rock beings here are something else—an entirely different kind of spirit. One looks like a giant rock spaceship perched on two rock-landing gear under which one can sit comfortably and safely. All have been angled up by tectonic forces and washed and marked by weather.
The winds can be fierce as can the sun and cold, but the rock beings provide many areas of shelter for time beings—and have for eons. In this particular time, there is a cabin also providing shelter and some amenities, but it is the going outside that spurs my wonder, my tears, my free breathing, and the changes in my mind.
It is a fairly isolated place, which fits me for the time being. And I’m here for only a short time anyway and other time-places will soon be calling. If I am to create whatever, from art to sound to stories to walls to agreements, I am here for only a short time. In the meantime, let the earth create the sky and valleys and mountains and water. The earth knows how to do it beautifully and necessarily and in the right time. I am not always so deft in my sense of timing. And if you are more comfortable saying “God” than the earth, or “you” than “I,” then fine, it is still the same problem and it has been for a long time, at least relative to human-time-beings. I/We have only our agreements, within and between ourselves. I/We do not have dominance and to pretend otherwise is a waste of the time I/We have—and a crappy story besides.
Here I have once again been called to re-member, to re-cognize, to re-mind. Thus reordered, it seems nuts to ask for blessings, grace, beauty, or gifts since they already exist and it is I who forget. I’ve wanted to be wise and sometimes I suppose I am, but mostly it seems like maybe next year. Being a time-being can be like that.
The Bumper-Sticker Corner: Whatever?
It’s bronconomics once again. Maybe learning to rodeo would help?
When we sacrifice, it is not ourselves, but others.
Rituals are about releasing, not binding.
Ask a question, have a thought, then wait. Learning is not fill-in-the-blanks.
The Story Corner: Sharp Teeth and Warm Embrace
We knew it was coming, just not when. “She is near death,” the hospice worker told me on the phone. “Is she conscious or morphined?” I asked—she had been in pain management. “She is not conscious,” I was told. “I am not close by and while she was conscious, we said our hellos and goodbyes.” Silence, followed by “If that’s the way you feel,” the worker said, tone laced with disapproval.
There was no formal funeral rite. There was supposed to be one, but it never happened. There was a celebration of her life and that continues.
The only loved one for whom I was actually there when death came was my mother. She was not there, however, morphined because of terrible pain—but we were.
There was a formal funeral rite.
Nonetheless, I’ve been told I have very little in the way of ritual in honoring the life and death of my friends and loved ones. It was a familiar refrain. I’ve wondered if death is about cutting the ties that bind or about binding the ties, tighter? Or perhaps I’m merely telling myself a story to feel better?
Is it the query that demands an answer? Is it best to feel sharp teeth or a warm embrace when one is doubtful? Maybe. Sometimes. I do not know. I do know I continue to honor the life of those I loved. I also know that “slapping” me does not help me learn what someone has decided I need to learn, though I am still learning not to “slap” others for their “offenses.” Yes, there are assaults that may need addressing. Or perhaps simply not being there to be assaulted in the first place is the best plan? Perhaps there is more variance than universal rules?
I am still learning, though not so much about stuff anymore, much more about emptiness. It is quiet there—much easier to hear the children and adults laugh, play, learn—alone and together.